2021 MLB Draft: Day 2 Takeways


David Seifert | Nathan Rode | Shooter Hunt

Day Two of the 2021 MLB draft is in the books, which means 10 rounds are down and there are 10 rounds to go. The D1Baseball and Prep Baseball Report prospects’ team breaks down the latest below:

STORYLINES

• With the first pick of Day Two the Pirates selected high school LHP Anthony Solometo, a North Carolina recruit. He stands at an imposing and athletic 6-foot-5, 215 pounds with some room to still fill out and draws comparisons to Madison Bumgarner and MacKenzie Gore due to his arm action and funk in his delivery. His fastball sits in the low 90s with above-average arm-side action and can bump the mid-90s.

• Immediately behind the selection of Solometo, a pair of college outfielders were chosen: OF Aaron Zavala (Oregon) and Jud Fabian (Florida) were taken at No. 38 by the Rangers and No. 40 by the Red Sox, respectively. Zavala, a 6-foot, 193-pounder, earned first-team All-America honors with a .393/525/.628 line and more walks (50) than strikeouts (31). He has a modest tool set and limited projection to his frame, but he's likely to hit for a high average and 12-15 home runs annually in pro ball. Fabian fell in the draft due to lofty strikeout totals, but there's no denying his power potential to go along with his plus defense and above average runs and throw tools.

• Another notable collegian whose stock fell due to injury this spring was LSU star pitcher Jaden Hill. The right-hander was selected by the Rockies in the second Round (No. 44 overall) after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this spring. Previous to the injury he was a potential top 10 overall pick.

• The Angels and Dodgers drafted pitchers with every one of their picks in the top 10 rounds. The Angels selected all college arms, while the Dodgers selected two preps and seven collegians.

• In its inaugural season, the MLB Draft League had 14 players selected during Day Two led by prep SS Alex Ulloa (Calvary Christian Academy, FL), who was chosen by the Astros in the fourth round and LHP Mitch Bratt (Newmarket HS, ONT), selected by the Rangers in the fifth. Six of those 14 signed contracts to play in the league, but did not make an appearance. The top selection among those was Matt Mikulski (Fordham) who was selected by the Giants in the 2nd round.

STEALS

• The Big Ten Player of the Year and John Olerud Award winner, Spencer Schwellenbach (Nebraska), was selected in the second Round by Atlanta. Chosen 59th overall, the Husker standout profiles best as a pitcher with a fastball up to 99 mph, a plus slider and plus changeup.

• The Phillies' selection of Virginia RHP Griff McGarry in the fifth round was an astute pick, and will look even better if the hard-throwing 'Hoo is able to show the same control in pro ball that he did in the post-season. McGarry had routinely walked a batter per inning in his career at Virginia, but after not pitching since April 20, he got an inning against Wake Forest in a blowout and then was turned to in big games in a super regional and the College World Series, logging 14.1 innings, allowing just two runs on three hits and five walks while striking out 18. He has electric stuff, including a 95-99 fastball and dirty slider. He can shove his high-spin (2600+ rpm) fastball up in the zone and then rip an 86-87 slider with late action and depth through the zone with 2900 rpm. Although there is ample velocity throughout the draft, McGarry separates himself from others with highly attractive spin rates and this swing-and-miss breaking ball.

• Another steal in the fifth round was the Marlins selection of the SEC's top hitter, Tanner Allen. After a strong 2019 campaign in which he hit .349 with 23 doubles and seven home runs, Allen’s stock was high heading into the 2020 season. But a slow start and the shutdown allowed him to return to Starkville. A relatively modest start to 2021 was quickly erased and the 5-foot-11, 190-pound spark plug was named the SEC Player of the Year and led the Bulldogs to their first-ever national title. Built with some compact strength and strong forearms, Allen’s bat speed is impressive. Amplifying his rising stock has been the evolution of his in-game speed, which includes being 11-for-14 in stolen bases and turning in sub-4.0 times down the line. He’s an adequate defender on the corners, working to become better in that facet of the game.

• Another Phillies pick, this one in the sixth round, caught our attention. RHP Jose Pena is a physical athlete with a 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. Committed to Florida International, his fastball sits in the low 90s with high spin from a quick arm. The pitch jumps through the zone with late life and ride/run. His curveball has sharp bite at 75-77 and he possesses one of the better changeups among high school righties, as it sits in the high 70s with heavy sink.

