The annual Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft will be held July 11-13, 2021, in Atlanta. It will be held in conjunction with this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The draft order is based on team records from last year, going from worst to World Series champions. Teams who lose qualifying free agents and teams from which players did not sign from last year’s draft will receive compensation picks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league and the players association agreed that the draft would be 20 rounds, up from five rounds in 2020. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have the top overall selection.
(Note that the Houston Astros have to forfeit their first two round picks due to their sign-stealing scandal.)
The difficulty for teams approaching the draft this season is that the season last year was severely shortened. This means less time to look at collegiate players and limited travel to watch fall baseball. Nevertheless, a list of potential top picks has been made, so here are our top five prospects for the MLB draft 2021.
1 – Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
Rocker displays great size at 6’5” and 250 pounds. The 21-year-old went 12-5 as a freshman in 2018 with a 3.25 ERA, striking out 114 in 99.2 innings. In limited play in 2020, he struck out 28 in only 15 innings, and over his first three appearances this season he is 3-0 with 25 strikeouts and six hits allowed in 15 innings. He features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s that can run or sink.
2 – Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami
Ranked 12th in the country among catchers in 2018, Del Castillo was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 36th round but opted to attend the University of Miami. As a freshman in 2019, Del Castillo hit .331 with 12 home runs in 61 games. He showed versatility by playing 31 games in the outfield, 12 behind the plate, 16 at designated hitter and, and two at third base. In the shortened 2020 season, Del Castillo hit .358 with two home runs in 16 games. He shows great ability to make contact, striking out only about 10 percent of the time, while drawing more walks than strikeouts.