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MLB Mock Draft

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By Carlos Collazo

After updating our 2021 draft rankings last week, we figured it would be a good time to drop Mock Draft V 2.0—if only to see how the first round picture has changed between now and V 1.0, which was released on January 4th.

While the season is underway and scouts are attending games around the country, we will still caution that a mock draft this early is largely for entertainment purposes and to see how the class is shaping up today. We have three full months (103 days, to be precise) before the Pirates have to make the first pick and plenty is sure to change, especially given the extra volatility of this year’s class.

Related: Updated BA 300 Draft Rankings

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t want this mock to be valuable. We’ve once again enlisted an industry insider to make alternating picks throughout the first round, which will hopefully add additional authority to the exercise. At the very best, this could help us get an idea of how first-round talents are surging up or sliding down draft boards six weeks into the season.

In this edition, Baseball America has the first pick and will make every odd-numbered selection, while our scout will make every even-numbered selection.

29 Matches
See Full List Expand Collapse All Updated on: 3/29/2021
  1. 1
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    Jordan Lawlar

    Dallas Jesuit HS SS
    Video
    Notes:

    BA pick: With the first pick for the Pirates, I knew I was going with one of Lawlar or either of the two Vanderbilt righthanders: Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter. All three seem to be in the top tier of the class at this point, and I was curious to see which of the two Vandy Boys our scout went with at No. 2 if I gave him the opportunity to select either. This would be the first time the Pirates have used the No. 1 overall pick on a high school player in franchise history. The four previous times the organization has had the top pick in a draft, it has taken a prospect out of a four-year university.

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    Kumar Rocker

    Vanderbilt RHP
    Notes:

    Scout pick: Our scout goes with Rocker, taking the more established of the two Vandy arms, though both have first round pedigree coming out of high school and both have dominated so far this spring. Rocker has struck out 53 batters (12.9 K/9) and walked 12 (2.9 BB/9) through six starts and 37 innings, while allowing just three earned runs (0.73 ERA).

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    Jack Leiter

    Vanderbilt RHP
    Notes:

    BA pick: I would have taken whichever of the Rocker/Leiter combination made it to No. 3 with this pick. Leiter has actually slightly outperformed Rocker through six starts. He has struck out 59 batters (14.8 K/9) and walked 13 (3.3 BB/9) through 36 innings and allowed just one earned run (0.25 ERA). After no-hitting South Carolina over a full game two weeks ago, Leiter threw seven no-hit innings against Missouri last Friday.

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    Marcelo Mayer

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

    Scout pick: It seems like Mayer is the clear No. 4 after the top trio of players on the board. Whether he is in the mix of the top tier or just on the cusp of joining that top tier is still to be determined. Some scouts believe he has a chance to be the best pure hitter in the draft—college or high school—and with an impressive glove at a premium position, that gives him a two-way toolset that shouldn’t last long on the board. At the moment, it seems like the “place to pick” in this year’s draft class is either No. 3 or 4.

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    Notes:

    BA pick: Things become less obvious at this point on the board as we sit here in late March. Sure, taking a catcher might seem misguided considering Baltimore has the best catching prospect in the world in its farm system, but let’s point out a few things. 1. Teams should take the best player available on the board, regardless of the farm system. It’s possible Del Castillo is that sort of talent at this spot. 2. We saw just last year from the Giants that having Joey Bart in their system didn’t preclude them from using a first-round pick on Patrick Bailey. 3. Del Castillo has defensive questions and depending on the team, he might be a candidate to move off the position anyway. In this specific situation, moving him becomes more of a no-brainer, but his bat is good enough to profile elsewhere.

