2021 Draft Odds & Ends

The 2021 MLB Draft is now in the books and here are our thoughts on each teams’ draft. We will have another draft-related podcast up soon and begin to migrate newly-selected players to the pro side of The Board next week. Thanks to the scouts and executives who help make our draft coverage so thorough, and good luck to the players who were selected this week.

American League East (Kevin)

Baltimore Orioles

Many think that the Orioles were looking to make a splash with some money following what is believed to be a cost-cutting deal with Colton Cowser at number five, but that splash never really presented itself, as Baltimore went with an old school, Moneyball-style draft by using their first five picks and nine of their first 11 on college bats. Third-rounder John Rhodes, an outfielder from Kentucky, is an interesting player who had a disappointing spring but rebounded a bit in the pre-draft summer leagues. The Orioles finished Day Two with a pair of big performing third baseman from California, as both ninth-rounder Ryan Higgins (Fresno State) and 10th-rounder Billy Cook (Pepperdine) had an OPS over 1.100 this spring.

Boston Red Sox

As if getting the best player in the draft with the fourth overall pick wasn’t enough, the Red Sox decided to shoot the moon in the second round by taking the king of this year’s high-risk/high-upside group, Jud Fabian. The Florida outfielder has tools that belonged in the first 10 picks but they came with a nearly 30% strikeout rate this year, which scared teams off. There has been some talk of him returning to school, but that feels unlikely at this point. Third-rounder Tyler McDonough and fifth-rounder Nathan Hickey are both classic big college conference performers, but Boston went for some players to dream on as well, especially fourth-rounder Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, a lanky, long-levered right-handed pitcher from Puerto Rico who oozes projection. Tenth-rounder Matt Litwicki is an interesting but highly risky sleeper, as the Indiana reliever flashes big league-quality stuff but also threw just over 30 innings in his college career due to a variety of injuries.

New York Yankees

The Yankees don’t take the flashiest approach to the draft, but that has become part of their approach to amateur acquisition. They diversify their portfolio, as it were, by treating draft picks like savings bonds and international players like tech stocks. For the most part, New York’s draft was loaded with college performers, with the only high school selection third-rounder Brock Selvidge, who will likely get an over-slot bonus in order to steer the southpaw away from his LSU commitment. Fifth-round pick Tyler Hardman is a classic three true outcomes, bat-only college first baseman. Their most interesting selection was arguably sixth-round pick Richard Fitts; the Auburn righty entered the year with a chance to land in the first-round but was plagued by non-arm injuries.

Tampa Bay Rays

First-round pick Carson Williams will probably require an over-slot bonus, so the Rays likely cut a bit with their next two picks. Cooper Kinney, the 34th overall pick, was seen as more of a second-round talent, while second-round pick Kyle Manzardo is a slugging college first baseman who also went about a round higher than expected. Overall, the Rays had no real pattern so much as they just took players they liked. Keep an eye on fifth-round pick Mason Auer. Junior college stats always have to be taken with a grain of salt, but Auer hit .373/.525/.627 with 11 home runs, 66 walks and 34 stolen bases in 64 games. After taking bats with their first six picks, the Rays finished Monday with five straight arms, the most interesting of whom is arguably ninth-rounder Patrick Wicklander, a lefty out of Arkansas with all sorts of funk and deception who pitched very well in the SEC despite lacking big stuff.

Toronto Blue Jays

The major league club’s bullpen struggles might have leaked into the draft room as the Jays used their first five picks (and nine of their first 10) on pitchers, with their focus seemingly more on command that pure stuff on Day Two. Third-rounder Ricky Tiedemann was seen as the best junior college arm in the draft, but scouts were frustrated at times by his inability to perform with his stuff against not-so-great competition. Irv Carter is the only prep arm of the group. Scouts who stayed an extra day at Calvary Christian after seeing Phillies first-round pick Andrew Painter throw warmed to Carter as the spring developed thanks to his size and plus slider.

