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2021 BA 500 Draft Rankings

The BA 500 is an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2021 draft class—not to predict where players will be selected. The list was compiled in consultation with major league scouts, front office executives, scouting directors, college coaches and other professional evaluators. Ben Badler, Alexis Brudnicki, Teddy Cahill, JJ Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Joe Healy, Bill Mitchell, Chris Trenkle and Carlos Collazo contributed to the reporting and writing. Mark Chiarelli, Josh Norris and Chris Trenkle contributed to editing.

By Carlos Collazo

Well, it’s finally here—the 2021 BA 500!

No, we’re not late, but this is the deepest into the calendar year we have ever released the BA 500, as the 2021 draft is the first to be moved into July and tied to the MLB All-Star Break.

Baseball has largely put Covid-19 behind it this spring, but the 2021 draft class has still felt the ripple effects of the pandemic. While it won’t be remembered as the Covid draft in the same way the five-round 2020 draft last year will be, there’s an argument to be made that the 2021 draft class is equally impacted by the virus—if not more so.

Scouts wondered if that would be the case a year ago, as Covid largely blew up the summer evaluation period for scouts and players alike, especially amongst the college ranks. No Collegiate National Team. No Cape Cod League. No 18U National Team. While many high school events took place in the South, players from the West Coast were more limited in their options and scouts themselves had to miss events entirely due to personnel restrictions (and in some cases layoffs) and further step into the world of video scouting by writing reports remotely.

That dynamic has led to plenty of volatility during the season as players who previously didn't have a chance to establish a track record or baseline of performance stood out, and others with some history struggled. Teams are now left to try and sort out the signal from the noise by more heavily relying on area scouts and their history and/or adjusting their models to incorporate a much smaller sample of college stats.

Those factors—on top of the exceptional depth of the 2021 class thanks to the five-round draft last year that brought back many players who would have been drafted in a typical year—have led to less consensus on the class than ever.

“This year I have no expectations because it is so wide open,” said one scouting director. “When I walk into that draft room the night of the draft I wouldn’t be surprised if it was completely all over the place in terms of where guys go. Just not a lot of consensus.”

There’s not a consensus No. 1 player in the class and instead a group of five players are generally seen as the top tier of talent. That group includes toolsy prep shortstops Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer, renowned Vanderbilt righthanders Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker and Louisville catcher Henry Davis, who was one of the best performers of the season.

After a full spring, the high school class looks more impressive than the college group. The 2021 class has a chance to be one of the best prep shortstop classes we’ve ever seen, with four potential top-10 picks at the position and a slew of intriguing depth options as well. Outside of the shortstops there is a bounty of up-the-middle position players with unusually impressive athleticism and tools.

The high school pitching group, led by righthanders Jackson Jobe and Andrew Painter, seems close to average, with several legitimate first-round talents and perhaps more lefthanded pitching depth than in an average class.

Scouting departments were worried about the college hitting class entering the year, but there was hope that throughout the spring players would step forward and make it at least average. That doesn’t appear to have been the case. Most evaluators see the college hitters as the weakest demographic of the group—with a notable absence of shortstops and corner profiles with power—and it’s a solidly below-average college hitting class overall.

The college pitching saw attrition during the season as potential top-10 players like Gunnar Hoglund and Jaden Hill suffered season-ending injuries, but the group seems solid or a tick above-average on talent—but significantly below-average in terms of innings and established track record.

Overall, the 2021 class seems weaker than teams would prefer at the very top, but with elite depth that might leave organizations more excited with their draftees on Days Two and Three than in a typical year.

We will continue to make tweaks and adjust the BA 500 as necessary as we get closer to draft day.

*BA Grades and Tool Grades — We’re excited to roll out BA Grades and tool grades for the top 200 players in the class for the first time. BA readers familiar with the Prospect Handbook should be familiar with these grades, which are based on the 20-80 scouting scale. Our attempt is to provide a deeper understanding of the class in a quantifiable manner and to also make it easier for readers to have a rough estimate of where a player might rank within a team’s Top 30 once they are drafted. Please note that all player grades and tool grades are future grades, not present grades.

**Rapscores — 85% of Baseball America’s Top 500 MLB prospects use Rapsodo data for player development and evaluation. In collaboration with Driveline Baseball, Rapsodo developed RapScore as a standard scale for scouting and recruiting. Utilizing the principles of the 20-80 scale and the verified data collected by Rapsodo’s technology, RapScore provides a quantifiable way to compare athletes of all ages. Players that complete a Rapsodo Certified Assessment receive a RapScore and are listed on the Rapsodo National Player Database.

500 Matches
See Full List Expand Collapse All Updated on: 6/18/2021
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    Jordan Lawlar

    Dallas Jesuit HS SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Vanderbilt
    Age At Draft: 19.0
    RapScore: 43

    BA Grade: 65 | Risk: Very High
    Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Field: 60 | Arm: 55

    Whichever team picks Lawlar will be selecting a prep shortstop with a long track record of success. Lawlar was the shortstop and three-hole hitter for Dallas Jesuit from his first game as a sophomore to the final game of his senior year. He left an inch taller (6-foot-2) and 25 pounds heavier (195 pounds) than he was when he arrived, but his performance was remarkably consistent. Lawlar hit over .400 all three seasons and was one of the best hitters on the summer showcase circuit in both 2019 and 2020. Because he’s coming out of Texas two years after Bobby Witt Jr. (and like Witt he’s nearly 19 on draft day), Lawlar draws understandable comparisons. Witt had louder tools almost across the board with the exception of the hit tool, but Lawlar has plenty of plus tools himself, with future 60 speed (he’ll turn in 70 times right now) to go with 60 hit, a 60 glove and an above-average arm and future power. Lawlar has a high likelihood of staying at shortstop. Witt (picked No. 2 in 2019) is the only Texas prep shortstop to ever go in the top-10 picks, and Lawlar should be the second. There were concerns when Lawlar showed more swing and miss early in the season, but he resolved that as the season wore on. He struck out in 20% of his plate appearances over the first 21 games of the season. In his final 15 games he struck out once in 55 plate appearances with no degradation in his power production. Lawlar’s swing is compact with above-average bat speed. Lawlar is a fast-twitch athlete. Projecting how his power develops separates those who see him as the best prospect in the draft class from those who see him as just a top-tier draft prospect. If his power catches up to his other tools in his 20s, he could be a regular all-star. If not, his hitting ability, speed and defense still would give him a solid path to being an MLB regular with defensive value. The Vanderbilt commit also impresses with his intelligence and maturity.
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    Marcelo Mayer

    Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif. SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 185 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: Southern California
    Age At Draft: 18.6

    BA Grade: 65 | Risk: Very High
    Hit: 65 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Field: 60 | Arm: 60

    Mayer is the next big prospect to come out of a powerhouse Eastlake (Calif.) High program that produced Adrian Gonzalez, 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco and 2020 second-rounder Casey Schmitt (by way of San Diego State). Mayer started getting attention from scouts at Eastlake as a freshman, where he showed a smooth lefthanded swing and advanced defensive actions up the middle. He capped his four-year varsity career by hitting .410 with 13 home runs in the regular season this spring while playing excellent high school competition in San Diego County’s top division. Mayer is arguably the top defensive shortstop in a class that is deep at the position. He glides around the infield with silky smooth actions and has the hands, footwork and arm strength to stick at shortstop long term. He slows the game down and has no problem throwing from multiple angles with an accurate arm. Though he is a below-average runner, he moves fluidly around the dirt and should be at least an above-average defender. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Mayer also has upside offensively. He’s a plus hitter with excellent barrel control and extension in his swing and drives balls hard in the air from gap-to-gap. He can turn on good fastballs and drive them off the right-field fence or let pitches on the outer half travel deep and line them hard up the middle or the opposite way. He has fringe-average power now, but could tap into above-average power in the future as he fills out his projectable frame. He controls the strike zone and has a calm, steady presence in the batter’s box. Mayer is committed to Southern California, but as a surefire top-five pick, it’s unlikely he ever steps foot on campus. He has a chance to be taken with the top pick and join Gonzalez, who was selected first overall in 2000, in making Eastlake the only high school to ever have two players drafted No. 1 overall.
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    Jack Leiter

    Vanderbilt RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Yankees '19 (20)
    Age At Draft: 21.2
    RapScore: 53

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: High
    Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50

    Leiter was a first-round talent out of high school and ranked as the No. 21 prospect in the 2019 class, but a high price tag and strong Vanderbilt commitment meant he got to campus in Nashville. Draft-eligible in his second year with the Commodores, Leiter—the son of long-time big league pitcher Al Leiter—dominated in his first full season of collegiate baseball, posting a 2.12 ERA over 76.1 innings and 13 starts, while striking out 127 batters (15 K/9) and walking 34 (4.0). Known for his polish and pitchability out of high school, scouts continue to praise Leiter’s moxie on the mound, with a deep pitch mix that includes five offerings if you count a two-seam and four-seam fastball. Leiter is a shorter righthander, listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, but he has added strength to his frame since high school, particularly in his lower half. This spring, Leiter has primarily worked with a fastball, curveball, slider combination. His fastball has been up to 98 mph, but averages 93-95 mph, with excellent carry that generates plenty of whiffs in the zone and above it. Teams love the metrics on Leiter’s fastball, and the combination of his size, extension and carry on the pitch allow it to play up, even when he’s sitting in the 90-93 mph range. His curveball is his best secondary offering now, an upper-70s, 12-to-6 downer that he lands consistently in the zone when he wants but can also bury for a put-away pitch. Leiter throws a slider in the low 80s that has less depth but might wind up being a better out-of-the-zone chase offering and he also infrequently throws a mid-80s changeup that scouts loved out of high school and could become an above-average secondary with more reps. Durability was the one concern scouts had with Leiter, and while he did post most weeks throughout the season, he skipped one start to manage fatigue and at times was a bit homer-prone. While Leiter might not project as an ace, scouts see a pitcher who should fit in a No. 2 or No. 3 role and pitch in the big leagues for a long time.
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    Henry Davis

    Louisville C
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.8

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: High
    Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Field: 45 | Arm: 70

    Davis ranked as the No. 306 prospect in the 2018 class out of Fox Lane High in Bedford, N.Y., but at the time he was seen as a defensive-first catcher with work to do offensively. His loudest tool was by far his arm, with some scouts grading it as a 70 at the time and comparing it to the best throwing arms in the majors while he was still in high school. That remains the case for Davis, whose arm strength is elite and at least a 70-grade tool now, but his offensive development and performance this spring have pushed him up draft boards to the point where most teams consider him the best college bat in the 2021 class. A 6-foot-2, 210-pound backstop, Davis entered Louisville with a swing that was described as too steep, lengthy and stiff. He’s improved that significantly over three seasons, though his swing is still a bit unorthodox. Davis sets up with a crouched and open stance, with his hands at shoulder length before cocking back in his load and striding to an even or closed setup with his feet. It’s a strength-based swing more than a twitchy, fluid, bat speed operation, but Davis combines standout zone recognition, pure bat-to-ball skills and plus power to his pull side to make everything work. Davis has walked more than he’s struck out in his Louisville career, with 31 walks to 23 strikeouts through 49 games in 2021 and was flirting with .400 for a decent stretch of the season while also tapping into a career-high 14 homers. Most of that power goes to the pull side, and Davis’ approach in general has been to his pull side. He’s produced against every pitch type this spring, with an OPS over 1.000 against fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed offerings, though he has shown more swing and miss against changeups than other pitch types. Scouts are split on whether or not Davis will catch at the next level. He has the arm strength and athleticism—he’s a good runner for a catcher—but needs to work on his blocking and receiving.
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    Kumar Rocker

