2021 Ohio Top MLB Draft Prospects
Today, Baseball America rolls out its state-by-state rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft. Additionally, you can find our:
Bachman made an immediate impact for Miami (Ohio) during his freshman season in 2019, being named first-team All-MAC after posting a 3.93 ERA over 14 starts. For three years now he’s been a reliable starter for the Redhawks and should become the program’s first ever first-round product thanks to perhaps the best two-pitch combination in the 2021 class. Bachman has one of the hardest fastballs in the class and sits in the 95-97 mph range with the pitch, regularly getting to triple-digits with impressive arm-side running action and sink. On top of that, Bachman’s slider has an argument for being the best breaking ball in the class. It’s a hard, biting pitch that is routinely in the upper 80s and has eclipsed 90 mph plenty of times, with tremendous late life that generates whiffs inside the zone and out of it—mostly down and to his glove side. Both pitches grade out as at least 70s and there are scouts in the industry who have put 80 grades on both as well. Bachman predominantly works off of his fastball/slider combination, but he also throws a mid-80s changeup that has some diving action and could give him an average third pitch—though he’s thrown it less than 10% of the time this spring. Despite walking between two and three batters per nine innings the last two seasons, there is some reliever risk with Bachman, thanks to a delivery that has effort and isn’t the most fluid. His arm action is inverted in the back and he’s a palm-up pitcher, which scares some in the industry, and he also finishes with a bit of violence and falls off to the left. That delivery, combined with medical questions (he missed two starts this spring with arm soreness) and the fact that he pitched into the seventh just twice this spring have many evaluators confident he’ll be a bullpen arm in the majors. Whatever the role, it seems safe Bachman goes off the board somewhere in the middle of the first round.
Rock struggled to a 5.19 ERA over 11 starts and 59 innings during his freshman season at Ohio in 2019, but wowed scouts with his pure stuff last summer and fall. This spring he has delivered on those flashes and posted a 2.33 ERA through 14 starts and 88.2 innings, with 117 strikeouts (11.9 K/9) and 27 walks (2.7 BB/9) in the Mid-American Conference. Now he has a chance to become the highest-drafted Ohio pitcher. Rock is an uncomfortable at-bat thanks to his 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame, long levers and low three-quarters arm slot. His fastball sits in the low-90s and has been up to 96 mph this spring and features significant horizontal running action that should help him avoid barrels. His slider is the best pitch in his arsenal, a sweeping breaking ball in the low 80s that gets above-average or plus grades and could be effective against both righties and lefties given his attack angle. Rock also throws a changeup in the low-to-mid 80s that flashes solid diving life, but he has limited feel for the pitch and heavily relies on his fastball/slider combo to get through lineups. Rock still has some projection given the amount of room he has to add weight and strength to his lean frame and could also use his legs more efficiently in his delivery. He has a long, hooking arm action and his strikes are fringy despite a solid walk rate, which makes some teams wonder if he’s better suited for the bullpen.
Black was a talented three-sport athlete who played football, hockey and baseball back in Canada. He had a loud freshman season with Wright State in 2019, hitting .353/.469/.600 with more walks (38) than strikeouts (18). Black entered the 2021 season as a sleeper candidate after a disappointing 13-game stretch in 2020, because scouts believed in his hitting ability and strike-zone discipline. Black lived up to those expectations this spring, although he admittedly plays in an extremely hitter-friendly conference and home park. Black posted a .383/.496/.683 slash line with a career-best 13 home runs while continuing to manage the strike zone at an impressive rate, with 39 walks to 25 strikeouts. Black has a big leg kick to start his swing but keeps his hands quiet and steady in his load before firing through the zone with impressive hand speed. He has a pull-heavy approach, and this spring did a tremendous amount of damage on pitches on the inner third. Black has an offensive-driven profile and while he’s played both second and third this spring, scouts see him more likely winding up at second base at the next level. He’s a fringy runner and defender, with below-average arm strength after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder to repair a labrum tear in 2020. Teams who buy into his bat could take him somewhere in the second- or third-round range after a strong 2021 campaign.
Lonsway showed markedly improved stuff during the shortened 2020 season and ranked as the No. 74 prospect in the class, but questions about his control ultimately made him go undrafted. This spring has been more of the same from the 6-foot-3, 195-pound lefthander, as he’s had no issues striking out batters, with 98 in just 68 innings (13.0 K/9), but those whiffs have come alongside 43 walks (5.7 BB/9). The fact that his walk rate this spring represents a career low tells you what you need to know about Lonsway’s control. However, he can run his fastball up into the mid 90s from the left side and many scouts thought his curveball was one of the better breaking balls in the 2020 class. It’s at least a plus offering and some evaluators have put 70 grades on the pitch, which lands in the upper 70s and low 80s with hard biting action when he stays on top of it—generating ugly swings out of the zone against both righties and lefties. Lonsway also throws a slider that can blend into his curve at its lower velocity, and a changeup in the lower 80s which he rarely uses. While Lonsway has made some progress to improve his strike throwing this spring, he still has well below-average control and struggles to repeat his delivery and stay in sync on the mound. That means he’s most likely destined for the bullpen at the next level, where his velocity could tick up and his curveball should be a reliable weapon.