American League Central (Kevin)

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox were seen as being big on the high school infield class this year and after getting the player they wanted all along in the first with Colson Montgomery, they had to be head-over-heels to see Wes Kath still on the board at 57. He was projected as a possible Day One selection heading into Sunday evening and will require an over-slot bonus to sign. Chicago then finished the day with eight straight pitchers, beginning with Sean Burke in the third round. The Maryland righty has a special fastball in terms of spin and shape, but the rest of his repertoire and command need work. The White Sox selected plenty of money-savers late to help pay for Kath, the most interesting of whom might be Gil Luna, a little lefty reliever from Arizona who doesn’t have much in the way of pure stuff but gives left-handed hitters fits.

Cleveland

Of Cleveland’s first 11 picks, all but one was a college pitcher. That one was third-rounder Jake Fox, who isn’t quite a third-round talent but needed third-round money to lure him away from Florida, although some scouts see him as a better college prospect than a pro one. Taken with picks 58 and 69 respectively, Doug Nikhazy and Tommy Mace are both proven commodities from big schools who are likely to reach the big leagues but unlikely to make an impact once there, which defines many of the picks later on, as the team seemed to focus on strike throwers.

Detroit Tigers

After not taking a pitcher in the severely shortened 2020 draft, the Tigers made up for it by using eight of their first 11 picks on arms. They took a pause on mound pieces in the second round by nabbing Texas prep third baseman Izaac Pachecho, whose big-time power earned some first-round consideration heading into the draft. Fifth-round pick Tanner Kohlhepp is one of the more interesting picks under the hood, as the Notre Dame reliever has some of the most interesting pitch data around, including a two-seam fastball with incredible spin, but his delivery and therefore control both need considerable refinement.

Kansas City Royals

Where some teams zigged, the Royals most definitely zagged by using four of their first five picks on high school players. The whole world knew that they had something up their sleeves after stunning the industry by taking Frank Mozzicato with the seventh overall selection, and their reasoning became readily apparent when they used their second round pick on Kansas high school righty Ben Kudrna, who seemed to get better with every outing this spring and reportedly threw out a bonus demand in the $3 million neighborhood to forego his LSU commitment. In terms of their college-based selections, comp pick Peyton Wilson is the safety version as a little, second-base only player who can really hit, but one of the most fascinating selection on Day Two came in round-five selection Eric Cerantola. The Canadian product from Mississippi State has some of the best stuff in the draft, including upper 90s heat and insane spin on his breaking ball, but he hasn’t stayed healthy or harnessed his stuff into performance.

Minnesota Twins

There wasn’t really anything funky here, as the Twins pretty much played the board with every pick. Fourth-round selection Chris Encarnacion-Strand is a clear model-based pick; scouts have never warmed to him despite consistently putting up massive numbers, including an 1.103 OPS at Oklahoma State this spring. Noah Cardenas out of UCLA might be the most likely eighth-round selection to reach the majors, as his defense is presently of big league quality, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever hit enough to be any more than a player in the Quad-A/backup range.

American League West (Eric)

Houston Astros

The Astros’ limited picks and bonus pool meant that after taking two prominent, likely over-slot high schoolers early, they were forced to take several seniors. But because they pivoted to seniors earlier than most teams, they ended up with a couple of my favorites. Let’s start with the high schoolers. Bishop Gorman’s (NV) Tyler Whitaker (third round) is a traditional right field prospect with power, a projectable frame, and some swing-and-miss risk (he has a big hole down and in). Calvary Christian shortstop Alex Ulloa (fourth) is similarly a power-over-hit type who is likely to end up at third base long-term. At 5-foot-11, he’s less projectable than the 6-foot-4 Whitaker, but Ulloa’s swing is much more athletic.

Wright State center fielder Quincy Hamilton (fifth) and Duke center fielder Joey Loperfido (7) are toolsy seniors. Hamilton had a huge statistical breakout in 2021 with 15 homers and 20 steals after he never had more than two homers and three steals in any previous season. He’s definitely a pull-heavy hitter but he has the pop to take balls out to the opposite field, he walked more than he struck out this year, and just generally checks lots of scouty boxes. Loperfido has a great baseball frame and an interesting power/speed blend, but his approach can be an issue. Fourth rounder Chayce McDermott out of Ball State has a relief look. His arm action is long but loose, he gets down the mound well, his fastball has carry, and his curveball has depth and bite. If he enjoys a velo spike out of the bullpen, he’s a high-probability bullpen piece.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels approach to this year’s draft was a little extreme. They took only pitchers, and all but one of them was a college prospect. Is this because the Angels seem to take a model-heavy approach and the lack of 2020 data for hitters reduced confidence in them? Is this driven by the club’s need to run pitching up the minor league ladder quickly to bolster the staff during their current window? Is it because college pitchers are most likely to be shut down after the draft (the Angels typically shut down college arms post-draft) due to innings increases between 2020-21, and this allows the Angels to retain all of their current minor leaguers rather than release some like other teams seem likely to do? All of these are plausible explanations.

