MLB Mock Draft 2021: Jack Leiter lands with Rangers; 7 high schoolers projected for first 10 picks
The 2021 MLB Draft is just days away with the top amateur talents in the game set to be selected in the first round on Sunday.
With the College World Series and the draft combine wrapped up, all that is left now between these players and the beginning of their professional careers is the wait to hear which teams will call them.
It’s always a nearly impossible exercise to guess exactly which teams will be taking which players on draft day, but we’re taking our final shot at predicting where these players will land in the first round of the draft.
Take a look at Sporting News’ latest MLB mock draft.
MORE: Rounding up other MLB expert mock drafts
1. Pirates — Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake High (Chula Vista, Calif.)
There’s no slam dunk No. 1 overall choice like there have been in the past with players like Adley Rutschman and Spencer Torkelson, but the general consensus seems to be that Mayer is going to be the Pirates pick here as he’s generally pulled ahead of the rest of the high school shortstop class. He’s got one of the best hit tools among prep players in the class, combined with plus power and the ability to stick at shortstop.
2. Rangers — Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
Leiter has been talked about for a while as one of the top prospects in the draft class, and will command a high price tag, but the Rangers will make it work to grab the best college arm in the draft. Leiter dominated in the College World Series in his final Vanderbilt outings to back up any concerns teams might have, and his combination of stuff and polish means he could be a quick riser in the minors.
3. Tigers — Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall High (Oklahoma City)
There’s a chance the Tigers go prep bat here and take Brady House, but we’ve got them going with the pitcher with perhaps the highest upside of any arm in the class. Jobe’s slider is often regarded as the best pitch in the draft and he already can whip a fastball in the mid-upper-90s. Detroit would need to be patient and he doesn’t align with their top hitting prospects in Torkelson, Riley Greene and Dillon Dingler, but this is a talent worth waiting on.
4. Red Sox — Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (N.C.) High
Boston has been linked with a number of players here, particularly Leiter and Louisville catcher Henry Davis, but we’ve got them taking the speedy Watson at No. 4. He’s surged up draft boards this year with a standout spring and has been mentioned as even being a candidate to go 1-1. The Red Sox will be getting a potential five-tool shortstop should they nab him at No. 4.
5. Orioles — Harry Ford, C, North Cobb High (Kennesaw, Ga.)
College outfielders Sal Frelick and Colton Cowser get brought up here often as discount picks for the Orioles, but Baltimore could take the approach of going the high school route to look for a high upside bat to take with this pick. Ford is not the prototypical catcher, offering enough speed to potentially play at second or even in the outfield, though he has the fielding chops to stick behind the plate as an athletic backstop. He brings upside with the bat to make teams excited about him wherever his defensive home ends up.
6. Diamondbacks — Henry Davis, C, Louisville
This seems to be the floor for Davis, who’s been talked up as the top catcher in the draft — even if he’s not the first to go off the board in this mock. Davis’ bat will play anywhere as he has a promising hit tool and power, and it might have to as there are some who question if he can stay at catcher. He has a cannon for an arm though and with some refining, could be a threat to would-be base-stealers behind the plate.
7. Royals — Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (Dallas)
The Royals haven’t been linked to Lawlar as much at No. 7 just since it has seemed improbable that he could fall that low, but here, he lands in their lap and they take the chance to draft him. He’s a five-tool shortstop with power and speed and the fielding ability to stay up the middle. A candidate to go first overall, he’s certainly unlikely to fall lower than this in the draft.
8. Rockies — Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow (Ga.) High
Imagine the high school player with the most raw power swinging in Coors Field? That’s what the Rockies would be hoping for with this pick. Colorado wants a hitter at No. 8, and here they land House, who MLB Pipeline described as a “more athletic version of Joey Gallo.” The right-handed shortstop might have to move to third, but his defense would play well there.
9. Angels — Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
It wasn’t long ago that Rocker was talked about as a possible No. 1 overall guy, but some concerns with his performance late in the 2021 season have moved him down the list. The upside is there, however, for the Angels to steal one of the most electric college arms to come through Vanderbilt in some time and give them a true ace that could be in the majors quicker than most in this draft to help Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.
