Welcome to the first 2021 MLB mock draft! Another year, another draft. Much like the other sporting leagues, young prospects had an omitted 2020 campaign. Last year’s draft was a convoluted mess that might’ve set some teams back in the rebuilding process. With the league’s shortened draft rounds and would-be high school studs opting for college, there were many teams that had to re-think their selection approach, with certain franchises reaching for prospects and valuing certain players higher than they should have.
Enter 2021. The college and high school seasons have rose from the ashes and mock drafts are beginning to form and actually make sense again. Sorta. Still, though, expect to see some reaches and possibly a few draft busts from this year’s draft when we look back years from now, due to the after effects of what the pandemic left behind in its wake through the sporting world.
2021 MLB Mock Draft 1.0
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
Immediately after 2020’s draft, Kumar Rocker’s name was atop everyone’s list for the 2021 draft. The hulking build is impressive, yes, and he knows how to use it to maximize his throws, but to me what’s most impressive is that his command has improved since he was first drafted a couple years back. He’s not a magician or even a technical pitcher. He’s a work horse. The one concern is if he will only rely on his velocity to get batters out. Because, if so, he’ll be on a fast track to the bullpen rather than a starting role. If I were him, I’d study what CC Sabathia did in his 19 years in baseball. The two are an easy comparison. It might be the key to Rocker’s longevity.
2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
From the moment his name was called for the Yankees’ 20th round selection in the 2019 draft, there was something always special about this kid. His 12-6 curve is devastating and the rest of his arsenal is scary good. If he goes before Rocker I wouldn’t be surprised.
3. Detroit Tigers: Matt McClain, SS, UCLA
He’s Ian Kinsler with more pop. McClain’s collegiate career has been impressive and put UCLA back to prospect gold status. The Tigers need infield bats who can actually hit and if they snag McClain here, they’ll be getting an advanced hitter with great work ethic and leadership.
4. Boston Red Sox: Jordan Lawler, RHP/SS, Jesuit Prep HS (TX)
Many are debating whether Lawler should become a top-three selection. I don’t think he should be, but pending on how he develops his senior year this season, he could make some noise at the top of the draft. There’s a lot to like about Lawler. Big shortstop that does just about everything right, but isn’t elite in one skill.
5. Baltimore Orioles: Jaden Hill, RHP, LSU
Hill is big, strong and profiles very close to Kumar Rocker. There is a possibility he might drop, however, if he can’t perform better. At 2-1 with an ERA over 6.00, Hill needs to find control and prove the doubters wrong that he’s more than a raw prospect with a high ceiling. The Orioles need to add some arms to their system, if it’s not Hill it’ll be someone else at five.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami
Castillo picked up where he left off last season. His defense has always been in question, but that’s okay, he’s more of a Victor Martinez prospect, where his bat is more valuable than his position.
7. Kansas City Royals: Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville
Hitting .143 with just seven hits in 49 plate appearances, Binelas is very likely to see a drop out of the top-10. Missing 2020 might be to blame with the rust he still carries. If he can flaunt that beautiful left-handed power he showcased in 2019 again, teams will fall in love again with the Wisconsin native. Otherwise, KC might look to Brady House here.
8. Colorado Rockies: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
As is the case with many prospects this year, Fabian is having a hard time finding consistent footing at the beginning of the season. A natural hitter with more hit ability than power, Fabian wowed scouts with his ability to hit to all fields and his maturity at the plate. In the wood bat leagues, he never laid off the gas. If he can find his groove and get back to where he was, he’ll return to the top-five.
9. Los Angeles Angels: Brady House, 3B, Winder-Barrow HS (GA)
It’s hard not to like Brady House. There are some Nolan Arenado/Josh Donaldson comparisons that scream potential superstar in the making. He’s a fringy runner but a solid glove at the hot corner. If he can calm down his strikeouts and show a little more consistency he might return to top five status as well.
10. New York Mets: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA)
Another prospect who doesn’t have any one skill better than the other, Marcelo Mayer does just about everything right. Much like many shortstops we’ve seen lately in the first round over the past five years, Mayer is a tall and lean player who isn’t a burner but has raw power. After trading away some of their top prospects, Mayer would inject some talent into the Mets’ farm system.
11. Washington Nationals: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston
Cowser has one of the prettiest left-handed swings you’ll see. There’s debate whether he’ll play centerfield in the pros or one of the corners. His arm is okay, nothing great, but he does have good angles to the ball. The Nats need more college bats in their system and Cowser is a good addition.
12. Seattle Mariners: Ty Madden, Texas, RHP
In his prep years, Madden’s fastball stuck around 95. Since then, it can often touch 99 MPH. Seattle is looking good on the farm, and Madden could rise through their ranks and provide some serious starter strength.
13. Philadelphia Phillies: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
There’s not many great lefties in this year’s class. Wicks is among the best of them. His stats are gaudy, sure, but he’s got some real stuff that seems to be developing each time he steps on the bump.
14. San Francisco Giants: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christina HS (FL)
So many mocks have Painter in the 10-20 selection range, which is probably where he’ll be selected, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he rises to the top-10. Painter is 6’6″ and is one of the most athletic pitchers in this year’s crop. It also can be said it’s a weaker pitching class after Rocker and Leiter, so Painter could slide just about anywhere in the front half of the first round.
15. Milwaukee Brewers: Richard Fitts, RHP, Auburn
The Brewers aren’t looking for immediate impacts, so watch for a high school pick here. Fitts will be the latest Auburn pitcher to hear his name called in the first round this June.
16. Miami Marlins: Izaac Pacheco, 3B, Friendswood HS (TX)
While this year’s crop might not be deep, there are names that we’ll be talking about years from now. Izaac Pacheco is one of those names. The state of Texas has been producing some very good hot corner prospects. Pacheco fits the mold. He compares to Brady House more than any third baseman in this draft. Miami would drool over this guy.
17. Cincinnati Reds: Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
Much like many 2020 studs who find themselves in first round consideration at the moment, Wilson is having a so-so start to his season. When everything is clicking, he devastates pitchers that leave the ball over the plate, specifically speaking, southpaws. His defense isn’t as comparable, so what will get him drafted in the top-20 is his offense.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS (NC)
Watson is a speedy shortstop, who plays bigger than his 5’9″ frame. He knows how to pick pitches to hit and never chases outside stuff, especially when behind on counts.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: James Wood, OF, IMG Academy (FL)
Tall and athletic, Wood has similarities to last year’s first rounder Zac Veen. When he hits the ball, it just sounds different. His power is raw and with the right coaching could really become a complete hitter. He’s fast on the base paths and good in the field. There’s room for him to jump higher in this draft.
20. New York Yankees: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (PA)
A tremendously raw contact hitter with good size and strength. Montgomery has been compared to the likes of a Hunter Pence and Jayson Werth.
21. Chicago Cubs: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
I expect to move Frelick within the top-10 in weeks to come, if he keeps performing the way he has. Out of all the college studs mocked in this draft before him, Frelick is the only one performing the best at the dish right now. In 46 at-bats he’s hitting .476/.537/.826.
22. Chicago White Sox: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (NY)
Mack has proven he can be a quality catcher offensively and defensively. While he is committed to Clemson, many believe if selected in the first round that he’ll sign.
23. Cleveland Indians: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (OK)
And here is another pitcher/shortstop out of Oklahoma that could be picked in the first two rounds. What’s in the water down there? Jackson Jobe is more valuable as a pitcher, and he has attributes that are hard to ignore. His slider might be the best slider in this entire draft.
24. Atlanta Braves: Jonathan Cannon, RHP, Georgia
While taking a backseat to Georgia’s hailed ace Emerson Hancock, Cannon quietly put together a nice collegiate career. He’s built up his velocity to match his 6’6″ frame, and he’s still getting a feel for his breaking stuff. If he can clear COVID requirements, Cannon should pick up where he left off.
25. Oakland Athletics: Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland HS (NJ)
Of the many big-bodies pitchers in this years class, Petty isn’t one of them but he has pure stuff, no doubt. The dude is fearless.
26. Minnesota Twins: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi
Scouts are torn if Hoglund will become a mid-rotation starter or an end-rotation starter. There are even those who think he’s destined for a reliever role. Most of his pitches are still maturing, and his velocity doesn’t seem to hit the upper 90s. While that isn’t a concern, he’ll have to become more of a technical pitcher to get outs.
27. San Diego Padres: Mason Pelio, RHP, Boston College
Mason Pelio is a name that wasn’t even on this list a few months ago. Now I’ve seen him in the top-20 in more mocks than I can’ count and I can see why. Boston College has some special talent this year, and Pelio leads the staff. Fastball can hit 97 MPH, but his changeup could very well be his plus pitch. His breaking pitches aren’t too hot though.
28. Tampa Bay Rays: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb (GA)
His bat speed is among the best in the class. He has a smooth stroke and is as athletic as they come at the backstop. Hard to say if he’ll sign if he falls out of the first round. Whenever he does make the pros, he’ll stick to catcher. He can also play some outfield, too.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Josh Hartle, LHP, Reagan HS (NC)
At 6’5″ Hartle is another big pitcher. I know, change the record. But surprisingly it’s not his velocity that blows you away, it’s the mix of his offerings. A high school kid who knows how to work hitters, rather than come at them, and to success, is a rare find. Hartle could see a rise in draft stock this spring.