    Vanderbilt RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 245 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Rockies '18 (38)
    Age At Draft: 21.6
    RapScore: 58

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: High
    Fastball: 60 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50

    Rocker was one of the top high school pitching prospects in the loaded 2018 prep pitching class that included lefthanders Matthew Liberatore and Ryan Weathers and righthanders Ethan Hankins and Carter Stewart, among others. Despite ranking as the No. 13 player in the class and a consensus first-round talent, Rocker made it to campus at Vanderbilt where he was the highest-ranked player in Baseball America’s college recruiting rankings history. He delivered on the hype and became the 2019 Freshman of the Year after posting a 3.25 ERA in 16 starts and 99.2 innings with 114 strikeouts to just 21 walks. Because of Rocker’s pedigree and collegiate track record, he entered the tumultuous 2021 draft cycle as the de facto No. 1 player in the 2021 class and remains in the top tier of players despite a lack of consensus on any standout 1-1 player in this year’s group. Rocker has a large, 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame befitting a workhorse big league starter that leaves no doubt about his professional bloodlines. Rocker’s father, Tracy, played football at Auburn and briefly in the NFL. He has power stuff out of that powerful frame, headlined by a fastball up to 99 mph at his best and a devastating slider in the low-to-mid 80s that grades out as a double-plus offering at its best and is one of the better breaking balls in the 2021 class. Rocker has dealt with inconsistent velocity this spring, sitting in the 89-93 mph range at times before getting back to his usual mid-90s stuff. He’s still succeeded and overwhelmed SEC hitters even without his best velocity, but scouts question how that pitch will play at the next level, especially due to the fact that his fastball has played down at times dating back to high school. Rocker experimented with a cutter in the 88-91 mph range this season and has also thrown a firm changeup with slight fading action. Both offerings could give him something to keep lefthanders off his fastball at the next level, and his changeup in particular has shown upside in the past, but both need more refinement and usage before teams will feel confident projecting plus grades. While some teams think Rocker has reliever risk thanks to inconsistent fastball command at times, his pure stuff, pedigree and track record give him significant upside and he should be one of the first arms selected.
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    Kahlil Watson

    Wake Forest (N.C.) HS SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 178 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: North Carolina State
    Age At Draft: 18.2

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Field: 55 | Arm: 55

    Watson was one of the standout performers over the summer showcase circuit and immediately put himself in first-round territory after a standout showing at East Coast Pro, where he ran a 6.5 60-yard-dash and looked like one of the best hitters at the event. Watson isn’t the most physical player you’ll see, listed at 5-foot-9, 178 pounds, but there are scouts in the industry who believe his combination of athleticism, tools and defensive profile give him the most upside in the class. Watson has outstanding bat speed and plenty of strength in his swing, with a tendency to take massive hacks and try to hit for power. Despite that approach, he has shown a smooth, lefthanded swing and an ability to manipulate his barrel, with impressive at-bats against some of the best pitchers in the class over the summer. Against mid-90s fastballs and some of the best breaking balls the prep class has to offer, Watson seemed perfectly comfortable within his at-bats, spitting on pitches out of the zone, drawing walks when he needed to and driving pitches in his hitting zone when the opportunity arose. That approach and his physical tools should allow him to project as an above-average hitter with solid or better power. Watson is a tremendous athlete who has turned in 70-grade run times at various events and should be at least a plus runner consistently. Defensively, he has all the tools to stick at shortstop, with quick-twitch actions, solid glove work and 60-grade arm strength. There have been some scouts who think he might fit best at second base or perhaps in center field in the long run thanks to his speed and athleticism, but there’s no tool he’s missing that he needs to be an above-average defensive shortstop. Watson is committed to North Carolina State, where he would continue a solid run of impressive shortstops out of the program, but he is a lock to be drafted among the top-10 picks.
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    Brady House

    Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Ga. SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Tennessee
    Age At Draft: 18.1
    RapScore: 49

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 55 | Power: 70 | Run: 50 | Field: 55 | Arm: 70

    House entered the 2021 draft cycle as the top high school prospect in the class thanks to an impressive combination of physicality, explosive tools and a lengthy track record of hitting at a high level. Listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, House stands out for his impressive bat speed and natural strength, with many scouts believing he will grow into 70-grade raw power at physical maturity. He pairs that power with an advanced offensive approach that includes solid pitch recognition and the ability to turn around velocity and recognize spin out of the hand. House wasn’t quite as explosive as scouts wanted him to be offensively over the showcase circuit, showing more swing and miss than desired, but he more than flashed his upside and skill set. While he does have a tendency to swing through pitches, when he makes contact it’s frequently hard with standout exit velocities. Outside of his power, House’s arm strength is likely his loudest tool, with a true howitzer of an arm that has been up into the mid 90s when he’s gotten on the mound and would easily play at third base or right field if necessary. A shortstop now, House has proven to be a better defender than scouts anticipated considering his size. Most expect that he’ll move off the position in the long run, but he has solid hands and reactions, as well as an impressive internal clock, body control and athleticism that allow him to make difficult plays. He does have the tools to be a solid defender at shortstop or a very good one at third base, but there’s no reason to move him off short until a superior defender forces him off or until his lack of elite quick-twitch mobility becomes prohibitive. House projects as an average runner in the future, though he has turned in above-average run times. The Tennessee commit seems like a safe top-10 pick and has some of the loudest offensive upside in the class.
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    Jackson Jobe

    Heritage Hall HS, Oklahoma City, Okla. RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Mississippi
    Age At Draft: 19.0
    RapScore: 49

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: Extreme
    Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 55

