So much of this draft season is still in flux and rumors are flying fast. It is sometimes hard to differentiate real intel from info put out by teams as a smokescreen. This mock is a projection of where things will stand in July and covers the entire first round and competitive balance round A (36 picks in all). There will be a few surprises in this mock, because surprises happen every year during the draft. These picks are still held to the same standard that I attempt to employ: source information, match organization trends, and mirror historical picks. I’ll make one more mock draft for IvyFutures.com that should come out prior to the draft.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
Henry Davis, C, Louisville
There’s a significant amount of chatter the Pirates will take the player who offers the best deal from among the Davis, Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawler, and Jack Leiter quartet. Ultimately that is likely Henry Davis, who not only could succeed at catcher, but has the type of bat that allows a team to seriously consider playing him in the outfield. Davis is no consolation prize. He’s more than qualified to be the number one overall pick this season.
2. Texas Rangers
Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (HS)
The Rangers have had a significant presence at Kahlil Watson’s more recent performances. It’s hard to tell whether that is related to North Carolina’s season just simply running later or whether it’s real heat for Watson in particular. But Watson has been coming on strong and is a great bet to hit long-term. His steep bat path offers solid power and hit tools at the next level.
3. Detroit Tigers
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake (HS)
The Tigers have had tremendous success targeting college talent and their board could skew so that Rocker, Davis, or a college outfielder could interest the organization. However it’s been speculated that the Tigers love Mayer. It’s not hard to imagine Detroit being willing to pay a price to get the stud shortstop at third in the draft. Some projections identify Mayer as having the best hit tool in the class (I still have Peyton Stovall as slightly better than Mayer). The young shortstop also offers a future solid average or better defensive grade.
4. Boston Red Sox
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Fangraphs duo of Eric Longenhagen and Kevin Goldstein noted rumors of Jack Leiter trying to land in Boston and the Red Sox being all too willing to make that happen. I very much buy that chatter. At some point Leiter may not have much to improve upon like some teams may want, but his floor is already so high. There is still some room for improvement, especially related to his curveball. He could be up in the Red Sox rotation sometime in 2022 and he still has a legitimate argument to be the top college arm since Stephen Strasburg.
5. Baltimore Orioles
Harry Ford, C, North Cobb (HS)
Baltimore rocked many 2020 mocks when they took Heston Kjerstad with the 2nd overall pick in a money-saving gambit. Orioles GM, Mike Elias, spent his time in the Astros front office where Houston consistently employed that strategy (most notably in 2012 when they paired up Carlos Correa and used the savings for Lance McCullers). I expect the Orioles to do the same this season and have heard them connected with Harry Ford. This may be the high point for Ford (I haven’t heard him associated any higher). Ford offers an exciting array of tools. The biggest question for teams is whether to play him at catcher or let him move quicker at another position. He has the athleticism and bat to succeed all around the diamond.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks
Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (HS)
Arizona can be very prep heavy, but unlike several teams, age doesn’t have as much weight into their draft model with selections like Bryce Jarvis, Brennan Malone, and Drey Jameson all slightly older than their classmates. Enter Jordan Lawler who is also a strong bet to stay at shortstop for a long time though will be almost 19 when the draft arrives. While it may surprise some to see Lawler fall to six, it’s a very real possibility. Arizona was heavily tied to shortstops in the 2020 draft and you can bet they’d run to the podium for this selection.
7. Kansas City Royals
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Royals have had the most success with high school hitters and college arms. The Royals also have shown success taking talented players that “fall” to them in the draft. Rocker, House, Watson, all make sense and so could Jackson Jobe. The Royals are building a formidable pitching staff and plan to compete soon. Rocker is a volatile prospect who can look like an ace one day and struggle the next. He’s also pitching significantly more innings this season so the fastball velocity variance may simply be a by product of adjusting to a challenging schedule.
