2021 Arizona Top MLB Draft Prospects
Today, Baseball America rolls out its state-by-state rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft. Additionally, you can find our:
Kath got plenty of eyeballs on him as soon as MLB allowed amateur scouts to get back on the field last summer, with the lefthanded-hitting infielder playing in quite a few tournaments leading into his final high school season at Desert Mountain (Ariz.) High. The Arizona State commit was up to the challenge as he steadily started climbing draft boards, putting an exclamation point on his high school career when he slammed a long home run over the right-field bullpen at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the Wolves’ successful Arizona 5-A state championship game. Kath looks the part of an old-school ballplayer, not using batting gloves at the plate and having a consistency to his game. He shows plus raw power with an at least average hit tool, using a nice, easy flat swing and having a plan at the plate. It’s more gap-to-gap doubles power now with the ability to make adjustments and use all fields, but he’s expected to grow into more over-the-fence pop with age and experience. Most scouts believe Kath will have to move off shortstop to a corner infield spot, as he lacks twitchiness and good footwork coupled with his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. Observers who think he has a chance to stay at shortstop point out the good instincts and ability to finish plays. He has a plus arm with good carry on his throws. Kath is a below-average runner but better underway. The consensus opinion is that he’s a second-round talent, but there is speculation that with enough teams on him he could go before the end of the first round.
Holgate impressed scouts with a solid bat and plus raw power out of high school, but made it to the Arizona campus after the Twins took him in the 32nd round. A 6-foot-2, 193-pound outfielder, Holgate’s game is centered around his power, which is at least plus and could be a tick better. With Holgate it’s all about the bat, and he finished his third college regular season with a hitting line of .344/.419/.549 and eight home runs. He shows plus power to all fields and the ability to handle offspeed pitches. While his strikeout rate of just under 20% is concerning, he could improve his contact rate by shortening his stroke and staying in his lower half better. Holgate will need to hit because he’s a below-average defender likely limited to left field. He lacks confidence in the field with below-average hands, but has the makeup and work ethic to continue to improve. His fringe-average arm gets good carry, but likely won’t be enough for regular work in right field. A below-average runner, Holgate is athletic enough to run well underway. Teams that are in on him note that Holgate looks like he belongs on the field and he’ll be able to make up for his shortcomings. He could go as high as the second round but fits more comfortably in the third or fourth round.
Selvidge has been a significant member of the 2021 draft class since his sophomore year of high school, with early projections that he would follow a similar path as Matthew Liberatore, the last southpaw pitcher from Arizona to be drafted in the first round when the Mountain Ridge High hurler was taken in 2018 by Tampa Bay with the 16th overall pick. But Selvidge’s senior season at Hamilton (Ariz.) High hasn’t gone as projected. In the past, Selvidge commanded a fastball sitting 90-92 mph and touching 94-95, with a low-80s slider with hard and tight movement and late break and an 80-84 mph changeup with tumbling action and thrown with good arm speed. In his senior season at Hamilton, talent evaluators saw him having to work harder to get to his ideal velocity, affecting the command and control of his pitches, with walk rates approaching five per seven innings. The development of the secondary pitches hasn’t advanced, all grading as below-average pitches, and he abandoned the use of a curveball earlier this season. The life and movement on his fastball have also been below-average. With a strong commitment to Louisiana State, Selvidge might be viewed as unsignable, causing his name to drop off draft boards. His competitiveness and makeup is outstanding and the components for success are still there, so a different approach and the challenges of pitching in the SEC could provide a boost.
Boissiere has quietly been an excellent hitter throughout the entirety of his Arizona career, hitting well above .300 each season. This spring he started to tap into a bit more power, and his simple approach at the plate gives him an up-the-middle approach and good zone control, with 36 walks and 42 strikeouts through the regular season. While he increased his home run total in 2021 (five in 218 at-bats), he doesn’t profile as a typical slugging first baseman and is more similar to former Wildcat Alfonso Rivas (drafted in fourth round by Oakland in 2018). Boissiere may go in a similar draft slot as his predecessor, especially to a club that appreciates his plate discipline and ability to pepper the gaps. It’s a flat swing, but with good timing, and he uses all fields. Some scouts have Boissiere as a plus defender at first base, with good hands and feet. While he has some experience in the outfield and enough tools to be adequate, his below-average speed and arm will likely keep him on the dirt at the next level. While his teammate, Holgate, ranks above him on most draft boards, some teams prefer the certainty that comes with Boissiere’s defense at first base and his better contact and pitch selection at the plate.
