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2021 MLB Draft Preview Position Rankings: Shortstop

We move to the final spot in the infield, where a loaded high school crop of shortstops fill the list.

UCLA v Oregon State
Matt McLain
Photo by Andy Bao/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves 2021 MLB Draft Preview finally finishes off the infield today as we look at the shortstops in the 2021 draft class.

This position probably grabs the most attention in the class, especially the prep shortstops at the top of the class. It’s a very strong class and could maybe be a special one because of the top few names. However, the lack of college shortstop talent is very apparent with this list. The good thing is the list is deep as I would be happy to see the Braves draft any of the 40 players I ranked here. There are even a few talented guys who just missed the cut.

The Braves will have no shot at any of the Top 5 guys on this list as they will all be long gone. After that group, there isn’t really a slam dunk first rounder, though you could make an argument that an additional five or six guys from this list have a chance to go in the first round.

Note that the Braves have been tied to two guys (Bubba Chandler and Spencer Schwellenbach) some other sites list as shortstops, but you won’t find either of them on this list because in the cases of both players, I feel as though they have more potential on the mound, so they will be in those rankings.

  1. Jordan Lawlar, Texas HS

The top four guys here are so close together that it’s really just a matter of preference for the order, and Jordan Lawlar is the top guy for me and the guy I would take No. 1 overall in this draft. Lawlar is a plus hitter and runner with above average future power, and defensively an above average glove with a plus arm. His feel for the game and work ethic have also been positives and for my evaluation, I think he brings the best combination of upside with likelihood to reach it.

2. Kahlil Watson, North Carolina HS

Kahlil Watson has the loudest tool set of the top prep shortstop group, bringing what times occasionally as double plus speed with the ability to hit for both average and power, despite being smallish at 5’9, 180. Watson is also a quality defender who should stick at short unless a team wanted to use his speed in center. Watson really impressed everyone last summer with a big performance and may have actually improved upon that this spring.

3. Marcelo Mayer, California HS

A bigger framed shortstop, Marcelo Mayer has put himself into the mix for the top pick with a big spring. He’s got a similar tool set to Jordan Lawlar offensively, plus hit tool from the left side and above average power though he is a fringy runner so the slight edge went to Lawlar. Defensively, he is a high end guy who will stick at short.

4. Brady House, Georgia HS

Brady House has arguably the highest upside among the top group, but also the biggest question mark. The reason for the upside is he has legitimate plus plus power, but there are some questions with the hit tool as he really struggled at times last summer against top competition. He did get better as the summer went on and has helped erase the doubts a bit, but in such a talented group it is the biggest question mark. He’s got a big frame and is only an average runner, so despite being a solid fielder with a plus plus arm, there is a strong possibility that House needs to move to third base. House is also young for the class having just recently turning 18.

5. Matt McLain, UCLA

Matt McLain was the Diamondbacks first rounder in 2018 but chose to go to UCLA. He profiles as a top of the lineup type of hitter with a plus hit tool and plus speed to go with average power. The questions with him are defensively as he’s more of an adequate defender at short, leading to some teams thinking of him as a second baseman, or more likely center field to take advantage of his speed. With his high school and college track record and his tool set, McLain is one of the safest players in this draft.

6. Peyton Stovall, Louisiana HS

One of the guys whose stock shot up this spring is Peyton Stovall, a bat first middle infielder with a bit of an unusual profile. Stovall is at least a plus hitter, one of the best hitters in the prep class and a guy who could be double plus. The power is average to slightly above, though with his hit tool it could play up. The questions are all defensive as he gets fringy grades on both his run and arm tools, meaning he won’t stick at short and doesn’t have the arm for third. He will likely get a look at second, but the glove is more average so sticking there isn’t a total lock. The bat will get him drafted high, but he isn’t the type of guy that every team likes.

