Baseball America's draft content is powered by

2021 North Carolina Top MLB Draft Prospects

Today, Baseball America rolls out its state-by-state rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft. Additionally, you can find our:

500 Draft Rankings | 2021 MLB Mock Draft | MLB Draft Tracker


1. Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (N.C.) HS (BA RANK: 6)
Source: HS • Ht: 5-9 • Wt: 178 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: North Carolina State

Watson was one of the standout performers over the summer showcase circuit and immediately put himself in first-round territory after a standout showing at East Coast Pro, where he ran a 6.5 60-yard-dash and looked like one of the best hitters at the event. Watson isn’t the most physical player you’ll see, listed at 5-foot-9, 178 pounds, but there are scouts in the industry who believe his combination of athleticism, tools and defensive profile give him the most upside in the class. Watson has outstanding bat speed and plenty of strength in his swing, with a tendency to take massive hacks and try to hit for power. Despite that approach, he has shown a smooth, lefthanded swing and an ability to manipulate his barrel, with impressive at-bats against some of the best pitchers in the class over the summer. Against mid-90s fastballs and some of the best breaking balls the prep class has to offer, Watson seemed perfectly comfortable within his at-bats, spitting on pitches out of the zone, drawing walks when he needed to and driving pitches in his hitting zone when the opportunity arose. That approach and his physical tools should allow him to project as an above-average hitter with solid or better power. Watson is a tremendous athlete who has turned in 70-grade run times at various events and should be at least a plus runner consistently. Defensively, he has all the tools to stick at shortstop, with quick-twitch actions, solid glove work and 60-grade arm strength. There have been some scouts who think he might fit best at second base or perhaps in center field in the long run thanks to his speed and athleticism, but there’s no tool he’s missing that he needs to be an above-average defensive shortstop. Watson is committed to North Carolina State, where he would continue a solid run of impressive shortstops out of the program, but he is a lock to be drafted among the top-10 picks.

2. Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina (BA RANK: 30)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 255 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Rays ’17 (30)

Going back to his prep days at Cape Fear High in Fayetteville, N.C., Williams has had plenty of velocity. He was in the mid 90s with a projectable frame at the time and scouts didn’t think it would be too long before he was touching 100 mph. They weren’t wrong, and now Williams sits with one of the hardest fastballs in the draft class. He sits 94-96 with the pitch and has been up to 100-101 mph. Despite that velocity, Williams struggled during his first three seasons—with injuries, consistency and control. As a draft-eligible member of the 2020 class, Williams ranked No. 81 in the class on the upside of his pure stuff despite throwing just three innings after being limited with a finger injury. This spring, he’s put everything together for the first time and excelled in a mostly starting role, pitching to a 1.46 ERA through his first 10 starts and 68 innings, with 108 strikeouts (14.3 K/9) and 18 walks (2.4 BB/9)—good for the lowest walk rate of his career. He improved his secondaries over the offseason and is more consistent with his breaking balls. An upper-70s curveball with 11-5 shape has been his best swing-and-miss pitch this spring, and he also throws a mid-80s slider with short, two-plane bite that is solid when he gets on top of it and keeps it down. Williams also throws a firm, upper-80s changeup that has some dive and gets whiffs when it’s located down, but he misses to his arm side with the pitch. Williams could get drafted among the top-two rounds with his breakout season and loud pitch-mix.

3. Joshua Hartle, LHP, Reagan HS, Pfafftown, N.C. (BA RANK: 37)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 195 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Wake Forest

There have been a number of impressive prep lefthanders to come out of North Carolina, including Madison Bumgarner back in 2007 and more recently MacKenzie Gore and Blake Walston. Hartle appears to be the next southpaw in that line, though he is closer to Walston than the Gore/Bumgarner duo in terms of present stuff at the moment. Hartle stands out for his command and pitchability more than blow-you-away stuff and was voted by scouting directors as the best command pitcher in the high school class in Baseball America’s preseason poll. Despite a tall and projectable 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame, Hartle has a smooth delivery that he repeats well, throwing from a low, three-quarter slot with very little effort and great balance in his finish. While he does get a bit extended in the back of his arm slot with some stab and plunging action, that hasn’t seemed to impact his command. Hartle hasn’t yet taken a jump with his stuff and was still sitting in the low 90s and peaking at 93-94 mph this spring after dealing with an appendectomy early in the season. Hartle throws a sweepy slider in the 78-84 mph range that looks like a solid pitch that could play up given his ability to land it and steer it in and out of the zone. He also throws a mid-80s changeup with impressive fading life that looks like an above-average future offering. Hartle is committed to Wake Forest but could get drafted in the back of the first or second round, but after his season he said wasn’t intending to sign and would head to campus for his collegiate career.

4. Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest (BA RANK: 39)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Reds ’18 (40)

Cusick’s father played college football in Maine, and Cusick himself wouldn’t look out of place on the gridiron with a massive 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame. He has the power stuff to back it up and has been a hard thrower since his high school days, when he sat in the 92-94 mph range and touched 97. After three years at Wake Forest, Cusick now has one of the best fastballs in the country, a pitch that sits around 95 mph and has been up into the 100-102 mph range with solid life. Cusick will also flash a plus breaking ball that averages around 80 mph and has slurvey shape that looks more like a slider at times and more like a downer curve at others, but scouts have noted that the pitch is inconsistent—a critique that dates back to his prep days. The pitch itself shows quality spin, movement and bite at times, but Cusick’s usability of the pitch needs to improve. Cusick also throws a firm, upper-80s changeup that has slight fading action at times, but his usage of the pitch is extremely minimal. Cusick posted a 4.24 ERA this spring through 12 starts and 70 innings, with 108 strikeouts (13.9 K/9) to 32 walks (4.1 BB/9). He’s a control-over-command pitcher who can put the fastball over the plate enough, but some evaluators think he hasn’t made enough adjustments in his strike throwing to safely profile as a starter, and instead think he’ll be a power arm out of the bullpen.

5. Connor Norby, 2B, East Carolina (BA RANK: 43)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 187 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Norby never got to show his hitting ability over a full 2020 season, but in 17 games he posted a .403/.439/.500 slash line. This spring, he continued right where he left off with the bat, and showed off his hitting ability, power and speed. The 5-foot-10, 187-pound second baseman has been one of the best performers in the country this spring. He hit .426/.493/.681 with 15 home runs and 18 stolen bases, while walking (31) as many times as he struck out (31) through the first 58 games of the season—and was named one of 24 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award for his efforts. Norby has punished fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed pitches, with an OPS over 1.000 against each type, according to Synergy. His numbers aren’t quite as loud against 93-plus mph velocity this spring, but he also hasn’t faced significant velocity consistently in the American Athletic Conference, so perhaps that’s nothing more than small-sample size nitpicking. While Norby isn’t the most toolsy player, he seems to do everything on the field well. He’s an average runner who has been into the low 90s on the mound in the past and has more than enough arm strength to offer some positional versatility at the next level. He’s been a savvy baserunner throughout his collegiate career, going 24-for-29 (83%) in stolen base attempts. In a down year for college hitters, Norby has excelled offensively. If he snuck into the back of the first round, it would not be surprising.

6. Luca Tresh, C, North Carolina State (BA RANK: 75)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 206 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Early this spring, Tresh was one of the bigger helium players in the country and was on his way to giving North Carolina State first-round catchers in back-to-back years after Patrick Bailey was selected 13th in 2020. Through his first 10 games, Tresh was hitting .400/.467/.950 and was second in the country with seven home runs. That production fell steeply, however, and Tresh’s line dropped to .236/.314/.472 through 47 games at the end of the regular season, with a 27% strikeout rate. Tresh has crushed fastballs all season and he puts up gaudy exit velocities, especially to left field, where all of his homers have gone this spring. Analytics departments will love how hard he hits the ball, as well as a tendency to elevate consistently, but scouts are skeptical of his swing and his ability to recognize spin and offspeed—both pitch categories he struggled against this spring. Tresh has a spread-out stance with no stride and significant bat wrap, with an aggressive approach and some length to the swing that could lead to high strikeout rates. Defensively, Tresh has average potential behind the plate. He’s not the defender that Bailey was before him (admittedly a tough bar to clear) but has a strong arm and is athletic and strong in his lower half behind the plate, with a wide one-knee setup. His receiving can be inconsistent at times and he’s not always the most fluid mover, but there’s nothing that would prevent him from sticking behind the plate with some refinement.

