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MLB Mock Draft

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By Carlos Collazo

In years prior, an April 28 mock draft might represent when things were starting to get serious, with the draft just over a month away.

Things are different in 2021. The draft is still multiple months away and there are plenty of new pre-draft scouting events being rolled out—including the first of six regional pre-draft events starting this weekend in Cary, N.C.—and players will have to decide whether to shut things down after the season or take part in one of many summer leagues that are now real options before the draft takes place.

Related: Updated BA 300 Draft Rankings

So while there’s still plenty up in the air, we have been starting to hear a bit of rumor mongering in terms of which teams are scouting which players and which ranges for certain players are starting to develop. Does that mean we are going to nail all of the picks in the first round or does that mean we’re simply going to get lost in all the noise? The safe bet is on the latter. But we know you love a good mock draft, so we’ll give it our best April attempt.

As always with a mock this far out from the draft, I would caution readers that just about nothing here is set in stone and plenty will still likely change between now and July 13.

With those caveats out of the way, here is Mock Draft V 3.0:

29 Matches
See Full List Expand Collapse All Updated on: 4/28/2021
  1. 1
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    Jack Leiter

    Vanderbilt RHP
    Notes:

    Leiter looked surprisingly human in his last outing against Mississippi State last weekend, where he took his first loss of the season. But, if no one’s told you, pitcher wins and losses are fairly meaningless and one five-inning outing where Leiter allowed four earned runs and a pair of homers doesn’t take away from everything he’s done previously this season. Leiter was still the first pitcher among Division I arms to reach 100 strikeouts and on the season, opposing batters are hitting just .115/.230/.175 against him. It’s interesting to think about whether or not a college arm like Leiter or his teammate Kumar Rocker—who would both be quick movers—is a better fit for Pittsburgh’s timeline than a prep player like the top two high school shortstops in the class: Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer. For now there’s still no clear-cut, obvious No. 1 player in the class but Leiter is a deserving 1-1 talent and has performed like it so far this season.

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    Jordan Lawlar

    Dallas Jesuit HS SS
    Video
    Notes:

    A few sources in the industry are starting to think that Lawlar doesn’t get past Texas, but that could simply be the rumor mill based on a talent fit and geography more than a decision the Rangers have locked in with more than two months still between now and the draft. Lawlar’s talent absolutely fits at the top of the draft and unless you are going to nit-pick swing-and-miss concerns, there’s not much of a hole to speak of in the Vanderbilt commit’s game. There was another Texas prep shortstop with some swing-and-miss concerns drafted No. 2 recently and he seems to be working out in pro ball so far.

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    Marcelo Mayer

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

    We wrote earlier in the year that Mayer was on the cusp of joining the “big three” at the top of the draft class and it appears that he’s solidly in that group of talent now. Detroit had some heavy hitters in to watch Mayer recently and during that look he hit a ball that still might be soaring through the air. In addition to Mayer, we’ve heard the Tigers have been pretty heavy on Georgia high school shortstop Brady House, who’s physicality and power potential could be a match made in heaven for Detroit. So, maybe the Tigers want to add another bat?

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    Kumar Rocker

    Vanderbilt RHP
    Notes:

    Boston has been in on all of the top four players in the class, and could be in a position where they simply sit back and grab whoever falls to them at No. 4. Mayer would be a nice fit for them if he made it here and it would be surprising if they passed over either Leiter or Lawlar if one were to make it to this spot as well. Perhaps they’ll get a steal with Rocker, who still might be the most famous player in the 2021 draft class—fitting in nicely with fan-favorite Blaze Jordan from the 2020 class. Despite plenty of hand-waving about Rocker’s velocity, he’s been terrific all season and is coming off of a complete game against Mississippi State, where he struck out eight and walked none, while running his fastball up to 98 mph and sitting in the 93-95 mph range. Through 10 starts, Rocker has posted a 1.55 ERA with 89 strikeouts (fourth among D-I pitchers) and has actually walked fewer batters than both Leiter and Mississippi righthander Gunnar Hoglund—both praised for their pitchability and control.