7. Trey Sweeney, Eastern Illinois

Trey Sweeney is arguably the fastest rising college bat in this draft after improving his whole game. After an offensive breakout Sweeney brings a plus hit tool with a good feel for hitting and solid approach with average power for now and some chance to improve. He didn’t face much top competition, but did well when he had opportunities including against first round lefty Jordan Wicks. Coming into the year he was seen as a guy who would not stick at short, but the glove and run have improved to the point they’re fringe average and he’s got a plus arm. Sweeney will at least get a chance to stay at short now but would be a quality defender at third if he needs to move.

8. James Triantos, Virginia HS

James Triantos is one of the lesser scouted top prep guys in this class because he only reclassified into this class from the 2022 class towards the end of last summer. He did perform well in big events last summer and continued that this spring. Triantos is definitely a bat first prospect with a plus hit tool and average power to go with being average across the board with his tools. The run tool is above average and he’s easily got a plus arm- he is also a pitching prospect who has topped out at 96 MPH, though his future is with the bat. He will likely need to move off short as the glove isn’t quite good enough, but would have the bat and arm to handle third. This is higher than most on Triantos, but I believe in what I've seen with the hit tool and think he could gain more as he drops pitching to focus solely on hitting.

9. Colson Montgomery, Indiana HS

Colson Montgomery is an interesting prospect who has some split opinions. He’s a very good athlete and also a star basketball player, though his run time grades as fringy likely pushing him to third where he can be a real asset with the glove and arm. The first question is the hit tool as his swing and limbs (6’4, 190) are both long and it leads to plenty of swing and miss, though when he connects, he hits it hard as he has future plus power. The other question is that he is very old for the class by prep standards, closing in on 19.5 years old when being 19 is considered old for the class.

10. Jackson Merrill, Maryland HS

Jackson Merrill is this year’s biggest helium prospect, a player who has come out of no where to emerge with some first round buzz. He has some questions about how good the hit tool really is because he didn’t do many big summer showcases last year and doesn’t face the best competition, so you could see grades anywhere between fringy to above average on it (45-55). He has real raw power that could approach plus in the future, and showed that off last weekend hitting a home run at an All-Star game played in Camden Yards. The run and glove tools are both projected as average tools and he's got an above average arm, so he has a chance to stick at short or be a strong defender at third.

11. Izaac Pacheco, Texas HS

Izaac Pacheco is highly unlikely to stick at short because he is 6’4, 225 and a fringy runner but he should be a very good defensive third baseman with a plus arm and above average glove. The power is what really intrigues, as he has at least plus power from the left side but has a lot of swing and miss. He does have a feel for hitting and decent pitch recognition so while he is expected to be a low average big power number type of hitter, he should post solid on base percentages.

12. Maxwell Muncy, California HS

No this Max Muncy is not related to the Dodgers slugger, but the shortstop for famed Thousand Oaks HS who plays for alumni and former big leaguer Jack Wilson has an average or better across the board tool set. While nothing about Muncy is plus on paper, he has a great feel for the game and doesn’t have any holes either. There is a chance he doesn’t stick at short but could play second or third and has versatility. His best tool is probably his above average power and he should be able to hit for some average and power while being a fairly safer prep prospect.

13. Carson Williams, California HS

Carson Williams won the MVP at the WWBA last fall and after adding some good weight, carried that performance over to this spring. Williams only has one plus tool, his arm, but he fills out his scouting scorecard with average or better tools. There is some question about his hit tool as he has a bit of a grooved swing, which is the only reason he doesn’t rank higher. Some teams prefer Williams as a pitcher, and he does have a fastball up to 95 MPH, but Williams has made his preference of being a hitter clear. One more thing to note is that he is a strong commit to Cal and will need to be bought out of that.

14. Alex Mooney, Michigan HS

Alex Mooney is another average or better across the board tool guy without anything being plus. For most guys, being a cold weather player would have them higher on the list since they tend to have more untapped potential, but Mooney is old for the class at 19. His hit and power tools both grade more on the average side with an above average run tool. Defensively, there are some questions about his ability to stick at short, but he brings versatility and that shouldn’t be an issue. He is a Duke commit and won’t be cheap to sign.