8. Colorado Rockies
Brady House, 3B, Winder-Barrow (HS)
Colorado has been willing to take a high school talent if the option presented itself, but is generally focused on going the college route in the first rough. They have been most often associated with college players so far, but Brady House being available would be very enticing to Colorado. The draft really starts to open up here with teams having very different valuations on players. This mock has Brady House who sports some hitting metrics related to bat path and max exit velocity that are very impressive.
9. Los Angeles Angels
Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork (HS)
The Angels are a wild card and could go in any number of ways. Will Taylor has been associated with the club. And the Angels have been in see Jackson Jobe (RHP; Heritage Hall, HS), Bubba Chandler (RHP/SS; North Oconee HS), and Frank Mozzicato (LHP; East Catholic HS). The point is that the Angels are very willing to take a prep talent here. I forecast the multisport South Carolina prep outfielder, Will Taylor, to be the pick. Taylor combines an athletic profile with excellent hitting data from the showcase circuits. The thought is that Taylor will require a higher price to buy him out his Clemson commitment to play baseball and line up as the slot receiver on the football team, however the prevailing thought is that the price isn’t prohibitive. While I won’t speculate on signability figures, a team drafting this high could even offer a discount from their bonus pool and still put out a $4 million dollar deal.
10. New York Mets
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS
New York has leaned prep talent in recent years building out a solid group in the lower levels of the minors. High school righthanders carry an inherent risk in the draft so that is always a consideration. Jobe is on the rise with chatter Detroit at pick three is interested. Even teams normally wary of prep pitchers have to be at least monitoring the situation. Jobe is largely seen as a pitcher at the next level, but he had some success as his team’s shortstop as well so his added versatility does mitigate a small portion of risk seen with prep pitchers. He will show three above-average to plus pitches and there are some evaluators who have him as the top pitcher in the class long-term (high school and college).
11. Washington Nationals
Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
Williams only threw three innings in 2020 due to a broken finger and COVID-19, however he was dominant this past season including a dominant 7 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 2 unearned runs, with a 13/2 K/BB line in the Super Regionals against Vanderbilt. Williams showcases an exceptional fastball with elite velocity (95-99 mph) and movement patterns. His breaking pitches (curveball and slider are both plus and above-average respectively). His fourth pitch is his changeup and that is more inconsistent, but has been coming on of late. It flashes plus as well. Simply, Gavin Williams is coming and should be flying up draft boards. Recent communication suggested teams are wary of his injury history, but this feels nebulous and hardly in line with how teams were clamoring to draft Garret Crochet in 2020 after he threw 4 1/3 innings and had an active shoulder injury. I believe a team is going to draft Gavin Williams early and a team like Washington who isn’t known as an elite pitching development organization should feel comfortable taking Williams and letting him run out there. Gunnar Hoglund, Kumar Rocker, and Jackson Jobe could be in play here as well.
12. Seattle Mariners
Matt McLain, SS/OF, UCLA
Seattle appears to be focused on college bats so any of the McLain, Cowser, Frelick trio could all be options. McLain offers sure production at the next level. There are some scouts that feel he can handle shortstop in pro ball, thought most I’ve talked with feel it’s a 2B or OF profile. Ty Madden may be an option here as well. The Mariners had success with Emerson Hancock who entered 2020 in the 1-1 discussion before slipping to 6 with similar complaints about his fastball. Hancock has since soared up prospect rankings with a few pitching development modifications.
13. Philadelphia Phillies
Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
Frelick may not have elite upside, but he looks like a fairly sure bet to make it to the majors where could succeed as a high contact centerfielder (or second baseman). His run tool is about a 65. I do wonder if he is moved around at the next level. He has logged time at 2B and SS in the FCBL summer league in 2020. The fact that he is more of a “sure-thing” and the lack of college bats makes it likely he ends up somewhere in the top 10, but sometimes the board falls a certain way. From my previous mock, “And come on, you know you want a guy named “Sal” to end up in Philly”.
