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One Underrated 2021 MLB Draft Pick We Like From All 30 Teams

Niko Kavadas Brianwesterholtfourseam

The 2021 MLB Draft is in the books! You can find results and scouting reports from every round in our draft database. Below, find one under-the-radar pick from each team we like. 

Angels: Mason Albright, LHP — Albright has something special with his fastball and it’s beyond just the velocity that shows up on radar guns. Whether it’s via deception in his delivery or arm slot, or with outstanding spin characteristics on his heater, Albright has a tendency to sneak the pitch by hitters and rack up a ton of whiffs with the pitch. He has topped out at the 93-94 mph range, but the pitch plays up significantly from that. (CC)

Astros: Aaron Brown, RHP — Brown likely would have been drafted a year ago if the draft was longer than five rounds, as scouts have long been high on his strike-throwing ability. This spring he struck out 113 batters to just 15 walks to post one of the better strikeout-to-walk rates of any Division I arm. He gets whiffs with a fastball/changeup combination primarily, but will need to work to improve his breaking stuff. (CC)

Athletics: Denzel Clarke, OF — Clarke ranked No. 86 on the BA 500, rising up our board rather significantly late in the process thanks to a torrid second half at Cal State Northridge, and the A’s are fortunate to land his dynamic blend of power and athleticism in the fourth round. Clarke cuts an imposing figure, standing 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, and his raw power rivals some of the best in the class. He’s also an impressive runner (he stole 15 bases this season) with a chance to stick in center field despite an average-at-best arm. There are long standing questions about Clarke’s hit tool and approach against higher-level competition, but the A’s have coveted power-over-hit outfield types in recent years. Baseball America’s Alexis Brudnicki detailed how Clarke worked to overhaul his approach in 2021, finding some quick success. (MC)

Blue Jays: Damiano Palmegiani, 3B — Sure, it’s junior college competition, but it is hard to not be impressed with the line Palmegiani posted this spring with JC of Southern Nevada. The big, strong slugger hit .389/.521/.867 with 26 home runs in 203 at-bats and he also walked (36) about as many times as he struck out (38). There are some swing-and-miss questions and Palmegiani will also have to improve defensively to stick at third base, where he was drafted, but this is a lot of power for a 14th-round pick. This is great value if Toronto can sign him out of an Arizona commitment. (CC)

Braves: Samuel Strickland, LHP — Strickland was the Braves' 19th-round selection and he is coming off of a career-worst year in 2021 where he posted a 5.09 ERA, but he has been one of the better strike throwers in the country over the last three years. In the shortened 2020 season he posted a 30-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and for his career he’s walked fewer than two batters per nine. There’s a four-pitch mix of fringe-average stuff, but he did touch 95 mph this spring so if he can take a step or two forward with velocity he has the pitching ability to break out. (CC)

Brewers: Roc Riggio, OF/2B — With the 33rd overall pick, the Brewers drafted Tyler Black, a very hitterish second baseman with a nice lefthanded swing and feel for the barrel. When the third day of the draft began, the Brewers used their 11th-round pick on Riggio, a high school hitter from California who could develop into a similar player as Black within a few years. Riggio isn’t that big, he doesn’t have plus speed or arm strength, but he has a quick, compact swing from the left side, he tracks and recognizes pitches well and he has performed well against live pitching. He has played both the outfield and infield, with a chance to be an offensive-oriented second baseman. (BB)

Cardinals: Elijah Cabell, OF — We mentioned on Day Two that we liked the Cardinals’ second-round draft pick of Joshua Baez because of how good another power-prep bat has looked with them this year in the minors: Jordan Walker. So what about getting another one of the biggest raw power bats in the class in the 17th round? Elijah Cabell has prodigious raw power and can hit a ball out of any ballpark in the country from foul pole to foul pole … but he strikes out a lot. If the Cardinals can help cut that down a bit he could be a great addition this late. (CC)

Cubs: Parker Chavers, OF — Chavers was draft-eligible a year ago but an arm issue prevented him from playing in the shortened 2020 season and he made it back to Coastal Carolina, where he hit .318/.407/.477 and lowered his strikeout rate to 13%. Chavers is old for the class, but he has a handful of above-average or better tools in his defense, arm strength and raw power and has a chance to stick in center field. (CC)