    The son of a PGA touring pro (Brandt Jobe) who still competes on the PGA’s senior tour, the younger Jobe is likely to be the first prep arm off the board. The question is just how high will he go? In the past two years, no prep pitcher has been selected higher than 15th (Mick Abel, 2020). Jobe’s elite spin rates, four-pitch package and fresh arm could mean he goes higher than that. Jobe is still relatively new to focusing on pitching—he was a shortstop and quarterback who was still viewed in a similar regard as a shortstop prospect as he was as a pitcher last summer. There are no such debates now. His shortstop play in addition to his pitching helped Heritage Hall to an Oklahoma 4A state title, but everyone sees Jobe moving to the mound full-time as a pro. Jobe’s 3,000-rpm slider is one of the best pitches in the class. It’s a future plus-plus pitch that has excellent depth and bite and he’s shown he can land it for strikes as well. His mid-90s fastball is another plus pitch. It has life up in the zone and he’s demonstrated he can work it in and out. When he throws it down in the zone, it has solid arm-side ride. Unlike many high school stars, Jobe already shows feel for a future plus mid-80s changeup as well. He shows confidence in it and it has late downward dive. He even has a fourth future above-average pitch in a spike curve with 11-to-5 break and depth. Jobe’s delivery includes a clean arm action with minimal effort. There’s reason to believe he will continue to get stronger and eventually throw even harder. Jobe’s spin rates and vertical movement on his fastball are alluring to teams. He’s an excellent athlete who would be a pro prospect as a shortstop if not for his pitching ability. He’s a Mississippi commit, but his draft stock makes it unlikely he will make it to school.
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    Sal Frelick

    Boston College OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 175 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.2

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Hit: 60 | Power: 40 | Run: 70 | Field: 60 | Arm: 50

    Undrafted out of high school, Frelick emerged as one of the most exciting players in college baseball, combining a mix of explosive athleticism and speed at a premium position with high contact skills and strong game performance. Frelick is a quick-burst athlete who accelerates fast into 70-grade speed, consistently getting home to first in 4.0 seconds from the left side and sometimes a tick under. An infielder in high school, Frelick moved to the outfield and played primarily right field his first two years, but he handled center field in 2021 and showed strong instincts that improved throughout the season en route to becoming the ACC defensive player of the year. His speed translates to good range in center field, where he has a fringe-average arm with good accuracy. Frelick hit .359/.443/.559 in 2021, showing a simple, direct swing from the left side without much movement. At 5-foot-9, he has a small strike zone and mostly stays within that zone, with good hand-eye coordination to make frequent contact, even on times when he does chase. Frelick does a good job of going with where the ball is pitched, with quick hands, and he's able to pull inside fastballs up and in while also sending pitches on the outer third to left field. Frelick has some sneaky power for his size, with the ability to drive the ball out pull side when he gets a pitch up in the zone, but it's more occasional pop that plays below-average in games. Frelick doesn't get off his best swings on pitches down in the zone, but his bat-to-ball skills and elite speed help him beat out infield hits. Frelick is one of the safer college hitters in the draft, with a chance to be a dynamic sparkplug who hits at the top of a lineup and plays good defense in the middle of the field.
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    Notes:

    Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 170 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: D-backs '18 (1)
    Age At Draft: 21.9
    RapScore: 44

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 60

    McLain was the biggest riser in the 2018 draft class after a huge senior season at Beckman (Calif.) High. The D-backs drafted him 25th overall, but he was strongly committed to UCLA and did not sign. McLain rebounded from a poor freshman season for the Bruins with a strong showing in the Cape Cod League and the abbreviated 2020 season. He followed up with his best season as a junior this spring, batting .323/.429/.569 with nine home runs during the regular season despite missing nearly three weeks with a broken thumb. McLain is undersized at a listed 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, but he is a dangerous hitter who is strong in his frame. He has a short, direct swing and consistently lines balls hard from gap to gap. He has a knack for finding the barrel, separates balls from strikes and rarely chases outside the strike zone. He is a consensus above-average to plus hitter and projects to hit at the top of a lineup for a first-division team. The only question about McLain’s offensive game is how much power he will produce. Though he hit for power in college, his fringe-average raw power will likely translate more to doubles with a wood bat and limit him to 10-15 home runs per season. He has plus speed and consistently runs hard to beat out infield singles and leg out doubles and triples. McLain played shortstop the last two seasons at UCLA and is playable there, but he lacks the natural actions for the position and projects better at second base. Some teams prefer him in center field, where he played as a freshman, and others think he projects best as a multi-positional player who bounces around the diamond. He is an instinctive defender who positions himself well, gets good reads off the bat and has above-average arm strength at any position. Regardless of where he ends up defensively, McLain is one of the top hitters in the class and will be taken in the first round again this year.
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    Colton Cowser

    Sam Houston State OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 195 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.3
    RapScore: 50

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 55

    In a year where teams are frustrated by the lack of college hitters with lengthy track records of production, Cowser is a rare safe harbor who provides a long history of hitting. He hit .374/.490/.680 as a second-year sophomore with 16 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts. He’s hit .354/.460/.608 for his career at Sam Houston State with more walks (78) than strikeouts (70). And he became the first player in school history to play for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team when he did so in 2019 after his freshman season, so scouts got to see him against top competition during the summer. That solid performance with Team USA helps blunt some of the criticisms that he played at a mid-major school. A high school teammate of Texas righthander and likely first-rounder Ty Madden (as well as 2019 supplemental first-round pick J.J. Goss and second-rounder Mathew Thompson), Cowser finished the season on an 18-game hitting streak. Cowser rarely misses a fastball. According to statistics compiled by Synergy, he has 17 extra-base hits on fastballs and just 19 swings and misses. He is more a hitter than a slugger for now, but he’s started to add strength and scouts wouldn’t be surprised to see his knack for hitting turn into 20-25 home run power eventually. Many of his home runs for now are pull shots or opposite-field balls that just clear the wall. Cowser is a plus runner who takes direct routes although his reads sometimes are a little slower than ideal. He shows an above-average arm when he lets loose and does a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly. He should be able to stay in center field at least for a few years, and maybe longer than that depending on how his body matures. As a lefthanded hitter and up-the-middle defender with excellent hand-eye coordination and speed, Cowser is one of the safer bets in the first round.
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    Ty Madden

