2021 MLB Draft: Grading Each Team

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Best Pick: Jordan Lawler, SS, Jesuit College Prep (TX)

Sleeper Pick: Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami (FL)

Grade: A-

Overall: The D-backs came in with a plan and executed. Two prospects, Lawler and Castillo, fell into their laps and instead of trying to get cute with it they went ahead and selected them. Fortunately enough, Lawler and Castillo are heavy needs.


ATLANTA BRAVES
Best Pick:
Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest (NC)

Sleeper Pick: Luke Waddell, SS, Georgia Tech (GA)

Grade: B-

Overall: In a pitcher-heavy draft, the Braves found a way to select needs all over the field, while still stocking the farm with essential talent. Cusick was a steal at 24 and Waddell dropping to the fifth round is a head-scratcher.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Best Pick:
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston (TX)

Sleeper Pick: Connor Norby, 2B, East Carolina (NC)

Grade: B-

Overall: Cowser was a great pick. Always a top-10 guy, Cowser might be the best pro-ready hitter in this draft. Baltimore followed this up with underrated second baseman Connor Norby, who is an absolute hitting machine. If I could critique them at all it would’ve been how they waited to grab a pitcher in a pitcher-heavy draft.

BOSTON RED SOX
Best Pick:
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA)

Sleeper Pick: Nathan Hickey, C, Florida (FL)

Grade: A+

Overall: I loved Boston’s draft. This might’ve been their best draft since 2011 (minus Matt Barnes). Mayer fell to them and they couldn’t have called in the pick fast enough. Later, they took a chance on Jud Fabian from Florida, who they’ve scouted heavily the past couple years. One of my favorite picks was catcher Nathan Hickey out of Florida too. He was arguable Florida’s best hitter and is overlooked due to stud catching prospects Henry Davis, Harry Ford and Joe Mack.


CHICAGO CUBS
Best Pick:
Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State (KS)

Sleeper Pick: Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina (SC)

Grade: C

Overall: Wicks was an okay pick. I personally felt there was more value elsewhere, but the Cubs’ strategy was to grab a pitcher early, no matter who, before they went positional. Parker Chavers slipped to the seventh, which was a gift for them. Chavers has potential to be a five-tool guy, once he corrects his swing and builds more muscle.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Best Pick:
Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS (IN)

Sleeper Pick: Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain HS (AZ)

Grade: B

Overall: This comes as no surprise. The ChiSox have been nailing the past handful of drafts. Some felt Colson Montgomery was a reach, but I couldn’t disagree more. With Tim Anderson coming up on a huge pay day, Montgomery is insurance if they lose him. Even if they don’t, you can move him around the infield. The Jake Burger experiment hasn’t really panned out either, so third baseman Wes Kath was a much needed selection.

CINCINNATI REDS
Best Pick:
Matt McLain, SS, UCLA (CA)

Sleeper Pick: Jose Torres, SS, NC State (NC)

Grade: A-

Overall: How did the Reds get McLain? This was the most unpredictable draft I have ever seen. This was very good for the Reds, though, who solidified their infield system with him and the slick-fielding Torres. All-in-all they seemed to draft value more than need, which benefited them a lot.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Best Pick:
Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina (NC)

Sleeper Pick: Jake Fox, SS, Lakeland Christian School (FL)

Grade: C+

Overall: At 23, I felt the Indians should’ve selected an outfielder with the likes of Joshua Baez and Ethan Wilson hanging around. They need more positional players in their system. Arms they have. Mind you, they did go after a lot of college arms, so this strategy might be seen as immediate support rather than waiting on former prep stars like Ethan Hankins to develop.


COLORADO ROCKIES
Best Pick: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (PA)

Sleeper Pick: Jaden Hill, RHP, LSU (LA)

Grade: A-

Overall: Everything seemed to click for the Rockies. Montgomery was great value at 15 and combined with Zac Veen and Ryan Vilade, who are already in their system, could become a dream outfield in the making. Jaden Hill was a phenomenal selection for their second pick. Many have been down on him, due to his in-season injury, but Hill has more to prove I think.