7. Jose Torres, SS, North Carolina State (BA RANK: 92)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 168 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Brewers ’19 (24)

Torres was a BA 500 player out of high school thanks to his flashy defensive play at shortstop. Two years later and he’s frequently cited as the best defensive shortstop in the country. The Dominican-born infielder is listed at 6 feet, 171 pounds and is the latest shortstop to come out of a North Carolina State program that has produced first-round picks in Trea Turner (2014) and Will Wilson (2019) in recent years. Torres doesn’t have the offensive upside of either of those players, but scouts believe he’s a plus defender who covers plenty of ground despite fringy speed. His instincts in the field are tremendous, he reads hops well and has advanced footwork around the bag with the ability to throw from multiple angles and arm slots with plus arm strength. That conviction in his defensive tools gives him at least a floor as a utility infielder and defensive specialist, with his overall upside depending on the progression of his hitting ability. He performed well as a freshman in the shortened 2020 season (.333/.369/.533) but that came with a strikeout rate over 30%. He cut the strikeout rate to around 17% this spring, while hitting .294/.352/.514 through 47 games, but scouts are still skeptical of his swing and the swing-and-miss tendencies he’s shown against breaking balls. Torres has some sneaky pull-side pop but doesn’t figure to be a big home run threat, with a thin and lean frame that might never be overly physical.

8. Justice Thompson, OF, North Carolina (BA RANK: 96)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

There were a few teams who were interested in Thompson a year ago out of Northwest Florida JC, where he hit .337 and homered five times. A year later, Thompson was one of the bigger helium players early in the college season, particularly after a number of national evaluators saw him go 6-for-10 against Virginia Tech. Thompson possesses an exciting power/speed combination in a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame. He does have exciting tools, with double-plus running ability, solid raw power and plus defensive ability in center field. He was a solid performer in his first season in the ACC, hitting .304/.386/.444 with seven homers and 15 stolen bases in 17 tries (88%) but he has some pure hit tool questions. Thompson has long levers, which means his bat path can get lengthy at times and pitchers can find holes to expose, and he also shows issues with pitch recognition and doesn’t always have the discipline to stay within the strike zone. Some scouts don’t like his late start to the swing and think his bat can get in and out of the zone too quickly. Thompson struck out at a 27% rate over 54 games and particularly struggled with breaking stuff and offspeed offerings. Given all of that, there are scouts who think he’s going to have to be an ambush hitter at the next level. There is plenty of bat speed in the tank, so if he can improve his pitch recognition and clean up the swing, he has exciting upside given his running ability and exciting athleticism that translate to impressive highlight-reel defensive plays in center field.

9. Austin Love, RHP, North Carolina (BA RANK: 99)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 232 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Love was North Carolina’s relief ace in 2019, when he appeared in a team-high 36 games and posted a 3.22 ERA over 67 innings. He was also used out of the bullpen during the shortened 2020 season but made a successful transition to starting this spring. He posted a 3.71 ERA over 102 innings and 16 starts, while striking out 129 batters (11.4 K/9) and walking 32 (2.8 BB/9)—both his strikeout and walk rate this season were career bests. Love has a workhorse frame at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds and worked back-to-back complete games in May, including a 15-strikeout game against Georgia Tech. His fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range as a starter, and while the metrics on the pitch aren’t great, there are scouts who think he could work with a double-plus fastball that has increased velocity in a bullpen role at the next level. He’s touched 97-98 mph this season. While his best secondary pitch was previously his changeup, Love’s slider has developed this spring and became his best swing-and-miss offering. It’s a mid-80s bender with solid vertical bite that he consistently lands down and to his glove side. Love does a nice job keeping his mid-to-upper-80s changeup down as well, though he works the pitch to his arm side and away from lefthanded hitters, with terrific tumbling action at its best. Both pitches have shown above-average potential at times, but not always at the same time. Love has a very short arm action and a delivery that some scouts don’t love, but he did a nice job filling up the strike zone this season.

