Category Archives: MLB Draft recaps

2021 MLB Draft: 1st Round/Comp Round A recap

The first night of the 2021 MLB Draft included two teammates going in the first 10 picks, 18 prep level stars, another Max Muncy and a host of middle infielders hearing their names called. Teams were not shy about high school arms or catchers projecting to the next level.

1st Round

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis C-Louisville
Davis, much like former Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles), becomes the first overall pick in the draft. Prior to Rutschman, former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer was the last true catcher to go first overall. Over the last two seasons, Davis’ bat stood out, and he posted an OPS of 1.145 in 2021.

2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter RHP-Vanderbilt
Leiter becomes the first pick out of Vandy over teammate Kumar Rocker. Part of it was due to a season that included 179 strikeouts. Even with a limited number of starts (13-4, 2.13 ERA) at the collegiate level, there is a prevailing thought that the former Commodore may be ready for the major leagues sooner rather than later.

Jack Leiter RHP-Vanderbilt 2021 MLB Draft Preview
Leiter posted an 11-4 record with a 2.13 ERA in 2021 on his way to SEC Newcomer of the Year honors. He projects as a Top Five pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

3. Detroit Tigers: Jackson Jobe RHP-Heritage HS (Okla.)
Jobe ranks as one of the better high schoolers to come of the prep ranks due to his spin rate, mid-90s fastball and overall frame. He becomes the second straight pick to come from athletic lineage, as his father, Brandt, has been a professional golfer since 1988. Jobe led the Heritage High School football team to an OSSAA Class 3A state championship as a starting sophomore signal-caller in football. He runs sub-seven seconds in the 60-yard dash.

4. Boston Red Sox: Marcelo Mayer SS-Eastlake HS (Calif.)
Mayer contains the frame and overall package to stay at shortstop and the second high schooler at the position to be taken by the Red Sox in the last decade. The last one, Michael Chavis, hit a career-high 18 home runs for the Red Sox in 2019, no longer plays the position and was recently called back up to the majors. All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts does and was recently selected for this year’s midsummer classic. Will he opt out of his current contract?

5. Baltimore Orioles: Colton Cowser CF-Sam Houston State
The 2021 Southland Conference Player of the Year had a .490 OBP and led the conference in runs. It really wasn’t a surprise that the former Freshman All-American shone the way he did over a three-year period, but it should be noted that he was not selected in the 2018 MLB Draft after playing at Cypress High School (Tex.). Will he and last year’s first-round pick, Heston Kjerstad, prove the Orioles drafting strategy was correct years from now?

6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Lawlar SS-Jesuit HS (Tex.)
The team’s outfielders have ranked near the bottom of the league in home runs over the last couple of years, so power down the road could be a focus within the farm system. Lawler’s speed (6.45 in the 60-yard dash) and fielding capability should prevent him from ever stepping on the field for Vanderbilt, where he is currently committed. His bat speed made him one of the better prospects in the draft and the second shortstop taken by the Diamondbacks associated with Vanderbilt, as Dansby Swanson was taken first overall in the 2015 MLB Draft before being traded to Atlanta.

7. Kansas City Royals: Frank Mozzicato LHP East Catholic HS (Conn.)
The Royals took former Texas A&M pitcher Asa Lacy in last year’s draft fourth overall, but this year decide to go with the high school arm out of Connecticut. Mozzicato’s stock went on a meteoric rise due to an increase in velocity over a three-year period, but few projected he would become a Top Ten pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

8. Colorado Rockies: Benny Montgomery CF-Red Lands HS (Pa.)
Montgomery committed to play with Virginia, but at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds with blazing speed (6.32 in the 60-yd dash) and a strong arm, don’t be surprised to see him develop into a minor league outfielder. In fact, the aforementioned arm has gone 97 MPH with his fastball.

9. Los Angeles Angels: Sam Bachman RHP-Miami (OH)
Bachman (6’1 235) brings one of the best sliders in the draft to the table and it ranks as his best swing-and-miss pitch. Unlike some of this draft’s other pitchers, the first-team All-MAC selection gave up just one home run in 2021. The Angels took a right-handed pitcher from Louisville a pick later (10th overall) in 2020, Reid Detmers.