14. San Francisco Giants
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Cowser has average or better tools across the board and while he played for the relatively small, Sam Houston State, he played for USA baseball and is well-known to scouts. San Francisco has been connected to all of the college hitters (Frelick, Cowser, and McLain) along with Jordan Wicks this draft cycle. I still lean to them taking one of the college bats if they have that option.
15. Milwaukee Brewers
Matthew Mikulski, LHP, Fordham
Mason McRae first linked Matthew Mikulski as an arm to watch in the top 20 picks for a significant cost savings. The fit is perfect here between Milwaukee and Mikulski who sports excellent pitching metrics. Milwaukee could also snag Jordan Wicks, who many regard as the top lefthander in the draft class.
With three picks in the first two rounds, Milwaukee has a lot of money to work with to handle tough signs. The team also had no problem taking a hitter with a challenging swing. Garrett Mitchell (Milwaukee’s first round pick in 2020) was one of the most talented players in last year’s draft, but he slid due to a choppy swing. It’s rumored that Benny Montgomery (OF; Red Land, HS) could be a tough sign and he has a significant hitch in his swing that comes and goes. In this mock, the Brewers are in a position to save a significant amount of pool money with this pick (and take a affordable player in the comp round) before splurging on Montgomery with a later pick. Benny Montgomery has the potential to compete with Mitchell to determine who should man centerfield in a few years with top the charts athleticism.
16. Miami Marlins
Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS
Chandler is a high-upside impact talent who could succeed as either a pitcher or as a shortstop, where his rocket arm gives him a weapon. Scouts are mixed as to whether he should commit to pitching or hitting, but it appears there’s more of a push for him to pitch. As a pitcher, he throws a plus fastball and curveball, but will show off both a slider and changeup. Miami excels in developing changeups so it’s not hard to envision Chandler settling in as a four-pitch guy with three above-average or better offerings. Miami has no issue dreaming on upside. Chandler likely needs to go fairly high to convince him to give up his football aspirations at Clemson, where he is a top recruit to play quarterback. Miami has three early picks (31 and 52) and is armed with some of the most money in the class.
17. Cincinnati Reds
Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois
Trey Sweeney does everything you could want in a hitter with upper echelon exit velocities, as well as contact and chase rates. He keeps getting named with teams in the 20s in the draft, but could offer an immense value to a team higher at a discount. Cincinnati has three picks in the first 35 selections and a value play here early could allow the Reds to do big things in this draft.
18. St. Louis Cardinals
Spencer Schwellenbach, SS/RHP, Nebraska
The Cardinals have shown the willingness to take developmental prospects and, along with that, two-way players. Schwellenbach’s likely future lies on the mound where he got a chance in 2021 to showcase three pitches. His fastball and slider both are plus. Despite not throwing many innings, scouts feel he has the ability to start at the next level.
19. Toronto Blue Jays
Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
Bednar may not be here this late in the draft, but some team is going to get a stud. He’ll barely be 21 years old and is already showcasing upper-level stuff. His fastball generates whiffs, especially up in the zone and his slider is plus as well. Young, successful SEC aces don’t last long in drafts, especially when they have impressive pitch metrics. Toronto reaps the benefits here in this mock. The Blue Jays are also associated with a host of higher-upside players like Anthony Solometo, Jay Allen, Jud Fabian, and Joe Mack.
20. New York Yankees
Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
The Yankees have shown a willingness to take injured pitchers early in the draft. Hoglund was a top 10 (possibly top 5) overall selection in the draft prior to his injury. Andrew Painter has been associated with the Yankees for awhile now as well. He entered the draft cycle as the top overall prep pitcher, but he showed four average or better pitches (but no plus offerings) this season. If the Yankees go with someone like Joe Mack or Trey Sweeney, it’s possible that the Yankees try to find some slot savings here to try to sign Jaden Hill in the second round.