If Sam Bachman (first round) can stay healthy, then he will help the team out of the bullpen within the next 18 months, probably in high-leverage innings. The same might be true of many of the college pitchers drafted here, though perhaps without that level of impact. Ky Bush (second) out of St. Mary’s has the best chance to work late-innings if he can sustain mid-90s velo out of the bullpen, to pair with his fastball’s carry, his mechanical deception, and a plus slider. Vanderbilt’s Luke Murphy (fourth) brings huge velo and fringe secondary stuff, but he has four pitches and it makes sense to run him out as a starter to give those secondaries more developmental oxygen. Jake Smith (sixth) out of Miami sits 93-95, will touch 98, and flash a plus slider, but he’s very erratic. Arkansas righty Ryan Costeiu (seventh) sits 92-94 and has as good changeup. Ninth round Tulane righty Braden Olthoff’s slider makes hitters look ridiculous. He has a 10:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio throughout his career but he’s a 30 athlete with a really weird delivery, though that’s part of why he’s so hard for hitters to pick up. Third rounder Landon Marceaux out of LSU has the best chance to start because of his breaking ball command. South Carolina leaned on righty Andrew Peters (10th) in big spots. He’s well-built and throws hard (up to 98), but needs to find a better slider. Chase Silseth (11th) out of Arizona threw about as hard as any Division-I starter and would routinely touch 96-97 when he wanted to, but he still got hit around. Some of that may have bene due to the hitting environment in Tucson. I’d like to see him return to the splitter grip he had in junior college. He could lean on his secondaries more to mitigate how hittable his fastball is despite its velo. Mo Hanley (13th) looked like an interesting small school, cold weather pop-up arm at tiny Adrian College in Michigan early in the year, but blew out and needed Tommy John. The lone prepster taken here was IMG Academy’s Mason Albright (12th), a low three-quarters lefty with a long arm action and changeup feel. He sits about 90.

Oakland Athletics

Oakland ended up drafting a nice mix of perceived floor and upside. First rounder Max Muncy is a hit-tool-driven high school middle infielder, second round Virginia third baseman Zack Gelof is a well-rounded offensive player with a plus glove at third, and fourth round Cal State Northridge outfielder Denzel Clarke has gargantuan tools. The selection of Garder-Webb senior Mason Miller in the third round is an indication Muncy might be over-slot. He’s a prospect in his own right, a relief-only look up to 98.

Then came some high-floored role player types. CJ Rodriguez and Drew Swift are two of my favorite, no-doubt, up-the-middle defenders in this draft. Rodriguez (fifth round) has more experience catching pro stuff than anyone in this draft class because he’s been at Vanderbilt. He’s a high-probability backup catcher because of his glove and feel for contact. Swift (eighth) can really pick it at shortstop but needs to get stronger. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him play defense for half a decade already, and now he’ll take spring training infield 10 minutes from my house. Cal two-way player Grant Holman (sixth) is a very physical arm strength/power prospect who might find better breaking ball feel with focus on pitching. A Day Three sleeper to watch here is 11th rounder Eduardo Rivera, an 18-year-old lefty out of Puerto Rico who stands in at 6-foot-7, 237 pounds. He was up to 97 in the MLB Draft League and has a big, vertical curveball. He looks like a nasty lefty power reliever.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners Complex Level team became a must-watch with the additions of three high-upside high schoolers in catcher Henry Ford (first round), shortstop Edwin Arroyo (second), and righty Michael Morales (third). Ford is a tightly-wound athlete with rare speed for a prospective catcher, and there’s a chance he moves to center field eventually. Regardless of where he plays, he’s got a good chance to stay up the middle somewhere. Ford lacks physical projection as he’s already really strong, but there’s an exciting hit/power combination in place here.