• Turning to the 7th round, RHP Alec Willis (Regis Jesuit HS, CO) has a chance to be the next big arm to come out of the Golden Gopher program, and he still might, but to see him get drafted later on Day 2 was a surprise because of how much I value the upside. A physical, 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, Willis hardly saw the national scene, but his power arm always intrigued me, especially coming out of one of the premier programs in the state at Regis. Willis was up to 95 mph this spring with the makes of a swing-and-miss slider, and could end up being one of the major steals of this draft. (Shooter Hunt)

BEST TEAM DRAFTS DAY TWO

• Kendall Rogers: I really liked some of the picks that the Tigers made in rounds two through 10, but I have to give the edge to the Rockies and Reds when it comes to college pitchers. The Rockies might’ve gotten an absolute steal in. LSU righthanded pitcher Jaden Hill in the middle of the second round, while Hunter Goodman and Evan Justice in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, are outstanding selections at those slot values. Few college hitters are as accomplished as Goodman, while Justice has a fastball up to 96-97 mph from the left side with a filthy breaking ball as well. But I do give the overall edge to the Reds, who snagged Virginia lefthanded pitcher Andrew Abbott and NC State infielder Jose Torres in the second and third rounds, respectively, while getting accomplished Thomas Farr, Justice Thompson and former CWS hero Kevin Abel in the 5, 6 and 7 rounds. Then, there’s my man Jack Rogers as a ninth-round pick. Clearly, Colton Cowser set himself apart this past spring. But it wasn’t that long ago that some scouts in the area actually preferred Rogers over Cowser. Rogers has a sweet lefthanded swing with some impressive power generation.

• Mike Rooney: The Cincinnati Reds crushed day one with three very different selections (Matt McLain, Jay Allen, Mat Nelson). They stayed hot on day two with a masterful blend of high percentage picks and high upside players. Andrew Abbott feels like a big league reliever at worst while Jose Torres, Justice Thompson, and Jack Rogers each offer at least one plus tool. Finally, Kevin Abel and Thomas Farr are college righthanders who have certainly had moments yet both offer projection beyond the rounds they were selected in. Abel is of particular interest despite velocity and command that declined in 2021. Abel still owns two plus off-speed offerings and we all saw what happened when it clicks in for him.

• David Seifert: I certainly did not see every college prospect in the country, but of those that I did see, the Reds, Rockies, Indians, Mets and Rays seemed to each accumulate many of the ones I had highest on my personal draft list. In particular, the Reds crushed the ACC by selecting LHP Andrew Abbott (Virginia) in the 2nd round, SS Jose Torres (NC State) in the 3rd and OF Justice Thompson (North Carolina) in the 6th. The Indians ruled the SEC with LHP Doug Nikhazy (Ole Miss) in the 2nd round, RHP Tommy Mace (Florida) in the CB-B, LHP Ryan Webb (Georgia) in the 4th, Jack Leftwich (Florida) in the 7th and yet another Gator RHP Franco Aleman in the 10th. Finally, the Rays took a pair of JUCO prospects with good upside in OF/RHP Mason Auer (San Jacinto) in the 5th round and LHP Alex Ayala (Florida Southwestern) in the 9th.

• Nathan Rode: Pittsburgh has money to spend, and spend it they will. They snagged four players off the PBR Draft Board in Rounds 2-4, three from the top 50. RHP Bubba Chandler (North Oconee HS, GA) has tremendous upside on the mound thanks to his elite athleticism and was looking at being a two-sport star at Clemson. But the Pirates will lure him away from that, taking him the third  round. They started our day with LHP Anthony Solometo (Bishop Eustace HS, NJ), who elicits comparisons to Madison Bumgarner and MacKenzie Gore for his long frame and funky delivery. OF Lonnie White Jr. (Malvern Prep, PA) was a two-sport commit to Penn State, with burgeoning power that will play on a corner if he outgrows center field. Those three, easily could've heard their name called on Day 1. Lastly, RHP Owen Kellington (U-32 HS, VT) was a major riser this spring, sitting 90-92 and showing advanced feel for secondary stuff. If he were to make it to Connecticut, it'd be easy to project him as a future first-round prospect.

The Royals obviously saved money by taking LHP Frank Mozzicato (East Catholic HS, CT) at seventh overall, and they spread that money around today, getting five top 200 players. They got RHP Ben Kudrna (Blue Valley Southwest HS, KS), a strong-frame LSU recruit with three average or better pitches, in the second round; 2B Peyton Wilson (Alabama), a tightly-wound speedster with surprising pop, in Competitive Balance Round B; C Carter Jensen (Park Hill HS, MO), a polished left-handed hitter, in the third; RHP Shane Panzini (Red Bank Catholic HS, NJ), a Virginia recruit with a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider, in the fourth; and 2B Dayton Dooney (Central Arizona JC), a left-handed hitter with premium bat-to-ball skills and gap power, in the sixth. 