15. Edwin Arroyo, Puerto Rico/Florida HS

Puerto Rican shortstop Edwin Arroyo left home to spend his senior year playing in Florida. He really saw his stock move up with a strong game with the bat in the Perfect Game All American Classic, but is a glove first guy at present. Arroyo is a plus fielder with a plus arm and an above average runner that should be an outstanding defender at short. His hit tool is more of an average future grade with fringy power, but he is young for the class at just 17 years old through the minor league season and I believe there is more to come in the bat for the switch hitting and switch throwing Arroyo.

16. Jose Torres, NC State

Jose Torres came into the spring as a dark horse to move into the first round after surprising with the bat as a true freshman in 2020. The glove first Torres didn’t take that next step forward, but did prove his 2020 numbers weren’t just small sample size. Actually he did take a slight step forward by cutting his strikeout rate nearly in half. I think there is a little more in the bat with Torres and rank him here for that reason along with the fact he has a high floor as a plus defender with plus arm.

17. Seth Stephenson, Texas JUCO

Seth Stephenson saw a huge improvement with the bat this year to really improve his stock. He’s one of if not the fastest runner in the draft with 80 grade speed and teams are now thinking he has a shot to stick at short, though some prefer they type of speed in center. Stephenson dropped switch hitting for hitting right handed only this spring and has started to drive the ball more, leading to more power. He didn’t face the best competition but his hit tool looks like it could be at least average to above, with fringy to average power potential and elite speed. If he gets to Tennessee he could really move way up for next year’s draft with good performance in the SEC.

18. Kamren James, Mississippi State

A draft eligible freshman Kamren James has loud tools. He brings plus plus speed and an arm that is also potentially double plus. He’s a twitchy athlete with plenty of bat speed, but also has some swing and miss because of issues with his timing. James is the type of player who could come back to school and with the right adjustments he could find himself in the first round next year.

19. Ryan Spikes, Georgia HS

Ryan Spikes is one of the more divisive players in the class in the class. Spikes is a two way star at one of the historically top schools in the Atlanta area, Parkview HS. He’s just 5’9, 185 and has above average grades on his speed and fielding to go with a plus arm. Spikes has potential for an average hit tool as he makes a lot of hard line drive contact, but he hasn’t always fared well against breaking balls. With his size there are questions as he won’t ever be a big power threat, though he does have sneaky power for his frame due to the hard hit line drives producing such high exit velocities. Defensively he has a chance to stick at short and could handle other positions like second, third, or even the outfield. Spikes is also a very good prep pitcher who would play both ways at Tennessee, though his future in pro ball is as a bat. I saw Spikes up close against good pitching in Boston at the Future Stars Series International Week games and believe in the player and person and that he will put in the work and make the adjustments to get the most out of his hit tool.

20. Ryan Bliss, Auburn

Ryan Bliss is almost the college version of Ryan Spikes. Both from the Atlanta area and just 5’9, 165 with above average grades for the hit, run, and glove though there are some differences. Despite 15 homers this spring it is hard to buy into Bliss having better than slightly below average power because it is all pull side. He’s also got a fringy arm and would likely need to move to second where he could be a very good defender. Bliss like Spikes is the type of guy who has a good feel for the game and makes his tools play above their actual grades.

The Next 20

21. Alex Ulloa, Florida HS

22. Caiden Huber, California HS

23. Payton Green, North Carolina HS

24. Cameron Cauley, Texas HS

25. Davis Diaz, California HS

26. Michael Braswell, Georgia HS

27. Jordan McCants, Florida HS

28. Luke Waddell, Georgia Tech

29. Noah Miller, Wisconsin HS

30. Cal Conley, Texas Tech

31. Cody Schrier, California HS

32. Ethan Murray, Duke

33. Cole Cummings, UC Santa Barbara

34. Chad Stevens, Portland

35. Justin Colon, Florida HS

36. Luke Heefner, Texas HS

37. Josh Hood, Penn

38. Jonathan Vastine, Florida HS

39. Connor Simon, Louisiana HS

40. Jalen Battles, Arkansas