The 2021 MLB Pro Amateur Draft is set to begin in a couple of days. With the draft comes hope for the future. It serves as a building block of optimism. While some industry insiders have described the 2021 Amateur Pool as “weaker than normal,” others believe perceived draft class shortcomings come as a result of COVID limitations with scouting.
Here is a look at how the first ten picks of the 2021 MLB Draft could go:
Pick #1: SS Marcelo Mayer, Montclair High School
The Detroit Tigers select first for the second consecutive season. Last season they selected pitcher Jason Dumont out of Fordham. The Tigers have three quality pitchers ranked among their top five prospects in Dumont, Adam Kloffenstein, and Eric Braun. With young arms in the big-league rotation as well, insiders believe the Tigers will take the highly-regarded Marcelo Mayer 1.1. Mayer is a 6’3″, 185 pound, 18 year-old who possesses the ability to do just about everything well on the field. A smooth left-handed swing that can mix contact with power. While Mayer did not run much in high-school, scouts believe his base-running will be average to above-average moving forward. While he appears raw in the field, he has soft hands, has shown good instincts, and has an arm that should allow him to stay at shortstop long term.
Pick #2: SP Miles Langhorne, Graham, Tx.
The Atlanta Braves have taken a pitcher with their first selection in five of the past six drafts. These past picks have included big-leaguers Will Rainey and Ed Reith, along with current top 25 prospect Mick Abel. In Langhorne, the Braves end up with a a very young right-handed arm who many believe has the best stuff of any high-school pitcher in the draft. A four-pitch arsenal which is highlighted by a plus curveball. Langhorne has tremendous feel for the game and has been lauded for his work ethic. COVID kept Langhorne from playing for his school this past season but he has tested well across showcases. There is some mixed feelings among scouts regarding his control at this point in his career, but many feel that he should be able to see that improve further as he racks up additional innings of in-game action.
Pick #3: SP Andrew Painter, McArthur High School
The Red Sox have picked in the top half of the first round in back-to-back seasons. Each of those selections netted Boston top 100 outfield prospects in Sawyer Cleveland and Spencer Torkelson. With only one pitching prospect ranked among the organizations top ten and with no arm under the age of 20 ranked among the team’s top 30 prospects, the Sox select the power arm of Andrew Painter. Painter sits comfortably between 94-96 while also having an exceptional duo of off-speed pitches in a changeup and curveball which have each been graded at 70 or above. He struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings as a senior having split time in the rotation and the bullpen. The Red Sox last selected a pitcher in the first round in 2018 when the team selected Drew Lock.
Pick #4: CF Sal Frelick, Mississippi State
The Cubs select former SEC Freshman of the Year Sal Frelick with the fourth pick in the draft. With four infielders ranked among the Cubs top five prospects, GM Justin Jabs looks to balance the future in Chicago by selecting Frelick. Frelick had 26 extra-base hits this past season for the Bulldogs including seven homers. When he ends up on first, Frelick used plus speed to swipe 40 bases in 48 attempts. His ability to make contact grades out as above-average, while he has also shown scouts good plate discipline. Some scouts worry about his raw power translating to the bigs and inexperience in the field having spent much of last season as a DH in Starkville. His most likely path to the bigs probably comes in a corner outfield spot moving forward.
Pick #5: 3B Brady House, Centennial High School
The Kansas City Royals select the soon to be 18 year-old and Atlanta native Brady House with the hope that he comes close to replicating the career of House’s idol Chipper Jones. At 6’3″, 210, many have described House as a spitting image of Jones, but from the right-side of the plate. House shows tremendous power and while he might strikeout at a high-rate, he still also manages to put the ball in the play at a good clip. By selecting House, the Royals would be taking a “best player available” approach as the top of their prospect charts are crowded on the left-side of the infield with Garrett DeChambeau, Brandon Gill, and Nander de Sedas already there. Adding House and figuring things out later is a wise approach for a Royals club looking to add impactful pieces for the years to come.
Pick #6: 1B Bradley Swagger, Santa Fe High School
The last Oakland A’s first baseman who spent more than one season as the primary player at the position was William Beckwith who posted sub-zero WAR in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. By selecting Bradley Swagger, the A’s would be bringing in a premium bat to hopefully one day serve as a bat that can drive in the likes of Gregg Faustini and Dylan Carlson. The A’s are a team that could go a number of different directions depending on how they go about a potential selling of major league pieces. In Swagger they could land someone in the mold of former A’s MVP Jason Giambi. Swagger is someone who down the line could lead an MLB Pro season in homers, walks, and strikeouts.
Pick #7: SP Jackson Baumeister, University of Miami
With the Orioles organization having three of if its highest-regarded pitching prospects on the verge of appearing at the major league level, the team looks to restock for the future by selecting All-ACC pitcher Jackson Baumeister. Baumeister is the youngest college arm eligible for the draft as a result of arriving on campus early and then through a special COVID-waiver. The righty sits in the low 90’s, but has one of the best curveballs in the draft. His changeup remains a work in progress, but his three-pitch arsenal gets by because of good control and movement. His age and college success make him an attractive top ten pick.
Pick #8: SS Jordan Lawlar, Dulles High School
The Cincinnati Reds farm system is ranked among the top ten in the league. Headlined by a quartet of talented arms, including the immensely talented pair of Nate Pearson and Cole Wilcox, and the pair of Royce Lewis and Fernando Leguizamo in the infield, the Reds can get in a myriad of directions with this pick. By selecting Jordan Lawlar the Reds would be adding an Under Armour All-American and the MVP of the Perfect Game Southern Showcase. Lawlar hit .457 with 15 extra-base hits in 105 senior at-bats. A two-sport athlete in high-school, Lawlar was the school’s first Texas Player of the Year since Roger Clemens in the late 1970’s. Lawlar is quick with the bat and should be able to hit for both average and power. Defensively he has shown enough that could allow him to stick at short well into the future.
Pick #9: SP Ty Madden, University of Texas
Once one of the premier organizations in the National League, the Giants continue to find themselves dealing with an aging roster that is not meeting past success. With the likes of Albert Suarez, Bryce Bandilla, Buster Posey, and Braulio Pardo all on the wrong side of 30, this pick could be important for the future of the Giants. By selecting Ty Madden, the Giants would be adding a talented arm to slot in the future alongside the likes of Christian Graham, J.T. Ginn, and John Hawkins. Madden was asked to take on a new role in the bullpen for the Longhorns this past season, but his future is back in the rotation where he shined in his first three years in Austin. Madden has plus stuff, including a very effective mid 90’s fastball which is even more effective when his quality changeup is being used.
Pick #10: 3B Sawyer Robertson, Waltrip High School
Sawyer Robertson is a player that some teams love and others have off of their draft board. it’s simple, as a two-sport star and someone who has signed with Mississippi State to play football, before teams even consider who Robertson projects down the line, they need to convince him to play baseball full time. By going here to Milwaukee at pick #10, Robertson would seen a team truly believes in him. On the diamond, he is a future gold-glove winning infielder who can also shine at the dish with immense power potential. He has a long swing which worries some when it comes to possible high strikeout and low contact rate, while others believe his ability to recognize pitches should allow him to produce in all facets at the plate. The Brewers have selected a pitcher with their first pick in each of the past four drafts allowing them to take a chance on an impact bat here.