Arroyo, from Puerto Rico, is a unique prospect. He’s a switch-hitting two-way player (just a shortstop in pro ball, though) who pitches left-handed but plays infield defense righty. A fluid and athletic defender with great defensive actions, Arroyo is likely to stay at short and could be above-average there in time. His lefty cut is better than the right, and has big, pull-side lift. We don’t have great feel for his approach quality yet, but even if he has an aggressive one, he looks like a potential role 45 type in the Freddy Galvis mold, where there’s some pop and good shortstop defense, but a low OBP.

Morales is your central casting high school pitcher: a low-90s fastball, feel for landing an average curveball that comes and goes, and the frame and athleticism to dream on more. His breaking ball needs more power. Based on how this org has operated lately, I’d expect him to throw harder and add an average breaking ball at some point in the minors.

Texas A&M fourth rounder Bryce Miller already throws really hard, up to 98, sitting in the 92-96 range as a starter. He has a pure relief look, with lots of effort and a very long arm action. If his breaking ball location consistency improves, then Miller will at least be a good reliever.

I dig sixth round Cal Poly right Bryan Woo, who has a very efficient arm action and takes a gargantuan, but balanced stride down the mound. He’s almost exclusively a fastball/slider guy right now (he locates the slider, though stuff-wise it’s a 30), but I think his arm action portends significant changeup development.

Texas Rangers

Jack Leiter is very good. He joins the deepest farm system in baseball and will soon be part of the young wave of reinforcements likely to comprise the next competitive Rangers club. Oregon 3B/OF Aaron Zavala (second round) had one of the best statistical seasons in college baseball, slashing .392/.525/.628 with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts. He has fantastic plate coverage and feel for the zone, but only has doubles power right now. Because Zavala is relatively positionless and lacks big pop, he has doubters. He’s also barely 21, has an athletic cut, and is a well-made athlete. I think he’ll retain the context-oriented approach that has worked for him, especially with two strikes, but come into situational power as he continues to mature, physically.

Third round high school shortstop Cam Cauley from Barbers Hill, outside Houston, is a plus runner with plus-plus defensive hands and advanced feel for contact. He needs to get much stronger. Fourth round Iowa high school catcher Ian Moller has electric hitting hands that work in the same way as guys I’ve recently been too heavy on: Keston Hiura and Carter Kieboom. Those hitters have ended up having strikeout issues and Moller, who was one of the more prominent high schoolers entering last summer, has had similar problems. He’s an upside/risk, power-hitting catching prospect. Lefty high schooler Mitch Bratt (fifth) is a Canadian pitcher who played in Georgia during the spring. He currently sits in the high-80s with some carry, and has some reverse projection and feel for a loopy curveball. I didn’t know anything about Jojo Blackmon (11th) until I began writing this piece, but I’m excited to watch him in Arizona this summer. He’s a two-sport high schooler (wide receiver) who pitched and played center field for the baseball team. He’s tooled out — plus run, arm, above-average bat speed — and has a sweet, low-ball swing. The hit tool piece is a relative unknown. This is the second year in a row the Rangers have taken college performers early and mixed in several $1 million-ish sort of high schoolers later. Sixth rounder Chase Lee out of Alabama has rare velocity for a sidearmer, sitting 92-95 late in the year.

National League East (Eric)

Atlanta Braves

Ryan Cusick (first round) brings elite velocity and a plus breaking ball out of Wake Forest. He might move really quickly as a reliever, but otherwise needs a lot of seasoning if he’s to start. Two-way Nebraska prospect Spencer Schwellenbach (second) has a relief look on the mound. The delivery comp here is JB Bukauskas, and like Bukauskas, Schwellenbach will show you mid-90s with a plus slider. As a position player, he’s pretty generic tools-wise, but has great breaking ball recognition. He can make routine plays at short and has good actions around the bag, but struggles to make plays in the hole despite his arm. Third round senior Dylan Dodd began his career at a junior college, then transferred to Southeast Missouri State. His fastball generates a ton of whiffs in the zone. He locates his secondary stuff pretty consistently but they are of mixed quality.

