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2021 Oregon 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. Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon (BA RANK: 125)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 199 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Oregon

Zavala made an impact the moment he stepped foot on Oregon’s campus, appearing in 43 games as a freshman before breaking through in the truncated 2020 season, with a .418/.493/.491 slash line. He’s kept up that performance this season, while showing more power, hitting .392/.525/.628 with 50 walks compared to just 31 strikeouts. Zavala’s excellent play has caught the attention of scouts, who showed up to the Eugene Regional to watch Zavala cap off his season with a 6-for-18 showing with two homers in four games. Not ranked in the BA 500 coming into the season, Zavala has shot up draft boards and become one of the most talked-about players in the Pacific Northwest, led by an above-average hit tool. Zavala has a short, quick bat with a flat path through the zone from the left side and consistently gets the barrel on the ball. Zavala’s low strikeout rates stood out to evaluators, and he works long at-bats. Zavala has strength in his 6-foot, 199-pound frame, with more line-drive power with a gap-to-gap approach. His power did tick up this year, but some evaluators feel he’ll need to make some swing adjustments to lead to more juice in the future. Zavala is a good athlete for his size, with solid-average speed and has been clocked at 4.18 seconds down the line. He’s played right field this year, but he’s shown the ability to play third base and second as well. Zavala’s arm is below-average, leading some evaluators to think he profiles better in left field, though he’ll likely need to show more power to stay there. Zavala’s hit tool and production this season could lead him to go off the board as early as the third round.

2. Kevin Abel, RHP, Oregon State (BA RANK: 134)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Padres '17 (35)

One of the most polarizing players in the class among talent evaluators, Abel arrived on the scene with an impressive 2018 season that culminated in him winning Freshman of the Year honors (8-1, 2.88, 12.0 K/9 in 81.1 innings). He also became the first player in NCAA history to earn four wins at the College World Series, including a two-hitter in the title game against Arkansas. Since then, Abel has been hampered by injuries, dealing with back injuries and having Tommy John surgery during the 2019 season. He missed the shortened 2020 campaign, but still ranked as the No. 124 player in the draft class. Abel put up strong numbers this season heading into regionals (3-4, 3.42, 12.1 K/9), but he’s struggled with his command and control, leading to a career-worst walk rate (6.0). Abel has a three-pitch mix headlined by a plus changeup and an above-average-to-plus curveball, with some deception in his delivery that allows his fastball to play up and has led to opponents hitting .167 against him this season. Normally, his fastball sits in the 89-92 mph range, but it’s been down to 86-88 mph with bad command this season, leading to some concerns among scouts. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound righthander draws rave reviews for his competitiveness and makeup and he’s still shown he can get batters out while relying mostly on his changeup and curveball, but the questions regarding his fastball velocity could lead to him sliding on draft day.

3. Will Frisch, RHP, Oregon State (BA RANK: 155)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 226 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Twins '19 (36)

Coming out of high school in Minnesota, Frisch was throwing 95 mph at his best and was selected by the Twins in the 36th round in 2019, but decided to honor his commitment to Oregon State. In his first year on campus in 2020, Frisch went 0-0, 2.61 in seven appearances (one start), with 12 strikeouts and six walks in 10.1 innings, and he’s fared even better as a sophomore while splitting time as a short reliever, long reliever and in a starting role. Heading into regionals, Frisch is 3-0, 2.17 with 51 strikeouts in 54 innings, while his control, which was well below-average in high school, has improved (3.7 walk rate). Frisch’s stock has ticked up significantly this year, as he’s shown the versatility to pitch in any role with a three-pitch mix headlined by two above-average or better offerings. Frisch has shown a power fastball that sits in the mid 90s and has topped out at 98 mph, and it hasn’t been hit hard despite the fact it plays straight. His changeup flashes plus and regularly looks above-average, and his slider has progressed this season from looking below-average to average. At 6 feet, 226 pounds from the right side, Frisch has little projection remaining and some evaluators believe he might fit best in the bullpen down the road, but if he can continue to improve his control he has the stuff to start. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Frisch could be a tough sign.

