2021 MLB DRAFT SLEEPERS; Alex Mooney, Jaden Hill and more

This year’s draft class has more questions than answers. If you look deep enough, you’ll find those gems that aren’t getting the love they deserve. Here are my sleepers for the 2021 draft that general managers should take into consideration when building the foundational pieces of their franchises. For the full mock draft, click here.

2021 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Alex Mooney - Lookout Landing

Alex Mooney, SS, St. Mary’s Prep (MI)
In this draft there are some high-profile shortstops, Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar, Brady House and Kahlil Watson. Alex Mooney, in most mocks, is a late first round, early compensatory round selection. Scouting him, however, he has just as much upside as the top shortstops in this draft. I had the pleasure of covering Alex Mooney throughout his travel ball days in Michigan, and even at a young age his game was advanced. He’s a Duke commit, but I feel if chosen in the first few rounds he’ll opt for his dream to play professional baseball.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 60
Power: 45
Run: 70
Field: 60
Arm: 55

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Jaden Hill, RHP, LSU
While most feel Florida’s Jud Fabian and Louisville’s Alex Binelas‘ draft stocks fell the most, Jaden Hill has practically become an afterthought. Early on in the 2021 season, Hill was considered a top-10 guy before an elbow injury shelved him for the rest of the season. And like baseball always does, it’s a “what have you done for me now” kind of sport, so Hill took a backseat to current fast-rising pitching prospects. His profile is similar to Kumar Rocker‘s, without the big game situations. If we’re talking pure talent, best ceiling and overall value, then Jaden Hill is the man.

We’ve yet to see the best from him, but there are flashes there that are just too damn tempting to pass up. He operates his fastball in the upper 90s and even peaked at 99 as a starter. His slider can be nasty at times, and if he was moved to the bullpen, it would most certainly become his punch-out pitch. The downside of Hill is his lack for staying healthy. If he can stay healthy watch out.

FUTURE GRADING
Fastball: 70
Changeup: 60
Slider: 65
Control:
55

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Jonathan Cannon, RHP, Georgia
The past ten years the Bulldogs have churned out some really interesting pitching prospects. Most are large power pitchers. Next up: Jonathan Cannon. In my early first round mocks he’s made some short appearances. He’s always up and down because of his blah 2021 season, where he posted a 4-2 record with a 3.98 ERA in over 62 innings pitched (the most of any Bulldog this season). What I like about him is that he’s developing better each season and it’s incredibly noticeable. He’s not a pitcher that relies on his size and power arm to throw strikes.

He’s okay with being a technical guy, if he has to, and working the plate. His measurables and stamina make him a destined starter. He could gain a little more velocity on his throws and his breaking stuff could have a little more drop, but I feel confident he’ll put the work in to do that at the next level.

FUTURE GRADING
Fastball: 60
Changeup: 60
Slider: 55
Control: 60

2021 MLB Draft Profile: <a class=

Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois
This might seem like low-hanging fruit right now, but I’ve had my eye on Sweeney for a couple seasons. I’m not surprised to hear he’s a first round talent. At 6’4″, 200 pounds, Sweeney profiles as a tall and lean shortstop who can hit. He compares to the likes of a Cal Ripken, Alan Trammell and Derek Jeter type of prospect. If you ever watched him hit, he has a big mule kick left-handed swing with a noticeable hitch to it that’ll have to changed some, but nevertheless this dude can hit. He always finds the barrel of his bat when he swings and the contact he makes just sounds different. I like this prospect a lot, and feel he could turn heads at the next level.

Right now his power is average to above average, and if his swing is tweaked later, it’s hard to say what’ll happen to that power, but currently his best attribute offensively is his hit-ability. That’s what coaches will key in on. Another downside is his base running. He’s not going to blow anyone away.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 65
Power: 50
Run: 40
Field: 50
Arm: 55

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Josh Hartle, LHP, Reagan (NC)
Hartle is another big-framed pitcher. Many clubs believe he’ll be a first round selection, and I think that’s a possibility if there are some reach selections early on. However, Hartle is worthy of the first round. He’s impressed in last summer’s showcase circuit and is one of the best left-handed prep pitchers in this year’s class. His fastball tops at 94 normally, even though he’s hit 95 a few times. I’m sure it’ll increase with age. One thing I love about his fastball is that it has a little tail whip on it when he gets going.

While it won’t blow anyone away, its lower velocity is a good setup for his slider, which I feel is underrated. It’s not the fasted thing ever, but he knows how to locate it well. His best pitch is probably his changeup, which could toy with hitters at the next level. If he signs (strong Wake Forest commit) he’ll need to add some muscle and work on his breaking stuff more.

FUTURE GRADING
Fastball: 60
Changeup: 70
Slider: 55
Control: 65


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Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State
What a mature hitter for his age. Tyler Black can be a walk machine if he wanted to. His power is better than scouts give him credit for. At 6’2″ he’s a larger second baseman with an average arm, so he’ll most likely stick at second. He kind of reminds me of Kody Clemens, who’s currently in Detroit’s system. What puts him on my sleeper list is his knack for getting on base. In his three years at the collegiate level he’s had a .468 OBP and 244 total bases. I don’t know if this dude will be a future coach, but I can even see that as a possibility.

In my opinion, he’s an intelligent player who knows not only how to get on base, but how to get from first to home when he is on. He reads everything before it happens and his instincts are spot on.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 50
Field: 55
Arm: 50


Keegan Comes Back

Dominic Keegan, 1B, Vanderbilt
Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker are the only prospects that were always mentioned on this year’s Vanderbilt squad. I get it, but Dominic Keegan quietly put together a great 2021 campaign. In 60 games, he hit .345 with 80 hits and 57 RBIs. His OBP was .427 and he had an OPS of 1.065. These are first round prospect numbers. His 74 strikeouts is a bit high, and it’s no fluke. The last four years he’s struck out a lot. He’ll need a smarter approach at the plate, which makes him a project. But even as a project, I feel if he can mature offensively he could become a first baseman in the likes of a Luke Voit, CJ Cron or even a Rhys Hoskins. It’s all about development, right? So Keegan’s success will rely heavily on what team drafts him that can develop a raw hitter like him.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 50
Power: 60
Run: 40
Field: 50
Arm: 55

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Max Ferguson, 2B, Tennessee
I’m probably higher on Tennessee players than any writer out there. I think they’re an underrated program that doesn’t get the love for the type of players they produce. If Nick Senzel was the last great hitter of the Volunteers then move over, because Max Ferguson is next up. Ferguson is more hit than power, yes, but the power is there. He’ll need to add more muscle to show that. His lefty swing is among the prettiest in the draft and and he controls his strike zone better than most. He can also do some damage on the bases. His speed is plus, and much like Tyler Black, Ferguson can also work his way around the bases at ease.

Positionally, he’s listed as a second baseman, but he’s also smooth at shortstop as well. His instincts and all around game knowledge will fast-forward him through the minors. While many believe Ferguson will drop to the third round, don’t be surprised if he’s chosen before that.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 70
Field: 60
Arm: 55

Daily News Boys Athlete of the Week: Roc Riggio, Thousand Oaks – Daily News

Roc Riggio, OF/IF, Thousands Oaks (CA)
I have a soft spot for shorter players, call me crazy. My track record is pretty good. I was high on Jose Altuve when he broke into the majors. In recent years, I’ve raved about Nick Allen in the 2017 draft and this year I’ve been a huge supporter of the 5’9″ Sal Frelick. Here’s another shorter player I think teams should be looking at. Roc Riggio can live up to his dope name. He always finds his barrel to the ball. Always. The kid is an absolute scrapper. I’d rate his bat speed among the best in this year’s crop as well. That’s right, I said that.

He’s beefed up a bit, making him appear, physically, like a poor man’s Tyler O’Neill. Hard to say if he should lean up some, because his run ability isn’t great. That’ll be for the coaches to decide, but there’s always a chance that Riggio opts to commit to Oklahoma State instead of sign with a big league team. It just depends on where he’s selected. I do think teams should consider this kid higher than his fourth to fifth round grade. It’s also hard to say what position he’ll play. He’s a serviceable centerfielder but his fringy arm might make him destined for second base, where he’s also played.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 65
Power: 45
Run: 45
Field: 55
Arm: 50

Carter Jensen (@12_carterjensen) | Twitter

Carter Jensen, C, Park Hill (MO)
Jensen is a catcher not many talk about. I don’t see why. He’s in the crop of catchers that can actually hit. He’s legit. Some say pure, but we’ll see if that’s true at the next level. Defensively, he’s unknown. Many feel he won’t stick behind the plate, but he’s got a very solid arm, so I can see why he’s there. As the old saying goes though: if a player can hit, he’ll find his way into any lineup. There’s catchers in the bigs now that we wonder why they’re still catchers. For some it’s their best position, and for others, designated hitter isn’t even close to an option. Jensen might fall into that range. He does damage to both right-handed and left-handed pitchers, so that’s a plus.

He’s not a speedster on the base paths, but knows how to get on base, which is most important. He controls the strike zone masterfully and can hit to all fields. He’s an LSU commit, and when I usually see LSU commits I always feel they won’t sign if they aren’t drafted in the first few rounds.

FUTURE GRADING
Hit: 60
Power: 55
Run: 40
Field: 45
Arm: 60

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