MLB Draft Live Blog: Analyzing Every Team’s First-Round Pick – Sports Illustrated

Welcome to the 2021 MLB Draft.

While this year doesn’t feature a once-in-a-lifetime talent to headline the event, there’s still plenty of intrigue around the draft. There’s a trio of exciting high school shortstops, a pair of popular Vanderbilt pitchers and some powerful college hitters with plenty of upside. This draft is also the first since its debut in 1965 it takes place outside of June.

We’ll provide live updates throughout the night as teams (minus the Houston Astros, in their second and final year of lost first- and second-round picks as punishment for sign stealing) make first-round selections. Names and analysis will be updated as picks are made.

Louisville catcher Henry Davis scores against Vanderbilt during the seventh inning of the College World Series game at TD Ameritrade Park Friday.

No. 1 Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis, C, Louisville

Davis is the best college bat in the draft, slashing .370/.482/.663 with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in his most recent season with Louisville. A composed and powerful hitter, Davis has a keen eye for pitches and can make hard contact or reel it in to draw walks (he had six more walks than strikeouts throughout his college career). Davis’s offensive strengths make up for some of his inconsistencies behind the plate, where he’s occasionally struggled to handle quality pitching. He improved in 2021 and should be able to stay behind the plate within the Pirates’s farm system.

Many mock drafts anticipated Pittsburgh would lean toward one of the high school shortstops—Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar got plenty of buzz—but the Pirates elected for the experience of Davis, a player who wasn’t drafted out of high school despite being Perfect Game’s top catcher from the state of New York in 2018.

No. 2 Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

Leiter is considered by many to be the best college pitcher in the draft. He soared to star status in his final year at Vanderbilt, finishing 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.845 WHIP, 179 strikeouts (tied with Vandy teammate Kumar Rocker for most in the NCAA) and an appearance in the College World Series finals. Leiter’s fastball is elite and sits at 90-95 mph with a vertical break that consistently tricks hitters. His 6-foot-1 stature could be considered small for a starter, but he’s building strength that should help him climb up the minor ranks. He also has major league pitching in his blood—his father, Al Leiter, uncle and cousin all pitched in the majors.

Leiter had been linked to the Boston Red Sox ahead of the draft but was picked up by the Rangers. The selection tracks with Texas’s past three first-round picks—all seasoned college players. 

No. 3 Detroit Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Okla.)

Jobe is ahead of the curve for a high school pitcher. The 18-year-old Gatorade Oklahoma high school player of the year has, perhaps, the best slider in the draft, a quick arm and marked improvement in his secondary pitches, upgrading his low-80s changeup and refining his upper-70s curveball. Jobe’s athleticism and maturity on the mound set a solid foundation for him to develop further in the Tigers’ minor league system. 

No. 4 Boston Red Sox: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (Calif.)

Mayer, 18, leads the pack of elite high school shortstops anticipated to go early this year. In his senior year at California’s Eastlake High School, Mayer emerged as one of the draft’s top hitters (batting .392 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs as a senior) and defenders. Mayer’s size (6’3″) and power have drawn comparisons to the Dodgers’ Corey Seager, though Mayer will likely spend a few years becoming acclimated to high-level pitching in the Red Sox’s minor league system before he’s ready for a major league debut.

No. 5 Baltimore Orioles: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston

Cowser’s left-handed bat is one of the strongest from this year’s college group. He slashed .374/.490/.680 with 75 hits, 16 home runs and 54 RBIs in 2021, growing on a three-year trend of improvement at Sam Houston. The Southland Conference player of the year demonstrated success during his time as a member of the U.S. collegiate national team, when he batted .438 in six games against Cuba in the 2019 and earned the MVP title. Uncertainty lingers around his power potential as well as his ability playing center field, but honing in on his instinct and continuing to polish his bat should help him climb up with the Orioles.

No. 6 Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit College Prep (Tx.)

Lawlar is one of the most powerful hitters in the draft. One of the year’s standout high school shortstops, Lawlar brings a mature approach to the plate, drawing more walks than he strikes out. Lawlar is quick and smooth with the bat (and slashed .425/.552/.713 this season) and speedy along the bases, stealing 44 in 44 attempts throughout his high school career. The 6’2″ Gatorade Texas high school player of the year has potential to grow into an impact player for the Diamondbacks once he adds strength and defensive consistency. Lawlar’s .893 fielding percentage throughout high school can be boiled down to youth, but he’s already shown improvement with errors (13 in his sophomore season to just three as a senior). 

No. 7 Kansas City Royals: Frank Mozzicato, LHP, East Catholic HS (Conn.)

One of the youngest players in the draft (he turned 18 last month), Mozzicato has plenty of potential to grow within the Royals organization. His fastball sat around the upper-80s last summer and rose to a consistent 91 mph this spring, but he impresses with his high-spin curveball. Kansas City will likely sign Mozzicato, who was the 39th-best prospect in’s rankings, below slot value and will be able to spread more money around in the later rounds of the draft. 