Ball State has been something of a pitching factory in recent years and has had at least one arm drafted in each of the past five drafts, most recently righthanders Kyle Nicolas (2020) and Drey Jameson (2019). McDermott looks to be next in that line of arms after posting a 3.27 ERA over 15 starts and 82.2 innings in his most extended season on the mound since getting to college. McDermott has been limited by injuries at times and missed his 2018 season thanks to recovering from Tommy John surgery. This spring he looked plenty healthy, with loud stuff headlined by an above-average fastball that sits in the 93-95 mph range and has been up to 98. He also throws two breaking balls. A mid-70s curve with 12-to-6 shape is his primary breaking pitch, but he also throws a low-80s slider that shows solid tilt and is more of a chase offering when he can land it down and to his glove side. Both pitches have above-average potential. McDermott has also infrequently thrown a mid-80s changeup, but he lacks feel for the pitch at the moment. McDermott’s medical history and an arm stroke that is lengthy with deep plunging action in the back raise some concerns and add reliever risk, but the 6-foot-3, 197-pound righthander has always shown bat-missing stuff when on the mound. His brother, Sean, played 18 games for the Grizzlies this season and his mother, Kim, played basketball at Indiana State.
Burhenn was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team member in 2019 after he posted a 3.96 ERA in 15 starts and 91 innings, but he got hit around a bit in the shortened 2020 season and his ERA ballooned to 8.02 despite an excellent 7.25 strikeout-to-walk rate. This spring was much better for Burhenn. He posted a 3.81 ERA over 80.1 innings of work and 13 starts, with 91 strikeouts (10.2 K/9) and 27 walks (3.0 BB/9). Burhenn has a four-pitch mix with a fastball that sits in the 90-93 mph range and touched 97 this spring, in addition to a slider, curveball and changeup. He’s gotten a good amount of swing and miss with each of his secondaries, but scouts see his entire arsenal as average or fringe-average across the board. His slider has sweeping action in the low 80s, while his curveball is more of a 12-to-6 bender in the mid 70s. Burhenn throws his changeup in the low 80s and it has some arm-side running action. Burhenn doesn’t have the most fluid arm action, with some stiffness in his operation and hooking action in the back of his arm stroke, but he’s been a solid strike thrower in his collegiate career.
Ohio State has a bit of a thing for pitchers with loud pure stuff and suspect control. Seth Lonsway fit that profile in the 2020 class and returned in 2021, while Brock has been up to 99 mph from the right side and shown a plus slider to go along with it. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound righthander has been exclusively a reliever with Ohio State, but this spring he had his best year with the program, posting a 2.08 ERA over 21.1 innings and 19 appearances. He still walked more batters than he had in the past (16, for a 6.6 BB/9) but he also struck out 33 (13.7 K/9), which was good for the highest strikeout rate of his career. Brock is an explosive athlete with a fast, whippy arm from the left side who scouts want to see take a step forward with control. If he does that, he has upside as a power reliever.
A 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefthander, scouts think Bruni has some of the better pure arm strength among southpaws in the high school class and that alone will generate plenty of interest. He’s been up to 96 mph at his best and has a curveball that could be a solid secondary pitch, but there’s not much confidence in a third offering or his control presently. Because of those questions there are plenty of concerns about a reliever profile at the next level. Bruni is committed to Ohio State.
A filled-out and physical, 6-foot-4, 215-pound righthander, Albright has been a solid performer over three years for Kent State—in a reliever role his first season and as a starter for the last two. This spring he posted a 3.40 ERA over 15 starts and a career-high 82 innings, with 102 strikeouts (11.2 K/9) and 40 walks (4.4 BB/9). He was named to the second-team All-Mid-American Conference for his efforts and was one of just five MAC pitchers to tally 100 or more strikeouts. Albright has a four-pitch mix with a fastball that sits around 90 and touches 95 mph, a mid-80s slider, an upper-70s curveball and a mid-80s changeup. He generated a decent amount of swing and miss with all of his secondaries, but his fringy control throughout his collegiate career might make him a better fit for a bullpen role. There’s some violence in his delivery with length and inversion in the back of his arm stroke and some head whack in his finish, but a team might see his deep pitch mix and give him a chance to start at the next level.
Shawver is a funky, undersized lefthander listed at 6 feet, 175 pounds. An injury cost him some time during April, but Shawver posted a 2.72 ERA over nine starts and 46.1 innings of work, with 49 strikeouts (9.5 K/9) and 16 walks (3.1 BB/9). That walk rate is encouraging for scouts, as it’s the best of his career and he struggled with control in his first few seasons at Cincinnati. Shawver works from the far third base side of the rubber with a deceptive delivery that includes drop and drive in his push off and significant spinoff in his finish that makes many evaluators think he’ll be a reliever at the next level. He has a three-pitch mix that features a fastball in the 90-92 mph range that has touched 94, a slider in the low 80s and an infrequently used changeup in the mid 80s. The slider is going to have to be his out pitch at the next level, and he generates plenty of whiffs with the pitch now and also shows good ability to consistently land it for strikes.
Hamilton had offers last year to go pro as an undrafted free agent but opted to return to Wright State for his fourth season with the program. That proved to be a good decision, as Hamilton was one of the best offensive producers in the entire country this spring. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound outfielder put up a ridiculous slash line of .374/.535/.771 with a career-high 15 homers, 18 doubles, 20 stolen bases and almost twice as many walks (56) as strikeouts (32). Hamilton should get drafted on that production alone, but scouts are skeptical about what sort of player he’ll be outside of the Horizon League and when he isn’t playing in Wright State’s hitter-friendly stadium every day. Hamilton didn’t face a ton of premium velocity, but when he did his numbers came back down to Earth, so teams will likely have a hard time figuring out his true hitting ability when trying to square his statistical performance with their reports from scouts. He’s played center field for Wright State but evaluators think he’ll be a corner guy at the next level.
12. Kurtis Reid, SS, Hamilton (Ohio) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Louisville
13. Chris Meyers, RHP/1B, Toledo
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 210 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
14. Riley Tirotta, 3B, Dayton
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
15. Jack Neely, RHP, Ohio State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-8 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted