2021 MLB Draft: Best available players for Round 2, including a Nebraska two-way player and top high schoolers


The 2021 MLB amateur draft opened Sunday night with the first round, supplemental first round, and competitive balance round A. There were 36 picks made on Day 1, starting with the Pirates taking Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 pick. The draft continues with rounds 2-10 on Monday and rounds 11-20 on Tuesday.

Thirty-two of R.J. Anderson’s top 50 draft prospects were selected Sunday, so there are still many quality players on the board going into Monday’s action. It should be noted the top available high schoolers may not be signable at this point. There may not be enough bonus pool money available to buy them away from college, in which case they could go undrafted.

Here’s everything you need to know about the first round and below are the top players available heading into Day 2 according to Anderson’s top 50 rankings. Teams will spend Monday morning talking to these players and trying to pin down everyone’s willingness to sign, and their bonus demands.

OF Will Taylor, Dutch Fork HS (SC)

No. 12 in pre-draft ranking: Taylor, who has a commitment to play both baseball and football at Clemson, is a twitchy athlete with a swing that’s tailored for average as well as a strong arm and plus-plus speed. If he chooses baseball, it’s easy to envision him outperforming his draft slot in due time.

LHP Anthony Solometo, Bishop Eustace Prep (NJ)

No. 23 in pre-draft ranking: Solometo has the most distinct delivery in the class. At the peak of his leg lift, his knee is up around his clavicle, while his hands are over his head; he then swings his arm back and out in Bumgarnerian fashion before delivering from a low-three-quarters slot. (His arm action is longer than most Guided By Voices songs, is what we’re saying.) As for what matters, Solometo is a polished strike-throwing lefty with a fastball that can touch the mid-90s and a good slider.

SS/RHP Spencer Schwellenbach, Nebraska

No. 24 in pre-draft ranking: The name that surfaces most frequently as a comparison for Schwellenbach is Jake Cronenworth; it’s sensible, if lazy, as both were two-way players who attended Big Ten schools (Cronenworth went to Michigan) and who have long surnames. Schwellenbach is unlikely to develop into the next Cronenworth, but he has promise on both sides of the ball. He hit .284/.403/.459 with six home runs and nine stolen bases while manning shortstop for the Cornhuskers this season; he also struck out 34 batters in 31 innings as a reliever. His ball-tracking data indicates he hit the ball hard, and that his mid-90s fastball, sweeping slider, and changeup each have potential. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether his pro team will allow him to play both ways; if not, there’s a case to be made for him either hitting or pitching.

SS Peyton Stovall, Haughton HS (LA)

No. 28 in pre-draft ranking: Haughton High School’s most famous alum is Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Stovall is unlikely to achieve that level of notoriety, but he should soon become the Buccaneers’ most notable baseball product. The selling point here is his stick. He’s a lefty batter with an aesthetically pleasing swing who scouts are sweet on — to the extent that they project him to have a plus (or better) hit tool and above-average power production. Those traits make it easier to swallow his defensive shortcomings; namely, his below-average arm all but ensures he’s going to end up on the other side of second base. Stovall may have a commitment to Arkansas (the same college Cowboys owner Jerry Jones attended, fittingly enough), but it seems unlikely he honors it.

RHP Bubba Chandler, North Oconee HS (FL)

No. 30 in pre-draft ranking: Chandler is the most prominent of several two-way players in this class. He’s also a multi-sport athlete who has an outstanding commitment to play quarterback at Clemson, meaning he could slip down the board if teams feel his price tag is exorbitant. Chandler is, unsurprisingly, raw on both sides of the ball. Provided he does sign, evaluators seem to prefer him on the mound, where he has a promising fastball but needs to work on everything else.

2B Connor Norby, East Carolina

No. 32 in pre-draft ranking: Were it not for 31 at-bats as a freshman, Norby would’ve finished his Pirates career with a .412 batting average. This season alone, he recorded nearly twice as many games in which he had three or more hits (13) as he did games in which he had zero (seven). He also launched 15 of his 17 career home runs, and nabbed 18 of his 24 career stolen bases. Norby can hit, and he’s going to have to because he might not have another above-average tool in his box.

C Adrian Del Castillo, Miami

No. 35 in pre-draft ranking: Del Castillo was a polarizing prospect entering the year, and his underwhelming performance (.275/.380/.395 with three home runs) didn’t win over critics. The book on him remains that he’s a natural hitter with untapped power potential who may have to move from behind the plate because of his receiving and a weak arm that isn’t aided by an elongated throwing motion. Should that scenario come to fruition, he’ll likely end up as a first baseman or, at best, as a range-challenged left fielder. A switch to either position would necessitate that he hit for more power, which means the team that picked him would be hoping he turns into the inverse of who he was when they made the selection. Maybe it works out — Del Castillo’s intelligence is held in high regard and there are countless recent examples of contact-first hitters learning to master their juice; the path of least resistance, though, has Del Castillo deemed competent enough to catch during the automated ball-strike era, permitting him the leeway to remain who he is as a hitter.

OF Ethan Wilson, South Alabama

No. 36 in pre-draft ranking: South Alabama has a history of churning out pro players, including five-time All-Star Luis Gonzalez, speedster Juan Pierre, World Series hero David Freese, and Adam Lind. If Wilson is to become the next Jaguar to reach the majors, he’s going to have to do it on the strength of his bat. He has plus power potential and he eased some concerns about his swing’s rigidity this spring by slicing his strikeout rate from 26 percent to eight percent. Wilson isn’t a good runner and he doesn’t have a strong arm, meaning he’s going to be stuck in left.

LHP Gage Jump, JSerra Catholic HS (CA)

No. 38 in pre-draft ranking: Back in the springtime, a veteran scout predicted Jump would become a top-10 pick, just not in this year’s draft. Their reasoning was straightforward. Jump is an undersized (he’s listed at 5-foot-11) prep left-hander who could ease concerns about his perceived riskiness (derived from his durability, short arm stroke, and lagging changeup) with a few strong years on campus. Whether or not he ends up at UCLA is to be seen, and likely hinges on where he’s taken. For now, though, Jump has a promising fastball that can touch the mid-90s, a good breaking ball, and a slow-to-fast delivery that adds deception. 

OF Lonnie White Jr., Malven Prep (PA)

No. 39 in pre-draft ranking: Ranking any prospect is more of an art than a science, but it becomes a pure guessing game when two-sport stars with commitments to prominent universities are involved. White is slated to play baseball and football for Penn State, and it’s to be seen whether teams think he can be convinced to turn professional instead. He runs well, he throws well, and his bat has above-average promise thanks to a simple swing and his quick hands. There are wide error bars here to be cognizant of, since scouts haven’t seen him focus exclusively on baseball for long periods of time. With any luck, White will have ample reason to change that later this summer.

OF Jud Fabian, Florida

No. 41 in pre-draft ranking: Fabian entered the season ranked as the third-best prospect in the class. He had an impressive track record against SEC competition; he was young for a college junior; and scouts foresaw him having plus power. Then Fabian, a wrong-way guy (he bats right, throws left), went … well, the wrong way. He punched out in 29.4 percent of his regular season plate appearances, including 36 percent of those he took in February and March. He made several mechanical tweaks thereafter, and he went on to strike out at a more modest clip (24.7 percent) the rest of the way.

RHP Jaden Hill, LSU

No. 42 in pre-draft ranking: Here’s the first couple of sentences from Hill’s write-up when CBS Sports ranked him as the ninth-best draft prospect in February: “This is certain to look like a misrank by draft day. The question is whether Hill moves up or down boards by then, with the answer hinging on his availability.” Unfortunately, Hill was limited to just seven starts before undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. He has the foundational traits of being an above-average big-league starter: a three-pitch mix (including a changeup that he kills the spin on); primo physicality; and well-regarded makeup. Some teams, though, are going to have reservations about his durability after his body (and the pandemic) restricted him to 51 innings over his three years with the Tigers.

LHP Ky Bush, St. Mary’s

No. 43 in pre-draft ranking: The Gaels have developed a couple notable big-league starters in recent years, in Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin. Bush, a 6-foot-5 southpaw who transferred twice before finding a home, could be next. He has a full arsenal of pitches, including a good fastball-slider combination, a progressing changeup, and a curveball. Bush’s command uptick (he walked just 5.9 percent of the batters he faced) has been credited to improved conditioning. Provided he keeps his work boots on, he should be able to overcome a limited track record (117 collegiate innings) to provide good value for his future employer.

RHP Dylan Smith, Alabama

No. 44 in pre-draft ranking: Smith has come a long way in a short time. When he arrived at Alabama, his delivery included a giant leg kick; he’s since simplified his mechanics, with his best collegiate season coming this year. Smith, who was limited to 22 relief innings in his freshman and sophomore seasons, posted a 3.84 ERA and a 5.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio while leading the Crimson Tide in innings pitched. He doesn’t have loud stuff, the way some of his SEC counterparts on this list do, but he does have a broad arsenal and it’s possible he could take another step forward if he lands with the right player development staff.

RHP Ben Kudrna, Blue Valley Southwest HS (KS)

No. 45 in pre-draft ranking: Kudrna, an LSU commit, is a projectable right-hander with a clean delivery and the makings of a quality three-pitch mix. His fastball can touch into the mid-90s and he complements it with a good slider and a developing changeup. Kudrna has also shown a feel for altering the tempo of his delivery, à la Johnny Cueto and Marcus Stroman, in order to disrupt the hitter’s timing. (That doesn’t move the needle on his evaluation, but it’s appreciated all the same.)

SS Wes Kath, Desert Mountain HS (AZ)

No. 46 in pre-draft ranking: Kath is a physical left-handed hitter with quiet hands and well-above-average raw power. He has left-side arm strength defensively, but he’s unlikely to remain at shortstop because of his subpar quickness; instead, he should take up residency at third base. Should Kath ever desire to strike up a conversation with Brooks Conrad (everyone could use another friend), the two probably won’t be able to bond over their experiences at Arizona State. No worries, though, as they have something else in common: a distaste for batting gloves.

SS Edwin Arroyo, Central Pointe Christian Academy (FL)

No. 49 in pre-draft ranking: Arroyo, who has a commitment to Florida State, is one of the best defenders in the class. He has all the weaponry to become a long-term asset at the six: soft hands, a strong arm, short-area quickness. What he doesn’t have for the time being is a good stick. Arroyo, a switch-hitter, needs to improve his approach and make contact more frequently to take advantage of his bat speed and loft. A team who prioritizes young premium defenders (he won’t turn 18 until several months after the draft) can take him early and then put him on the scenic route to the majors in the name of nurturing his bat to its full potential.





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