• Shooter Hunt: Cleveland headed into the draft with the 10th lowest pool ($7.4 million) with four out of the first 100 picks, and appeared to have a plan that they lived by. Stretching the dollar throughout, the club opted for 10 pitchers out of its 11 picks. After drafting a high school player in the first round of seven straight drafts, the shift to get a fourth-year junior (Gavin Williams) potentially freed up a small bit of money, and they continued to pile on arms with lengthy track records of success to put into a player development system that ranks as one of the best in baseball at churning out prospects. There was certainly an SEC flavor to the selections (5) with three coming from Gainesville and the Florida program (RHPs Tommy Mace, Jack Leftwich, Franco Aleman). Second round pick, LHP Doug Nikhazy (Ole Miss), hardly got the credit that his pure stuff deserved, but he demonstrated an innate ability to miss bats, and especially to spin the baseball which should pair well with the analytics department and help him get on a faster track. LHP Ryan Webb (Georgia) slid down a bit after Tommy John surgery cut short his year, but the upside of a southpaw of his caliber, even after surgery, is of good value. The Florida trio each ran into some bumps in 2021, which allowed them to get to this point in the draft, but the quick arms and actual stuff that they bring to the table might have a chance to explode in the system. Even hitting on just one of them would be a big success. Finally, later picks of LHPs Rodney Boone (8th, UCSB) and Will Dion (9th, McNeese State) saw Cleveland reel in two Pitchers of the Year in their respective conferences. Boone actually pitched to better numbers than teammate and 1st round pick, Michael McGreevy, and he and Dion each shared WHIPs below 1.0 and impressive K:BB rates that included 20+ strikeouts more than innings pitched. Finally, not to shy away from its calling-card of high school prospects, Cleveland also got an upside left-handed hitting shortstop who performed at a high level all spring (and coincidently a Florida recruit), SS Jake Fox, out of Lakeland Christian who appears to just be hitting his stride with plenty more to come. Not a bad haul for the 10th lowest bonus pool.

• Burke Granger: Following the selection of Pennsylvania prep standout Benny Montgomery (Red Land HS) in the first round, Colorado went exclusively with college players on Day 2. A potential top-10 pick coming into the season, Jaden Hill went down with mid-season Tommy John surgery and slid to the Rockies at 44 in what figures to be an over slot deal. Similarly situated last season, the Mets gave J.T. Ginn $2.9 million at pick 52 ($1.4 MM Slot). Ohio LHP Joe Rock (Competitive Balance B), creates tough angles from a low-slot and misses bats with a hard, sweeping mid-80s slider. When he’s able to harness his electric arsenal, third rounder RHP McCade Brown (Indiana) has some of the best stuff in the draft class. Memphis C Hunter Goodman (fourth round) is an offensive minded backstop who may need to move off the position sooner rather than later, but he provides middle of the order thump from the right side. With a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider, N.C. State LHP Evan Justice (fifth round) is a dynamic reliever who could move quickly. Cincinnati LHP Evan Shawver (seventh round) missed a month with a shoulder issue, but has proved he’s good to go after a dominant stint on the Cape this summer, posting a 1.50 ERA with 22 punchouts and no walks in 12 innings. After a freshman All-American campaign in 2019, Florida State OF Robby Martin was solid, but unspectacular for the Seminoles this spring, slashing .260/.352/.451 with 11 HR for Florida State. Regardless, he’s a tremendous value in the eighth round. Finally, the Rockies popped Oregon starter Cullen Kafka in the ninth round. Big and projectable at 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, the righthander skillfully elicits ground balls with a low-90s sinker and a slide piece that’s capable of missing bats. 

SIMUL-DRAFT SELECTIONS

After selecting Kumar Rocker at 4B on Day One, PBR's Rode and Hunt along with Seifert went to work again on Day Two, drafting in REAL time as the picks rolled off the MLB Draft Tracker.

2nd Round: Andrew Abbott, LHP, Virginia
3rd Round: Tanner Allen, OF, Mississippi State
4th Round: Max Ferguson, 2B, Tennessee
5th Round: Griff McGarry, RHP, Virginia
6th Round: Chad Stevens, SS, Portland
7th Round: Niko Kavadas, 1B, Notre Dame
8th Round: Austin Krob, LHP, TCU
9th Round: Jonny Cuevas, RHP, Southern Nevada
10th Round: Andrew Moore, RHP, Chipola JC (Fla.)

For past Simul-Draft selections from 2018-2020, please see the 2021 Simul-Draft Preview.

NAMES TO WATCH FOR ON DAY THREE

• The top prep bats on the Draft Board include No. 28 OF Will Taylor who is committed to Clemson, No. 37 SS Alex Mooney (Duke), No. 39 SS Peyton Stovall (Arkansas). All three are expected to make it to campus, with Stovall directly tweeting his intentions.

• The top prep arms remaining on the Draft Board include No. 60 RHP Thatcher Hurd committed to UCLA, No. 88 RHP/OF Braden Montgomery (Stanford), No. 97 RHP Brody Brecht (Iowa) and No. 100 RHP Chase Burns (Tennessee). Hurd and Brecht have expressed on Twitter that they will go to school. Montgomery was a tough sign anyway with his commitment to The Cardinal.

• The top college bats on the Draft Board include No. 52 Isaiah Thomas (Vanderbilt), No. 63 Kamren James (Mississippi State), No. 68 Chad Stevens (Portland), No. 74 Niko Kavadas (Notre Dame) and No. 88 Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky). James, a sophomore-eligible by age is likely to return to Starkville where he could develop into a top round pick in 2022.

• The top college arms remaining on the Draft Board include No. 15 RHP Jonathan Cannon (Georgia), No. 58 RHP Dylan Ross (NW Florida State), No. 69 LHP Andrew Walling (Eastern Oklahoma JC), No. 75 RHP Andrew Baker and No. 84 LHP Austin Krob (TCU). Cannon is likely to return to Georgia where he could become a first round pick in 2022, while Ross has signed with LSU, Walling with Mississippi State and Baker with South Carolina. Krob is a candidate for early selection on Day Three.

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