4. Mason Guerra, SS, Westview HS, Portland, Ore. (BA RANK: 182)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Oregon State

A four-year player at Westview High in Portland, Guerra is an athletic, 6-foot-3, 195-pound shortstop who impressed on the showcase circuit last summer, culminating with an opposite-field home run in the Area Code Games. Some evaluators feel he’s more of a showcase-type player at present, due to his impressive power and his strong throwing arm. Guerra is a power-over-hit profile currently, with plus raw power that plays to all fields. Evaluators are split on his future defensive fit, with some believing he’ll need to move to third base due to his size, and others thinking his soft hands and good reactions can play at shortstop. Guerra has strong arm strength that plays at either shortstop or third, and he has the power to move to a corner infield spot, with fringe-average speed. There are concerns about Guerra’s hit tool, with some scouts believing he’ll need to make some swing adjustments. Guerra could be a fit for teams as high as the third round, although some believe his price demand will lead him to campus at Oregon State.

5. Cullen Kafka, RHP, Oregon (BA RANK: 204)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 217 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Kafka struggled in his first two seasons at Oregon, pitching to a 3-2, 6.80 mark as a freshman and a 5-5, 5.48 mark as a sophomore, but he looked slightly better in the truncated 2020 season while lowering his hit and walk rates. This season, he’s taken an even bigger step forward and put up the best numbers of his collegiate career, with a 5-3, 3.00 mark with 84 strikeouts and 35 walks in 78 innings. Kafka’s track record was spotty due to poor results coming into the season, but evaluators have been encouraged with what they’ve seen from the development of the 6-foot-4, 217-pound righthander’s fastball and slider, his two best pitches. Kafka’s fastball sits around 92 mph, but has gotten up to 94-96 mph at its best, with heavy sink that induces ground balls and helps the pitch play up. Kafka has shown immense improvement with his slider, converting it from a fringe offering to an above-average pitch that misses bats and gives righthanded hitters headaches. Kafka made adjustments to his delivery this season, regularly pitching out of a full windup, and it resulted in him throwing quality strikes more consistently. While Kafka had plenty of success against righthanded hitters, he struggled against lefthanded bats and issued too many walks (4.0 walk rate), leading some to believe he’s destined for a role in the bullpen. Kafka’s fringe changeup is a clear third offering, but if he can improve the pitch it’ll give him a better chance to start at the next level. Kafka could go anywhere from the third-to-sixth-round range, and if he has to move to the bullpen, his fastball/slider combo could prove devastating in a specialist role.

6. Chase Watkins, LHP, Oregon State (BA RANK: 285)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 217 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Watkins is no stranger to playing in various environments, having started his career at Cal Poly in 2019 before transferring to College of Central Florida in 2020, where he went 4-1, 1.91 with 44 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. He found a home in Oregon State’s bullpen this season, where he was used as a situational lefthander. Watkins has a long frame at 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, with a fastball that sits 90-92 mph. He commands the pitch well, and has shown the ability to spin his hammer curveball. He also throws a cut-action slider and changeup, with good deception thanks to his arm speed. Some evaluators believe he has the stuff to start, although he has just 14 collegiate starts to his name.

7. Robert Ahlstrom, LHP, Oregon (BA RANK: 299)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 176 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Ahlstrom showed the ability to compete the moment he stepped on Oregon’s campus, with a 5-7, 3.93 mark with 61 strikeouts and 20 walks in 73.1 innings in 2019 as a freshman. He struggled in the truncated 2020 season, but has taken a step forward in 2021, posting an 8-3, 2.41 mark with 9.4 strikeouts per nine and a 1.6 walk rate in 82 innings. At 6-foot-2, 179 pounds from the left side, Ahlstrom isn’t flashy, with a fastball that sits 88-89 mph and tops out at 92, but he consistently throws the pitch for strikes. The same is true of his curveball and changeup, which are both average offerings, and he commands all three pitches effectively. Evaluators have given Ahlstrom praise for his feel to pitch, as well as his ability to pound the strike zone, and he loves to compete, with a fiery presence on the mound.