Hailing from Farmington, N.M., Silseth first headed to Tennessee for his freshman season before transferring to the College of Southern Nevada in 2020, where he drew attention for six very good starts before the season was shut down. Arizona’s Friday night starter in his first year as a Wildcat, Silseth was somewhat inconsistent with a few bad outings —Oklahoma tagged him for 10 runs, Washington State for 12—this spring, but scouts like his stuff. He finished Arizona’s regular season with an 8-1 record but with a 5.29 ERA. Silseth stands out for his outstanding poise and mound presence, traits that will elevate his draft stock and likely get him selected in the first five rounds. His lively fastball has been up to the 96-98 mph range this spring, delivered from a power arm with effort. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball in the 78-82 mph range that at times looks like a 12-to-6 curveball, and a changeup around 80 mph with slight tumbling action that flashes plus and is used to keep hitters off-balance. He gets swings and misses from the breaking ball that also has plus potential. The command suffers when he gets tired, an indicator that he might have more success as a power arm out of the bullpen.
Dooney had a strong freshman campaign with Arizona in 2019, when he was a Freshman All-American after hitting .323/.417/.596 with 10 home runs. He transferred to Central Arizona JC after the shortened 2020 season and this spring batted .367/.446/.693 with nine home runs in 47 games as the Vaqueros fell one win short of winning their second straight Junior College World Series championship. Dooney is a liability on defense, limited to second base, but there are very few questions about the bat. He’s a switch-hitter with a plus hit tool, good bat speed, and average or better power. His tight strike zone and advanced pitch recognition skills allow him to draw a lot of walks. While Dooney has played other infield positions, he doesn’t have the footwork or arm for the left side of the infield and is a below-average defender at second base. He’s also a below-average runner, but not a base clogger. One rap against him is that he doesn’t play with a lot of energy, although he was hampered all season with hamstring issues. Dooney is committed to Tennessee, but is considered to be signable and should get picked somewhere in the middle of the top-10 rounds.
A walk-on from the state of Hawaii who redshirted in his first season (2018) at Arizona and played sparingly in the next two years, Kato turned himself into a quality regular for the Wildcats during their successful 2021 season and postseason run. Kato’s value comes from his ability to get on base and a keen understanding of the game, the latter attribute due in part to being the son of a high school coach. What stands out is his exceptional walk to strikeout rate, as he drew 41 bases on balls during the regular season against 29 strikeouts. Kato’s regular season batting line (.344/.469/.453 with one home run) is indicative of the kind of hitter he is. He draws some plus grades for his hit tool, an undersized slash hitter with a good knowledge of the strike zone. Kato has lightning quick hands with very good hand speed through contact. An average runner, Kato will steal the occasional base and his speed plays up on the bases because of his instincts. Most observers grade his second base defense as below-average, but he looked solid during Arizona’s postseason run. There’s a bit of a split camp on his long-term value, but enough teams like him that he’ll likely be drafted in the top-10 rounds.
Fall certainly passes the eye test when he takes the mound—a tall, well-proportioned southpaw who looks like what teams want in a big pitcher. He ranked as the No. 208 player in the 2020 class after impressing for two years at Brookdale (N.J.) JC, but struggled with his control in a four-game stint for Arizona State in 2020. He’s cut his walk rate almost in half this spring, walking 4.3 hitters per nine innings, while pitching off of a fastball that sits around 90 mph with sink and a slider in the low 80s, although he was erratic in his lone postseason start. Fall started the year pitching out of the bullpen until a rash of early-season injuries decimated the Sun Devils starting staff. He delivers his pitches with an easy, effortless arm stroke, touching as high as 95 mph with an improving slider. Observers believe that his repertoire would be more effective if he tunneled the slider after the fastball as well as increasing the velocity on the breaking ball. The 79-82 mph changeup is inconsistent, giving credence to the idea that he could dominate out of the bullpen with a power sinker/slider combo. One concern is that he didn’t miss many bats, striking out 45 batters in 74.2 regular-season innings, especially considering his stuff and size. There’s such a wide range of opinions on Fall that it’s hard to project where he’s going to be drafted, but most likely he goes in the sixth-to-10th-round range.
Junior college players were granted an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, and Olsen took advantage of his third season at juco powerhouse Central Arizona. Named pitcher of the year for the Arizona jucos, Olsen finished the year with a 13-0 record, 2.13 ERA and 133 strikeouts and 30 walks in 88.2 innings. He was heavily scouted all season, with scouts lauding the shorter righthander for his bulldog mentality and competitive demeanor, pitching with power despite his shorter stature. Olsen delivers a fastball sitting 92-94 mph, touching as high as 96, and mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup. The curve has good bite, sitting 78-81 mph. Originally slated to attend Arizona after high school, Olsen now has a commitment to Arizona State. Considered to be very signable, he may never put on a Sun Devil uniform, likely getting drafted somewhere in the sixth-to-10th-round range.