10. Mets — Colson Montgomery, 3B, Southridge High (Huntingburg, Ind.)
Several college bats have also been named as candidates for the Mets to take at No. 10, but they’re opting to go with the exciting bat of Montgomery here and sign him at a discount to save money for later picks. The sweet-swinging lefty third baseman already has plenty of pop and could develop more as he adds strength to his 6-foot-4 frame.
11. Nationals — Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
The top college pitcher left on the board, Madden is going to Washington, who has been reported to be interested in several college hurlers. Madden is the top arm on the board at this point, drawing acclaim for his balanced arsenal and ability to command his pitchers in the zone. Last year, Washington took another Big 12 college arm, who has risen up to be its No. 1 prospect in Cade Cavalli. The Nats are betting on a similar rise from Madden.
12. Mariners — Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
Like the Nationals, who have been connected to college arms, the Mariners have been said to be all over the college bats. The only one off the board in this scenario is Davis, so Seattle goes with the top shortstop in McLain, whose complete game makes him an enticing gamble. The Bruins shortstop has a plus hit tool, good speed and has the defensive prowess needed to stay up the middle as a pro.
13. Phillies — Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land High (Lewisberry, Pa.)
This feels like one of the more natural fits in the draft. Montgomery grew up a Phillies fan, is Pennsylvania’s top prospect and is the player they’ve shown interest in with a young, toolsy outfielder. Montgomery is a true five-tool talent, who might be the fastest player in the draft and who won the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby last summer. The hit tool is the biggest question at the moment, but some evaluators believe he’s fixed some of his contact issues.
14. Giants — Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston
San Francisco has a recent track record of taking college bats with their first picks with players like Bryan Reynolds, Joey Bart, Hunter Bishop and Patrick Bailey all being the team’s first pick off the board in four of the past five drafts. Cowser fits that mold as a polished college bat, who could move quickly in the minors. He’s a hit-over-power outfielder, who also offers plus speed with the ability to stay in center.
15. Brewers — Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
Bednar did his draft stock plenty of good by helping propel the Bulldogs to a College World Series win. The Brewers have been linked to other college talents like Cowser, Frelick, Kansas State lefty Jordan Wicks and Miami (Ohio) right-hander Sam Bachman, but here they’re grabbing the fast-rising Bednar, who offers them a polished right-hander with an explosive repertoire with three plus or better pitches.
16. Marlins — Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
This would be an ideal spot for Miami, who has had recent success taking college performers early like JJ Bleday and Max Meyer. Frelick appears in a wide range of spots in this draft class, and if he falls this far, Miami could be just the team to grab him. A prototypical leadoff hitter mold, Frelick is one of the fastest college players and brings in a plus hit tool that could help him advance quickly through the minors.
17. Reds — Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
Cincinnati has been tied to a number of high school, high upside hurlers here like Andrew Painter and Bubba Chandler, but the hard-throwing Miami right-hander sounds too good for them to pass up. Bachman harnessed his arsenal better his junior season to drastically raise his draft stock, and with a fastball that hits triple-digits, a hard biting slider and a nasty changeup, he offers plenty of upside to complement a farm system already teeming with it in pitchers Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo.
18. Cardinals — Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi
Tommy John Surgery in May likely cost Hoglund quite a bit in a signing bonus, but he’s not going to fall too far in this mock draft. The Cardinals will go with the Ole Miss right-hander who had exhibited some of the draft’s best control before undergoing surgery, a promising trait that helps to balance out some of the risk of taking an injured pitcher. His diverse repertoire also fits into the system well and gives him a clear starting pitcher profile.
19. Blue Jays — Anthony Solomento, LHP, Bishop Eustace High (Pennsauken Township, N.J.)
The towering 6-5 left-hander has been commonly tied to Toronto through this process, and here they decide to take him over prep outfielder Jay Allen. Solomento is a major upside play with a mid-90s fastball already and a plus slider with a chance to improve both as he continues to build up muscle. He already controls his arsenal well, giving him a higher floor than other traditional prep arms.