No. 8 Colorado Rockies: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Pa.)

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Montgomery will bring raw power and a lot of speed to the Rockies. As a hitter, he’s relatively consistent with contact and showed up on the summer showcase circuit against quality pitching. Montgomery is also a quick outfielder with defensive ability and plenty of tools to bring to Colorado. 

No. 9 Los Angeles Angels: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (OH)

Bachman spent his three years with Miami (Ohio) getting better and better each year. He was named a starter as a freshman in 2019 and used the coronavirus shutdown to improve. The Angels see the potential for Bachman to continue building strength and command of his 94-97 mph fastball and improving slider, and with more improvements, he has potential to continue as a starter in the pros. 

No. 10 New York Mets: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt

Rocker has been touted as one of the best pitchers in the draft but fell below fellow college pitcher Bachman, a Miami (Ohio) starter who went one spot above him to the Angels.

Rocker’s ceiling is high, but struggles with command could hold him back from surging up with the Mets quickly. He tossed college baseball’s best slider with Vanderbilt and his fastball sits at a smooth 93-96 mph. Rocker’s 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke in the 2019 Super Regionals cemented him in the college baseball history books, and he helped Vanderbilt to two berths in the College World Series. Still, he’ll work to refine his pitches in the minor leagues. 

No. 11 Washington Nationals: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS (Ga.)

House has the makeup of a true power hitter and went into the summer as the most exciting high school prospect in the draft. Since then, he has had some issues at the plate, but the Nationals chose the potential reward over the risk. He’s 6’4″ with above-average pop and impressive exit velocity—and building up consistency within Washington’s farm system should help him continue to hone in on his strengths. It’s not certain whether or not House will be staying at shortstop, as many evaluators feel he’s better suited at third base or in the outfield given his arm is a bigger asset than his speed. 

No. 12 Seattle Mariners: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (Ga.)

Ford’s best attribute is his bat, with some of the best bat speed in this year’s high school class and the ability to make contact against quality pitching. Ford is quick (he clocked a 6.42-second time 60-yard dash at the East Coast Pro showcase) with enough raw athleticism for the Mariners to be able to clean up around any shortcomings behind the plate. 

No. 13 Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian (Fla.)

Painter is a 6’6″ high school prospect with strong command of his four-pitch arsenal. Painter already comes in with advanced skills across his 93-95 mph fastball, 12-to-6 type curveball and mid-80s slider, but he has room to become a stronger thrower with the Phillies, which will look to capitalize on his raw ability and control in their farm system. 

No. 14 San Francisco Giants: Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State

Bednar likely couldn’t be more grateful for this year’s College World Series, where he earned the Most Outstanding Player honor in Mississippi State’s first national championship and bolted up the draft boards. He’s most consistent with his 93-95 mph fastball and his slider, while his other pitches could use more work, but the Giants must be pleased with his performances in the competitive SEC. 

No. 15 Milwaukee Brewers: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College

One of Frelick’s top assets is ability to read pitches—he drew 60 walks compared to his 50 strikeouts during his three years at Boston College—and his bat speed allows him to consistently make contact when he’s at the plate. Frelick’s career at Boston College ended with a .345/.435/.521 slash line, 12 home runs and 63 RBIs. He’s stronger than his 5’9″ frame would suggest, and his speed makes him an elusive baserunner and impactful outfielder. 

No. 16 Miami Marlins: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS (N.C.)

Watson surged up draft boards this spring with a breakout senior season at North Carolina’s Wake Forest High School, batting .513 with 24 runs in 58 plate appearances. The 18-year-old’s quick instincts and strong arm make up for his 5’9″ stature, as he’s an effortless defender with the ability to play well at multiple positions. He came into the draft as’s fourth-best prospect, a steal for the Marlins at No. 16. 

No. 17 Cincinnati Reds: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA

McLain had actually climbed up draft boards out of high school and was a first-round (25th overall) selection to the D-backs in 2018, but he elected to stick with his UCLA commitment. After three years with the Bruins, he’s landed with Cincinnati at No. 17. McLain emerges from college experience with more pop in his swing and with a stronger build on his 5’10” frame, which helped him become a more athletic shortstop with a better arm. He’s joining the Reds with a strong chance to quickly work his way up the minors.

No. 18 St. Louis Cardinals: Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara

McGreevy’s value is found in his command. He’s a consistent strike thrower who sharpened his control over his four-pitch arsenal throughout his time at UC Santa Barbara. McGreevy pitched and played shortstop in high school, went undrafted and originally began his college career out of the bullpen, making his way into the Gauchos’ rotation in 2020. He’s the earliest-drafted UC Santa Barbara alum since the Indians drafted two-time All Star Shane Bieber in the fourth round in 2016. 