The Braves are sticking to their guns and still prioritizing up-the-middle college players early, then scooping up a couple over slot high schoolers later. Fourth round shortstop Cal Conley out of Texas Tech originally attended Miami (but never played there) and transferred to Texas Tech, where he only played the 2020 and ’21 seasons. He slugged .600 during his career there. Conley is a switch-hitter with pull power from both sides of the plate. He looked rough on defense during the college postseason and may not have the hands for the infield. Luke Waddell (fifth) had a decorated college career at Georgia Tech as a short-levered MIF who makes a ton of contact, but with little impact. His teammate at Tech, Justin Henry-Malloy (sixth), had a power-hitting breakout after transferring from Vanderbilt.

The high school group began with two Texans. First was right-hander pitcher AJ Smith-Shawver (seventh), a two-sport star in high school whose frame (6-foot-3, 205), present arm strength (up to 95 last summer), and arm action make for an exciting developmental foundation. Next was center fielder Tyler Collins (eighth), a 70-grade runner with a slash-and-dash approach to contact. Canadian lefty Adam Shoemaker (11th) experienced a huge velo spike and was into the 93-95 range this spring after sitting about 87 during the 2020 summer. His delivery is pretty vilent but Shoemaker also has a ton of room on his frame.

Miami Marlins

Kahlil Watson (first round) is likely over-slot to an extent, as evidenced by Miami taking four seniors on Day Two. But because they were able to pick New York high school catcher Joe Mack (Comp A), Boston College middle infielder Cody Morissette (whose name was all over the second round rumors), and high school shortstop Jordan McCants, Watson’s deal was probably not extremely over-slot. There will be Jazz Chisholm Jr. comparisons made to Watson. He’s not that kind of defender but does have that kind of bat speed and power potential. Mack has rare power for a catcher. Morissette entered the spring in the first round mix, then really struggled out of the gate before rebounding late. He’s a good utility type. McCants is a frame-based developmental project. Senior Tanner Allen (fourth) is a little too aggressive, but he has plus bat speed and reminds me of Corey Dickerson.

New York Mets

The Mets drafted several pitchers who have arguably regressed. Kumar Rocker (first round) began the year second on our draft board but his stuff slipped. He still pitched well and even with diminished velocity his secondary stuff can carry him to a 2 WAR sort of starter outcome, and if the Mets can find his peak form again then look out. Carson Seymour (sixth) entered the year as a big velo relief prospect but he posted an ERA over 6.00. Virginia’s Mike Vasil could have made seven figures coming out of high school but went in the eighth round this year. Rocker’s reported deal was about $1.25 million over slot and the Mets probably cut little deals all over Day Two. Second rounder Calvin Ziegler, a Canadian high school righty, throws hard with big effort. He was passed over in 2020 and went to an athletics school in Florida this year. Dominic Hamel was one of Justin Choi’s sleepers.

Philadelphia Phillies

First round high schooler Andrew Painter came in under-slot and that’s part of why the Phillies were able to draft four more high schoolers on Day Two. He’s much like most high schoolers except he has an XXL frame at a hulking 6-foot-7. He’s typically sitting mid-90s with an absolute hammer curveball. South Alabama outfielder Ethan Wilson was great value in the second round. He’s performed for three years in an underrated conference and has a good hit/power combination. He actually ranked one slot higher than Painter on The Board and we thought he’d slide into the back of the first round due to the lack of college bats.

The high schoolers were: Jordan Viars (third round), a big-framed corner outfielder from Texas. He’s short to the ball with power toward both gaps. I got pre-draft feedback that Micah Ottenbreit (fourth) from Michigan should be on our Board. He’s a super-projectable righty with low-90s velo right now, and a more advanced curveball/changeup complement than is typical for cold weather high schoolers. Jose Pena (sixth) is a very physical righty from Tampa Prep who has been into the mid-90s with plus-flashing curveballs and the occasional average changeup. Gavin Tonkel (ninth) can really run and has a good baseball frame.

