Yesterday MLB published their first run at the Top 100 prospects for the 2021 MLB Draft. It’s just one list, from just one outlet, but to me the debut of this list, from MLB’s flagship, always feels like the “official” start to the next year’s Draft season. It’s still very early in the draft cycle and much can change in a year, especially if there’s a full college baseball/prep season. But with programs still struggling to nail down exact schedules and still plenty of uncertainty regarding when the vaccine will be widely available and it will be safe to return to play, none of that is a guarantee. With scouting looks potentially limited, there may be less movement on these lists than in previous years.
Of course, the scouting and Draft cycle is a year-round process for those closely connected to the industry, and here at LL, we’ve been running a serious of in-depth scouting looks at 2021 Draft-eligible players since the conclusion of the 2020 Draft this summer (and what a sad, short little draft it was). Click on any player name linked in the article to be taken to Joe Doyle’s full scouting writeup, or peruse the whole series here.
While much will change, it’s useful to familiarize yourself with the general list now: who the top-tier talents are who will in all likelihood be out of the Mariners’ grasp at #12, who the current back-end Top 10 picks are that might be in their neighborhood, and some potential risers dwelling closer to the back end of the Top 20.
Top 5-type prospects:
Barring a significant tumble, these are names that won’t be available to the Mariners, picking just outside the top 10, if you put much stock in MLB’s rankings: Kumar Rocker, Jordan Lawler, Matt McClain, Adrian Del Castillo, Jaden Hill, Jack Leiter. There are a few potential heartbreakers in this list; Lawler is a dynamic athlete and a favorite among our entire prospect team; McClain makes a ton of sense for the 3B-lacking Mariners; Del Castillo is the best lefthanded power bat in this class; Joe loves power pitcher Jaden Hill. Read about them, press them closely to your heart, and let them go.
Back-end Top 10 types:
This is where, with some luck and some wiggle room, Mariners fans might optimistically begin perusing the list. Staff favorite SS Marcelo Mayer is on the bubble here and as a California prep, could soar with some strong performances at the major showcase events. He could easily move into that upper tier if he shows some more pop over the upcoming season. Next there’s a trio of reliable college bats in OF Jud Fabian (Florida), 3B Alex Binelas (Louisville), and OF Colin Cowser. Binelas obviously fits a position of need in the system, but moreover he’s a proven college performer at the dish and solid at the hot corner, even though his throwing motion hurts my eyes. He does not personally thrill me but the fit from a strictly baseball sense is clear. 55s-across-the-board Fabian is somehow even less exciting, and yet even safer. Joe hasn’t gotten to Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser yet, a late bloomer with solid bat-to-ball skills and a skill set that might remind some of an older Jarred Kelenic, but the magic phrase “pure hitter” appears in the MLB writeup so I am already a fan. After the run of top-tier college pitchers at the top of the Draft board, there’s only one college pitchers who falls into this 7-15 group: RHP Ty Madden (Texas). Joe hasn’t gotten to Madden yet, but he was high school teammates with Cowser and fits the prototype of the Big Boy Texan Who Throws Hard, sitting mid-90s and reportedly touching as high as 99. A plus slider with nasty bite and a solid changeup round out Madden’s arsenal, as well as a promising but inconsistent curveball.
Discussed here for completion and not because we think the college-mad Mariners will draft a prep: Enormous Human RHP Andrew Painter (Texas, Calvary Christian), who throws out of a 6’7” slot and is terrifying and wonderful and will never ever be drafted by the Seattle Mariners:
PG’s #1 player in the ‘21 class, RHP Andrew Painter with loud stuff tonight. FB working 93-96 mph, CB 77-78, SL 81-83, CH at 80. Florida commit. @Florida_PG #WWBA17U #PGDraft pic.twitter.com/egkXXu8YAH— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) July 22, 2020
There are also three prep position players in this tier, all of whom have an equal (zero) chance of being drafted by the Mariners: 3B Brady House, OF James Wood, and SS Khalil Watson. All have their warts, as prep prospects are wont to do—House takes knocks for inconsistent performances in showcases in a pandemic-shortened year, Wood has levers that look more at home on a basketball center than a baseball player, and Watson is the physical opposite, putting the “short” in “shortstop”—but each one possesses exciting tools and upside. Grow attached at your own risk. (Yes, I am being over-dramatically negative here. Prove me wrong, Jerry and Co.! I would love to be wrong about this!)
Looking a little past where the Mariners are projected to pick, a few names jump out. LHP Jordan Wicks (Kansas State) was the most recent subject of Joe’s writeups; the Mariners love a changeup, and Wicks has one of—if not the—best in the class, and the bonus gift of throwing baseballs with his left hand. Auburn pitcher Richard Fitts is drawing more attention now that he’s working as a starter instead of a reliever, and could rise up draft boards if he proves his stuff translates into a starter’s workload. RHP Chase Petty has two strikes against him in that he’s shorter (6 foot) and a prep arm, but he has the most electric fastball in the prep class and lit up the showcase circuit this summer. Also, I love him. 6’4” Chase Burns isn’t far behind Petty in the “hard-throwing prep” category. Joe loves prep catcher Harry Ford, who currently sits right on the edge of the Top 20, but likely even further away from the Mariners, doing their Safety Dance for yet another year.
Speaking of prep catchers, another staff favorite, C Ian Moller, is listed at 75 on MLB’s list, much lower than where I had thought he’d check in thanks to an inconsistent performance on the showcase circuit. That would put him well in the target range for a second-round pick for the Mariners even with all the supplemental round higgy-hagga. Check out the full list here, and keep an eye out for Joe’s scouting writeups every Monday, which you can find all in one place here.