10. Philip Abner, LHP, Charlotte Christian HS (BA RANK: 107)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 220 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Florida

A filled-out, 6-foot-1, 220-pound lefthander, Abner stands out for his physicality and fastball command. Last summer Abner sat in the 90-93 mph range, touching 94-95 and showing an impressive ability to spot the pitch consistently, especially to his glove side, to dominate hitters. He was a candidate this spring to take a jump, but after dealing with turf toe and missing some time, he’s generally shown the same sort of stuff. Scouts have seen him in the 92-94 mph range with some feel to land a breaking ball. He also throws a changeup in the low-to-mid 80s that has impressive diving life and looks like a pitch that can be effective against righties and lefties. Abner has thrown both a curveball and a slider, and the two pitches blend together and get slurvy at times. Scouts prefer the harder variant in the 82-84 mph range, which shows some late bite when he hits on it. Abner has a long arm-hooking action in the back of his delivery, which could inhibit his ability to get to a consistent breaking ball, and it also causes some scouts to wonder if he’s more of a reliever than a starter in the long run. Scouts who like his strong frame, three-pitch mix and chance to start might prefer him in the second or third round, but a Florida commitment could make him a tough sign. Abner will be 19 on draft day and eligible in two seasons if he makes it to campus.

11. Payton Green, SS, Crossroads Flex HS, Cary, N.C. (BA RANK: 114)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: North Carolina State

Green has been one of the more difficult players to place in the 2021 class, because the industry seems to have as wide a split on him as any player in the class. There are teams who view him as a top-50 player in the class and others who think he needs more time to refine and develop his game and would prefer to see how he performs in college at North Carolina State. Carolina area scouts have a solid history with Green, who played at Green Hope High in Cary, N.C. before leaving the school to take classes at Crossroads Flex High and play with Pro 5 Academy. Green Hope produced Jordyn Adams as a first-rounder in 2018 and Liam Norris as a third-rounder in 2020. Green has a projectable, 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame with impressive bat speed that could help him grow into solid or better power in the future, and he’s also a good runner with above-average arm strength. A shortstop now, Green has solid actions and should be able to play either second or third base if he outgrows the position. The teams that like Green are buying into his improved swing this spring and believe he has the skill to turn into a solid-average or better hitter, while those that are more skeptical saw a lot of swing and miss last summer on the showcase circuit, with a bat path that was too steep at times. Green has a solid tool set and enough teams seem to be on him that he could be selected in a signable range among the first few rounds.

12. Tyler McDonough, 2B/OF, North Carolina State (BA RANK: 128)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

McDonough rated as the No. 283 player in the 2020 class but went undrafted and headed back to North Carolina State for his third season, where for the third time he hit over .300 and continued to add more in-game power to his game. Listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, McDonough doesn’t jump out at you with loud tools, but he’s become a player who scouts appreciate the more they watch him. He does everything on the field at a high level and is the sort of skilled gamer who area scouts are drawn to. McDonough controls the zone well, doesn’t swing and miss much and takes his share of walks, and this season he hit a career-high 15 homers. Scouts have said those homers have come with a longer swing and more aggressive hacks, and his 17% strikeout rate was the highest of his career, which shows a slight shift in his approach. McDonough has spread his homers all over the field and his exit velocities are impressive for a player of his size, so perhaps solid power will be part of his game at the next level as well. McDonough has spent most of his time in center field for the Wolfpack, but he has the defensive versatility to play all over the place, including second base, third base and perhaps even shortstop in a pinch. He’s a better runner underway than he is out of the box and went 30-for-36 (83%) over his career in stolen base attempts. McDonough has plenty of promising statistical indicators and he could go off the board in the second-to-fourth-round range.

13. Ethan Murray, SS, Duke (BA RANK: 174)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

It’s a bit surprising that Murray went under the radar out of high school considering he played on the same team as highly-touted Clemson catcher Adam Hackenberg. Murray put himself squarely on the map after hitting .305/.391/.445 with five home runs and starting all 58 games at shortstop in a 2019 Freshman All-American season. He slumped a bit in the shortened 2020 season before having a strong summer in the Coastal Plain League, and this spring Murray managed a solid .297/.397/.440 slash line. While Murray has exclusively played shortstop with Duke, scouts wonder if he will be an everyday shortstop at the next level. He has solid hands and above-average arm strength for the position, but he’s a below-average runner and some scouts think his defensive actions are just light enough that he’d be better served playing all over the infield and outfield as a super-utility type. Listed at 6 feet, 200 pounds, Murray has below-average power but he swings with intent and takes massive hacks trying to do damage. That has led to some swing and miss in his game and an 18% whiff rate this spring. A team that thinks Murray has a chance to be an everyday shortstop could take a shot at him somewhere in the middle of Day Two.