21. Chicago Cubs
Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge (HS)
I featured Colson Montgomery in my most recent Draft hitting targets for the Cubs. Montgomery plays a solid SS, but may move over to third in professional ball. He has the arm to thrive at the hot corner if needed. The hitting data is the most exciting aspect of Montgomery as a first round prospect. In the showcase circuit last year, Montgomery put up a similar max exit velo to Kahlil Watson, Harry Ford, Will Taylor, and Peyton Stovall, while posting a solid 80% contact rate and only a 17% chase rate. All three of those figures stand up with some of the top players in the class. Montgomery projects for above-average hit and power down the line.
Other players linked to the Cubs include Trey Sweeney (mentioned above), Jud Fabian (OF, Florida), Will Taylor (above), Mike McGreevy (RHP, UCSB), Anthony Solometo (LHP, Bishop Eustace HS). But in an effort to add to the conversation, James Triantos (SS, Madison HS) deserves some more publicity. Triantos sported a 94% contact rate in the showcase circuit last year (tops in the class) with a similar max EV as Will Taylor, Harry Ford, and the aforementioned Colson Montgomery. He did see his chase rate in a higher tier, but in the same range as Jordan Lawler (23%). Traintos has quite an arm and has good run times. He hails from Cubs area scout (and 2020 Stan Zielinski Scout of the Year) Billy Swoope’s territory. If there’s one player who could be this year’s Nick Yorke (who was a surprise mid-first round selection), I’ll say it is James Triantos.
22. Chicago White Sox
Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks (SS)
The White Sox have been all over high school players recently. Most notably the Sox have been heavy on Colson Montgomery and fellow prep SS, Max Muncy (no relation to the big-leaguer). With Montgomery off the board to the Northsiders, Max Muncy is the selection. Wes Kath (3B, Desert Mountain HS) is another name mentioned in association with the White Sox.
23. Cleveland Baseball Team
Carson Williams, SS, Torrey Pines (HS)
Cleveland heavily factors in age to their draft model and Carson Williams is an impressive high school infielder with age on his side. Carson Williams is one of the many prep shortstops who should go high in this class. He will turn 18 only a few weeks before the draft, so his age will appeal to some teams who heavily factor it into their model. Williams is hit over power and a sure bet to stay at SS long term. He has a strong arm. Williams also dabbled on the mound, but it sounds like he’s more likely to stay on the infield. Williams showed good contact rates in the showcase circuit.
24. Atlanta Braves
Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
Madden is frequently linked to teams higher in the first round. On the surface that makes sense as he’s been very successful this season, including his recent College World Series performance. But there has been significant questions related to Madden’s fastball shape. His fastball has a natural cut dynamic without intending to do so. Effectively it’s a pitch in the middle and while additional movement can be a positive on the surface, there are teams that actually view that as a ding on an otherwise stellar resume. It’s a fairly similar profile to Cade Cavalli, who went 23rd overall, but was frequently linked to teams in the early teens. Cavalli ultimately went to a team who perceives things through more of a traditional scouting lens in Washington (which is one of the reasons they’ve been linked to Madden at 11). But that is all to put into context that Madden is a very good pitcher. He could provide great value to Atlanta here.
25. Oakland Athletics
Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
Jordan Wicks has been firmly listed as the top college lefty in the class during the draft cycle largely on the success of an above-average fastball (plays up due to deception) and a supremely impressive changeup. While his pitching metrics won’t blow you away, they’re solid and he’s polished. A team in contention, like Oakland, should expect him up relatively soon.
26. Minnesota Twins
Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Jud Fabian has otherworldly talent, but the Ks just kept piling up. Even after he made a mid-season adjustment, the Ks crept back. He settled in around 29% K% for the year, which is way too high for most teams. But Fabian is still a premier athlete and defender in centerfield with above-average to plus power. Minnesota has shown a willingness to deal with strikeouts at the expense of power before.