10. New York Mets: Kumar Rocker RHP-Vanderbilt
The first-team All-American stands 6’5, 245 pounds and follows in the footsteps of his father, a former Outland Trophy Award winner. He posted a sparkling 28-10 career record for the ‘Dores and was named the 2019 College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player. Can he find his way into the New York Mets rotation quickly after spending time in the minors? The last two pitchers taken by the Mets in the first round are currently starting for another team (Seattle’s Justin Dunn) or struggling with the team.

Kumar Rocker 2021 MLB Draft recap
New York Mets first-round draft pick Kumar Rocker won 28 games for the Commodores over a three-year period. Rocker was the fifth pitcher selected in the 2021 MLB Draft.

11. Washington Nationals: Brady House SS-Winder-Barrow HS (Ga.)
The 6’4 215-pounder committed to Tennessee but it is highly likely that he’ll start off in the Nationals farm system. It is the second first round shortstop taken by the team in the last six years. The other, Carter Kieboom, also came from the state of Georgia (Walton High School) and went 28th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft.

12. Seattle Mariners: Harry Ford C-North Cobb HS (Ga.)
The Georgia Tech commit will have to overcome questions about whether or not he can stay behind the plate but the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder gives the team options with his power and foot speed (6.5, 60-yard dash). He can snap out of his position and fire the ball, which could lead to time at another position in the minor leagues.

13. Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew Painter RHP-Calvary Christian HS (Fla.)
Florida fans were hoping that Painter could develop into the program’s next version of Tommy Mace, and his pitch location for a taller pitcher was impressive at the prep level. His delivery leaves some teams believing the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder can create even more power in his fastball with tweaks in mechanics. The Phillies also took a tall right-handed pitcher in the first round a year ago from the state of Oregon in Mick Abel, who has been at least stable at the Single A level in 2021.

14. San Francisco Giants: Will Bednar RHP-Mississippi State
Bednar’s meteoric rise ended with him being named the 2021 College World Series Most Outstanding Player. The Pennsylvania product did not get selected in the 2019 MLB Draft, but his brother, David, a current major league pitcher, has already exposed him to the big leagues.

15. Milwaukee Brewers: Sal Frelick CF Boston College
Frelick played number of different sports growing up and it could be a big reason he developed into a star for the Eagles. In fact, he was named the 2017 Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year as a quarterback.

16. Miami Marlins: Kahlil Watson SS-Wake Forest HS (N.C.)
The NC State Wolfpack commit experienced somewhat of a slide, as he very easily could have going in the draft’s Top Five picks. Despite going 16th overall, Watson feels as though he will be able to make it to the major leagues on a relatively quick trek. The Wake Forest High School star batted over .500 in 2021 and led the team in runs and hits..

17. Cincinnati Reds: Matt McLain SS-UCLA
McLain actually went 25th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft (Diamondbacks), but decided to head to UCLA instead. McLain stood out at shortstop in the wood bat Cape Cod Baseball League in 2019 and used that momentum to bat a sizzling .397 for the Bruins in a truncated 2020 campaign

18. St. Louis Cardinals: Michael McGreevy RHP-UC Santa Barbara
McGreevy posted 115 strikeouts in 102 innings this past season with nearly an 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his three years on campus, McGreevy lost just three starts.

19. Toronto Blue Jays: Gunnar Hoglund RHP-Ole Miss
If not for injury, where would Hoglund have gone in this draft? Prior to getting injured in 2021, Hoglund was averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning. The Tommy John surgery by no means dims the light for his future prospectus, as he could become one of the keepers of this draft class. Hoglund will not be the only Ole Miss pitcher to get drafted this spring.

20. New York Yankees: Trey Sweeney SS-Eastern Illinois
Sweeney dominated the OVC with nearly a .400 batting average for the season (.382) and a sparkling OPS (1.234). Sweeney nearly drew twice as many walks than strikeouts in 2021 and that was a theme that changed over the course of his career.