    Texas RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Royals '18 (34)
    Age At Draft: 21.4
    RapScore: 53

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Fastball: 60 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 55

    In Madden’s senior season at Houston’s Cypress Ranch High, he was the ace of a team that also included junior righthanders J.J. Goss (a 2019 supplemental first-round pick of the Rays) and Matthew Thompson (a 2019 second-round pick of the White Sox). Outfielder Colton Cowser, another likely 2021 first-round pick, roamed the outfield and catcher Jared Alvarez-Lopez was a 2019 17th-round pick. Madden ranked No. 238 on Baseball America’s Top 500 draft prospects coming out of high school. The Royals selected him in the 34th round in 2018, but he headed to Texas instead, where he stepped into the weekend rotation by the end of his freshman season. Madden sat 90-93 mph in his first two seasons at Texas, but this year he’s proven to be one of the hardest throwing starters in college baseball, sitting 94-96 mph and regularly getting to 99. He also proved to be one of the most consistent Friday night starters in the country, combining that top-end velocity with above-average control. Madden’s plus fastball doesn’t have elite movement to go with that velocity, which may limit which teams are most enamored with him. His heater is much more effective down in the zone than up—hitters hit .333/.350/.846 on his fastball when he spotted it in the upper third of the strike zone, but only .179/.179/.282 in the bottom third. His fastball does pair well with his slider (which earns 60 grades as well and will flash plus-plus). His mid-80s slider has solid downward break with adequate power and depth. Madden largely shelved his fringe-average 86-89 mph changeup in 2021, but it’s been promising in the past. Madden works up and down. He largely works in on lefties and down and away from righthanded hitters. Some evaluators fear he’ll end up as a two-pitch power reliever, but his durable frame (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), long track record of success and above-average control give him a solid path to being a durable mid-rotation starter. He should be the first player from Texas selected in the first-round since Taylor Jungman in 2011.
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    Jordan Wicks

    Kansas State LHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 220 | B-T: L-L
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.9
    RapScore: 47

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 70 | Control: 65

    With arguably the best changeup in the draft class, intriguing fastball metrics and a track record of performance, Wicks could easily become Kansas State’s first-ever first-rounder, and the first lefthander off the board in July. The solidly-built, 6-foot-3, 220-pound southpaw has been up to 95 mph in all of his outings this year for the Wildcats, regularly sitting 92-93 with run, cut, and ride to his fastball that allows for incredible deception and disappearing action. His low-80s changeup is his most lethal weapon, and the Arkansas native relies on the plus-plus offering as much as any guy with a 70-grade secondary would. Wicks has improved his slider from being fringe-average at best to flashing plus throughout the 2021 season, and he has a curveball in the upper 70s to round out his repertoire. The lefty has great feel to pitch and extreme competitiveness that have helped him find success in the Big 12 Conference, despite pitching in a hitter-friendly home park in front of a defense that he hasn’t always been able to rely on. Wicks has earned multiple honors in each of his three years at Kansas State, consistently performing and improving. Following up his summer in the Northwoods League, where the 21-year-old posted a 0.45 ERA over four starts and 20 innings with a 29-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio, this season for the Wildcats, Wicks made 15 starts and threw 92.1 innings. He posted a 3.70 ERA, allowing 90 hits and an opponent average of .249, walking 28 and striking out 118. In 203 career innings in the Big 12, he walked 58 and struck out 230. Wicks is a high-floor lefthanded strike-thrower with a history of college performance, and there just aren’t many like him in the draft class. Though he’s not a flamethrower, he can’t be labeled a ‘vanilla stuff’ pitcher with his standout changeup and the fact that his fastball plays like an invisiball.
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    Sam Bachman

    Miami (Ohio) RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 235 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.8
    RapScore: 62

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Fastball: 70 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50

    Bachman made an immediate impact for Miami (Ohio) during his freshman season in 2019, being named first-team All-MAC after posting a 3.93 ERA over 14 starts. For three years now he’s been a reliable starter for the Redhawks and should become the program’s first ever first-round product thanks to perhaps the best two-pitch combination in the 2021 class. Bachman has one of the hardest fastballs in the class and sits in the 95-97 mph range with the pitch, regularly getting to triple-digits with impressive arm-side running action and sink. On top of that, Bachman’s slider has an argument for being the best breaking ball in the class. It’s a hard, biting pitch that is routinely in the upper 80s and has eclipsed 90 mph plenty of times, with tremendous late life that generates whiffs inside the zone and out of it—mostly down and to his glove side. Both pitches grade out as at least 70s and there are scouts in the industry who have put 80 grades on both as well. Bachman predominantly works off of his fastball/slider combination, but he also throws a mid-80s changeup that has some diving action and could give him an average third pitch—though he’s thrown it less than 10% of the time this spring. Despite walking between two and three batters per nine innings the last two seasons, there is some reliever risk with Bachman, thanks to a delivery that has effort and isn’t the most fluid. His arm action is inverted in the back and he’s a palm-up pitcher, which scares some in the industry, and he also finishes with a bit of violence and falls off to the left. That delivery, combined with medical questions (he missed two starts this spring with arm soreness) and the fact that he pitched into the seventh just twice this spring have many evaluators confident he’ll be a bullpen arm in the majors. Whatever the role, it seems safe Bachman goes off the board somewhere in the middle of the first round.
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    Last: 19

    Andrew Painter

    Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. RHP
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 230 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Florida
    Age At Draft: 18.3

    BA Grade: 60 | Risk: Extreme
    Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 60

    Painter established himself as the top pitcher in the high school class last summer and entered the season as the sole unanimous selection on Baseball America’s preseason All-America Team, as voted on by scouting directors. He was never the hardest thrower on the field, but it is difficult to find a pitcher in this year’s class who checks as many boxes as Painter—which has led to comparisons to 2020 prep righthander Mick Abel. Painter is a 6-foot-6, 230-pound righty with a buttery smooth delivery and a tremendously loose, easy arm action that should give him above-average or plus command in the future. It’s rare to put 60-grade control on a prep arm, but some scouts have even gone as far as putting 70 grades on his future control. In terms of stuff, Painter has a four-pitch mix that’s above-average or better across the board. This spring, Painter has run his fastball up into the upper 90s at his peak, and he’s held 94-95 mph deep into his outings, which is a solid tick up from the low 90s range he settled into last summer. His best secondary is a changeup in the low 80s that scouts put plus grades on, and he throws both a curveball and a slider. Painter’s breaking stuff has been inconsistent at times, but he’s shown enough flashes and general feel for spin for both to project as above-average in the future. Painter was just OK during his first few starts of the season, which caused him to lose his grip on the “consensus top prep arm” label of the class that he entered the season with. Despite that, and despite the industry’s general hesitance to spend significant draft capital on high school righthanders, Painter checks all of the boxes to become a first-round pick and shouldn’t make it to campus at Florida. Calvary Christian had three players drafted in the 2010s (Luke Jackson, Jake Eder, Raynel Delgado) but Painter should become the highest drafted of the bunch, and the highest ever for the program.
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    Last: 34

    Michael McGreevy

    UC Santa Barbara RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 200 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.0

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
    Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 70

    McGreevy caught scouts’ attention in high school with a velocity spike at the end of his senior year, but his short track record and questions about his signability allowed him to get to campus at UC Santa Barbara. He starred immediately for the Gauchos, earning Freshman All-America honors as a multi-inning reliever before moving into the rotation as a sophomore and posting a 0.99 ERA before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season. McGreevy picked up where he left off in 2021, assuming the Friday night starter’s role for UCSB and emerging as the best college pitcher on the West Coast. He went 9-1, 2.92 with 109 strikeouts and 10 walks in 95.2 innings during the regular season. A standout shortstop in high school, McGreevy is an excellent athlete who fills up the strike zone with four pitches. His fastball sits 91-93 mph and touches 95-96 with sink and finish to his arm side. His low-80s curveball with downer action flashes plus, and his mid-80s slider and changeup each project as average to slightly above. McGreevy stands out most for his control. He is an elite strike-thrower who walked only 30 batters in 183.1 career innings at UCSB and projects to have plus-plus control, with evaluators noting his misses are smaller than former Gaucho and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber’s were at the same age. McGreevy locates his fastball to both sides of the plate, lands all three of his secondary pitches for strikes and works quickly and efficiently. With a strong, durable body at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and an athletic, repeatable delivery, McGreevy holds his stuff deep into games and is a no-doubt starting pitcher. Most see him as a potential mid-rotation starter, but he’s young for the class at only 20 and is a candidate to take a jump in an organization with a strong player development team.
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    Harry Ford

    North Cobb HS, Kennesaw, Ga. C
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 200 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Georgia Tech
    Age At Draft: 18.4

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 60

    The state of Georgia has produced a few uniquely athletic high school catchers in recent years including the ambidextrous and switch-hitting Anthony Seigler in 2018 and now Ford in 2021. Ford has been described as a “unicorn” thanks to speed that’s almost unheard of at the catcher position. Ford ran the second-fastest 60-yard dash time at East Coast Pro last summer (6.42) and is a legitimate plus runner with the athleticism to handle a number of positions, including third base, second base or even center field if a team wants to try him there. He hasn’t spent much game time at any of those positions, but evaluators have liked his actions in the infield during workout environments and with above-average arm strength and quick-twitch mobility, he has the toolset to handle such a transition if a team wanted to move him through the minors more quickly. Offensively, Ford has plenty of bat speed and lots of natural strength in a compact, 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame. Ford has shown solid bat-to-ball skills and barrel awareness in the past, but some evaluators think he’ll be more of a power-over-hit offensive player in the future thanks to a low handset and a hook in his swing that could limit him. Ford was one of the more impressive performers over the summer but has had more of a solid than a spectacular spring with the bat. Like most prep catchers, Ford has refinement to do behind the plate, but he has all of the physical and mental tools teams believe are necessary at the next level. He will occasionally muff pitches or fail to stick a backhand but has strong hands and is flexible with more than enough athleticism for the position and at least an above-average arm that gets some plus grades as well. Ford is committed to Georgia Tech, but will likely be drafted too high to make it to campus. His range is fairly wide, which might be natural for a prep catcher considering the track record of the demographic, with some interest among the top-10 picks but it’s more likely he goes off the board in the 10-30 range.
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    Gunnar Hoglund

    Mississippi RHP
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 220 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: Pirates '18 (1s)
    Age At Draft: 21.6
    RapScore: 50

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 70

    A supplemental first-round pick of the Pirates in 2018 after he went 7-0, 0.27 at Fivay High in Hudson, Fla., Hoglund’s command has long stood out. It made him an immediate contributor at Ole Miss, and it has helped him be one of the best pitchers in the Southeastern Conference in 2020 and 2021. Hoglund’s 2021 season came to a premature end when he blew out his pitching elbow in his May 7 start against Texas A&M. His rehab from Tommy John surgery means he’ll be sidelined until midway through 2022, and it likely ended any chance he had of being a top-10 pick. But Hoglund’s body of work (154 innings in three years at Ole Miss) gives teams a lot of comfort with who Hoglund is—a relatively safe starting pitcher with plus command who has the ability to throw three pitches for strikes no matter what the count. Hoglund came into 2021 viewed as a starter likely to be taken in the back of the first round, but he quickly showed improved stuff. Hoglund had touched 95 mph going back to high school, but he generally sat 90-92. This year, he sat 92-94 mph. His slider got a little harder and sharper as well. Hoglund has shown he can spot his above-average fastball to the arm side or glove side, but he generally aims to keep his fastball away—he’ll work glove side to righthanders and arm side to lefties. He consistently wins at 0-0 in the count, getting ahead which means he can then attack righties with his above-average, 80-84 mph slider, again generally staying away. Lefties have to worry about his low-80s, above-average changeup, but he’s also shown he’s comfortable working in on their hands with his slider. It’s that ability to spot all three pitches and avoid the heart of the plate that is key to his success. Even after his elbow injury, he’s seen as a low-risk surefire starter with a consistent, easy delivery.
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    Bubba Chandler

    North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga. RHP/SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | B-T: B-R
    Commit/Drafted: Clemson
    Age At Draft: 18.8

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Field: 55 | Arm: 60
    Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50

    In a 2021 class littered with standout high school athletes, Chandler might be one of the best. A multi-sport athlete, Chandler is a four-star quarterback according to 247Sports and is committed to Clemson for both football and baseball. He can throw a football 40 yards down field with his left hand and he can also windmill dunk on the basketball court. Understandably, many teams are excited about the massive upside Chandler could have if he ever focuses exclusively on baseball. On the diamond, he’s a talented righthander and shortstop, with most teams preferring him on the mound, but a handful are either on him as a hitter or open-minded to letting him try the two-way experiment. Chandler has touched 97 mph this spring, but more typically works in the 89-93 mph range with his fastball. He’s shown a mid-70s curveball with above-average spin rate that scouts believe could develop into a plus pitch and he’s also thrown a changeup that needs more work. Chandler’s delivery needs work, as he gets by more on athleticism than on pristine mechanics. He doesn’t fully incorporate his legs at the moment, and while he has a super-fast arm, some scouts don’t love his high arm slot. His secondaries are both inconsistent now and his strikes have been scattered, but those who like Chandler believe he has the athleticism and natural feel for spin to make a massive leap with the help of pro player development and with an 100% focus on baseball. Chandler is a switch-hitting shortstop who has solid raw power in the tank and a better swing from the right side than the left, with lots of contact out of a quick, line-drive oriented swing. Chandler isn’t a refined defender now, but when he gets moving he can cover plenty of ground and he certainly has the arm strength for the left side of the infield. With all of those tools and athleticism in a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, Chandler’s upside is tremendous, and he should find a home in the first round unless he’s dead set on joining one of the best football programs in the nation.
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    Last: 55

    Lonnie White Jr.

    Malvern (Pa.) Prep OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Penn State
    Age At Draft: 18.5

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 55

    White originally committed to Clemson for baseball, but he switched his commitment in May 2020 to Penn State to play both baseball and wide receiver for the football team. A three-sport athlete who also played high school basketball, White is a physical, explosive player with a well-rounded tool set. He also has a good track record of game performance going back to last summer, including an MVP award from the Perfect Game 17U National Championship in July, a long home run off a 94 mph fastball at the Area Code Games and another productive tournament at the World Wood Bat Championship in October. He has continued to hit well for the most part this spring, albeit with some swing and miss to his game, but he has shown feel for hitting, especially given his multi-sport background. White is physically mature for his age, but he has the strength, bat speed and swing conducive to tapping into what should consistently be plus raw power. White is built like a corner outfielder, but he's a plus runner now with good instincts in center field. Those skills give him a chance to start out in center field, though with his body type, he probably will slow down. If he slides over to right field, he has the tools to be an above-average defender there, including an arm that's improved to a tick above-average. White's two-sport commitment might make him a more difficult sign, but his skill set could also make him one of the top high school outfielders off the board.
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    Joe Mack

    Williamsville East HS, East Amherst, N.Y. C
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 203 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: Clemson
    Age At Draft: 18.6
    RapScore: 50

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Field: 55 | Arm: 60

    Mack's older brother, Charles, was a sixth-round pick of the Twins in 2018 who signed for $500,000 out of high school and has reached Low-A Fort Myers. A Clemson commit like his older brother was, Joe will get drafted higher than Charles did and should be one of the top two catchers off the board along with Harry Ford from Georgia. He has consistently performed at a high offensive level on the major national showcase circuit the last three years, including one of the strongest summers among the top 2021 players last year despite not having a high school season last spring due to the pandemic. This spring, Mack's high school baseball season didn't start until May 14, just days after Mack was playing for the school's volleyball team in the state finals. Through the early weeks of the season, Mack looked like a hitter who was still getting his rhythm and timing back in the batter's box, with more swing and miss than he showed last summer. Given Mack's track record and unusual circumstances, scouts generally haven't seemed concerned. Those highest on Mack see an advanced hitter with good bat speed and a chance to hit for plus power in his prime, though others see more of a hit-first offensive profile with average power. A below-average runner, Mack isn't a polished defender, but he made significant progress behind the plate in 2020, increasing his chances to stick behind the plate. He is quick and a solid athlete for a catcher with an explosive lower half, good hands and plus arm strength to dial in pop times in the 1.9-second range in games. With Mack in first-round consideration, there should be a throng of national-level scouts at the rest of his games through mid June to evaluate him now that he's had more time to get back up to game speed.
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    Last: 23

    Benny Montgomery

    Red Land HS, Lewisberry, Pa. OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 195 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Virginia
    Age At Draft: 18.8

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 80 | Field: 60 | Arm: 60

    Montgomery's high school games drew huge crowds of club officials, who left with their scouting cards filled with 60s and 70s on his tool grades. His combination of athleticism, outstanding tools and physical upside is hard to top in this year's draft, though it's a profile that comes with risk due to his hitting ability. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Montgomery has a tall, sleek frame with plenty of room to continue filling out while staying lean and athletic. He's a 70 runner with a plus arm, projecting to stick in center field where he has long, gliding strides and good closing speed on balls hit into the gaps. At the plate, Montgomery's bat speed ranks among the best in the class. He shows plus raw power in batting practice, and as he matures physically, that power might jump another grade. The upside is obvious and exciting, but many clubs have reservations about Montgomery's ability to make it all click against live pitching. Montgomery has cleaned up his swing some since last year, doing a better job of staying back and keeping his front hip closed. He's still a long-armed hitter with a hitch in his swing, with a lack of timing and balance that add risks to his hitting ability and cut into his ability to translate his power in games. But the minute Montgomery signs, he will be one of the toolsiest players in his organization. Teams that value more refined hitting skills will have Montgomery lower than where he's ranked here, while teams that prioritize raw tools and athleticism will have him pushed up their boards. Other premium athlete high school center fielders with a hit risk like Bubba Starling, Donavan Tate, Lewis Brinson and Bubba Thompson were all first-round picks and some of them went top-five overall. Montgomery won't go in the top five, but he should follow their path as a first-rounder, with some expecting him to be the first high school outfielder off the board.
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    Jaden Hill

    Louisiana State RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 235 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Cardinals '18 (38)
    Age At Draft: 21.6

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 70 | Control: 55

    Few pitchers in this year’s class will spark more debate than Hill. A 38th-round pick of the Cardinals out of high school in 2018, Hill is the younger brother of outfielder Kentrell Hill, a 10th-round pick of the Giants in 2011. A team willing to take on risk could land a top-10 talent later in the first round. Hill has flashed front-of-the-rotation stuff at his best and was seen as a potential top-five pick coming into the 2021 season. Hill’s 2021 season ended after seven starts when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and had Tommy John surgery. Hill’s freshman season in 2019 was cut short after just two starts because of a previous UCL strain. In high school he broke his collarbone playing football and broke his wrist while playing basketball. Evaluators noted that Hill was not showing the same quality of stuff in 2021 as he had shown in his four 2020 relief appearances—his plus slider was playing as a below-average pitch. While his fastball showed its normal velocity (92-96 mph and touching 98), hitters more often teed off on it. His plus-plus, low-80s changeup is one pitch that remained top-tier—it’s one of the best changeups in the draft class with velocity separation as well as tumbling depth and fade. It dives down and away from bats, making it a true swing-and-miss pitch. The quandary with Hill is that he has not had a track record of stringing together success—he posted a 6.67 ERA in 2021. No USA Baseball or Cape Cod League season in 2020 means Hill has only 51.1 college innings and nine starts for teams to evaluate. His injury offers an explanation for his subpar performance, but it kept him from stringing together the consistent success teams wanted to see. If he can stay healthy, Hill offers alluring upside with velocity, athleticism and average control. He is an exceptional athlete who was a standout quarterback and point guard in high school—he had Division I football offers and turned down the opportunity to play football in addition to baseball at LSU.
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    Notes:

    Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: White Sox '18 (36)
    Age At Draft: 21.8

    BA Grade: 50 | Risk: High
    Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Field: 45 | Arm: 45

    In a draft class light on college bats, Del Castillo entered the year as the clear-cut, top college hitter in the class, with a track record of hitting that dates back to his time as a high schooler with Gulliver Prep in Miami when he was a top-200 prospect in the 2018 class. After hitting .336/.430/.571 over his first two seasons with Miami, Del Castillo took a step back in his draft-eligible third year this spring, hitting .284/.388/.411 through 51 games with more strikeouts (28) than walks (25) for the first time in his career, and just three home runs. That lack of over-the-fence power is concerning for teams who are skeptical about Del Castillo sticking behind the plate at the next level. He would have to play a corner if he can’t catch, which will put more pressure on his bat and his power production. Each of his three home runs this spring were to right field, and historically in his better home run seasons, Del Castillo has mostly used the pull side. He did homer five times in 37 games in the Cape Cod League in 2019, but that power production with a wood bat also came with an uncharacteristic 32-to-9 strikeout-to-walk rate. This spring he did most of his damage on fastballs and struggled to regularly impact breaking stuff, though that wasn’t much of an issue for him in previous years. Del Castillo does have a loose, easy swing from the left side, with solid zone recognition and low strikeout rates for his career, so many scouts still think he’ll be a plus hitter, but the question of defensive profile and impact potential loom after his 2021 season. Del Castillo put in plenty of work over the summer with Royals catcher Salvador Perez, where he worked on improving his arm strength, blocking and receiving but he still needs work in those areas—particularly the latter two. While teams are split about his chances to catch, his pure hitting ability and offensive track record should make him a first-rounder.
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    Ethan Wilson

    South Alabama OF
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-L
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.7
    RapScore: 43

    BA Grade: 50 | Risk: High
    Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Field: 45 | Arm: 45

    South Alabama has done a solid job turning unheralded high school recruits into top-of-the-draft talents in recent years, with Travis Swaggerty selected 10th in the 2018 draft and Wilson poised to sneak into the first round this year. Teams weren’t on Wilson heavily out of Andalusia (Ala.) High, but they took note when he hit .345/.453/.686 with 17 home runs and made the freshman All-America first team in 2019. Wilson had a bit of a slow start to the 2021 season and has dealt with an ankle injury that has hampered him. He didn’t homer until his 14th game of the season and through his first 13 games was hitting just over .200. However, his second half was impressive, and he managed a .319/.430/.550 line with eight homers and more walks (33) than strikeouts (20). As evidenced by those walk and strikeout numbers, Wilson controls the zone well and also has a solid all-fields approach, with the power to drive pitches on the outer half over the fence to the left-center gap. Some scouts think his swing is a bit too stiff to truly be a plus hitter, but he does have plus raw power. Those offensive tools are the carrying tools for Wilson, who profiles as a left fielder thanks to limited arm strength and below-average running ability—though he did steal nine bags in 13 attempts this spring. Wilson is in a bit of a tough position with that profile, as he didn’t have a chance last summer to play in the Cape Cod League or with Team USA, where he could have proven his bat in an environment that would give teams more confidence in their projections. Teams that bake track records heavily into their draft models could be more hesitant to take Wilson, but in a draft class light on college bats, he stands out for his hitting ability, power potential and on-base skills.
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