Among their college crop was Virginia right-handed pitcher Griff McGarry (fifth) who has three plus pitches and 20 control. I also like physical lefty-hitting 12th rounder T.J. Rumfield out of Virginia Tech. He has big league physicality and power.

Washington Nationals

Aside from Brady House, the Nationals picked Kentucky high school outfielder Daylen Lile (second round), who has one of the more advanced high school hit tools in the draft, and South Carolina high schooler T.J. White, a switch-hitter with a big frame and majestic power. Then they took several big school college performers. Arizona outfielder Branden Boissiere (third) entered the spring with less of a profile than other Wildcats and then had the best statistical season on the team and led Division-I in hits. He has a good shot to be the larger half of an outfield platoon, at least. Left-handed pitcher Dustin Saenz and DH Will Frizzell are two seniors out of Texas Tech. Frizzell has among the most present raw power in this class. Saenz has a slider-heavy approach to pitching.

National League Central (Eric)

Chicago Cubs

In addition to adding Kansas State lefty Jordan Wicks in the first round, the Cubs scooped up Virginia high school hit tool prodigy James Triantos in the second round. Triantos has a full writeup here. He seemed to have homes as high as the comp round, so he was good value in the last third of round two. The Cubs third rounder, lanky, two-way lefty Drew Gray from IMG Academy in Florida, was announced as a pitcher. He’s an athletic, projectable lefty who gets way down the mound and is very balanced over his lead leg as he delivers home with big extension and flat angle. He also has feel for a loopy breaking ball that lefty hitters struggle with because of Gray’s length. With the Cubs newfound ability to develop velocity, this is a very exciting pickup. Gray sat 87-91 and touched 94 last summer.

Chicago then mixed in several high-profile college bats with those two high schoolers. Arkansas center fielder Christian Franklin (fourth round) has vanilla tools but performed for three years in the SEC. Tennessee shortstop Liam Spence (fifth) went from the college postseason to Cape Cod, where he played for Harwich for about a week leading up to the draft. He is of Aussie descent, spent two years at an Arizona JUCO, and walked more than he struck out as a 23-year-old senior with Tennessee. He might have more upside than most seniors because of his background.

Seventh rounder Parker Chavers was a high-profile 2020 draft prospect who had labrum surgery in December of 2019 and had no time to recover and play last season before the shutdown. He went undrafted in 2020 then had diminished pop in ’21. Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz (eighth) is a field general with a good shot to eventually end up on a 40-man since he’s a workmanlike, switch-hitting catcher who can play the position well.

Senior sign Riley Martin (sixth) is a lefty with a big curveball who struck out nearly two batters per inning at Division-II Quincy University. Ninth rounder Chase Watkins transferred from Cal Poly to Oregon State where he only sat about 88-92, but his curveball spins at about 2900 rpm, and he has good feel for slider location (he throws it more than the curve). Duke senior Peter Matt (10th) is a physical righty outfielder with some thump.

Cincinnati Reds

Aside from Jay Allen (Bauer comp pick), who was slated to go near where he was picked, the Reds drafted all college guys on the first two days, including an early senior in Matheu Nelson (comp A). They drafted more junior college prospects than any other team on Day Three. After Nelson, they picked Virginia lefty Andrew Abbott (second) who has a vertical fastball/curveball combo but doesn’t throw all that hard, which the new Reds dev group should be able to remedy. Hopefully the same is true of Oregon State College World Series hero Kevin Abel (seventh), who looked amazing the first week of the college season then fell off in a big way. When he’s right, he has two plus weapons in his curve and changeup, but he only sits about 87. South Carolina righty Thomas Farr (fifth) is the opposite. He’s been up to 98 but has inconsistent feel for release, which makes his slider quality pretty variable.