21. Chicago Cubs: Jordan Wicks LHP-Kansas State
Wicks’ 2019 and 2021 campaigns sandwiched a shortened 2020 season in which he posted a 0.35 ERA. The Arkansas native and former Big 12 Freshman of the Year was once a high school all-conference kicker at Conway High School.

22. Chicago White Sox: Colson Montgomery SS-Southridge HS (Ind.)
14 players on the current White Sox team were acquired through the draft. Montgomery, a hoops star at the prep level, committed to Indiana as a basketball and baseball recruit. The 6-foot-4 left-handed swinger stood out at the recent MLB Draft Combine and it ultimately landed him in the first round. The basketball background contributes to his lateral movement at the shortstop position.

23. Cleveland Indians: Gavin Williams RHP-East Carolina
The former 30th-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays becomes the second consecutive collegiate pitcher (Tanner Burns) to get selected by the Indians in the first round and definitely the biggest at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds. Williams overcame durability concerns in school to solidify himself as a first-round pick with a strong 2021 campaign. Since 2015, he is the seventh first-round pitcher taken by the organization.

24. Atlanta Braves: Ryan Cusick RHP-Wake Forest
Is there a pitcher with more heat on the sauce? His four-seam fastball can generate up into the high 90s range, but control has been an issue. His fastball is supplemented with an off-speed curveball that may serve as a a secondary pitch. The draft is no longer 40 rounds, so Cusick will have a notch in his belt as a former 40th-round pick back in the 2018 MLB Draft (Reds).

25. Oakland Athletics: Max Muncy SS-Thousand Oak HS (Calif.)
At 6’1, 180 pounds, the A’s get the “other” Max Muncy, the one who actually hit four grand slams as a senior at the prep level. He was committed to Arkansas and has a chance to still play there but expect the Athletics to get him in the fold. The A’s took former Clemson product SS/3B Logan Davidson in the first round (29th overall) back in 2019.

26. Minnesota Twins: Chase Petty RHP-Mainland Regional HS (N.J.)
If you can bring 100 mile-per-hour smoke, then you will get attention from major league scouts. In the minor leagues, it will be imperative for him to develop solid secondary pitches. He becomes the second Florida pitching commit to go in the first round of this draft, dealing another blow to the Gators.

27. San Diego Padres: Jackson Merrill SS-Severna Park HS (Md.)
Merrill, much like his size listings, has been all over the place on prospect lists. If he matures into his frame physically, then he could become a prospect on either of the infield’s corners.

28. Tampa Bay Rays: Carson Williams SS-RHP-Torrey Pines HS (Calif.)
Williams, a California commit, was projected to be the best incoming freshman for the Bears, but the allure of a first round signing bonus should keep him off-campus.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Maddux Bruns LHP-UMS-Wright Preparatory
Can he find his control? The Mississippi State Bulldogs already got a commitment from Bruns and it is not a foregone conclusion that the Alabama native won’t spend three years in Starkville for the national champions.

Compensation Picks

30. Cincinnati Reds: Jay Allen CF-John Carroll Catholic HS (Fla.)
Allen, a former Elite 11 finals participant as a quarterback, had a number of offers in the sport. Eventually, he committed to Florida to play for Kevin O’Sullivan. He probably won’t end up playing for the Gators and robs them potentially of a prospect who could have helped fill the void left by Jud Fabian.

Competitive Balance Round A

31. Miami Marlins: Joe Mack C-Williamsville East HS (N.Y.)
The Marlins take a left-handed bat behind the plate to complement the earlier selection of Watson. Mack’s showcase game in 2021 was against pitcher Evan Chaffee. In that game, Mack reached base four times.

32. Detroit Tigers: Ty Madden RHP-Texas
Madden probably could have stood to cut down on his walks (72 in three seasons), but his 137 strikeouts in 2021 lay credence to his upside as a potential starter. The last Longhorn pitcher to go in the first round was nearly a decade ago in 2011.

33. Milwaukee Brewers: Tyler Black 2B-Wright State
The Ontario native made a meteoric jump from his shortened 2020 production and was especially adept at taking pitches. Aside from hitting .383 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs, Black delivered 82 assists and helped turn 16 double plays this past season.

34. Tampa Bay Rays: Cooper Kinney 2B-Baylor HS (Tenn.)
It will be of interest to South Carolina Gamecock fans if Kinney decides to make his way to Columbia to improve his game over the next three seasons. The 6-foot-2 infielder is a good contact hitter with the frame to grow into a stronger player over time, and it would not be a shock to see him end up on the hot corner.

35. Cincinnati Reds: Matheu Nelson C-FSU
The ACC Player of the Year smashed a nation-leading 23 home runs in 2021 after tallying just seven in his first two seasons on campus. His .773 slugging percentage represented nearly a 400-point leap from his 17-game 2020 campaign.

36. Minnesota Twins: Noah Miller SS-Ozaukee HS (Wisc.)
The Crimson Tide were counting on Miller to perhaps fill a void left by 2021 MLB Draft prospect 2B Peyton Wilson. If he moves to the shortstop position full-time, he has a number of athletic qualities that point to him becoming a solid middle infielder.

Note: The Houston Astros forfeited their first round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft due to the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

2020 MLB Draft: 1st Round/Comp Round A recap

The first night of the 2020 MLB Draft featured a number of collegiate players who dominated the early portion of the draft, prior to the prep level ranks entering the second half’s fray with an impact. Mississippi State’s middle infield of second baseman Justin Foscue and shortstop Jordan Westburg, pictured, were just one of two pairs to hear their names called on the draft’s first night.

1st Round

1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson 3B-Arizona State
Power. Power. Power. The team will expect Torkelson to eventually develop into a 25-to-35-homer All-Star with RBI totals approaching and eventually surpassing triple digits. Can he play third base?

2. Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad OF-Arkansas
We spotlighted Kjerstad’s underrated fielding skills, but this pick is all about the former Razorback’s bat speed. After working his way up through the minor league ranks, he will be expected to compete for a batting title at some point in his career. Kjerstad batted .448 in 16 games this past season.

3. Miami Marlins: Max Meyer RHP-Minnesota
Right-handed flame thrower has all of the tools to be an effective major league closer, but he is the rare 6-foot pitcher with enough gas to start. A viable comparison would be two-time All-Star Sonny Gray.

4. Kansas City Royals: Asa Lacy LHP-Texas A&M
The Royals have used three first-round picks on college arms three years ago. And they add the highest draft pick in Texas A&M history to the mix in 2020.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: Austin Martin 3B/OF-Vanderbilt
What can’t Martin do? Aside from playing two positions in the infield, he also found time to star in center field this past season.

6. Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock RHP-Georgia
Widely regarded as the top right-handed pitcher in the draft, Hancock previously a 38th-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2017 MLB Draft. He brings heat in the 95-MPH range.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales SS-New Mexico State
Gonzales has a diverse skill-set that allows him to spray the ball to all parts of the field. Will the former walk-on project to shortstop or second base in the pros?

8. San Diego Padres: Robert Hassell III OF-Independence HS (Tenn.)
Hassell III pitched in high school but his bat makes him a legitimate candidate to win an outfield job eventually in the major leagues. The Tennessee native will now relinquish his scholarship to Vanderbilt and directly head to the major leagues. He was a two-time Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year.

9. Colorado Rockies; Zac Veen OF-Spruce Creek HS (Fla.)
Veen’s bat could one day annihilate the altitude in the Rocky Mountains, but his foot speed should not be discounted (averaged over a stolen base per game in ’20). Nor should his arm, which could play well in either left or right field.

10. Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers LHP-Louisville
For Detmers, it is all about location and a ‘nasty’ breaking ball. He may be able to save his arm with his plethora of off-speed pitches. The former Cardinals standout was the ACC’s Pitcher of the Year in 2019.

