2021 BA 200 Draft Rankings: By The Numbers
Today, Baseball America released its first combined draft list for the 2021 class, with scouting reports for each player and video for many as well.
Below is a breakdown of the list by the numbers, checking in on various regions of strength, positional breakdowns, schools with the most prospects ranked and more.
It’ll be noteworthy when there is a year where one of Florida, California and Texas isn’t represented among the top three states. That’s the case every year and is again true entering 2021.
California and the West Coast generally could be underrated at this point given the lack of coverage many players from the West had last summer and fall.
One sneaky state this year could be North Carolina, which should have a tremendous amount of collegiate depth that could begin to surface this spring as teams get more looks at the college class.
Additionally, while the Northeast doesn’t have any one state that cracks the top 10 individually, the region is loaded with draft talent this year—with the potential to be an all-time year. Massachusetts and New Jersey just missed the top 10 with five players, while Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania have four apiece.
It’s a strong year for college pitching and that demographic perhaps more than any other has a chance to move up boards this year, with plenty of pitchers showcasing either stuff or performance (or both) in smaller track records and samples of playing time.
The high school class is heavy on shortstops this year, with five shortstops currently ranked in first-round territory, and quite a few sleepers who could easily end up in that range when the draft comes, including Maxwell Muncy, Edwin Arroyo, Cody Schrier, Alex Mooney and Jordan McCants—to name a few.
At this point it seems like a weak year for corner players in general, and particularly at the collegiate level where those profiles are more appealing to pro scouting departments. That could be a reason why the college hitting class is perceived as down, as many bat-first players come from either third or first base.
Typically at this time of the year, there’s close to a 50-50 split between the college and high school classes, with the edge almost always going to the college players.
There are currently 23 more college players ranked than high schoolers, and there is just one junior college prospect ranked among the top 200.
That difference is smaller when looking at only top-30 ranked players, with that subset split 16 to the college group and 14 to the high school group. Many scouting departments feel more confident with the prep class at the moment because there was more evaluation time for the top of the class last summer, but that could change during the college season. For now the prep class looks strong.
The later draft date means players are entering pro ball about a month later, but there are still three players who will be 17 years old on draft day and a handful more who will only have recently turned 18.
|James Peyton Smith||RHP||18.1|
How MLB Scouting Departments Grade The 2021 Draft Class
BA surveyed major league scouting departments and asked teams to grade the class on a 20-80 scale in a number of different categories.
A shortened five-round draft means there are many more quality players returning from the 2020 class who will have to deal with the stigma of age. It will be interesting to see how various teams choose to penalize older players in this class under the circumstances.
The usual suspects in college top the list here with the most players ranked. Louisville has three potential first-round hitters, while Vanderbilt has the most elite 1-2 prospect combination in the country with righthanders Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.
Of note here are two high schools that crack the list. As you would expect, both are powerhouse programs that consistently turn out talent. IMG Academy is the newer school and looks to have another strong class after six players were drafted out of the program in 2019. Outfielder James Wood has a chance to be the highest drafted player out of the program this year.
JSerra Catholic High is a traditional powerhouse in Southern California and lands four prospects on the top 200, led by shortstop Cody Schrier. The program has produced pro players including Austin Hedges, Royce Lewis and Chase Strumpf.
|T3||IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.||5|
|T6||JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.||4|
|T8||North Carolina State||3|
Three of the top four schools in terms of current prospects are also among the top four in committed prospects.
Florida leads all programs with eight commits, including two of the best righthanders in the country in Andrew Painter (the consensus top arm in the prep class) and Chase Petty.
UCLA has commits from all four JSerra prospects in its backyard, as the program consistently holds onto the best talent in the Southern California area. Outfielder Malakhi Knight is from Washington and could be the highest upside player of the group.
Vanderbilt has arguably the best 1-2 hitting combination of any program, with shortstop Jordan Lawlar (No. 2) and outfielder Joshua Baez (No. 20). It’s hard to see the program getting either player to campus considering their electrifying toolsets—let alone one.