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2021 MLB Draft Preview: An early look at some of the top prep pitchers

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A closer look at the top 10 high school arms in the 2021 MLB Draft.

Toronto Blue Jays v Atlanta Braves Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

After previewing the top bats in the prep class of 2021 last month, now we start to look at the talented prep arms in the very talented 2021 MLB Draft.

As a reminder the 2021 draft class hasn’t proven much yet, either on the prep or college side, minus a few of the truly elite guys. Taking away the college guys sophomore year and prep kids junior year really limits a chance to see them develop. Sure there’s summer leagues of some sort(not the traditional Cape Cod League) and showcases like the Perfect Game Nationals, but it isn’t the same in terms of being able to evaluate. That makes this a very preliminary ranking that is subject to significant change as more looks become available at these players.

Still this class is loaded with talent, and lots of upside on the prep side, and there are a number of prep arms in the mix to go in the first round.

While I and most others expected the Braves to be picking late in the 2021 MLB Draft, the 60 game season and threats of Coronavirus, along with the loss of Mike Soroka and the instability of the rotation means the Braves top draft pick has a fairly wide range of potential position right now, though a very high pick remains unlikely.

Top 10 Arms

  1. Chase Petty, RHP, New Jersey HS

A little different from other lists, but New Jersey prep flamethrower Chase Petty sits atop my list right now because he has pure stuff that just can’t be matched. Despite not being the biggest pitcher at 6’1, 185, Petty has hit 100 MPH with the fastball, and rarely goes under 95 MPH. However he is more than just an elite fastball, as he has a plus slider and a change that also gets some plus grades. As if three plus pitches with the ability to hit 100 wasn’t enough, amateur hitters have no chance against a guy who can hit 100 and back it up with the rare(for high school power arms) plus change. Petty has a chance to be special with that arsenal, and is the arm I most look forward to getting some in-person looks at. His college commitment is to the University of Florida.

2. Andrew Painter, RHP, Florida HS

The guy sitting at the top of a lot of prep pitcher rankings right now is big Florida prep arm Andrew Painter, a polished but projectable arm with a massive frame. Painter has been listed with different heights depending on the source, anywhere from 6’6 to 6’8, and 210 pounds. He doesn’t have the pure stuff of Petty right now, but he can top out at 96 while sitting mid 90s with two swing and miss breaking balls in the slider and curve. He also has a change that should be an above average to potentially plus offering as well. As good as the arsenal is and the projection to add more, that is only half the intrigue here. Painter is a polished arm with at least above average command who can pound the strike zone or make a hitter chase. There just aren’t many guys this young with his combination of present and future stuff with that ability to pitch. To be honest he is more of a 1B to Petty’s 1A than he is the #2 arm. Painter’s college commitment is to in-state Florida, just like Petty.

3. Christian Little, RHP, Missouri HS

Coming into the Perfect Game Nationals, most would have ranked Christian Little as the #1 arm in the high school class. While Little was hardly bad, others moved ahead of him because they have louder stuff. Still there is a lot to like with this athletic 6’4, 205 pounder who will still be just 17 years old on draft day. Little may be the safest of the top prep arms along with Painter, as he brings the potential for at least above average command with three plus pitches, a projectable starter’s frame, and an excellent feel for pitching. Little sits more low to mid 90s for right now, with a change that some would even call his best pitch, and the plus curve that he has tightened up in the past year. Little has been ranked at the top of his class for years, and has a long track record of success in events against top competition. It is worth noting that he is a Vanderbilt commitment, and those are almost never easy signs.

4. Chase Burns, RHP, Tennessee HS

If there is a guy who can come near matching Petty’s fastball velocity it would be Tennessee prep arm Chase Burns. Burns is a bigger bodied 6’4, 215 power arm who can touch 99 MPH. Burns brings a plus slider and an already strong change that might be a third plus pitch for him, and has shown some looks with a curve- but it isn’t truly a part of his arsenal at this time. Burns command is on the potential future average side, but can use refinement like most high school arms. Burns has committed to in-state Tennessee.

5. Maddux Bruns, LHP, Alabama HS

Maddux Bruns is a somewhat debated prospect, particularly after being ranked the #2 overall prep prospect in this class by Baseball America. While everyone is in agreement that Bruns is a top prospect, there is definitely some debate on where he should be ranked. For me that comes in the second tier of arms, as the lefty isn’t the biggest or most projectable at 6’2, 210, and he will already be 19 years old on draft day- making him on the older side for the prep class in a day where being younger is definitely more valued by teams. Still Bruns is a lefty who sits in the mid 90s and has touched as high as 97 MPH, has a potentially plus slider and the makings of an at least above average curve. Bruns has premium stuff for a lefty, but he has a fairly limited run with this velocity after really seeing it pick up considerably this summer. Bruns, who is committed to Mississippi State, is the first guy on this list who still needs to keep proving himself to establish a track record, but he is on the way up.

