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With the 2021 college baseball season nearing its conclusion, that means one thing: the 2021 MLB Draft is almost here.
Here’s a look at some key information for the 2021 draft:
When is the 2021 MLB Draft?
The 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft will take place over three days from July 11-13 on MLB Network. The draft will be held during the week of the MLB’s All-Star Game festivities in Denver after MLB moved the event out of Atlanta due to Georgia’s new voting laws.
The 2020 draft was shortened to five rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 2021 draft will last 20 rounds -- still 20 fewer than the 40 rounds in the 2019 draft.
What is the 2021 MLB Draft order?
The order of the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft was determined by inverting the 2020 MLB standings. The Pittsburgh Pirates (19-41) were the worst team in baseball, followed by the Texas Rangers (22-38), Detroit Tigers (23-37) and Boston Red Sox (24-36). The Houston Astros forfeited their first two picks in the 2021 draft as punishment for their sign-stealing scandal, so there will only be 29 first-round picks.
Here’s a look at the order for the first round:
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
San Diego Padres
Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
Who are the top prospects in the 2021 MLB Draft?
Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit H.S. (Texas)
Lawlar isn’t a lock to be the No. 1 pick, but he’s the most likely bet with just under one month to go. He’s got impressive tools at the plate and on the basepaths. MLB.com compares him to current Royals top prospect Bobby Witt Jr., who went No. 2 overall in 2019.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
A 20th-round pick of the Yankees in 2019, Leiter decided to attend Vanderbilt and improve his draft stock. He threw back-to-back no-hitters earlier this season, so I’d say he accomplished that goal. Leiter’s fastball tops out around 97 mph and he also features a nasty 12-6 curveball.
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake H.S. (Calif.)
Mayer could challenge Lawlar as the top high school prospect this year. While he doesn’t quite have the raw talent that Lawlar possesses, Mayer has impressive discipline and projects to improve into a power hitter based on his 6-foot-3 frame.
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
Rocker burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2019 for Vandy, winning two games at the College World Series and being named CWS Most Outstanding Player. He boasts an impressive slider and curveball along with his mid-90s fastball.
Henry Davis, C, Louisville
The most reliable hitter among the college prospects, Davis’ offensive ceiling from behind the plate is impressive. Davis also has an outstanding arm, throwing out 34 percent of base-stealers in his first two seasons at Louisville. He played some third base in the past and could also fit as a DH with an American League team.
Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow H.S. (Ga.)
One of the youngest players in the draft, House just turned 18 on June 4. He’s in the mix to go top five, as his potential will be too much to pass up. House was the top high school prospect entering last summer before struggling at the plate. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, House already looks like a major league shortstop.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall H.S. (Okla.)
The highest-rated high school pitching prospect, Jobe has reached 99 mph on his fastball this year while also throwing a wipeout slider. Jobe is also shortstop with solid bat speed and projects as an average hitter, whether it be as a DH or pitcher in a National League park.
Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest H.S. (N.C.)
Watson marks the fourth high school shortstop on this list, and he’s perhaps the most unique. At just 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds, Watson could end up as a second baseman in the bigs. He often aims for power over contact, an approach that might need tweaking as he begins facing better pitching.
Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
Frelick is an outfielder known for his contact and speed on the basepaths. The 5-foot-9 BC product has average power, but he hit .367 with 18 stolen bases in 39 games as a freshman in 2019. He can play any spot in the outfield, playing mainly in center in 2021.
Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
Bachman’s fastball sits at 94-97 mph and often hits 101 on the radar gun. His slider also grades highly, sitting in the mid-80s. The issue for Bachman to this point has been walks (4.1 per nine innings from 2019-20), but his stuff is undeniably nasty.
What are the 2021 MLB mock drafts saying?
The 2021 draft is unique in that there isn’t a consensus No. 1 pick. Across the board there’s been no real consistency in the rankings of prospects. Here’s a look at what some draft experts are projecting for July’s draft:
Keith Law of The Athletic has Louisville’s Henry Davis being selected first overall, but he acknowledged that any number of players could be taken by the Pirates in that spot:
“Still wide open here -- Davis, Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar, and, with decreased likelihood right now, Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker,” Law wrote. “That’s the rough order of probability of those five names for pick 1-1 right now.”
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com slotted Marcelo Mayer at No. 1 overall in his recent mock draft. Once again, Mayo expressed uncertainty with where the Pirates might go:
“This makes three weeks in a row we’ve had Mayer here, with the certainty of his bat standing out above Jordan Lawlar, with the possibility of Henry Davis here a real thing.”
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN ranked Jordan Lawlar as his top overall prospect, with Mayer, Leiter and Davis just below Lawlar. Here’s what he wrote about Lawlar:
“He has some traditional first overall characteristics, with plus speed, a plus arm, an above-average glove at shortstop, bat speed that is above average to plus and raw power, along with a developed frame that has quickness, and a summer wood bat offensive performance that matches the tools. He had a slow start with strikeout concerns this spring, then finished strong, so you could conservatively say he has five tools (hit, power, speed, glove, arm) that are 55 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is major league average.”