Like every year, MLB mock drafts are our best guesses as to what each team will do. Most of the time, there’s a stand-out player who can command the attention of the first overall pick such as Adley Rutschman in 2019 and Spencer Torkelson in 2020. In 2021 though, that’s simply not the case. In many scouts’ eyes, Marcelo Mayer is at the top of the board. The toolsy High school shortstop flashes an above-average arm with the potential to hit for contact and power. In other’s eyes, arms such as high school pitcher Jackson Jobe and Vanderbilt pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter are all the prizes of the draft. Ultimately, we will never know what goes on in the war room of the MLB draft process for many teams this year, but I will try to predict what the scouts see in each player for the first round including the compensatory selection at the end of the first round. Without further ado, the Pittsburgh Pirates are on the clock.
The top 10:
- Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Marcelo Mayer (Eastlake High School CA)
- Texas Rangers: SP Jack Leiter (Vanderbilt)
- Detriot TIgers: C Henry Davis (Lousiville)
- Boston Red Sox: SS Brady House (Winder-Barrow High School GA)
- Baltimore Orioles: SS Kahlil Watson (Wake Forest High School NC)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: SS Jordan Lawlar (Jesuit Prep High School TX)
- Kansas City Royals: Kumar Rocker (Vanderbilt)
- Colorado Rockies: SP Jackson Jobe (Heritage Hall High School OK)
- Los Angeles Angels: SP Ty Madden (Texas)
- New York Mets: OF Sal Frelick (Boston College)
Let’s break it down. The top 10 picks this year are relatively close in terms of overall potential. Many could argue that the 7th overall pick in my mock should very well go number 1 overall. If it was after his freshman year at Vanderbilt I would be inclined to agree. But after an up and down final season and the rise of other prospects, Rocker’s slipped a bit on my board. I think it’s necessary to discuss why Marcelo Mayer should be the number one overall pick. The left-handed-hitting shortstop has drawn comparisons to the likes of Corey Seager with a mix of premium power and above-average contact at the all-important position.
The 18-year-old has already cemented himself as the number one prospect due to his size and make-up. At 6’3″ and 188 pounds, he has the frame to be a true shortstop with no concerns about his durability as he develops. Another player that has been mentioned as a possibility is prep shortstop Jordan Lawlar. In this mock I have him falling to number 6 overall due mostly to his high signing number, which would limit teams like Baltimore and Detriot in other rounds. The 6’2″ high school shortstop grades as a 5 tool player with comparisons to Bobby Witt Jr. who was selected second overall in the 2019 draft. Ultimately, it is fair to assume that all of the shortstops who go in the top 10 (Mayer, Watson, House, and Lawlar) will always be connected as they rise to the Major Leagues.
The Rest of the First Round:
- Washington Nationals: SS Matt Mclain (UCLA)
- Seattle Mariners: SP Sam Bachman (Miami OH)
- Philadelphia Phillies: OF Colten Cowser (Sam Houston)
- San Francisco Giants: SP Jordan Wicks (Kansas State)
- Milwaukee Brewers: C Harry Ford (North Cobb High School GA)
- Miami Marlins: OF Benny Montgomery (Red Land High School PA)
- Cincinnati Reds: P Anthony Solometo (Bishop Eustace High School NJ)
- St. Louis Cardinals: P/SS Bubba Chandler (North Oconee High School GA)
- Toronto Blue Jays: SP Will Bednar (Mississippi State)
- New York Yankees: SP Gunnar Hogland (Mississippi)
- Chicago Cubs: SP Andrew Painter (Calvary Christian High School FL)
- Chicago White Sox: 3B Colson Montgomery (Southridge High School IN)
- Cleveland Indians: C Joe Mack (Williamsville East High School NY)
- Atlanta Braves: 2B Connor Norby (East Carolina)
- Oakland Athletics: SP Andrew Abbott (Virgina)
- Minnesota Twins: SS Max Muncy (Thousand Oaks High School CA)
- San Diego Padres: SS Jud Fabian (Florida)
- Tampa Bay Rays: SP Gavin Williams (East Carolina)
- Los Angeles Dodgers: SP Michael McGreevy (UC Santa Barbara)
The final nineteen picks in the first round (Remember the Houston Astros are without a selection due to the trash can scandal) consist of eleven college players and 8 high school players. What’s interesting in this draft to me is the amount of collegiate talent in the first round including pitcher Will Bednar of Mississippi State who led the Bulldogs to their first-ever Championship and Sam Houston Outfielder Colten Cowser. Bednar is a fascinating case of what the College World Series can do for a player. On many boards, Bednar was nothing more than a 3rd round pick entering the world series, yet in this mock I have him going number 19 overall to the Toronto Blue Jays.
With an above-average fastball and breaking pitches, I believe a team like Toronto would be lucky to add a player of his caliber to their rotation in a much shorter timeline than say SP Andrew Painter who likely won’t make a big-league start for 3-4 years. Colten Cowser is another interesting case of potential. With comparisons to Bradley Zimmer and Brandon Nimmo though, I worry that his ceiling may not be as high as it once was thought. Cowser has been mentioned with teams as high as the Baltimore Orioles at number 5, but if that were the case, they would be taking a huge risk on a player with a low ceiling for that high of a pick. The two high school catchers are also very interesting prospects in my eyes.
Harry Ford is an incredible athlete that has drawn comparisons to Craig Biggio athletically in that he can play catcher, second, and the outfield if needed. With eye-popping bat speed and above-average athleticism, the Milwaukee Brewers get an immediate top prospect at their biggest positional need. The left-handed-hitting Joe Mack also goes in the first round as another Catcher with an above-average arm and pop from the left side who is similar in style to Tyler Soderstrom of the Oakland Athletics who went 26th overall in the 2020 draft.
The Compensatory Selections:
- Cincinnati Reds: SP Chase Petty (Mainland High School NJ)
- Miami Marlins C Matheu Nelson (Florida State)
- Detriot TIgers SP Ryan Cusick (Wake Forest)
- Milwaukee Brewers SP Frank Mozzicato (East Catholic High School CT)
- Tampa Bay Rays (2B Peyton Stovall (Haughton High School LA)
- Cincinnati Reds SP Jaden Hill (LSU)
- Minnesota Twins OF WIll Taylor (Dutch Fork High School SC)
The compensatory round at the end of the first round includes picks by the Reds, Twins, Tigers, Rays, Brewers, and Marlins. Of the seven picks in this round, four starting pitchers are selected due mostly to the Reds and Tigers’ need for organizational pitching depth. Cincinnati certainly needs to add some pitching in this draft and with the selections of Chase Petty and Jaden Hill (who both possess incredible fastballs graded at 70 and 65 respectively), they fill that need with these picks.
Overall I believe that the 2021 MLB draft has the potential to have multiple all-stars including the likes of Marcelo Mayer, Jackson Jobe, Henry Davis, and more. The shortstops of this class will most likely define how this class is viewed in the future though. With 4 high school shortstops in the first six picks the risk is immense, but the rewards could be all worth it.