6. Irving Carter, RHP, Florida HS

The final guy in my second tier of prep arms is 6’4, 200 pound Irving Carter from Florida. The Miami commit is a projectable and athletic pitcher with a natural feel for pitching. Carter tops out at 94 MPH with his fastball, though there is more in the tank once he fills out, and adds in a plus slider and a high quality change that can get swings and misses. Carter’s stuff is nice, and the athleticism and projection should mean plenty more to come, but that isn’t the main reason he ranks so high. Carter knows how to keep hitters off balance in a way few high school arms can, changing his speeds and the timing, and has some deception in his delivery. Carter’s feel for pitching shouldn’t surprise anyone, as he started his high school’s state championship game...as an 8th grader! So his experience in big games has given him a level of extra confidence on the mound. Carter also has at least above average command, giving him pretty much everything you could ask for in a prep arm. Should he gain some velocity, you can expect him to push his way higher on this list of rankings.

7. Josh Hartle, LHP, North Carolina HS

One of a pair of high end lefties out of North Carolina, Josh Hartle is the more highly regarded. The 6’5, 195 pound Hartle is all about his projection, as he currently tops out at 91 MPH and sits in the upper 80s. Considering his frame it isn’t hard to picture a guy like him easily getting up to the mid 90s, and he already has the makings of plus future pitches in his slider and change. Hartle is a guy with excellent command, making him a projectable lefty with potentially three plus pitches and command that will make them all play up. It is hard to rank him higher presently with that type of velocity, but his upside is enormous once he fills out his frame. Hartle made his college commitment to one of the in-state programs, Wake Forest.

8. Jackson Jobe, RHP, Oklahoma HS

Jackson Jobe came into Perfect Game Nationals as a shortstop who also pitches. He left the event in the mix to be one of the Top 10 pitchers in the Class of 2021. Jobe, who is committed to Ole Miss, is a 6’2, 190 pounder with some projection and excellent athleticism for a pitcher to go with a quick arm. Jobe touched 96 MPH with his fastball, and sat in the low to mid 90s, but what really stood out for him was his slider. The below video shows a ridiculous slider with 3200 RPM on it, making it arguably the best breaking ball in this prep class. Jobe still has plenty to grow into beyond just some projection in his body, as he is a natural shortstop still refining his game on the mound in addition to being a multi-sport athlete, playing quarterback for his football program. He will only continue to get better as he gains more experience on the mound, so his ceiling is just crazy to think about.

9. Brock Selvidge, LHP, Arizona HS

It seems like every year recently Arizona has put out a premium prep prospect, and 2021 will be no different with lefty Brock Selvidge. The LSU commit checks in at 6’3, 205 pounds and has room to continue filling out his frame. Selvidge is the classic highly ranked lefty- strong, but not overpowering stuff and a feel for pitching. Selvidge touches 94 MPH with his fastball, has a swing and miss slider, and has a quality change. What really appeals is the fact the athletic lefty has well above average command of his arsenal already. He doesn’t quite have the stuff to get a first round grade right now, but if he sees a velocity jump he could move into that second tier of arms that currently goes from Little to Carter.

10. Max Debiec, RHP, Washington HS

Perhaps no player opened my eyes more than Max Debiec at the Perfect Game Nationals. As a big projectable 6’7, 202 pound right hander from a cold weather state, I had his name on my watch list going in, but I was expecting a normal skinny, raw, projectable arm in the low 90s. That changed when he immediately came out firing as high as 97 MPH with potential for a nasty slider as well, and he will only add more as he fills in his lanky frame. He doesn’t have the long track record yet, and sits more lower 90s presently, but the projection and general rawness that comes from both being a cold weather state prep and a two sport athlete(basketball) makes me want to put him in my Top 10 right now because he has so much upside. Debiec is committed to his hometown University of Washington.

10 More to Watch

Hector Rawley, RHP, Texas HS

Alonzo Tredwell, RHP, California HS

Philip Abner, LHP, North Carolina HS

Hagen Smith, LHP, Texas HS

Luke Hayden, RHP, Indiana HS

Gage Jump, LHP, California HS

Michael Morales, RHP, Pennsylvania HS

Brandon Neely, RHP, Florida HS

Eric Silva, RHP, California HS

James Peyton Smith, RHP, Tennessee HS