Williams was one of the top high school players out of Nevada but after going undrafted in 2017 made it to campus at Arizona, where he has become an extremely polished hitter. He takes professional at-bats, with good feel to hit and an advanced understanding of the strike zone. His below-average power turned into some sneaky pop in 2021, when he hit six home runs in 203 at-bats during the regular season, but that’s not his game. He posted a slash line of .335/.487/.517 with 45 walks to 33 strikeouts. Williams is a scout favorite, and with his high floor and solid fourth outfielder profile is viewed as a relatively safe pick. Despite being only an average runner, Williams is a plus defender thanks to good instincts and feel for jumps and reads. His average arm with good carry will also serve him well in the corners. Williams swings at strikes, spraying balls around the field, but he needs to improve his bunting and bat path. Consistently playing at a high speed, Williams raises the level of play of those around him.
Swift has been a four-year starter at Arizona State, but because of the presence of 2020 supplemental first-round pick Alika Williams he did not get regular playing time at his natural shortstop position until this year. His defense at shortstop as well as the ability he’s shown at other positions, both in the infield and outfield, will give Swift plenty of supporters in draft rooms. He profiles best as a utilityplayer who with his outstanding makeup and consistency is expected to play above his tools. He’s a plus defender with an arm that is graded above-average to plus. He’s got the instincts, footwork and hands to remain a quality defender, and was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year for the 2021 season. Swift will be a bottom-of-the-order hitter at the next level, but he really competes at the plate. He’s a contact hitter with well below-average power. He’s a scout’s dream and is very signable as he’s already graduated and isn’t likely to go back for a fifth collegiate season. His high floor, defense at a premium position, and gamer mentality will get him drafted in the top-10 rounds.
Thornton was a Freshman All-American and the West Coast Conference freshman of the year in 2019 after posting a 2.71 ERA over 76.1 innings with St. Mary’s. Thornton transferred to Arizona State for the 2020 season, and after a respectable abbreviated campaign with the Sun Devils last spring, he struggled this season. He has feel for the game and a high IQ on the mound, but the stuff is average at best and his walk rate increased in 2021 (5.2 walks per nine innings). His fastball has a high spin rate and plus movement, but the velocity dipped late in the season, seldom exceeding 90 mph. Scouts have commented that it would be best for him to return to school for another year to try to get back to the form he had at St. Mary’s.
Kopp was a tough evaluation for scouts coming out of high school in 2020 given his lack of innings and extreme variance in velocity from start to start, and there is still no clear direction either on his future potential or his signability. Originally committed to Arizona State, Kopp instead found his way to South Mountain (Ariz.) JC this spring, where he struck out 38 batters and walked 25 over 25.1 innings, posting a 2.84 ERA. Kopp’s size and lefthandedness are the attributes that would get him drafted, along with a fastball that touches 97 mph and an inconsistent but potentially plus breaking ball, but his erratic performance will give teams pause before calling his name. Some observers believe he’s not yet ready to move on to the next level, either college or pro ball, and that he’d be best served by returning to South Mountain for another year.
14. Frankie Scalzo, RHP, Grand Canyon
Source: 4YR •
15. Tony Bullard, 3B, Arizona
Source: 4YR •
16. Garrett Irvin, LHP, Arizona
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-9 • Wt: 173 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Red Sox 2019 (40)
17. Erik Tolman, LHP, Arizona State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
18. Gil Luna, LHP, Arizona
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 173 •
19. Ryan Shiefer, RHP, Campo Verde HS
Source: HS •
20. Boyd Vander Kooi, RHP, Arizona State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 220 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: D-backs '17 (36)
21. Mac Bingham, OF, Arizona
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 177 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Cubs 2019 (40)
22. Pierson Ohl, RHP, Grand Canyon
Source: 4YR •
23. Daniel Avitia, RHP, Alhambra
Source: HS •
24. Vince Vannelle, RHP, Arizona
Source: 4YR •
25. Juan Colato, 2B, Grand Canyon
Source: 4YR •
26. Hunter Omlid, RHP, Central Arizona JC
Source: JC •
27. Eduarney Martinez, OF, Cochise (Ariz.) JC
Source: JC • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R •
28. Will Levine, RHP, Arizona State
Source: 4YR •
29. Tyler Woessner, RHP, Central Arizona JC
Source: JC •
30. Noah Turley, RHP, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
Source: JC •
31. Austin Smith, RHP, Arizona
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
32. Quinn Flanagan, RHP, Arizona
Source: 4YR •
33. Channy Ortiz, SS, Grand Canyon
Source: 4YR •
34. CJ Valdez, SS, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
Source: JC •
35. Damone Hale, OF, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
Source: JC •
36. Tanner Smith, C, Basha HS
Source: HS • Commitment/Drafted: Oregon State
37. Jacob Blas, INF, Arizona
Source: 4YR •