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.
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.
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.
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.
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.