DETROIT TIGERS
Best Pick: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas (TX)

Sleeper Pick: Izaac Pacheco, SS/3B, Friendswood HS (TX)

Grade: C-

Overall: GM Al Avila knew he needed more bats in the system and instead went with pitching. The fact that he chose Jackson with the third overall pick and then made a run on pitching shows he’s wary about past pitching selections he’s made in previous drafts. Jackson might be good down the road, but we won’t see him for years. This begs the question: how long does Al Avila anticipate this rebuild taking?


HOUSTON ASTROS
Best Pick: Tyler Whitaker, OF, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)

Sleeper Pick: Alex Ulloa, SS, Calvary Christian Academy (FL)

Grade: C

Overall: Hard to really give them better grades, when they didn’t pick until the third round, but Tyler Whitaker was about as good as they could get at 87. He’s a big outfielder with a high-ceiling bat, but needs to calm down the strikeouts. Nevertheless, the Astros made the most out of their nine selections in this draft.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Best Pick: Peyton Wilson, 2B, Alabama (AL)

Sleeper Pick: Carter Jensen, C, Park Hill Senior HS (MO)

Grade: C

Overall: Maybe the Royals see something in lefty Frank Mozzicato that others don’t. Was that why they reached for him? I guess if you love a prospect, reaching doesn’t exist. Maybe Detroit taking Jackson Jobe scared them, and they felt they needed to grab their next best high school arm on their board before anyone else did. The rest of their draft is blah. I like the Carter Jensen pick. He’s a quality catcher that’ll fit well in their system.


LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Best Pick: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami University (OH)

Sleeper Pick: Ky Bush, LHP, St. Mary’s College (CA)

Grade: B+

Overall: Spoiler alert, I’m going to be a little down on most teams who focus on all pitching or all positional with their selections. The Angels are the exception to this, though. They are desperate for a good pitcher. They haven’t had a star pitching prospect in years. Maybe decades. It seems what general manager Perry Minasian did was say “screw it” and draft as many quality pitchers as he could in hopes of finding a gem.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Best Pick: Maddux Bruns, LHP, UMS Wright Prep School (AL)

Sleeper Pick: Nick Nastrini, RHP, UCLA (CA)

Grade: C

Overall: Maddux Bruns is fine. I like him. He works in the mid-90s and can top at 98 at times. Some were surprised, but the best prep arms were gone by the time the Dodgers picked, so Bruns is good value. The rest of their draft kind of confuses me. While they have good hitters in their system, they seemed to mostly ignore positional players all together. Maybe they were copying the Angels?


MIAMI MARLINS
Best Pick: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS (NC)

Sleeper Pick: Joe Mack, C. Williamsville East HS (NY)

Grade: A

Overall: Derek Jeter and gang had an incredible draft. They went for need and at times took best available, and it all just worked. Starting with shortstop stud Kahlil Watson they followed this up with catcher Joe Mack in the Compensatory A round. They went a little too shortstop heavy, but I’m thinking they feel some of these guys won’t stay at shortstop.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Best Pick: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College (MA)

Sleeper Pick: Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville (KY)

Grade: A+

Overall: That’s right, A+. The Brewers had the best draft out most teams in my opinion. One of my favorite prospects, Sal Frelick, fell to them and they snagged him. Just when you think the excitement was done they selected Tyler Black, who should’ve been a top-20 pick. In the third round, Alex Binelas was there and they scooped him up too. Binelas was a first-rounder in earlier mocks entering the season but his start was historically bad. He improved more and more throughout the year, but it was too late as his stock was too damaged. There is huge upside to Binelas. Lastly, they took a top sleeper from my list, Roc Riggio. Scrapper with a higher upside than scouts think. Top to bottom, excellent draft by the Brewers.


MINNESOTA TWINS
Best Pick: Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland Regional HS (NJ)

Sleeper Pick: Steven Hajjar, LHP, Michigan (MI)

Grade: B-

Overall: Even though my mock was screwed from the beginning, when the Twins were on the clock I knew they were going to go after Petty. When a pitcher isn’t afraid to throw inside and actually has success doing it, then odds are he’ll turn into a pretty good pitcher. Petty is as fearless as they come. They followed up that pick with shortstop Noah Miller out of Ozaukee High School in Wisconsin, and then nabbed Michigan ace Steven Hajjar with their second round pick. Back-to-back-to-back solid selections. Later in the draft, they did pass on some high-ceiling bats they should’ve taken a chance on, though.