No. 19 Toronto Blue Jays: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi

Hoglund had been a supplemental first-round pick to the Pirates in 2018, but he elected to head to Ole Miss, where he quickly became a mainstay in the Rebels’ weekend rotation. Hoglund pitched to a 2.87 ERA before his junior season was cut short in May by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but the improvement he made with his fastball and slider before the injury bodes well for his shot with the Blue Jays. 

No. 20 New York Yankees: Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois

Sweeney had one Division I offer out of high school in 2018 and emerged after a stellar summer 2020 performance where he batted .397, good for second in the Coastal Plain League. He may not continue at shortstop at the next level given his below-average speed, but evaluators see him making a potential impact at third base. 

No. 21 Chicago Cubs: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State

The top-ranked left-handed pitcher heading into the draft, Wicks has an effortless delivery that helped him set Kansas State records for single-season strikeouts (118) and career strikeouts (230). Wicks’s changeup is especially lethal, averaging in the low-80s and earning plus-plus grades from some scouts. The Cubs secure a competitive pitcher with a four-pitch mix and solid opportunity to rise up the minors. 

No. 22 Chicago White Sox: Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS (Ind.)

Montgomery is an effective hitter with the ability to play at shortstop and third base, making him a versatile selection for the White Sox. He was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball and baseball) and has a lean 6’4″ frame that helps him move well on defense. The decision to pick baseball couldn’t have been easy for Montgomery, given he’s the leading scorer in Southridge High School basketball history in the Hoosier State.

No. 23 Cleveland Indians: Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina

Williams didn’t have an easy road to success at ECU. After turning down his 30th-round selection by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017, he struggled to find a regular rotation spot in his first three years with the Pirates. Williams broke through in 2021, finishing with the fifth-best strikeout rate in the NCAA and becoming the American Athletic Conference’s pitcher of the year. He’s a solid pick for Cleveland, with an effective fastball sitting at 94-97 mph and steady improvement with his curveball, slider and changeup. 

No. 24 Atlanta Braves: Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest

Cusick’s 6’6″, 235-pound frame supports his strong pitching arsenal, which includes a 94-97 mph fastball that’s been clocked at 102. He’ll be joining former Wake Forest teammate Jared Shuster in the Braves’ minor league system. 

No. 25 Oakland Athletics: Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks HS (Calif.)

Not to be confused with Dodgers’ two-time All Star of the same name (they are unrelated), this Muncy comes from a high school program known to produce big league talent like Kurt Stilwell and Jack Wilson. Muncy has the foundation to become a powerful hitter and has a solid arm that’s perfect at shortstop. 

No. 26 Minnesota Twins: Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland HS (N.J.)

Petty impressed evaluators with his consistent fastball sitting in the upper 90s across the summer high school showcase circuit, and he recorded a 1.15 ERA in 48 2/3 innings in his senior season at Mainland High School. Petty’s mature presence on the mound sets him up for a solid future as a starter within the Twins organization. 

No. 27 San Diego Padres: Jackson Merrill, SS, Severna Park (Md.)

Merrill is heading to a loaded farm system with the Padres, and he has plenty of upside as a powerful hitter and agile shortstop. He’s not the fastest middle infielder, however, which could cause a possible move to third base in the pros. 

No. 28 Tampa Bay Rays: Carson Williams, SS, Torrey Pines (Calif.)

Williams is an athletic shortstop with a natural swing who shows plenty of potential as a possible power hitter. He also pitched at Torrey Pines with a fastball regularly hitting 95 mph, though he prefers the position player role. Williams is the 10th shortstop taken in the first 28 picks of this year’s draft.

No. 29 Los Angeles Dodgers: Maddux Bruns, LHP, UMS-Wright HS (Ala.)

Bruns has shown flashes of elite pitching, firing a 97-mph fastball in last June’s Perfect Game National showcase to top the mid-90s velocity he showcased throughout his senior year of high school, but he can struggle with command at times. Some evaluators see Bruns developing into a starter with control issues, but others see his ceiling as a reliever. 

No. 30 Cincinnati Reds — Compensation Pick: Jay Allen, OF, John Carroll Catholic (Fla.)

The Reds picked up the 6’3″ Allen with their compensation pick for the Dodgers signing Trevor Bauer, and they selected an athletic hitter with upside as a potential power hitter. 

Competitive Balance Round A:

No. 31 Miami Marlins:

No. 32 Detroit Tigers:

No. 33 Milwaukee Brewers:

No. 34 Tampa Bay Rays:

No. 35 Cincinnati Reds:

No. 36 Minnesota Twins: 

More MLB Coverage:

Three Burning Questions as the Trade Deadline Looms

The Charmed Season: Revisiting Derek Jeter’s Origin Story

It’s Time for the Next Chapter in Cleveland’s Title Chase

Forecasting Rookie of the Year Contenders Halfway Through the Season