20. Yankees — Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
One of the hardest throwers among college arms, Williams has been clocked hitting triple digits while consistently sitting in the upper-90s. He pairs that with several plus offspeed offerings in his curve and changeup, and has shown steady improvement in throwing all his pitches for strikes. The Yankees’ system is loaded with hard-throwers like Luis Gil and Luis Medina, and they look to add another one with their first pick in the draft here.
21. Cubs — Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East High (East Amherst, N.Y.)
The second of two standout prep catchers in this year’s class, Mack has improved his stock by finishing his high school season strong and flashing that promising hit tool that has drawn scouts out to see him in upstate New York. There’s some power potential left to unlock as he could be an exciting bat-first catcher, who can receive well enough to stay back there. Chicago has been looking at a number of high school bats, and Mack could be an exciting talent to fall to them at No. 21.
22. White Sox — Wes Kath, SS, Desert Mountain High (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Another Chicago team, another hit-first prep talent. The White Sox have been linked heavily with Colson Montgomery, but with him going off the board at No. 10, they’ll look elsewhere for a prep bat. Here, they’re landing Kath, who has shown the ability to make consistent, hard contact from the left side. A move to third seems likely, but the bat should carry him even in a corner infield spot, especially if he continues to add some power.
23. Indians — Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
The last time the Indians drafted a Gaucho right-handed pitcher regarded as having a high floor due to pinpoint command, it turned into a Cy Young winner in Shane Bieber. Cleveland’s going that route again here with McGreevy still on the board at 23. In 101.2 innings last year, he walked only 11 batters while fanning 115, and he offers an above-average fastball and slider that should help him keep getting outs at the pro level.
24. Braves — Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork High (Irmo, S.C.)
Atlanta opts to go with one of the more athletic players in the draft at this spot, taking Clemson baseball and football commit Taylor with its first-round pick. The Braves pick the high upside outfielder, who is just in their backyard, as he has the potential to be one of the fastest players to come out of this draft and who could develop some pop in his 6-foot frame. He’s expected to receive a large bonus to keep him from joining the Tigers.
25. Athletics — Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks (Calif.) High
Not to be confused with the Dodgers All-Star of the same name, Muncy looks the part of a complete package, with impressive power and a solid hit tool that has drawn the attention of scouts. He runs well and fields well, though it is possible he winds up moving off shortstop eventually. Oakland has been linked to several high schoolers, but here, the team drives down I-5 South to get the California native.
26. Twins — Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
Another sweet-swinging, left-handed college bat, Wilson gets picked up by the Twins in this mock draft. Wilson is a hit-over-power outfielder who might be limited to a corner spot, but there’s room for that bat to improve and for him to play up to the position. Minnesota is often tied to college hitters — having taken guys like Trevor Larnach and Aaron Sabato with recent first-round picks — and it goes that direction again in 2021.
27. Padres — Frank Mozzicato, LHP, East Catholic High (Manchester, Conn.)
Mozzicato has shot up prospect boards with a dominant spring up in Connecticut, with many viewing the southpaw as a solid first round pick now. He’s got an electric fastball/curveball combination that has made him stand out among prep lefties in this draft class. The Padres have done well developing high upside arms, and a pick of Mozzicato could give them yet another top pitching prospect in their system.
28. Rays — Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State
Tampa Bay has a number of directions it can go in with this pick, but we’ve got them going with Black and his plus hit tool. Black performed at a high level in 2021, walking 39 times to 25 strikeouts and posting a .383/.496/.683 slash line to help jettison him up scouts’ lists. The Rays would be making a safe bet on a guy with a high floor that would fit the mold of bats they have had come through their system over the years.
29. Dodgers — Peyton Stovall, SS, Haughton (La.) High
Stovall has one of the best hit tools among high school bats in this class as, from a young age, he’s shown the ability to consistently put barrel on baseball. There’s upside in the bat too, with the potential for him to hit for more home run power than just the gap power where he’s at right now. The Dodgers have bet on that type of upside in the past and have been said to be interested in several hit-first players in this class.
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