2021 MLB Draft: Top 10 Prospects Entering Round 2
Day one is in the books. But there's still a bevy of talent on the board.
Last year's five-round MLB Draft pushed plenty of talent back to college, meaning this year's class is long on depth even if lacked a true consensus No. 1 talent at the top.
Below, find the 15 best prospects available entering Day 2 of the MLB Draft.
1. Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga. |BA Rank: 20
In a 2021 class littered with standout high school athletes, Chandler might be one of the best. A multi-sport athlete, Chandler is a four-star quarterback according to 247Sports and is committed to Clemson for both football and baseball. He can throw a football 40 yards down field with his left hand and he can also windmill dunk on the basketball court. Understandably, many teams are excited about the massive upside Chandler could have if he ever focuses exclusively on baseball. On the diamond, he’s a talented righthander and shortstop, with most teams preferring him on the mound, but a handful are either on him as a hitter or open-minded to letting him try the two-way experiment. Chandler has touched 97 mph this spring, but more typically works in the 89-93 mph range with his fastball. He’s shown a mid-70s curveball with above-average spin rate that scouts believe could develop into a plus pitch and he’s also thrown a changeup that needs more work. Chandler’s delivery needs work, as he gets by more on athleticism than on pristine mechanics. He doesn’t fully incorporate his legs at the moment, and while he has a super-fast arm, some scouts don’t love his high arm slot. His secondaries are both inconsistent now and his strikes have been scattered, but those who like Chandler believe he has the athleticism and natural feel for spin to make a massive leap with the help of pro player development and with an 100% focus on baseball. Chandler is a switch-hitting shortstop who has solid raw power in the tank and a better swing from the right side than the left, with lots of contact out of a quick, line-drive oriented swing. Chandler isn’t a refined defender now, but when he gets moving he can cover plenty of ground and he certainly has the arm strength for the left side of the infield. With all of those tools and athleticism in a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, Chandler’s upside is tremendous, and he should find a home in the first round unless he’s dead set on joining one of the best football programs in the nation.
2. Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS, Irmo, S.C. | BA Rank: 21
Clemson routinely turns out professional athletes, but it’s perhaps a bit more rare for the program to have not one, but two commits to the football program who are also potential first-round talents on the baseball field. That’s the case this year with Taylor and Georgia two-way player Bubba Chandler. Taylor is a three-star athlete, according to 247Sports, and has gotten interest from Clemson as a quarterback and slot receiver, in addition to being a standout high school wrestler. Taylor jumped on draft boards in a big way last summer when he was arguably the most impressive performer at East Coast Pro, standing out for his running ability and hitting performance. He clocked a 6.45-second 60-yard dash and is a double-plus runner, and he also showed an ability to square up velocity and sit back and drive offspeed stuff. Taylor gets a bit rigid in his swing at times, but he has shown bat speed, the ability to manipulate the barrel and a line-drive approach that suits his running ability. Scouts think he has a chance to be an above-average hitter with the speed to profile as a leadoff type. His power is the one tool that evaluators question. It’s below-average now, but Taylor did add strength to his 6-foot, 175-pound frame over the offseason and could continue to get more physical in the future but barring a significant development in that area in addition to a more leveraged swing, he’s unlikely to be a huge power threat. Taylor will take some inconsistent routes in the outfield currently, but he has the running ability, foot speed and explosion to develop into a plus defensive center fielder, with above-average arm strength on top of it. The teams highest on Taylor’s hitting ability and swing likely have him as a first-round talent, but most of the industry sees him as a top-50 type in a class that gets fairly jumbled beyond the first 20 players. His football and baseball commitment to Clemson could complicate things depending on where he lands.
3. Jaden Hill, RHP, Louisiana State | BA Rank: 24
Few pitchers in this year’s class will spark more debate than Hill. A 38th-round pick of the Cardinals out of high school in 2018, Hill is the younger brother of outfielder Kentrell Hill, a 10th-round pick of the Giants in 2011. A team willing to take on risk could land a top-10 talent later in the first round. Hill has flashed front-of-the-rotation stuff at his best and was seen as a potential top-five pick coming into the 2021 season. Hill’s 2021 season ended after seven starts when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and had Tommy John surgery. Hill’s freshman season in 2019 was cut short after just two starts because of a previous UCL strain. In high school he broke his collarbone playing football and broke his wrist while playing basketball. Evaluators noted that Hill was not showing the same quality of stuff in 2021 as he had shown in his four 2020 relief appearances—his plus slider was playing as a below-average pitch. While his fastball showed its normal velocity (92-96 mph and touching 98), hitters more often teed off on it. His plus-plus, low-80s changeup is one pitch that remained top-tier—it’s one of the best changeups in the draft class with velocity separation as well as tumbling depth and fade. It dives down and away from bats, making it a true swing-and-miss pitch. The quandary with Hill is that he has not had a track record of stringing together success—he posted a 6.67 ERA in 2021. No USA Baseball or Cape Cod League season in 2020 means Hill has only 51.1 college innings and nine starts for teams to evaluate. His injury offers an explanation for his subpar performance, but it kept him from stringing together the consistent success teams wanted to see. If he can stay healthy, Hill offers alluring upside with velocity, athleticism and average control. He is an exceptional athlete who was a standout quarterback and point guard in high school—he had Division I football offers and turned down the opportunity to play football in addition to baseball at LSU.
4. Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami | BA Rank: 25
In a draft class light on college bats, Del Castillo entered the year as the clear-cut, top college hitter in the class, with a track record of hitting that dates back to his time as a high schooler with Gulliver Prep in Miami when he was a top-200 prospect in the 2018 class. After hitting .336/.430/.571 over his first two seasons with Miami, Del Castillo took a step back in his draft-eligible third year this spring, hitting .284/.388/.411 through 51 games with more strikeouts (28) than walks (25) for the first time in his career, and just three home runs. That lack of over-the-fence power is concerning for teams who are skeptical about Del Castillo sticking behind the plate at the next level. He would have to play a corner if he can’t catch, which will put more pressure on his bat and his power production. Each of his three home runs this spring were to right field, and historically in his better home run seasons, Del Castillo has mostly used the pull side. He did homer five times in 37 games in the Cape Cod League in 2019, but that power production with a wood bat also came with an uncharacteristic 32-to-9 strikeout-to-walk rate. This spring he did most of his damage on fastballs and struggled to regularly impact breaking stuff, though that wasn’t much of an issue for him in previous years. Del Castillo does have a loose, easy swing from the left side, with solid zone recognition and low strikeout rates for his career, so many scouts still think he’ll be a plus hitter, but the question of defensive profile and impact potential loom after his 2021 season. Del Castillo put in plenty of work over the summer with Royals catcher Salvador Perez, where he worked on improving his arm strength, blocking and receiving but he still needs work in those areas—particularly the latter two. While teams are split about his chances to catch, his pure hitting ability and offensive track record should make him a first-rounder.
5. Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama | BA Rank: 26
South Alabama has done a solid job turning unheralded high school recruits into top-of-the-draft talents in recent years, with Travis Swaggerty selected 10th in the 2018 draft and Wilson poised to sneak into the first round this year. Teams weren’t on Wilson heavily out of Andalusia (Ala.) High, but they took note when he hit .345/.453/.686 with 17 home runs and made the freshman All-America first team in 2019. Wilson had a bit of a slow start to the 2021 season and has dealt with an ankle injury that has hampered him. He didn’t homer until his 14th game of the season and through his first 13 games was hitting just over .200. However, his second half was impressive, and he managed a .319/.430/.550 line with eight homers and more walks (33) than strikeouts (20). As evidenced by those walk and strikeout numbers, Wilson controls the zone well and also has a solid all-fields approach, with the power to drive pitches on the outer half over the fence to the left-center gap. Some scouts think his swing is a bit too stiff to truly be a plus hitter, but he does have plus raw power. Those offensive tools are the carrying tools for Wilson, who profiles as a left fielder thanks to limited arm strength and below-average running ability—though he did steal nine bags in 13 attempts this spring. Wilson is in a bit of a tough position with that profile, as he didn’t have a chance last summer to play in the Cape Cod League or with Team USA, where he could have proven his bat in an environment that would give teams more confidence in their projections. Teams that bake track records heavily into their draft models could be more hesitant to take Wilson, but in a draft class light on college bats, he stands out for his hitting ability, power potential and on-base skills.
6. Jud Fabian, OF, Florida | BA Rank: 27
Fabian has become one of the biggest conundrums of the 2021 draft class. One of the youngest college players in the class after graduating from high school early and enrolling at Florida, Fabian won’t turn 21 until September and has been a standout defensive center fielder for the Gators since the day he stepped on campus. On top of that, this spring he has been among the top home run hitters in the country and through 57 games was tied for sixth among Division I bats with 20 dingers. Fabian’s age, defensive profile and power output should have him as one of the top players in the class, but teams have plenty of concerns about his pure feel for hitting and his high strikeout rates. He entered the year with question marks about his swing and miss against spin but has whiffed more than 30% against each pitch type. Fabian has attempted to make some tweaks mechanically to cut down on his strikeouts, removing a leg kick in two-strike counts which did help him lower his strikeout rate, but it’s still higher than the 25% mark teams generally prefer with first-round bats. Fabian does have solid bat speed and plus raw power that has translated mostly to the pull side, but he’s hit a few impressive homers over the right-field fence as well. A righthanded hitter and lefthanded thrower, Fabian should have no issues handling center field and playing it at a high level defensively at the next level. He’s an above-average runner but what makes him a special defender are his defensive instincts, first step, reads off the bat, athleticism and arm strength. He’s at least a plus defender in the outfield and some scouts have gone as far as putting double-plus grades on his glove, making him one of the best defensive center fielders in the 2021 draft class. While some teams might be scared off given the swing and miss, Fabian has upside with his age, power and defensive profile and has more leverage than most college hitters at the top of the draft considering he would still be age-appropriate in the 2022 class.