14. Bryce McGowan, RHP, Charlotte (BA RANK: 220)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

McGowan entered the year as a potential sleeper pick thanks to reports of a step forward with his control last fall. McGowan has always had a big arm with impressive pure stuff, but high walk rates held him back during his first two seasons with Charlotte. That remained the case for McGowan this spring, as he posted a 4.84 ERA over 15 starts and 80 innings, with 99 strikeouts (11.1 K/9) and 55 walks (6.2 BB/9), which was good for the highest walk rate of his collegiate career. McGowan has a four-pitch mix that’s led by his fastball and slider. He sits in the 92-94 mph range and gets up to 97 with his fastball, and his slider is in the mid 80s with hard horizontal action to the glove side. He’ll get around the pitch at times, but when he’s on top it looks like a real above-average breaking ball. McGowan also throws a mid-80s changeup to his arm side that features diving action and arm-side fade and a low-80s curve with more three-quarter shape. McGowan is listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and throws with a short arm action and a three-quarter arm slot, with some effort but not a significant amount. He has the four-pitch mix that could play in a starting role, but to do so will need to take a step forward with his strike throwing—which after three years at Charlotte has been consistently below-average.

15. Mason Miller, RHP, Gardner-Webb (BA RANK: 236)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Miller is older for the class after spending four seasons at Division III Waynesburg, and he’ll turn 23 shortly after the draft, but he has a big arm and pitched well this spring for Gardner-Webb in the Big South. Miller led the Bulldogs in innings pitched (92.2) and posted a 3.30 ERA over 14 starts, while striking out 121 batters (11.8 K/9) and walking 30 (2.9 BB/9). That walk rate was easily the best of his collegiate career, so there is bound to be some skepticism about whether or not his control has taken a step forward, but it was solid this spring. Miller throws a fastball that sits in the 94-96 mph range fairly consistently and runs the pitch up to 99 at his best. He generated a lot of whiffs with a low-80s slider that showed hard, two-plane break out of the zone and also mixed in a mid-80s changeup. Miller has a solidly built, 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame and throws from a three-quarter arm slot with solid downhill plane thanks to his height and long levers.

16. Jack Carey, RHP, Duke (BA RANK: 237)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

An undersized righthander listed at 6 feet, 205 pounds, Carey showed solid pitching ability over his first two years with Duke and then took a big step forward in his stuff last fall. That prompted many to think he would have a breakout season, and Carey was impressive at times, but also had a lot of inconsistencies. He struggled out of the gate but found success later in the year after upping his slider usage and was particularly impressive in an ACC Tournament matchup against Miami, where he struck out eight and walked one over six innings. However, in his next start against Liberty in the Knoxville Regional, he allowed eight earned runs and seven hits in just 3.1 innings of work. On the season, Carey posted a 5.24 ERA over 68.2 innings and 15 starts, with 69 strikeouts (9.0 K/9) and 25 walks (3.3 BB/9). Carey’s fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range and he runs it up to 96 mph at his best. His go-to secondary is a slider in the low 80s that he’s shown good feel to spin at times, but the pitch is inconsistent. He’s also thrown a slower curveball in the 70s, a cutter and a changeup.

17. Joey Loperfido, OF, Duke (BA RANK: 243)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 195 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Loperfido was draft-eligible in 2020 but went unselected and returned to Duke for his fourth season with the program. He managed his best offensive campaign this spring, with an OPS over 1.000 for the first time and a slash line of .374/.473/.612 with eight home runs and 19 doubles. His showing at the ACC Tournament—where he won MVP honors—raised his stock as well, particularly a 4-for-5 game against Virginia that included a pair of homers and a double. His .473 on-base percentage was good for the fourth-best single-season OBP in Duke history. After bouncing around a number of positions through his first few seasons in Durham, Loperfido settled into an everyday center field role this spring. He’s a solid athlete and above-average runner, but scouts have always wondered if he was the true burner type that would be able to stick in the middle at the next level—particularly with a 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame that could add more weight in the future. Because of that he’s a bit of a tweener outfield profile. He has average raw power from a smooth, lefthanded swing that has had some swing-and-miss issues in the past, though he did cut his strikeout rate to 20% this spring. Some scouts think he could be a utility player who is capable of playing all over the infield and outfield.