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    Brady House

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

    The powers that be in Baltimore seem to really like taking bats when picking this high in the draft, so an interesting scenario would be one where either of the Vanderbilt arms make it out of the top four. Would the Orioles be willing to pass on either of Leiter or Rocker? It’s hard to say with any confidence, but we have heard them linked to bats. Lately we’ve heard House’s name linked with Baltimore quite a bit. It seems like they have been scouting him hard down in Georgia, where he has produced offensively and continued to look good with the glove. His offensive upside is likely greater than anyone left on the board here, with above-average hitting potential and perhaps 70-grade raw power down the line.

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    Henry Davis

    Louisville C
    Notes:

    The top five is a lot easier to project at this point than the picks thereafter, as the player pool quickly starts to get much wider. However, the Diamondbacks have shown they value bat-to-ball skills and zone management, and Davis can claim both of those skillsets. He also can boast more power than Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick, which could be a separator if Arizona wants to add a bit of thump at this spot. We’ve heard from some within the industry who believe that might be the case. College performers like Frelick and righthanders Ty Madden and Gunnar Hoglund could also make sense here, and it wouldn’t be crazy to think Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo gets back into this range with a strong finish to the season—though it seems at the moment his range starts a bit after this spot.

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    Sal Frelick

    Boston College OF
    Video
    Notes:

    The same names mentioned above with the Diamondbacks make a lot of sense for the Royals at this pick. Frelick is a high-level performer who should do everything on the field outside of hitting for big-time power. That’s more acceptable when you can patrol center field and defend at a high level, control the strike zone, hit for average and steal bags and Frelick does each of these things. Scouts have compared Frelick to Andrew Benintendi, who also was drafted No. 7 overall, and the industry seems to think Frelick will be one of the first three college bats off the board and solidly inside the top 10 at this point. We’ve also heard the Royals have been in on Georgia high school catcher Harry Ford, and if they want him it’s unlikely he falls to them in the second round at pick No. 43.

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    Notes:

    It seems like Del Castillo’s range is starting right around here as of April 28 and the Rockies had national-level scouts in to see him this past weekend against North Carolina, where he hit in every game, going 4-for-13 with a couple of doubles. It’s unclear what the departure of general manager Jeff Bridich will mean for the team’s draft philosophy, but with a farm system that ranks 25th in baseball perhaps a safe, reliable pick like Del Castillo makes some sense? Most in the industry view his bat as extremely reliable to play at the next level, and while more home run production this season would be nice to see—he’s currently slugging a career-worst .462 with just four homers—it’s hard to find an evaluator that doesn’t think the Miami backstop will hit.

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    Ty Madden

    Texas RHP
    Notes:

    Madden and Mississippi righthander Gunnar Hoglund seem neck and neck to become the third college pitcher selected. The Texas righthander is coming off of a 12-strikeout game against Oklahoma State and has posted at least five innings every week of the season outside of a four-inning effort against Mississippi State in his season debut. His fastball seems to have bat-missing traits on top of velocity that sits in the mid 90s and touches 98-99 mph; his slider is the sort of plus breaking ball that teams typically want to see from the elite college arms in the class; and his changeup could become a solid third offering when he actually begins to use it more frequently at the next level. Through 10 starts and 64.1 innings Madden has posted a 1.68 ERA, struck out 77 batters (10.8 K/9) and walked 22 (3.1 BB/9).

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    Gunnar Hoglund

    Mississippi RHP
    Notes:

    The Mets have been high school heavy with their recent first-round picks, so perhaps players like righthander Jackson Jobe or shortstop Kahlil Watson are of interest here. At the same time, Hoglund’s talent fits inside the top-10 picks according to most sources we’ve spoken with. He has the best fastball command and likely the best overall command in the class, his stuff ticked up this spring and he has a terrific track record dating back to his high school days. After missing his last start he’s worth keeping an eye on moving forward, but if he comes back and continues pitching like he has over his first nine starts, he seems like a safe bet to go inside the top-10 picks. Even with his missed start, Hoglund is tied for fifth among Division I arms with 87 strikeouts this season.

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    Jackson Jobe

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

    Jobe seems to be the sole high school pitcher who is getting top 10 chatter at this point, but every season it seems like prep righthanders slide down the board. The last two years the first prep righthander went 15th (Mick Abel) and 18th (Quinn Priester), respectively, and Jobe doesn’t seem to be in a completely different phylum of player than either of those two—despite his superior feel for spin. However, with fewer college hitters to pick between perhaps that pushes up riskier demographics. It’s also worth wondering how the delayed draft will impact the helium of players like Jobe, who will be done pitching quite a bit before draft day arrives. Either way, the Nationals haven’t exactly been risk-averse with their recent first-round picks and could continue to chase big-time upside with Jobe.

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    Colton Cowser

    Sam Houston State OF
    Video
    Notes:

    Seattle has spent the last three years taking college arms with their first pick, but with Madden and Hoglund off the board, perhaps they steer towards a college hitter who is trending in the right direction. Cowser is unique among hitters in the 2021 class in that he actually has a reasonably extensive track record as a member of USA Baseball’s collegiate national team in 2019. He’s been hitting well over the past month, showing more in-game power than he has in the past and with a continued strong finish could easily play his way ahead of this pick. In a draft year where teams are longing for college bats, Cowser is sitting here with performance, track record, a center field profile and developing power.

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    Kahlil Watson

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

    Watson seems to have the toolset, athleticism and defensive profile that doesn’t last long in the draft—even in a deep high school shortstop class. He has a chance for above-average hitting ability, solid power, above-average defense at shortstop with 60 or better running ability and a strong arm as well. There’s not much in the package to not like, and his performance last summer against some of the better arms in the class impressed much of the scouting community.

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    Bubba Chandler

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

    If Hoglund somehow winds up available on the board here, it would be surprising for him to fall further than this pick. The Mississippi righthander seems to share some of the qualities that former Braves scouting director Brian Bridges had success with in his pitching selections with Atlanta, and of course now Bridges is a national crosschecker with San Francisco. With Hoglund off the board, however, let’s go for Chandler, who we’ve also heard the Giants have been scouting pretty heavily. Chandler is among the most athletic players in the class and is also a talented football player, and Giants scouting director Michael Holmes was an assistant scouting director with the Athletics when they took Kyler Murray with the No. 9 pick in 2018.

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  15. 15
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    Benny Montgomery

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

    Montgomery is arguably the most toolsy player in the 2021 class, and if he’s the pick for the Brewers at this spot, that would mark back-to-back years where Milwaukee gets the most toolsy hitter in the class after taking outfielder Garrett Mitchell last year. Somewhere in the middle of the first round seems like the range where Montgomery is likely to go off the board at this point, based on chatter we’ve heard so far.

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  16. 16
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    Notes:

    McLain is currently riding a 14-game hitting streak and the nine home runs he’s tallied are already good for a career high. He could be a college hitter who trends up boards with a strong finish, but most upper-level scouts seem to agree that he doesn’t have the sort of upside or toolset typical of a top-of-the-class bat. He does provide value in plenty of ways, between his plus running ability and arm strength that should allow him to play multiple up-the-middle premium positions including shortstop and center field.

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    Jordan Wicks

    Kansas State LHP
    Notes:

    This Wicks selection would be reminiscent of Cincinnati taking Texas Christian lefthander Nick Lodolo as the first pitcher off the board in the 2019 class, though Wicks’ double-plus changeup is a louder offering than anything Lodolo had in his arsenal at the same time. Wicks is like many players in this range who could come off the board at any point in the middle of the first round, and what he might lack in front-of-the-rotation upside he makes up for by being as close to a sure-thing big league arm as you’ll find in the class outside of Rocker/Leiter. The Reds should be able to get creative in this year’s draft with the fourth-largest bonus pool and two picks shortly after the first round. Given a deep crop of players who fit in this range, could they find an underslot deal with someone they like and then put more money towards a talented player who is sliding—Jud Fabian, Alex Binelas?—or a high-upside high school player in the 30s? We’ll see how they use their pool money, but they are perhaps the team to watch outside of the top 10.

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    Harry Ford

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

    Could St. Louis go back into the Georgia high school hitter well in 2021 after taking Jordan Walker last year with the 21st pick? This seems like a fair range for Ford, who is a freak athlete for a catcher, with the tools to stick there if a team wanted to develop him behind the plate, but the running ability and body control to play a number of other premium positions, including second, third or center field if a team wanted. He might not make it this far, as some teams inside the top 10 seem to be scouting him heavily and with enough interested teams throughout the 10-20 range.

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    Sam Bachman

    Miami (Ohio) RHP
    Notes:

    If we’re just looking at pure stuff, Bachman likely shouldn’t last this long. However, it’s a pretty good year for college pitchers, and with a number of premium high school athletes in the class as well, perhaps Toronto finds itself a pair of 70-grade pitches with Bachman at No. 19. Wherever Bachman winds up, he should become the highest-drafted player out of Miami (Ohio).

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    Ryan Cusick

    Wake Forest RHP
    Notes:

    New York has plenty of flamethrowers in its farm system, and this pick would give it arguably the best fastball in the 2021 class. On top of velocity that’s consistently in the 94-99 mph range and has gotten into the triple-digits, Cusick’s heater plays up and gets a tremendous amount of whiffs in the zone. He’s shown feel to spin a good breaking ball but the pitch is inconsistent. His pure stuff gives him a big league path even if he isn’t able to start long term, but if he can throw enough strikes to start, the upside is significant. This pick would give Wake Forest back-to-back first round pitchers, after the Braves took lefthander Jared Shuster with the No. 25 pick last year.

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    James Wood

    IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. OF
    Notes:

    There’s been some chatter within scouting circles that Wood is sliding and his selection here by the Cubs could represent one of the bigger steals of the class. Wood has some of the biggest pure upside in the 2021 class thanks to his power potential, athleticism, bat speed and size—it wasn’t long ago that he was considered a potential top-five pick by some scouts. He performed well over the summer and showed power against top pitchers, but he’s shown more swing and miss than some scouts are comfortable with this spring. Perhaps this is a case of nit-picking or prospect fatigue, because as one upper-level scout put it, “if he didn’t swing and miss he would be going 1-1.”

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    Andrew Painter

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

    Painter is another high schooler out of Florida who is probably lower on the board than you would have thought back in January. He is no longer the consensus top arm in the class thanks to Jobe’s development, but he is still solidly a first round talent. It would be difficult to find a high school pitcher with his combination of a solid four-pitch mix, size and advanced command of his entire arsenal.

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    Michael McGreevy

    UC Santa Barbara RHP
    Notes:

    McGreevy has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios of any Division I pitcher in the country, and if there’s one thing the Indians like it seems to be command-oriented pitchers. And why wouldn’t they, considering some of the names currently locking down spots in their big league rotation? On top of that, McGreevy is young for the class. It’s hard to get more of a Cleveland vibe than this.

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    Joshua Baez

    Dexter Southfield HS, Brookline, Mass. OF
    Video
    Notes:

    As Ben Badler noted in a draft notebook today, the Braves had a few decision-makers in to see Baez in a recent doubleheader, where he left the yard twice. Baez could find homes throughout the second half of the first round, but Atlanta seems like one of many teams invested in him at this point. Baez has some of the best raw power in the class and massive arm strength that could fit in a corner, but also has good instincts in center field at the moment.

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    Joe Mack

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

    Mack has some similarities to Tyler Soderstrom, whom the Athletics took last year with the 26th pick. This would feel a lot like deja vu if it were to happen, but like Soderstrom, Mack has the offensive chops to handle another position if he has to move off of catcher. A lefthanded power bat with feel to hit and a chance to catch is a good get even if you just popped that exact profile a year prior, and it feels like the riskier high school catching profile is the defensive-oriented one—which Mack is not.

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