By Jared Stanger
The 2021 MLB Draft begins Day 1 exactly four weeks from Sunday. I’ve already had some change(s) of heart on some of my previous picks, so I needed to get another one up.
The biggest change is going to be right at the top. I think one of the strengths of this draft class is the prep shortstop class. The top four names from that group will still probably be gone by the time Seattle drafts at #12. But the next best way to mine talent from the class is to choose from the high school shortstops that potentially project to play at another position. This could be 3B, 2B, maybe an OF. As long as the bat plays, I don’t necessarily care if the player ends up moving off SS.
I mentioned a couple names that fit this description in my previous mock…Gavin Conticello and Peyton Stovall. Conticello is still quiet enough to be potentially found at a later round, but it feels like Stovall is still climbing. And I’m fully on-board for that.
#1.12- 2B Peyton Stovall, Haughton HS
Stovall has been a special talent for putting barrel to the ball for a couple years now, but it was the fact that he decided in the summer of 2020 to add some weight, and with it strength, that has really elevated his game. After adding about 15 lbs last year, Peyton went on to hit 14 homeruns in his 38 game high school season. While adding that kind of power; Stovall maintained a 6 to 1 walk to strikeout rate, for a .664 OBP and a 1.695 OPS.
In the field, Stovall is a bit mechanical, but part of what mechanical means (to me) is that it is a repeatable movement. He kind of reminds me of the baseball equivalent of Larry Bird. It’s not a pretty athleticism, but that doesn’t mean it’s not athletic. You don’t know how it works, but it does. And I think it will work consistently.
In my previous mock, I went prep righty Jackson Baumeister here. I still really like Baumeister, but after going HS with the first pick (which is already going against Jerry Dipoto’s staff’s history); I kinda feel like I need to come back to college with the next pick.
There’s a slight chance my first pick from my first mock, LHP Matt Mikulski, is still on the board here…in which case you draft him. But the more likely scenario is you’ll have to go with another college arm. Personally, I think there is a strong crop of college lefties all projected around the late-1st to mid-3rd round range: Mikulski, Andrew Abbott, Doug Nikhazy, Christian Macleod, Joe Rock, Steve Hajjar. But something caught my eye when studying the probable first college LHP that will be drafted: Jordan Wicks.
Wicks: 6’1″/215lbs, fastball 90-93mph, touches 95mph, 3.70 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 11.50 SO/9, 4.21 SO/BB
LHP X: 6’1″/196lbs, fastball 90-93mph, touches 95mph, 3.32 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 12.37 SO/9, 4.82 SO/BB
Almost identical profiles with X actually performing better statistically across the board. The only differences I can find? The former is a year younger, and the latter was a reliever until 2021. I mean…I guess you could argue Wicks has the better single pitch between the two with his changeup, but that runs the risk of being too insular of a thought process. What you’re trying to do is to find the best person at fulfilling the future job of MLB left-handed starting pitcher.
LHP X is Georgia starter Ryan Webb.
#2.48- LHP Ryan Webb, Georgia
So Webb’s numbers were better and they were compiled against elite SEC competition. The context of him being in the bullpen until this year is pretty easily explained: Emerson Hancock, Cole Wilcox, Jonathan Cannon. The other starters for KState while Wicks has been there: Griffin Hassall, Will Brennan, Caleb Littlejim. Who?
I like Wicks, but I’d like him a whole lot better in the 2nd round. Webb might give you a chance at that.
#3.83- IF Gavin Conticello, Stoneman Douglas HS
Conticello is a prep shortstop that probably ends up moving to a different position as a pro, I’m just not sure which position that will be. His hard-swinging lefty stroke gets some comps to Cody Bellinger who presently splits his time between 1B and OF. If you get that with an MVP bat…you won’t mind moving him off of SS. But start him off at 3B, probably.
#4.113- LHP Ky Bush, St. Mary’s
The picks from the 4th and 5th rounds remain from previous mock. Another upside college lefty here in the former Coug, Ky Bush. He’s got great pitcher’s frame, big velo, and already improved control. This is the most prototypical “Jerry” pick so far.
#5.144- 1B JT Schwartz, UCLA
Again, still keeping him from the first mock. Big-framed first baseman with elite eye at the plate. Mostly doubles power at this point, but hope for pro strength program to get him stronger.
#6.174- RHP Rawley Hector, Anna HS
An extreme pitchability prep arm, Hector is 6’2″/190-ish and has terrific feel for the strikezone with very clean mechanics. Present velo is only low 90’s, but there’s time to increase it. Rawley tore his ACL in 2020, so his work in 2021 HS season may not even show him at his best. You may be getting him at a discount here even if you go overslot money to pull him away from his college commitment to Texas A&M.
It’s not unheard of for Seattle to go prep arm around this range. They drafted RHP Mikey Limoncelli and LHP Adam Macko in the 6th and 7th rounds respectively in 2019. In 2018, they got a couple HS pitchers in the 11th and 16th rounds (Damon Casetta-Stubbs and Holden Laws). In 2017, Sam Carlson was this regime’s earliest drafted prep thrower in the 2nd round. They also drafted Jorge Benitez that year out of a Puerto Rico HS in the 9th round. Maybe it’s coincidence, but I do note that each year featured one righthanded and one lefthanded prep pitcher. In the 2020 abbreviated draft class there were not any prep arms, but there were only 5 rounds (Seattle has only once gone prep arm before the 6th), and they did draft a 19-year-old Connor Phillips out of JUCO in the 2nd. All of those picks, and their signings, were based on pre-draft agreed-upon signing figures.
#7.204- Taylor Broadway, Ole Miss
I’m curious if Kevin Kopps’ age will be enough to drop him down this far. If it does, I’d make him this pick in a heartbeat.
Broadway has been one of the best closers in the country this year with 16 saves in 29 appearances. He’s a bit undersized at 5’11″/205lbs, but that hasn’t stopped Seattle on relief arms before. They drafted Ty Adcock at 6’0″ in the 8th round in 2019 class. That same year they took 5’11” Kyle Hill in the 11th round. In 2017 they took Randy Bell in the 10th round and JP Sears in the 11th, and they’re both 5’11”.
Broadway is 24 years old and should allow you to save a bit in signing bonus to use towards other players. But he’s also a legit arm that could be very fast to the show.
#8.234- 3B Riley Tirotta, Dayton
Tirotta is another carryover from my previous mock. This is probably too late to actually acquire him, but it’s generally more aggressive than he’s seen in most national projections.
#9.264- C Andy Thomas, Baylor
After mocking FSU catcher Matheu Nelson in the 3rd round in my previous piece; I passed on him in this one. But I still wanted to get a catcher at some point in the first two days of the draft. Thomas has much less raw power than Nelson (22 HR to 11 HR), but he also strikes out about half as much (24.47% to 12.78%). Andy is a decently sized backstop at 6’2″/210lbs with one of the best caught-stealing rates I could find. Henry Davis was the best I found at 46.4% CS, but Thomas was right behind him at 45.9%. In fact, Thomas is the third national finalist for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year award along with Davis and Nelson.
I don’t have all of the defensive catching metrics on any of these catchers, but I’m taking their inclusion in that specific award as de facto compliment of their receiving skills. If Thomas can hit a floor of Dan Wilson as a backstop; I think that’s a worthy draftpick. Plus, he’s a fifth-year senior that could save you some money.
#10.294- OF John Thrasher, Hartford
I’m keeping Thrasher from the previous mock, but targeting him in a later round. He’s a senior with very nice contact skills, a good eye, and elite base running. And the defense should allow him to stay in center. Could be a Braden Bishop type player with a future as a 4th outfielder with pinch-running specialization.
#11.324- LHP Devin Futrell, American Heritage HS
After the initial 10 rounds, teams leave the bonus-pool theatrics. Seattle, specifically, will use the first few rounds after #10 to draft some harder-to-sign players, then try to save some bonus pool from some point(s) round 1-10 to throw at them. Sometimes it’s an underclass college player like Carter Bins…sometimes a prep player that fell past their expected draft projection like Casetta-Stubbs.
Futrell would be the latter. He’s committed to Vanderbilt, and this is probably implausible, but I just really like his mechanics and polish, and he’d be worth the attempt.
#12.354- SS Carson Crawford, Rohnert Park HS
Even after drafting two prep shortstops in the earlier rounds; I didn’t really take any that actually project to play SS. So Crawford is my attempt to remedy that. Plus, I need some more righthanded bats. He’s got a smooth swing with nice barrel control, and some natural loft. Just needs to get stronger.
1st- 2B Peyton Stovall
2nd- LHP Ryan Webb
3rd- 3B/OF Gavin Conticello
4th- LHP Ky Bush
5th- 1B JT Schwartz
6th- RHP Rawley Hector
7th- RHP Taylor Broadway
8th- 3B Riley Tirotta
9th- C Andy Thomas
10th- OF John Thrasher
11th- LHP Devin Futrell
12th- SS Carson Crawford
If I had one self-critique of this grouping; it’s probably short by one college righthanded starting pitcher. It needs someone from the midst of names like Dom Hamel, Aaron Brown, Conor Grady, Alek Jacob, Elliott Carney plucked in there somewhere. Maybe you give up the closer in the 7th and go starter there instead. Or maybe you give up a second upside prep bat in the first three picks, and instead go high floor college arm in the 3rd. Or maybe most of those names could still be had in round 13. Yeah, maybe that.