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7. Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep | BA Rank: 28
Solometo has continued to build his stock from last summer, growing from a promising lefty with a funky delivery into one of the top prep arms in the country. He starts his delivery with a big leg kick leading into a long, deep arm swing in the back reminiscent of Madison Bumgarner's arm action. That delivery adds deception and makes for uncomfortable at-bats, but all those long, moving parts also gave several scouts hesitancy about his ability to repeat and throw strikes consistently. However, Solometo performed well last summer, stamped by an outstanding showing at the Future Stars Series at Fenway Park in September. He continued to show command of both his fastball and slider this spring, though there have been outings where his control backed up and he missed to his arm side. His fastball sits around 89-93 mph with arm-side life and he has the ability to reach back for 96 when he needs an extra gear. He consistently gets ahead of hitters, throwing strikes with his fastball to both sides of the plate. His low-80s slider is a plus pitch at times and Solometo is adept at executing it down in the zone, comfortably throwing it to the back foot of righthanded hitters or landing it to his arm side. Solometo doesn't throw his changeup much and it's hit or miss, but he has shown some feel for that pitch too. Solometo doesn't have the same fastball or athleticism as fellow New Jersey prep pitcher Chase Petty, but he's a lefty who throws more strikes with a less stressful delivery, so some scouts prefer Solometo. His combination of stuff, pitchability and track record should make him one of the first high school pitchers off the board.
8. Joshua Baez, OF, Dexter Southfield HS, Brookline, Mass. | BA Rank: 31
Baez is one of the youngest players in the class—he turns 18 at the end of June—but he's also one of the most physical and explosive players in the country. He has fast bat speed, he's strong for his age with more room to fill out and his raw power is already at least plus now with a chance to be a 70 in the near future and he could become a 35-plus home run threat. His arm is already at least a 70 tool from the outfield. He's been up to 98 mph on the mound this year and shown sporadic feel to spin a breaking ball, so pitching is a fallback option if hitting doesn't click, though he hasn't focused much on pitching and is still raw and wild. Baez has immense upside if he's able to make enough contact and draw enough walks, but swing and miss has been an issue. He performed well last summer on the showcase circuit and he started the spring by managing his at-bats well, but as the season progressed, he got more out of sync and swung through a lot of ordinary Massachusetts high school pitching. Baez isn't a free-swinger, but there's some stiffness to his stroke and he tends to get his front arm extended early, which hampers the adjustability of his swing to be able to react to and square up different pitch types and locations. In center field, Baez shined all spring. He's a solid-average runner underway who doesn't have typical burner speed or long gliding strides for the position, but he's a power runner who has good instincts, reading the ball well off the bat with good routes to both gaps. He's built like a corner outfielder and many scouts believe he will ultimately outgrow the position and head to right field, but he has enough athleticism and ball skills to start out in center.
9. Lonnie White Jr., OF, Malvern (Pa.) Prep | BA Rank: 31
White originally committed to Clemson for baseball, but he switched his commitment in May 2020 to Penn State to play both baseball and wide receiver for the football team. A three-sport athlete who also played high school basketball, White is a physical, explosive player with a well-rounded tool set. He also has a good track record of game performance going back to last summer, including an MVP award from the Perfect Game 17U National Championship in July, a long home run off a 94 mph fastball at the Area Code Games and another productive tournament at the World Wood Bat Championship in October. He has continued to hit well for the most part this spring, albeit with some swing and miss to his game, but he has shown feel for hitting, especially given his multi-sport background. White is physically mature for his age, but he has the strength, bat speed and swing conducive to tapping into what should consistently be plus raw power. White is built like a corner outfielder, but he's a plus runner now with good instincts in center field. Those skills give him a chance to start out in center field, though with his body type, he probably will slow down. If he slides over to right field, he has the tools to be an above-average defender there, including an arm that's improved to a tick above-average. White's two-sport commitment might make him a more difficult sign, but his skill set could also make him one of the top high school outfielders off the board.
10. Peyton Stovall, 2B, Haughton (La.) HS | BA Rank: 33
Stovall’s draft profile is not for everyone. He’s a high school shortstop whose fringe-average arm will likely require a slide over to second base in pro ball and he’s not particularly physical (6 feet, 180 pounds). But Stovall may end up as the best pure hitter in this year’s draft with above-average power as well, and a combination like that can alleviate concerns about a player’s eventual defensive home. A lefthanded hitter, Stovall’s swing has a simple load, plenty of adjustability and a smooth, fluid stroke with good timing and the ability to use the entire field. He was a consistent performer against top-notch pitching all last summer and hit .505/.664/1.031 this spring with 14 home runs, 23 stolen bases, 42 walks and just seven strikeouts. Stovall’s long track record of hitting will give teams plenty of confidence in his bat, something that can’t be said for many of the college hitters in this class (who had a shortened season and no summer events in 2020). Defensively, his body is thickening up, but he should be an average defender at second, albeit one limited by his arm strength. He’s an Arkansas signee who could provide an instant impact for the Razorbacks, but the way he’s hit, it’s unlikely MLB teams will let him get to school. Stovall came into the season as a likely Day Two pick, but he’s hit his way into the late first round or supplemental first round consideration.