NEW YORK METS
Best Pick:
Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt (TN), RHP

Sleeper Pick: JT Schwartz, 1B, UCLA (CA)

Grade: A

Overall: The Mets didn’t screw around. They went after the players they wanted or that fell to them. Kumar Rocker was there at 10 and they didn’t blink. No way Rocker should’ve fell that far. He’ll fly through the minors, if there are no setbacks, and will provide some instant lights out pitching to their rotation. Later, they chose JT Schwartz, who I felt was better than the fourth round grade he was given. He could’ve easily went in the Compensatory A round or the second round. He’s more average than power, which isn’t necessarily the normal profile of a first basemen who hits cleanup. But like the old saying goes, if you can hit, you’re going to be in a lineup. That’s all that matters.


NEW YORK YANKEES
Best Pick: Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois (IL)

Sleeper Pick: Richard Fitts, RHP, Auburn (AL)

Grade: A+

Overall: When Sweeney was chosen by the Yankees I clapped. Sweeney is a legit shortstop in the mold of a Derek Jeter type. He’s got a mule kick and a hitch in his lefty swing, which they might fix at the next level, but he’s been known as a coachable player, so I don’t predict any setbacks. He’s got remarkable hands and solid strength, but isn’t as agile in the field as some would hope for a shortstop, so we might see him at third base later on. In the second they selected Brendan Beck, who was Stanford’s ace. He’s not a blow away pitcher by any means, but he has great mechanics and arm angles. Richard Fitts from Auburn I couldn’t believe was still there in the sixth round, and like Beck, the Yankees bit and took him.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Best Pick:
Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks HS (CA)

Sleeper Pick: Denzel Clarke, OF, Cal State Northridge (CA)

Grade: B

Overall: If the first Max Muncy you drafted didn’t work, might as well try your hand at another Max Muncy. Muncy was an incredible pick for Oakland at 25. He’s a hard-working player with sneaky power. He has some swing and miss tendencies but that’ll take some polishing at the next level. Oakland had a good mix of picks following, not focusing, on just one position. Denzel Clarke was a pick that stood out to me. A toolsy outfielder with the size and athleticism to go along with his raw power. Five-tool potential? There is that possibility. He’ll just need to tap into that raw power and consistently hit better.


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Best Pick:
Ethan Wilson, OF, University of South Alabama (AL)

Sleeper Pick: Micah Ottenbreit, RHP, Trenton HS (MI)

Grade: B-

Overall: They nailed the Ethan Wilson pick. The Alabama native has had a spectacular collegiate career. His plate approach has changed some, so right now he’s more of a contact hitter than a slugger, but many feel he’s still one of the top college hitters in this class. The Phillies did a good job taking needs and best players available when they had to. I’d like to think the Micah Ottenbreit pick was more for need than anything. He’s a big right-hander with eye-popping stuff. It’ll take him some time to develop, but he’s got a future in the bigs, that’s for sure.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Best Pick:
Henry Davis, C, Louisville

Sleeper Pick: Bubba Chandler, RHP, North Oconee HS (GA)

Grade:
A+

Overall: It’s a coin toss between the Brewers and the Pirates for the best draft. While the organization is a failure as a whole, they drafted pretty damn good. Always have in my opinion. Henry Davis shocked everyone when they selected him first overall, which set the whole draft into a tailspin. My mock was screwed from the get because of this. The Pirates know what they’re doing though. The catching position is becoming transcendent with the talents that are entering the ranks. Davis fits the Adley Rutschman and Joey Bart type of catchers that can do it defensively as well as offensively. Following the Davis pick up, they snag highly-touted prep pitching prospect Anthony Solometo, who had many first round grades. And just when you think the excitement was done, two-way talent Bubba Chandler fell to them and they scooped him up. Bravo, Pirates! Bravo!

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Best Pick: James Wood, OF, IMG Academy (FL)

Sleeper Pick: Max Ferguson, 2B, Tennessee (TN)

Grade: B-

Overall: At first glance, I wasn’t overly impressed with the Padres’ draft. After I gave it a second look, I was enthralled with some of their sneaky selections that went under the radar. James Wood has five-tool potential. I couldn’t believe he made it past the first round. Robert Gasser, a left-handed pitcher from Houston was a big, big pick for them. My favorite selection of theirs was Max Ferguson, which, if you read my sleepers piece you would’ve seen his name on there. Ferguson should shoot through the minors and become a quality player for the Padres.


SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Best Pick:
Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State (MS)

Sleeper Pick: Seth Lonsway, LHP, Ohio State (OH)

Grade: C+

Overall: San Francisco didn’t pull any punches. It was all pitchers or bust! They took College World Series MVP Will Bednar with the 14th pick. Some liked it, others didn’t. I’m a fan of Bednar, and at 14 he was the best pick available. The remaining rounds left little to be desired. Ohio State product Seth Lonsway is solid. Very raw, but has the stuff that coaches like to work with.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Best Pick:
Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA)

Sleeper Pick: Bryan Woo, RHP, Cal Poly (CA)

Grade: B+

Overall: In the same fashion as Henry Davis with the Pirates, the Mariners nailed this pick. The last time they took a catcher in the first round was Mike Zunino in the 2012 draft. Davis has better makeup than Zunino ever did. His bat speed is among the best in the draft. RHP Michael Morales, RHP Bryan Woo and shortstop James Parker were also great selections.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Best Pick: Joshua Baez, OF, Dexter School (MA)

Sleeper Pick: Ryan Holgate, OF, Arizona (AZ)

Grade: A-

Overall: No surprise here. St. Louis always does pretty well in the draft. They started out picking Michael McGreevy, which was solid value at 18. He’s a 6’4″ right-hander who throws a lot of strikes. No thrills there. He should be solid. They followed up with outfielder Joshua Baez, who slid out of the first round. He should sign, as I’m sure St. Louis will go above slot to do so. But the back to back selections of Baez and outfielder Ryan Holgate were stud picks that should bolster their already impressive hitting in their system.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Best Pick: Carson Williams, SS, Torrey Pines HS (CA)

Sleeper Pick: Ryan Spikes, 2B, Parkview HS (GA)

Grade: C

Overall: I was expecting Tampa Bay to kill it in this draft, like they have in recent years. This year wasn’t so hot for them. I think they just took the best available to them, which is fine. Carson Williams was an okay pick at 28, not great, but does insert some good infielder depth in their system. Ryan Spikes out of Parkview High School in Georgia was another selection I really liked. Other than that though, the rest of the picks seemed safe and were projects with minimal ceilings.

TEXAS RANGERS
Best Pick:
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt (TN)

Sleeper Pick: Ian Moller, C, Wahlert HS (IA)

Grade: A

Overall: The Rangers never let off the gas. Each pick should’ve had a standing ovation. Leiter seemed to always be their guy from the beginning– that much is clear. The Aaron Zavala pick in the second was a steal for their outfield outlook. I’ve mentioned in the past that the Rangers will have to consider catchers some day, whether that be in the draft or free agency, and they snagged sleeper Ian Moller with the 103rd pick.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Best Pick: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss (MS)

Sleeper Pick: Chad Dallas, RHP, Tennessee (TN)

Grade: C+

Overall: Aside from Gunnar Hoglund, Toronto’s draft didn’t wow. Chad Dallas was a solid selection in the fourth. Whether he stays a starter is yet to be determined, but if he winds up in the bullpen he should contribute. Irv Carter wasn’t bad either. I don’t know, I feel like the Blue Jays should’ve mixed some more bats in there. They passed up some impressive hitters that fell to them, but it seemed they were picking what they felt were the best pitching prospects on their board, regardless.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Best Pick: Brady House, SS/3B, Winder Barrow HS (GA)

Sleeper Pick: Jacob Young, OF, Florida (FL)

Grade: B+

Overall: I was about as surprised as the Nats were that Brady House fell to them. I thought for sure Detroit would’ve nabbed him earlier at 3. This is a great pick for the Nats. House will probably move to third, which is great for their organization. They did select a few pitchers, but I believe the Nats wanted to focus on bats as much as they could in this draft. Watch out for Jacob Young from Florida. He was one of the Gators’ best hitters this past season. Much like Gage Workman was for Arizona State a year ago, he’s an underrated positional player with tools that standout, especially against good pitchers.

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