Diamondbacks: Scott Randall, RHP — Randall has 70-grade control and led the nation with an 11.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio this spring. Adding to the excitement about a pitcher with his ability to spot the ball at will, Randall also ticked his fastball up into the 90-92 mph range after sitting 87-91 previously. If that keeps trending in the right direction it could help his other fringe-average offerings play up nicely. (CC)

Dodgers: Ben Harris, LHP — Harris is probably a reliever at the next level but posted an outstanding strikeout rate (15.4 K/9) this spring with Georgia while limiting hitters to a .125 average. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95, but scouts seem to think it’s one of those fastballs with elite spin characteristics that will play extremely well up in the zone. His fastball whiff rate stacks up with some of the more elite college arms in the class. If he can improve his walk rate a bit, he could become a nice bullpen arm. (CC)

Giants: Rohan Handa, LHP — Perhaps a fifth-round pick is too high to qualify as an underrated pick, but considering the fact that Randa didn’t get to pitch during the 2021 season because the Ivy League canceled its season, he instead trained and turned himself into a much better pitcher. His fastball jumped from 87 to 97 mph in a year and that means he now has a hard slider as well. (JC)

Indians: Hunter Stanley, RHP — Yes, he’s 23 years old but Stanley has found added velocity to go with his plus command. The stuff is more OK than overwhelming, but Stanley’s ability to throw three pitches and spot all of them makes him an interesting 11th-round find. (JC)

Mariners: Charlie Welch, C — Welch was the backup catcher behind Casey Opitz on Arkansas’ loaded roster. So instead of catching regularly, he had to serve as one of the best pinch-hitters in college baseball. Welch hit .388/.494/.821 in very limited at-bats this year. He’s a high variance pick, but there’s a shot for him to be something, which is saying something in the 19th round. (JC)

Marlins: Zach Zubia, 1B — He’s old for a draftee, but he’s consistently shown solid power, which is hard to do at Disch-Falk Field. He’s not much of a defender at first base, but if Zubia’s power can get a bump by getting out of a tough hitter’s park, he has a chance to develop into a slugging first baseman. Not bad for a 20th-round pick. (JC)

Mets: Carson Seymour, RHP — Seymour’s tools are much better than the results. He can touch 99 mph. He’s flashed a plus slider and his changeup, which he barely throws, has unique and intriguing qualities. It hasn’t all synced up yet for Seymour, but there are pieces here that could come together in pro ball. If they had come together already, he wouldn’t have lasted until the sixth round. (JC)

Nationals: Mack Anglin, RHP/Cole Quintanilla, RHP — Quintanilla, the Nationals’ ninth-round pick, is the reliever who just throws strikes and has success despite average stuff. Anglin is the pitcher with premium stuff who hasn’t figured out how to have consistent success. Maybe it won’t click, but the Nationals need premium arms and Anglin’s slider has elite spin and his fastball is a plus pitch as well. (JC)

Orioles: Ryan Higgins, 3B — All Higgins has done in college is hit, including a 2021 season where he posted a .352/.453/.667 slash line with 11 home runs in 45 games at Fresno State. Higgins is one of the best hitters in Northern California, with bat speed, raw power and a good approach at the plate. Defensively, there are questions, however. He played third base for the Bulldogs, but evaluators believe he’ll end up moving to first base or left field, putting pressure on his bat to produce at the next level. But with an average hit tool and above-average power, his bat should be able to carry that load. (CT)

ScoutJanes

Denzel Clarke's Success A Credit To Continued Development

The 21-year-old outfielder at Cal State Northridge has been an incredibly fast-rising draft prospect ahead of this July’s selection process, and he’s looking forward to seeing just how much more he has in the tank.

Padres: Ryan Bergert, RHP — A few years ago the Dodgers selected West Virginia’s Michael Grove in the second round even though he didn’t pitch that spring as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. That hasn’t worked out for the Dodgers, at least yet. Now the Padres are doing the same thing with another West Virginia pitcher. Bergert has a high-spin fastball and two promising breaking balls, or at least he did pre-elbow surgery. (JC)

Pirates: Jackson Glenn, OF — The Pirates flipped over into senior signings quickly to pay for their top of the draft. But Glenn is a very productive older draftee. He had a monster season for Dallas Baptist, hitting .366/.438/.732 with 21 home runs and 13 steals. He also has some defensive versatility. (JC)

Phillies: Logan Cerny, OF — The Phillies got excellent value with Cerny, who ranked No. 165 on the BA 500, in the 10th round. Cerny had an impressive season at Troy, hitting .332/.424/.694 with 15 home runs in 51 games and has four above-average or better tools, led by 70-grade running ability. The only thing holding him back is a below-average hit tool, as he struck out 29% of the time this season and has a fair amount of swing and miss in his game. Still, getting a player of his caliber in the 10th round is great value and Cerny should immediately become one of the top 30 prospects in the system. (CT)

Rangers: Jackson Leath, RHP — Almost no one has a great feel for what Leath can do because he’s thrown less than 30 innings total in the past two years. A hamstring injury wiped out almost his entire 2021 season. But when Leath has pitched, he’s looked like a quality reliever with a power breaking ball and enough fastball. (JC)

Rays: Logan Workman, RHP — A Division II find, Workman dominated this year with a mid-90s fastball and he’ll flash a usable slider as well. He may end up in the bullpen in pro ball, but as a seventh-round pick, he’s got the kind of tool set the Rays often seem to turn into productive pros. (JC)

Reds: Justice Thompson, OF — With plenty of money to spend, the Reds loaded up on productive college players with at least one plus tool, so there are plenty of players to choose from. Thompson has power, can run down balls in center field and possesses speed on the basepaths. There are questions about whether he will make enough contact in pro ball to get to his power, but if he does, he has impact tools. (JC)

Red Sox: Niko Kavadas, 1B — Calling Kavadas underrated seems odd considering he was one of the best and most successful players in college this year. But he was an 11th-round pick, so he fits the bill. Kavadas has massive power and he draws walks. That’s pretty much the extent of his plus tools, but it’s a very important skill and one that can carry a player all the way to the big leagues. (BB)

Rockies: Hunter Goodman, C — With Goodman ranked No. 63 on the BA 500 going into the draft, the Rockies at a bare minimum got a second round-quality player in the fourth round. But for much of his career at Memphis, the catcher and Team USA alum looked the part of a potential first-round pick. Goodman has big-time raw power, and he used it to mash 42 home runs in three college seasons, 21 of which came last season, and he’s a pretty good runner, with 22 career stolen bases in 25 attempts. Questions about his viability as an everyday catcher and some swing and miss in his game hurt his stock, but the Rockies will undoubtedly take that trade-off for a power hitter with Goodman’s pedigree and history of production.  (JH)

Royals: Harrison Beethe, RHP — Beethe has almost no track record of success. In fact, he has almost no track record of pitching thanks to injuries, a coronavirius-halted season and ineffectiveness because of bottom-of-the-scale control. But Beethe throws as hard as almost anyone (100-101 mph), has a hard slider and in his last outing of the year, he showed a new sidearm delivery that showed hints of giving him improved control. (JC)

Tigers: Jordan Marks, RHP — Marks throws tons of strikes and can touch 97-98 mph while spotting his fastball wherever he wants to put it. He has yet to develop a solid breaking ball, but the South Carolina-Upstate righthander has plenty of foundation to build on, and his changeup should give him the ability to survive until he figures out how to throw a useable breaking ball. (JC)

Twins: Brandon Birdsell, RHP — Birdsell was on track to be an early round target as Texas Tech’s Friday starter. But a shoulder injury ended his season early. If Birdsell can bounce back from his shoulder injury his plus fastball and slider give him a shot to be at least a useful reliever. (JC)

White Sox: Cameron Butler, OF — Butler wasn’t a premium prospect coming into his senior season, but his athleticism and power turned him into one of the best pop-up prospects in the class. With bat speed, the ability to play multiple positions (center field, second base and maybe shortstop) and plus speed, he’s one to watch. (JC)

Yankees: Richard Fitts, RHP — Fitts came into the season as a potential first-round pick after putting together dominating outings during fall ball. The Auburn righthander was then shelled regularly in the early going of the 2021 season to the point where he had to be moved back to the bullpen. Fitts had a foot injury that slowed him this year but he did finish strong. If Fitts’ problems were somewhat injury related, the Yankees could have a sixth-round steal. (JC)

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