8. Chad Stevens, SS, Portland (BA RANK: 320)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 190 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Padres '19 (40)

Stevens floated under the radar in his first two seasons at Portland, but came out of the gate hitting during the abbreviated 2020 season, with a .299/.373/.493 slash line, a home run and 16 RBIs in 16 games before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year he was even better, hitting .333/.402/.547 with a career-best eight home runs, 29 RBIs and 12 stolen bases while showing the ability to play almost anywhere on the diamond defensively. A strong athlete at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, some evaluators believe Stevens could play shortstop in the lower minors before moving over to third base, with a solid-average arm at the hot corner. Stevens hadn’t shown much power before this season, but began to tap into some juice in 2021. He now shows power to all fields, with above-average raw juice. Stevens shows the ability to hit gap to gap, with an average hit tool, although he’ll need to cut down on his swing and miss. Stevens is a fringe-average runner, but he has strong baseball instincts.

9. Troy Claunch, C, Oregon State (BA RANK: 400)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 208 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

With 2019 No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman behind the plate in Claunch’s first two years at Oregon State, he had trouble finding consistent playing time. But he took over full-time catching duties in 2020, hitting .244/.306/.489 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 14 games. He’s had a breakout year at the plate in 2021, hitting .321/.389/.424, but he’s sacrificed some of his power while cutting down on his strikeouts and walking at a higher rate (10.1%). Claunch is one of the older prospects in the class (turns 23 in September), and there are questions among evaluators about his hit tool. He can catch up to velocity, but struggles to hit breaking balls and has worked to lay off more this year. Claunch has solid power in his strong, 6-foot, 208-pound frame and despite some rawness behind the plate projects as a solid defender. He has good catch-and-throw skills, handles the pitching staff well and shows the leadership qualities necessary for the position.

10. Kenyon Yovan, DH, Oregon
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 221 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Angels '19 (27)

11. Caleb Sloan, RHP, Oregon
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 215 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

12. Wyatt Young, OF, Linn Benton (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

13. Crosby Albee, 3B/1B, West Salem HS
Source: HS •

14. Ricky Alvarado, RHP, South Salem HS
Source: HS •

15. Hunter Breault, RHP, Oregon
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

16. Cameron Clayton, SS, Lakeridge HS
Source: HS •

17. Matt Dallas, SS/C, Lane (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

18. George Eisenhardt, RHP, Lakeridge HS
Source: HS •

19. Logan Hatley, LHP, Western Oregon
Source: 4YR •

20. Kian Hogan, LHP, Linn Benton (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

21. Harrison Howell, OF, Hood River Valley HS
Source: HS •

22. Kaleb Kantola, RHP, Chemeketa (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

23. Carson Lydon, 1B, Churchill HS
Source: HS •

24. Ian McIntyre, OF, Linn Benton (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

25. Jacob Melton, OF, Oregon State
Source: 4YR •

26. Curran Mitzel, OF, Lane (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

27. Braeden Munger, LHP, Westview HS
Source: HS •

28. Josh Schleichardt, 3B, Tigard HS
Source: HS •

29. Spencer Scott, SS, Ulysses S. Grant HS
Source: HS •

30. Richi Sede, SS, Corban (Ore.)
Source: 4YR •

31. Durham Sundberg, OF, Linn Benton (Ore.) JC
Source: JC •

32. Bennett Thompson, C, South Medford HS
Source: HS •

33. Wilson Weber, C, Sam Barlow HS
Source: HS •

34. Malcolm Williams, SS, Lake Oswego HS
Source: HS •

Jacob Young Florida Timcaseycourtesy

11 Sleepers To Know Entering 2021 MLB Draft

Baseball America staff identifies 11 players who may be undervalued heading into the 2021 MLB Draft.

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