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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.

3 Matches
Expand Collapse All Updated on: 7/5/2021
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    Last: 58

    Gage Jump

    JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. LHP

    Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-L
    Commit/Drafted: UCLA
    Age At Draft: 18.3
    RapScore: 41

    BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
    Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50

    Jump entered the year as one of several highly-touted players on a loaded JSerra (Calif.) High team that included shortstop Cody Schrier and righthanders Eric Silva and Luke Jewett. After impressing on the showcase circuit last summer and fall, Jump’s stuff ticked up this spring to solidify himself as the best of the bunch. Jump is an undersized lefthander at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, but his stuff plays bigger than his size. He pitches at 91-92 mph, can reach for 93-94 mph at any time and began touching 95-96 for the first time this spring. He pitches effectively at the top of the zone with his fastball to make it a plus pitch that gets lots of swings and misses. Batters don’t see his fastball well and rarely make contact against it. Jump complements his fastball with a plus, downer curveball in the mid 70s that also draws swings and misses. He also throws a changeup that flashes plus but is inconsistent and shows feel for a nascent cutter in the low 80s. Jump’s size and arm action result in some effort in his delivery, which leads to inconsistent command and control. His fastball will occasionally sail on him, but he is an aggressive competitor who pounds the strike zone when he’s on. Jump’s size and delivery create questions about whether he can remain a starter. Most teams project him to relief, where his stuff and mentality invite comparisons to similar-sized lefties who became dominant closers. He is committed to UCLA.
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    Last: 122

    Eric Silva

    JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. RHP

    Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 180 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: UCLA
    Age At Draft: 18.8

    BA Grade: 45 | Risk: Extreme
    Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50

    Silva teamed with Gage Jump to give JSerra (Calif.) High one of the best high school pitching duos in the country this spring. After impressing during the fall with the Braves scout team, Silva touched 97 mph in a high-profile exhibition in the spring to enhance his draft stock and continued to pitch well throughout the high school season. Silva is a small-framed righthander who is undersized, but his stuff is plenty big. His fastball sits at 90-94 mph and touches 97 out of a clean delivery, and his fast arm speed allows him to reach that velocity without much effort. He throws his fastball for strikes and maintains his command deep into his starts. Silva complements his heater with a short slider in the low 80s that flashes above-average, and he occasionally throws a changeup in the mid 80s that is a little too firm. Silva stays in and around the zone and has impressive pitchability in addition to his stuff. Evaluators have concerns about Silva’s long-term durability with his size and how hard he throws. He began this season sitting 93-97 but tired as the year went on and finished sitting 90-93. Those concerns have many teams projecting Silva to the bullpen as a pro, although a few give him an outside chance to remain a starter. He is committed to UCLA and will be expensive to sign.
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    Last: 464

    Gabriel D'Arcy

    JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. OF

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 220 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Arkansas
    Age At Draft: 18.9

    D’Arcy supplied the power on a loaded JSerra (Calif.) High team that included top draft prospects Cody Schrier, Gage Jump and Eric Silva. He impressed while playing for the Brewers’ scout team in the fall and solidified himself as one of Southern California’s top prep power prospects this spring. D’Arcy is a physical 6-foot-3, 220-pound righthanded hitter who hits balls a long way. He is strong in his frame and has the power to drive balls out to any part of the park. He makes loud contact when he connects, but he still has holes in his swing that he’ll need to close at higher levels. D’Arcy has days where he turns around velocity, stays on breaking balls and makes solid contact to all fields, and other days where he swings and misses at everything. He moves well for his size and posts average run times. D’Arcy is committed to Arkansas. His physicality and power give him promise, but his inconsistencies as a hitter have most teams leaning toward letting him go to college.
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