11. Chicago White Sox: Garrett Crochet LHP-Tennessee
His health has been somewhat of a concern, but the 6-foot-6 left-hander has a very difficult delivery for batters to adjust to if seeing him for the first time. It becomes even more of a challenge when he gets his fastball up into the 100 miles per hour range.

12. Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick OF-West Allegheny HS (Pa.)
Despite not playing a single game in 2020, the Pittsburgh native still found his way into the draft’s Top 15 picks. His toe tap at the plate has been a big part of the discussion. Hendrick won the MLB High School Home Run Derby with 14 home runs during the 2019 All-Star weekend in Cleveland.

13. San Francisco Giants: Patrick Bailey C-NC State
The last catcher taken from NC State was former third-rounder Jack Conley, but Bailey ranks on another level. The former Minnesota Twins 37th-round draft pick (2017) is known for his defense, but the switch hitter was on his way to career-highs in every offensive category prior to the 2020 season being cut short.

14. Texas Rangers: Justin Foscue 2B-Mississippi State
The 2019 first-team All-SEC performer pulls the ball and has experience at both second base and the hot corner.

After making some technical tweaks to his swing, the first-team All-SEC infielder blasted 14 HRs and 60 RBIs as a sophomore in 2019. The former Bulldog also played some at the hot corner in school.

15. Philadelphia Phillies: Mick Abel-RHP Jersuit HS (Ore.)
The former Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year did not necessarily standout during the summer of 2019 for USA Baseball’s 18U squad, notching an alarming 8.31 ERA. The 6-foot-5 right-hander carries a fastball, changeup and slider, however, in his arsenal.

16. Chicago Cubs: Ed Howard SS-Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)
It is all about defense for Howard, who still has much room for improvement at the plate. The 6-foot-2, 191-pounder did bat .419 as a junior while earning Class 4A All-State honors. He committed to Oklahoma during his sophomore year. He becomes the first high school player the Cubs have taken in the first round in nearly a decade.

17. Boston Red Sox: Nick Yorke 2B-Archbishop Mitty HS (Calif.)
Prior to the draft, it seemed like a lock that Yorke would end up as an Arizona Wildcat, where he was committed to play. The Red Sox, however, liked his ability to produce runs at the prep level, despite just average speed (7.0-60-yard dash, 1.81 10-yd split) and injury concerns.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bryce Jarvis RHP-Duke
Jarvis averaged over a strikeout per inning in 2020, effectively building off the momentum of a 2019 NCAA regional MVP performance during his sophomore season. In fact, he nearly stopped Vanderbilt’s 2019 national championship run with a masterful performance in the Nashville Super Regional. His father, Kevin, won 34 games during his major league career for 11 teams.

19. New York Mets: Pete Crow-Armstrong OF-Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Crow-Armstrong impressed in the field last summer for the 2019 WBSC U-18 squad. Teams were excited to see him play this spring but were forced to rely on junior film. He clocked in the 6.51 range in the 60-yard dash last summer and had previously committed to Vanderbilt.

20. Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Mitchell OF-UCLA
Mitchell has always been known for his foot speed, despite weighing in the 215-pound range. He once ran a blazing 6.35 60-yard dash in a Perfect Game showcase back in 2017. The Bruins starting outfielder scored 18 runs in 2020.

21. St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Walker 3B-Decatur HS (Ga.)
Walker is a power prospect with potential upside as a corner-infielder or right fielder. The Duke commit earned Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2020 despite playing in just 16 games. He also clocked in the 6.56-range in the 60-yard dash.

22. Washington Nationals: Cade Cavalli RHP-Oklahoma
Since he left the high school ranks as a 226-pounder with a 90 MPH fastball, Cavalli has added at least five miles per hour to his fastball, developed a slider and even added a curve ball.

23. Cleveland Indians: Carson Tucker SS-Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.)
Tucker is a developmental prospect who still has room to grow into his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame. His flexibility may be his greatest asset as a projected middle infielder. His older brother, Cole, debuted in 2019 for the Pittsburgh Pirates after going in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft.

24. Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Bitsko RHP Central Bucks East HS (Pa.)
A reclassification for the 2020 MLB Draft, Bitsko has experience at first base, third base and in the outfield. However, the Virginia commit’s value lies in his upside on the mound.

25. Atlanta Braves: Jared Shuster LHP-Wake Forest
He got better and better as his career went along after not getting drafted out of high school. While this pick may rank as a surprise to Braves fans, he improved his control and the fastball continues to gain heat.

26. Oakland A’s: Tyler Soderstrom C-Turlock HS (Calif.)
Lefty batter who stands 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with questions about his defense. The 2020 California Gatorade Player of the Year could end up as a corner infielder in the pros because of his power upside.

27. Minnesota Twins: Aaron Sebato 1B-North Carolina
At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year and draft-eligible sophomore combines major power with a right-handed bat that projects well to the first base position. Despite playing in limited games this year (2020), he notched seven home runs after smacking 18 in 2019. Can he connect versus off-speed pitches?

28. New York Yankees: Austin Wells C-Arizona
Wells has above average speed for a catcher and has the left-handed batter has produced with a wooden bat. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder contains positional versatility. The former Bishop Gorman HS (Nev.) product hit .375 in 2020.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bobby Miller RHP-Louisville
The ball is difficult to pick up off the hand of the former 38th-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2017. His heat gets up to the 97-98 MPH mark on his fastballs and he has a satisfactory slider

Comp Round A:

Westburg played for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2019.

30. Baltimore Orioles: Jordan Westburg SS-Mississippi State
The 6-foot-3, 203-pounder is a solid contact hitter with enough speed and arm strength to play the left side of the infield. His productivity in the Cape Cod League bodes well for his future prospectus.

31. Pittsburgh Pirates: Carmen Mlodzinksi RHP-South Carolina
He broke his foot in 2019 but he was cleared and finished with the second-most strikeouts in the Cape Cod League. The South Carolina native projects as a ground ball pitcher due to his mid-90s fastball and effective slider.

32. Kansas City Royals: Nick Loftin SS-Baylor
He doesn’t strike out a lot and he has the ability to turn on inside fastballs. Perhaps his biggest strength is his ability to potentially play multiple positions, as he did for Team USA in 2019.

33. Arizona Diamondbacks: Slade Cecconi RHP-Miami (Fla.)
The Oviedo, Florida native carried a mid-90s fastball coming out of the high school ranks and has since added even more sauce. He was a good enough prep level athlete to have played multiple positions at 6-foot-4.

34. San Diego Padres: Justin Lange RHP -Llano HS (Tex.)
Lange can consistently get up into the 93 MPH zone with his fastball and has even touched triple digits. He still has room to grow into his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. He originally committed to play at Dallas Baptist University.

35. Colorado Rockies: Drew Romo C-Woodlands HS (Tex.)
The switch-hitting catcher was known most for his defense, but he has shown marked upside when batting from the left side of the plate. The LSU commit may have gone even higher with a full season of high school baseball in 2020.

36. Cleveland Indians: Tanner Burns RHP-Auburn
After fading late in 2019, scouts were interested to see if the fiery Burns could maintain his hot start for a full season in 2020. This was particularly the case after shoulder issues were a big reason for his sophomore year fade.

37. Tampa Bay Rays: Alika Williams SS-Arizona State
It was always about the glove for Williams, despite just pedestrian arm strength. If he doesn’t pan out at shortstop, he has a solid fallback plan at second base.

Note: The Houston Astros forfeited their first round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft due to the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Seattle Mariners 2020 MLB Draft, 4th Round, 107th overall pick: Tyler Keenan 3B-Ole Miss

Keenan may not have gotten the recognition he earned for his other-worldly start to the 2020 campaign. The Collegiate Baseball All-American was second nationally with 33 runs batted in during the first portion of the season. The former Rebel finished the season on an 11-game hitting streak. Keenan has always been known for his power and ability to make contact. In 2019, he led the Rebels in home runs (15) and RBI (66). The Cleveland HS (N.C.) product finished second in the 2019 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans College HR Derby.

New York Yankees 2019 2nd Round pick, 67th overall (VIDEO): Josh Smith SS-LSU

Smith -a former 2016 38th-round pick by the Detroit Tigers- lost most of his 2018 campaign due to a stress fracture.  He came back in 2019 to lead LSU in stolen bases (20) and on-base percentage (.436%). Along the way, the Yankees 2019 second-round pick posted a .952 fielding percentage and .346 batting average (through 63 games). The team’s starting shortstop was a significant contributor at third base for the Tigers’ 2017 College World series squad.

Miami Marlins 2019 1st Round pick, 4th overall (VIDEO): JJ Bleday OF-Vanderbilt

The Miami Marlins selected the 2019 SEC Player of the Year JJ Bleday with the fourth overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft.  Bleday currently leads the nation with 26 home runs in 2019 and sports a .327 career batting average through three seasons.  The former San Diego Padres 39th round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft was a three-sport athlete at the prep level in golf, swimming and baseball.  He projects as a corner outfielder in the Marlins organization. 

Atlanta Braves 2019 1st Round pick, 21st overall (Video): Braden Shewmake SS-Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s Braden Shewmake has been a model of consistency during his three-year run in the SEC.  The conference and National Freshman of the Year in 2017 batted .335 with 11 home runs and 68 RBI during that season alone. The former all-district quarterback at Wylie East High School (Tex.) was a three-sport standout (baseball, basketball, football) at the prep level.  The 6’4, 190-pounder was selected 21st overall by the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 MLB Draft and will be expected to develop into the same steady player he proved to be at the SEC level.

Houston Astros 2019 2nd Round pick, 68th overall (VIDEO): Grae Kessinger SS-Ole Miss

Ole Miss’ Grae Kessinger’s grandfather, Don, was a two-time Gold Glove winner for the Chicago Cubs and once served as the Rebels head coach (1991-96). His father, Kevin, also played baseball at Ole Miss. The Astros second-round draft pick and Rebels team MVP was named a finalist for the 2019 Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the top shortstop in college baseball. Through early June, Kessinger had committed just eight errors.

DraftNasty Throwback: Houston Astros SS/3B Alex Bregman

Prior to getting selected as the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Bregman was a three-year standout for the LSU Tigers. A collegiate shortstop, his defensive prowess may have even outmatched his productivity at the plate. Since moving on to the major leagues, Bregman’s power at the plate may rank as a surprise, but his arm strength does not. We take a quick photographic journey into his collegiate days with a couple of videos mixed in-between. The 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP has turned into one of Major League Baseball’s brightest young stars.

Bregman -the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft- also earned 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

DraftNasty Throwback: Atlanta Braves SS Dansby Swanson

Swanson was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 2012 MLB Draft, but ultimately decided to go to Vanderbilt. His 2014 College World Series performance earned him most valuable player honors and was a prelude to a Commodores national championship run in 2015. In turn, his decision not only paid off in a college championship, but it also helped earn him the distinction of becoming the number one overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Georgia native was traded less than a year later to his hometown team, the Atlanta Braves. In 2019, Swanson set a career-high with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs as the Braves won the National League East.

In 71 games (2015), Swanson smacked 24 doubles, six triples and 15 home runs for the Commodores. Defensively, he posted 111 put outs and 185 assists.

Andrew Benintendi OF-Kansas City Royals: DraftNasty Throwback

While at Arkansas, Benintendi -or in some circles known as “Benny”- became the first SEC player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in one season. The former Madeira High School (Ohio) and Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year also batted .380 for the Razorbacks in a historic sophomore campaign. In 2015, he won the Dick Howser Trophy and was named the SEC Player of the Year. Benintendi went on to become the seventh overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft and quickly earned his keep in the major leagues.

Benintendi became the first SEC player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season (2015).
Benintendi was also featured on the cover of DraftNasty’s 2015 fall edition.