The Redlegs also scooped up two high-variance college hitters in NC State shortstop Jose Torres (third) and UNC center fielder Justice Thompson (sixth). Torres was a toolsy, but older high schooler from the Baltimore area who went to school and crushed non-conference play before the 2020 shutdown. His poor approach was exposed more during his sophomore-eligible 2021, but he’s a slick shortstop with pull power and those are hard to find. Thompson was a JUCO transfer to Chapel Hill who went bonkers during 2021 non-conference play then came back to Earth when he saw ACC pitching. He’s got that shooting guard build so he might still grow into power while staying in center. Florence-Darling Tech righty Hunter Parks (eighth) was scouted heavily in late-May at the JUCO World Series. He has a huge frame (6-foot-4, 190), low-90s velo, and a good changeup. The lone senior I have notes on here is 290-pound San Jose State masher Ruben Ibarra (fourth), who takes remarkably athletic cuts for someone his size.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers took a mono-college approach for the second straight year, mixing in two JUCO prospects among four-year guys. It’s possible selecting senior lefty Russell Smith (second round) out of TCU helped facilitate the selection of physical SoCal hitter Roc Riggio (11th) on Day Three. Smith creates really tough angle on his pitches (a Brewer pattern of acquisition), will show you 95, and he executes his changeup with remarkable consistency for a 40-grade athlete. I thought Lousiville 3B/1B Alex Binelas was great value in the third round. He’s reworked his body and added more raw power since his stellar freshman year, but his hit tool regressed. He has a good shot to be a corner platoon bat at least. Duke SS Ethan Murray (fifth) and Minnesota 2B Zack Raabe (eighth) are two well-rounded potential utility types. South Carolina C/DH Wes Clarke (10th) was among the NCAA home run leaders. Fourth round JUCO arm Logan Henderson has a plus changeup, while sixth round JUCO arm Carlos Rodriguez is a plus on-mound athlete with big time arm speed. He’s wild, but has more upside than Henderson.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates ended up taking several seniors to help try to accommodate the big upside high schoolers they took in rounds two through four, including Dallas Baptist second baseman Jackson Glenn (fifth round), who I thought was one of the best seniors available. He hit 20 bombs in 2021. Pittsburgh ended up with four of our top 54 prospects — Henry Davis (first), Anthony Solometo (second), Lonnie White (comp B), and Bubba Chandler (third), who was announced as a pitcher. This was our third-ranked farm system but they may have pushed themselves past Toronto with this draft. Davis was our second-ranked prospect. He has big power, feel for contact, and a plus-plus arm. Solometo has a long, low arm action, very advanced east/west command, and his slider projects to plus at peak. He needs to find a better changeup but his chances seem pretty good, despite his long arm action, because he has such good feel to pitch already, and his changeup’s movement will mimic his fastball’s since he’s a lower slot guy.

Fourth-round high school pitcher Owen Kellington was a participant in the Draft League and combine. He has a delivery similar to Ubaldo Jiménez’s, where his front side flies way open and he tilts out, which helps Kellington get to a vertical arm slot. That creates backspin and carry on his fastball and big depth on his curve. He sits in the high-80s but has promising underlying traits.

St. Louis Cardinals

After Michael McGreevy (first round), the Cardinals took Massachusetts high school outfielder Josh Baez (second), who is similar to Jordan Walker in that he is young for the draft and already has gigantic power. We had Baez ranked ahead of McGreevy on The Board. Arizona outfielder Ryan Holgate (comp B) also has big power. His contact sounds different off the bat than the other U of A hitters, many of whom also slugged a ton because of the offensive environment in Tucson. Holgate put about a third of his balls in play over 95 mph this year. Third round UNC righty Austin Love has a reliever’s athleticism but he can bring it. His fastball runs up to 98 mph, and he has great slider command, so maybe I’m under-selling his chances to start, or at least work multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Zane Mills (fourth) of Washington State sits in the 90-91 area, has good slider command, and his delivery disrupts hitter timing. Alfredo Ruiz (sixth) of Long Beach State sits in the upper-80s and has a good changeup. Villanova righty Gordon Graceffo (fifth) also pitched on Cape Cod just before the draft. He was up to 95 with sink and tail, his changeup has a lot of action, and he has feel for a 40-grade breaking ball.

Colorado prep arm Alec Willis (seventh) will likely be for over-slot. Pre-draft rumors had him possibly coming off the board in the late third, early fourth round for about $1 million. He’s a classic projection arm: mostly 90-94 with a precocious breaking ball. Texas fifth-year senior center fielder Mike Antico (8) is a physical, short-levered, 70 runner. He spent four years at St. John’s, then transferred to Texas for 2021 and swiped 41 bags.