18. Adam Smith, RHP, UNC Wilmington (BA RANK: 244)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Smith came to UNC Wilmington as a two-way player as a shortstop and righthander, but only spent one season with any significant number of at-bats before transitioning to a full-time pitching role. In 2019 and 2020, Smith worked out of the bullpen and threw 22.2 innings with solid strikeout and walk rates. Smith continued to work out of the bullpen this spring until mid April, when he transitioned to a starting role and finished the season in that capacity with seven total starts. On the year, he posted a 2.49 ERA over 61.1 innings, with 58 strikeouts (8.5 K/9) and 26 walks (3.8 BB/9). Smith sat in the 91-93 mph range this spring and touched 97 mph out of the bullpen. As a starter he didn’t quite get to that peak velocity, but generally sat in the lower 90s. He throws a slurvy breaking ball in the 78-82 mph range that has solid three-quarter break and depth and also mixes in a mid-80s changeup that shows impressive arm-side fading action at its best. Scouts think there’s plenty of room to grow with Smith, thanks to his athleticism and the fact that he’s relatively new to being a full-time pitcher and handling a starting role. Smith is thin, with a 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame that has plenty of room for more strength, though scouts are unsure how big he’ll get given his lean frame over the years.

19. Corey Rosier, OF, UNC Greensboro (BA RANK: 249)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 184 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Rosier was one of the better hitters in the Southern Conference this spring. He was a first team All-Southern Conference selection after he led the league with 75 hits and four triples and was tied for the lead with 59 runs and 51 RBIs. Rosier is listed at 5-foot-10, 184 pounds with a contact-oriented lefthanded swing that works well with his plus running ability. He controlled the zone at a solid rate this spring (10 BB%, 11 K%) and didn’t expand the zone or swing and miss too frequently, and when he got a fastball he almost never missed it. While Rosier did have 12 home runs—mostly to the pull side—he doesn’t look like a big power hitter at the next level. He has a simple setup and swing at the plate, with limited pre-pitch movement and a clean, fluid lefthanded swing. He has the speed to be a solid defensive center fielder and went 17-for-23 (74%) in stolen base attempts.

20. Landen Roupp, RHP, UNC Wilmington (BA RANK: 254)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Roupp doesn’t jump out at you in terms of pure stuff, but he’s been nothing but a consistent starter for UNC Wilmington over his four-year career and after posting a 2.58 ERA this spring, has a career ERA of 2.99. He fills up the strike zone with a three-pitch mix that features a fastball in the 89-91 mph range that tops out at 94, a mid-70s curveball with 11-to-5 shape and mostly top-down action and an infrequently used changeup in the low 80s that he always lands down and away to his glove side. Scouts don’t see any pitch that’s plus in Roupp’s repertoire and everything might be more fringe-average than average, but he throws strikes and has always performed. Roupp is listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and has a starter’s look, with a clean arm action that features some plunge in the back but a balanced finish and consistent release point.

21. William Fleming, RHP, Wake Forest (BA RANK: 265)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 215 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Ryan Cusick isn’t the only physically imposing Wake Forest pitcher in the 2021 class, as Fleming looks the part of a big leaguer right now as well, with a 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame. Fleming was eligible in the 2020 class thanks to a big-time fastball, but went unselected and made his way back to Wake for a fourth season, where he posted a 6.03 ERA over 74.2 innings and 13 starts, with 65 strikeouts (7.8 K/9) and 21 walks (2.5 BB/9). Despite the performance, scouts are still interested in Fleming because of his arm talent. He averages 94 mph with his powerful, sinking fastball and has been up to 97-98 mph at his best. His go-to secondary is a tight slider in the low-to-mid 80s, but he also throws a slower curve with 12-to-6 shape and a mid-80s changeup. His secondaries are fringy now, but teams might want to move Fleming into a bullpen role at the next level where his stuff might play up. At the same time, he’s thrown enough strikes over the last two seasons (2.5 BB/9) that some teams might give him a shot at starting.