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    Sal Frelick

    Boston College OF
    Notes:

    Scout pick: One scouting director told us that based on Frelick’s play thus far, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go off the board as the No. 1 or 2 college bat. Our scout is buying the performance and the hitterish qualities of Frelick’s game seem to match up with the sort of player that Arizona seems to like. Frelick is hitting .406/.468/.677 with more walks (11) than strikeouts (10) through 22 games, with five home runs—a new season best—nine doubles and five stolen bases in seven tries. It’s also worth noting that D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye oversaw the Red Sox 2015 draft (among others) when the team took Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi with the seventh overall pick. This Frelick selection would draw plenty of comparisons to Boston/Benintendi, though Frelick’s collegiate track record is more impressive than Benintendi’s at the time.

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    Henry Davis

    Louisville C
    Notes:

    BA pick: With Frelick off the board the choices here for the Royals would seem to be a number of college righthanders or a riskier, high-upside prep bat like James Wood or Brady House—along with my actual choice, Louisville catcher Henry Davis. Davis has vaulted himself into solid top-10 range thanks to his offensive performance this season and he’s hitting .370/.470/.617 with five home runs, five doubles and 14 walks to just eight strikeouts. On top of that he’s gone 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts, a high total and impressive rate for a catcher. It wouldn’t at all be surprising for the Royals to continue hoarding arms at this spot, but this class is rich in pitching and light on college bats, so perhaps they could take the other half of the battery with their first pick this time around with Davis, who has a 70-grade arm.

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    Gunnar Hoglund

    Mississippi RHP
    Video
    Notes:

    Scout pick: Our scout dives into the second tier of college arms here for the Rockies, taking Hoglund, who moved up 13 spots in our most recent update to the No. 10 overall player in the class. Hoglund entered the year with some of the best command in the class but now he’s locating with a harder fastball that’s sitting 92-94 mph and a slider that has more velocity as well. In terms of performance he’s been brilliant through six starts, with a 2.63 ERA and 65 strikeouts to just eight walks in 37.2 innings. Hoglund has struck out 10 or more batters in five of his six outings and has walked one batter or fewer in four of six.

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    Ty Madden

    Texas RHP
    Notes:

    BA pick: With Hoglund off the board to the Rockies, I was deciding between Madden, Louisiana State righthander Jaden Hill and the top prep prospects on the board, shortstops Brady House and Kahlil Watson and outfielder James Wood. After allowing three earned runs in four innings to Mississippi State in his opening start of the season, Madden has been rock solid, allowing just five earned runs over 35.1 innings against Brigham Young, Houston, South Carolina, Baylor and Oklahoma.

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    Jackson Jobe

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

    Scout pick: Our scout goes with prep righthander Jackson Jobe, who began the year as the No. 30 player in the class, but shot up to No. 18 as the new top prep arm overall thanks to a few loud performances this spring. Jobe’s elite-spin breaking ball is the headliner, but scouts have loved the progress of his changeup this season and some think he could have three future plus offerings. This pick would make Jobe the highest-selected prep righthander since Carter Stewart (No. 8, Braves) in 2018.

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    Brady House

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

    BA pick: The Nationals like physically developed high school players, so I think House fits the bill here. He could give them the sort of impact bat their farm system could use after taking pitchers in the first round in each of the last four drafts. The last first-round bat the Nationals selected was Carter Kieboom (2016, No. 28), who was also a high school shortstop out of Georgia—though House’s offensive upside is significantly louder than Kieboom’s was at the same time.

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    Jaden Hill

    Louisiana State RHP
    Notes:

    Scout pick: I avoided picking Hill in my previous two selections to try and gauge how far our scout would let him drop after a rough start to the season. The answer seems to be not much. That seemed to be the thoughts of the industry as well, as we gathered feedback for our updated rankings that saw Hill slide from No. 6 to just No. 8. Hill has posted a 6.35 ERA over six starts and 28.1 innings, while striking out 23 batters (7.3 K/9) and walking 10 (3.2 BB/9). His worst start of the season was against Oral Roberts—where he allowed five hits, two walks and eight earned runs while getting just one out—but he has also been hit around against Mississippi State (7.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and Tennessee (4 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K) in his two most recent starts. Hill is holding similar velocity in a starting role this season, but scouts are wondering how hittable his fastball is given its movement profile and his lack of deception, and his slider hasn’t been as sharp as teams have seen it in the past. Hill is one of the bigger question marks in the first round at the moment.

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    Jordan Wicks

    Kansas State LHP
    Notes:

    BA pick: The board seems to be opening up for a variety of different demographics at this range. There are a few college hitters trending in the wrong direction (Matt McLain, Jud Fabian), a few upside preps (James Wood, Kahlil Watson, Bubba Chandler) or perhaps a surging college righthander (Sam Bachman) or one of the few rising college bats (Luca Tresh) that could make some sense. Instead of any of those, how about Kansas State ace Jordan Wicks, who is one of the safest profiles in the class. He’s coming off of his worst outing of the season against Oklahoma State—6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K—but has posted a 2.65 ERA over six starts and 37.1 innings, while striking out 51 batters (12.3 K/9) and walking just 10 (2.4 BB/9). Wicks sits with an average fastball around 92 mph, but his changeup is potentially a double-plus pitch and he’s an above-average strike thrower. There is more upside in the draft, but perhaps no safer bet to be a solid, back-end starter than Wicks.

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  14. 14
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    Notes:

    Scout pick: McLain entered the season as a top-10 talent at No. 8 overall on the board, but recently dropped to No. 14 as scouts felt like he was more of a middle-of-the-first sort of talent instead of an elite, top-of-the-class bat. Teams still seem to really like McLain’s bat, but wonder if he’s more of a doubles hitter who lacks real in-game power, and also wonder if he’s a no-doubt shortstop at the next level. Our scout takes McLain here with the Giants, putting him more in the Bryson Stott/Will Wilson tier of players than the Austin Martin/Nick Madrigal tier among the top five picks of the class.

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  15. 15
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    James Wood

    IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. OF
    Video
    Notes:

    BA pick: After thinking about Wood with each of my last three picks, I had to stop his fall here. Wood seems like a bit of a split-camp type player at the top of the draft, with some teams thinking of him as a real top-five talent thanks to his tremendous upside, while others put him more in the 10-15 range. This pick would give the Brewers another high-upside talent that fell down the board to them after taking UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell (the No. 6 player in the 2020 class) with the 20th pick last year. This selection would make Wood the highest-drafted player in IMG Academy history, topping the likes of Brady Aiken (17, 2015) and Brennan Malone (33, 2019).

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    Sam Bachman

    Miami (Ohio) RHP
    Notes:

    Scout pick: Our scout goes with Bachman to the Marlins, which would give Miami back-to-back years with a college righthander in the first round who could have a pair of 70-grade pitches. Bachman’s fastball has been up to 100 mph this season and sits around 96, and he’s also snapped off a hard and sharp slider in the upper-80s that some scouts have put plus-plus grades on. Bachman has missed a few weeks due to arm soreness, but struck out all nine batters he faced last Saturday against Northern Illinois.

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    Kahlil Watson

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

    BA pick: This is a similar pick to the Wood selection at No. 15 to the Brewers. It seems like Watson has a chance to go before this, and anywhere around the 10-20 range given his profile, bat speed, athleticism and the hit tool he showcased last summer against good competition. With plus running ability and plus arm strength, Watson has an electric package of tools and significant upside, and the Reds haven’t been afraid to take profiles like that out of high school.

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    Bubba Chandler

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

    Scout pick: Our scout takes perhaps the biggest helium high schooler in the class here in Bubba Chandler. Clemson fans perhaps squirm at this selection, as Chandler is a four-star quarterback who is committed to the program for both football and baseball. Chandler is a bit of a freak athlete. He can throw a football 40 yards downfield with his off (left) hand, he can windmill dunk on the basketball court, he’s a switch hitting shortstop and on the mound he runs his fastball into the upper 90s with a potential plus hammer as well. If teams believe he’s signable in July, it’s difficult to see him falling out of the first round.