National League West (Kevin)

Arizona Diamondbacks

No other first-round pick is likely to create more drama between now and the signing deadline than Jordan Lawlar. He told teams he needed elite money or he’d go to Vanderbilt and re-emerge in 2023, and the Diamondbacks’ $5.74 million slot at pick six does not meet that demand. The D-backs took some money-savers from picks five to 10, but that still might not be enough, and industry sources have indicated that Arizona made the pick without have a concrete deal in place. Their most interesting (but not necessarily best) pick on Day Two came in the competitive balance round, when they selected Miami catcher Adrian Castillo, who entered the season as an upper first-round pick but then had a miserable spring campaign for the Hurricanes.

Colorado Rockies

Colorado’s draft room looked barren during MLB Network’s cut-ins and their front office seems to be held together by glue and string at this point, but with all of that said, I like this draft. They started Monday with a pair of power arms, and if second-round selection Jaden Hill signs and makes a successful return from Tommy John surgery, he’s a clear first-round talent. Comp pick Joe Rock is a six-foot-six lefty with power stuff, but questions about command and his future role is what kept him out of day one. Third-round pick McCade Brown showed flashes of impressive stuff during his career at Indiana, and while fourth-rounder Hunter Goodman is unlikely to catch as a pro, he’s got plenty of power and had one scout comparing him to a more compact version of current Colorado first baseman C.J. Cron. It’s not an amazing draft, but every pick certainly made sense.

Los Angeles Dodgers

While it’s hard to know whether or not this was the strategy before the magnets started coming off draft boards, the Dodgers showed plenty of faith in their well-regarded player development system by using their first nine picks on arms, starting with two prep players and finishing with seven consecutive college selections. While many teams focused, and at times overly so, on strike-throwers during Monday’s flurry of picks, the Dodgers often did the opposite, as any of Maddux Bruns (first round), Nick Nastrini (fourth), Emmet Sheehan (sixth), or Ben Harris (eighth) could end up looking like steals if the Dodgers’ system can get more strikes out of their already plus stuff. This is a fascinating draft class filled with risky dice rolls, but the potential payoff is quite significant.

San Diego Padres

Jackson Merrill is a nice high school bat but few saw him as a first-round pick. It’s didn’t take long to figure out San Diego’s master plan when they used their second-round selection on James Wood, who is rumored to have thrown out big bonus demands over the weekend. Wood has as much, if not more, raw power than anyone in the draft, and as a teenager already generates elite-level big league exit velocities from his downright gigantic 6-foot-7, 240 pound frame. He’s also an above-average runner and far more than just a one-dimensional player. There are questions (for some evaluators, massive ones) as to the quality of Wood’s hit tool, but the upside here is nothing short of tremendous.

The remainder of San Diego’s draft was more by the book, but there was a pair of interesting college picks. Fifth-rounder Max Ferguson had first-round dreams in January but really struggled at the plate for Tennessee this spring. In terms of immediacy, all eyes will be on third-rounder Kevin Kopps. The 24-year-old sixth-year senior put up PlayStation numbers at Arkansas this spring, with a 0.90 ERA and 131 strikeouts against just 18 walks in 89.2 innings out of the ‘pen, and some believe his cutter/slider combo could play in the big leagues tomorrow.

San Francisco Giants

It felt like the Giants saved money with both their third first and second round picks in Will Bednar and Fordham senior Matt Mikulski, but it’s tough to figure out where they are redistributing that extra cash, although fourth-rounder Eric Silva will likely need well over his slot to turn down UCLA. Their lottery ticket came in the form of sixth-round pick Seth Lonsway, as the Ohio State lefty has plus velocity and one of the best curveballs in the draft, but 30-grade (or worse) command. Tenth-round pick Vaun Brown is an old (23) five-year college player, but he had a crazy season at D-II Florida Southern, hitting .387/.462/.793 for the Water Moccasins. You heard that right, the Water Moccasins.





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zbhargrove
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zbhargrove

Hey Eric… The Braves did not select Schwellenbach as a SS… he was announced as a pitcher and Dana Brown said he’d be a pitcher in the system.