27. San Diego Padres
Lonnie White, OF, Malvern Prep (HS)
Look for the Padres to take a player with impressive metrics (pitching or hitting). Lonnie White gets the nod here after he demonstrated some of the best batted ball data in the showcases last year. He reigned supreme in max exit velocity with a solid contact rate. His chase rate was 23% (a tad high, but not outrageous), which was similar to Jordan Lawler. Peyton Stovall out of Haughton HS in Louisiana could be another name to watch here.
28. Tampa Bay Rays
Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace (HS)
I’ve had Tampa Bay linked to Solometo since the first mock draft so there’s no sense in deviating now. Solometo is a left hander with a funky arm action from the Northeast. The Rays haven’t shied away from any component of that profile before. Tampa Bay places added value on incorporating different looks from their pitching staff. Solometo is primarily a two-pitch guy and could stand to improve his changeup, but that’s hardly an unusual statement about cold-weather arms. The Rays brass has been spotted at several games for fellow northeast prep, Joshua Baez, and he could be in play for TB.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers
Gage Jump, LHP, JSerra Catholic (HS)
The Dodgers have shown a willingness to take undervalued talents. Gage Jump from the pitching side is a solid example of that. Shy of six-foot, the high school lefthander demonstrates success with an elevated fastball that plays up even higher due to a lower vertical approach angle. The long-term question is “will Gage Jump be a starter?” Scouts are mixed, but if he’s taken this high, a team will certainly try. He’s an athletic pitcher who would absolutely be in a great organization to succeed (Rays and Padres would be two other phenomenal fits for Jump). Conner Norby, Alex Mooney, Tommy Mace, Ryan Cusick, and Ky Bush could all be names to watch here.
30. Cincinnati Reds
Jay Allen, OF, John Carroll Catholic (HS)
Kiley McDaniel ($) of ESPN first linked Jay Allen (and later James Wood) to the Reds. Here in this mock, Cincinnati is able to get both in part due to the selection of Sweeney at pick 17. Allen has average or better tools across the board with some scouts feeling like those skills will only improve as he focuses exclusively on baseball.
31. Miami Marlins
Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
Mace could have been drafted last year, but had a price in mind and headed back to Florida. He’s looked good this year, but now probably represents a value play to teams in the late first/early second round. After selecting Bubba Chandler in the first round, Miami is in a position to take a quick-to-the-majors arm at a bit of a discount.
32. Detroit Tigers
Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian (HS)
Detroit should still have considerable funds to take another big swing after picking third overall. They’ve been tied to prep SS Alex Mooney, who could be available here as well. Even if they take a prep SS with their first pick, I wouldn’t rule out Mooney later, but in this mock, Detroit doesn’t have to make that choice. Here the Tigers pick up Painter to add to their future pitching options.
33. Milwaukee Brewers
Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon
Brewer scouts were all over Aaron Zavala at the NCAA regionals in Eugene and he showed off a solid swing at the dish. His name has been creeping up boards in recent weeks. He dealt with a shoulder injury earlier in the season, but looked impressive in his return. His swing is geared towards teams that place a heavy emphasis on hitting models.
34. Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest
Cusick needs some refinement, but if any profile is reminiscent of Garret Crochet from 2020, it’s Cusick. He could potentially help a team win this season out of the pen before transitioning back to starting next season. There aren’t really any better teams for someone with Cusick’s stuff to end up with than Tampa Bay where their impressive pitching development infrastructure combined with their willingness to be flexible with innings would give Cusick a leg up.
35. Cincinnati Reds
James Wood, OF, IMG Academy (HS)
James Wood is a bit of an enigma. On somedays he flashes all-star potential and on others he looks lost. He is committed to Mississippi State and could be a tough sign. In this mock, Cincinnati’s selection of Mikulski paves the way for the Reds to sign overslot selections.
36. Minnesota Twins
Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East (HS)
Mack could easily be an earlier selection in the first round, but if he makes it down to here, Minnesota should consider themselves lucky. The Twins are often associated with college bats, but having taken one earlier take the prep catcher with the best likelihood of staying at the position in the class.