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    Luca Tresh

    North Carolina State C
    Notes:

    BA pick: This almost feels like the start of another tier in the class, given the players who have gone in front of the Blue Jays. Perhaps a few players still on the board like Florida outfielder Jud Fabian or prep righthander Andrew Painter fit in that tier, but I’m going with the hottest hitting prospect to start the year out of the first round: Luca Tresh. Tresh has hit .339/.394/.729 through 15 games this season, with seven home runs. He produces loud exit velocities off the bat and has a swing that both scouts and analytical departments seem to like—while potentially being able to handle the game’s most demanding defensive position. The defense is what scouts are still bearing down on, with some scouts saying he could go in front of where fellow North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey went last year (No. 13) if a team believes in the defense.

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    Tommy Mace

    Florida RHP
    Notes:

    Scout pick: With our scout making this selection, Mace becomes the first member of the 2020 draft class to return and get drafted in 2021. Like a few pitchers in this mock, Mace is coming off of his worst start of the season this week—4 IP 10 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K—but has been successful on the whole, with a 2.91 ERA over six starts and 34 innings. He has an excellent ratio of strikeouts (46) to walks (5) so far this season, which would easily be good for the best K/9 (12.6) and BB/9 (1.2) ratios of his career.

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    Joe Mack

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

    BA pick: There are a significant number of toolsy preps on the board and I’ll take one of them here for the Cubs in Mack. Sure, Mack is a high school catcher and that demographic is among the riskiest you can pick from, but he also has the sort of bat that can profile at another position, which lessens the risk in my mind. Putting him with a team like the Cubs gives me some confidence, but the Northeast high school players could be difficult to place for a while longer.

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    Jud Fabian

    Florida OF
    Notes:

    Scout pick: Our scout finally stops Fabian’s slide down the board. As I did with Hill previously, I avoided taking Fabian to see how long our scout would let him slide, and he makes it to the White Sox in the final third of the first round in this scenario. Fabian is perhaps the most difficult player to assess at the moment. He is a no-doubt center fielder who should be a plus defender at the position, he has plus power and he is also the youngest collegiate hitter among the top 300 prospects. That toolset and profile should have him selected in a solid range—particularly in a draft class down on college hitters—but teams have significant reservations due to his swing-and-miss tendencies and 36% strikeout rate this season.

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    Joshua Baez

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

    BA pick: Baez looked good all over the field last weekend, going 4-for-7 over two games with a double against a slider, a few good jumps in center field and a sliding catch and also hopped on the mound and touched 96 mph—albeit without great control. Baez has some of the best raw power in the high school class, and while he does have more swing and miss in his game than a typical Indians draftee, he’s also one of the younger players in the class and turns 18 just two weeks before the draft. Draft age has been an emphasis for Cleveland more so than any other team in baseball in recent years.

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    Ryan Cusick

    Wake Forest RHP
    Notes:

    Scout pick: Our scout takes another college righthander who we have ranked right at the back of the first round range with Cusick, who is the No. 31 player in the class. This would give the Braves their second straight first-rounder out of Wake Forest, but a player significantly different from lefthander Jared Shuster. Cusick’s fastball sits in the 95-97 mph range and he’s been up to 99—it’s one of the better pure fastballs in the class—but he struggles with his control and the consistency of his breaking ball. Those questions give him reliever risk, but he’s still produced through four starts this spring, posting a 2.82 ERA over 22.1 innings and four starts, with 43 strikeouts (17.4 K/9) and 12 walks (4.8 BB/9).

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    Harry Ford

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

    BA pick: This is now the second time I have selected a catcher for a team who recently took a catcher in the first round. Stick with me, it makes sense I promise. First of all, Ford fits here on talent and that is the most important thing. Secondly, he’s a freakish athlete for a catcher and a legit plus runner who could easily move off the position and play somewhere else (Center field? Second base? Third base?) and play it well. Third, the Athletics seem to love taking players with athleticism, as evidenced by recent picks like Logan Davidson, Kyler Murray and Austin Beck. There’s a chance Ford doesn’t make it this far down the board given the chatter about him early this spring.

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