22. Austin Vernon, RHP, North Carolina Central (BA RANK: 284)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-8 • Wt: 265 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Vernon ranked No. 285 on the 2020 BA 500 despite not throwing a pitch during the shortened season. A non-Tommy John arm surgery kept him off the field, but scouts loved what they saw from him during the summer in the Cape Cod League in 2019, when he struck out 31 batters and walked nine over 20.2 innings of work. Listed at 6-foot-8, 265 pounds, Vernon is one of the biggest pitchers in the 2021 draft class and he has a big fastball to match. He’s run it up to 98 mph but more typically sits in the 90-94 mph range. Vernon also has feel to spin two breaking balls: a low-80s slider that he uses more frequently than a curveball in the mid-to-upper 70s. Vernon has also thrown a low-80s changeup that he throws consistently to his glove side. This spring with North Carolina Central, Vernon posted a career-best 2.55 ERA over 70.2 innings and 12 starts, with 109 strikeouts (13.9 K/9) and 31 walks (3.9 BB/9). It was his first season as a full-time starter with the team, but scouts think he’s a reliever at the next level because of his strike throwing and a high-maintenance, high-effort delivery that features plenty of length in his arm action and head whack and recoil through his finish. A team that likes physical pitchers with loud pure stuff could still take him in the back of the top-10 rounds.

23. Martin Gair, RHP, Cox Mill HS, Concord, N.C. (BA RANK: 290)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: UNC Wilmington

Gair was a pop-up prospect this spring after showing a fastball that touched 98 mph multiple times. Previously, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound righthander showed a fastball that sat in the 94-95 mph range, but now scouts see an arm that could easily touch 100 mph soon. Gair also throws a loopy curveball in the mid 70s that has some shape but needs continued refinement. While his arm talent is real, scouts aren’t sure about his control or the secondary pitches in his arsenal. He is more of a slinger than a pitcher currently and will need to take big steps forward in the strike-throwing department to make the most of his impressive fastball velocity. Gair is committed to UNC Wilmington.

24. Austin Murr, 1B, North Carolina State (BA RANK: 317)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 207 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Murr isn’t your prototypical college leadoff hitter as a 6-foot-2, 218-pound slugging first baseman. But he’s a proven hitter and he’s gotten on base at close to a 40% rate in his collegiate career, and what more could you want for a leadoff hitter than to get on base? Murr ranked on the back end of the BA 500 in 2020 because of his performance and this spring just kept hitting, and helped the Wolfpack reach Omaha, with a .323/.374/.518 line, with seven home runs and 16 doubles. Murr doesn’t have the sort of power that typically profiles well at first base and he also hit the ball on the ground close to 50% of the time this spring, with a swing that scouts have said is flat and more conducive to liners in the gap than real over-the-fence power. As a defender limited to first base, he might be a swing-change candidate at the next level to try and tap into more power, but his production has been solid enough that he could go off the board as a money-saver somewhere in the fourth-to-10th-round range.

25. Danny Serretti, SS, North Carolina (BA RANK: 349)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 195 • B-T: B-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Serretti impressed as a freshman at North Carolina, when he hit .299/.373/.424 while also handling the team’s shortstop duties and hitting from both sides of the plate. That performance, switch-hitting ability, and shortstop profile put some lofty expectations on him after the 2019 season, but Serretti has struggled with the bat since then. He hit just .250/.356/.276 in the shortened 2020 season and this spring put up a .249/.332/.488 line with nine home runs and 18 doubles while striking out about 20% of the time. He has a solid line-drive stroke that allows him to hit doubles into the gap, but with a career .271 average there’s skepticism about his pure hit tool. Serretti has impressive hands and glove work that would be enough for a middle infield position, but scouts question his speed—he’s a below-average runner—footwork and the angles he takes defensively. He throws fine for the left side of the infield. Serretti entered the season as a potential top-five round sort of player, but his limited tool set and lack of offensive production make that unlikely now.

26. Michael Rothenberg, C, Duke (BA RANK: 354)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 210 • B-T: B-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Teams had some interest in Rothenberg last year among the top-five rounds after a strong offensive showing in 16 games (.349/.551/.605), but ultimately the big switch-hitting catcher went back to Duke for his fourth season with the program. This spring, he hit .251/.346/.493 with nine home runs and 16 doubles, while striking out 50 times and walking 24. He’s been a head scratcher for scouts for several years now, as he does have plus arm strength from behind the plate and raw power to both sides. That’s an attractive tool set for a collegiate catcher, but evaluators are also skeptical about his chances to stick behind the plate at the next level because of his stiffer actions. Additionally, his swing gets long, and scouts wonder about his ability to recognize spin and stay within the strike zone as a hitter. For a team that thinks he has a chance to catch at the next level, he could be an intriguing pick somewhere inside the top-10 rounds.

27. Christian Lothes, LHP, Charlotte (BA RANK: 412)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

A 6-foot-2, 225-pound lefthander, Lothes racked up plenty of strikeouts for Charlotte this spring out of the bullpen after dealing with a strained lat in 2020. He posted a 3.10 ERA over 40.2 innings, with 54 strikeouts (12 K/9) and 23 walks (5.1 BB/9). Scouts think he’s a no-doubt reliever at the next level because of his strike throwing, but he’s got a chance for two plus pitches with a fastball that’s been up to 97 mph this spring and a big-breaking low-80s slider. Lothes has also thrown a mid-80s changeup infrequently this spring, but he probably won’t need to use it much in a reliever role. Lothes has a big leg kick in his delivery with significant drop and drive action and a steep, bent-over finish.

28. Bobby Seymour, 1B, Wake Forest (BA RANK: 437)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 250 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Seymour was the 2019 ACC Player of the Year after hitting .377/.439/.576 with nine home runs and 20 doubles. Scouts have always liked his bat-to-ball skills, above-average raw power and standout exit velocities but wanted to see him hit for more power in games at a hitter-friendly park. He did just that this spring, tallying a career-best 21 homers that put him among the nation’s leaders in the category, while hitting .302/.400/.709. Seymour has good on-base abilities as well, with tolerable strikeout rates given his power and a 13% walk rate this spring. He’ll be limited to first base as a well below-average runner, so there’s pressure on his bat to perform at the next level, but his wood bat history has always been worse than his production at Wake.

29. Jonny Butler, OF, North Carolina State (BA RANK: 468)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 200 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

A 6-foot-1, 200-pound left fielder, Butler had a terrific season this spring and was the leading hitter on a North Carolina State team that had one of the better offenses in the country. He hit .377/.451/.665 through 49 games, with 13 home runs and 12 doubles, while going 16-for-17 in stolen base attempts. Because of that production, Butler should get some interest later in the draft and analytics-heavy teams might be much higher on him than teams that rely heavily on their scouts’ reports. Evaluators don’t seem to buy into Butler’s swing at the level he’s performed this spring and think he struggles with premium velocity and good breaking stuff. Butler has been a good baserunner in his time with the Wolfpack, and has gone 28-for-31 (90%) in stolen base attempts over three seasons.

30. Joe Charles, RHP, North Carolina
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Mets 2019 (25)


31. Jonathan Beymer, RHP, Campbell
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Royals ’19 (29)


32. Chris Lanzilli, OF, Wake Forest
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 220 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


33. Cooper Stinson, RHP, Duke
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 245 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


34. Bryan Arendt, C/3B, Holly Springs (N.C.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 210 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: UNC Wilmington


35. Noah Bridges, OF, UNC Wilmington
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 170 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


36. Jacob Cozart, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 205 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: North Carolina State


37. Garrett Horn, LHP, Glenn HS, Kernersville, N.C.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 182 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Liberty


38. Max Alba, RHP, North Carolina
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 215 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Angels ’18 (39)


39. Devonte Brown, 3B/OF, North Carolina State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 200 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


40. Cam Cowan, RHP, Campbell
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 245 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


41. Joey Lancellotti, RHP, North Carolina
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Yankees 2019 (34)


42. Michael Ludowig, OF, Wake Forest
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 215 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


43. Alex Hoppe, RHP, UNC Greensboro
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 175 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


44. Garrett McDaniels, LHP, Mount Olive (N.C.)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Commitment/Drafted: Marlins ’18 (30)


45. Caleb Roberts, OF/C, North Carolina
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 195 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


46. Peter Matt, OF, Duke
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 210 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone