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2021 MLB Draft: Previewing the Future Stars Series International Week

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The Future Stars Series International Week kicks off from Fenway Park next week and features some elite prep talent, led by top bat Ian Moller.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Future Stars Series International Week event for top high school players is being held in Boston at Fenway Park from September 25 to September 27, featuring a game between the National and International teams. I’ll be there in person to cover some of the high school players expected to be selected very high in the 2021 MLB Draft.

This is the fourth year for the event, and after producing first round picks Daniel Espino, Grayson Rodriguez, Bo Naylor, Zac Veen and Mick Abel plus had elite underclassmen like Braylon Bishop and Ian Moller among other players last year. And it’s not just draft guys as some of the international kids are able to sign as July 2 IFA’s, and Joel Ibarra(Dodgers) as well as Enyer Castellanos(Yankees) have signed pro deals after performing here.

Here is a preview of the talent that will be in Boston. Note that there will be more on these players after the event.

National Team

Pitching

The biggest name on the National pitching staff would be Eric Silva, the top pitcher out of California’s 2021 prep class. Silva is already touching 95 MPH with a true three pitch arsenal and the ability to command his offerings. One comp I’ve heard on him is former Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo. New Jersey’s Shane Panzini is right behind Silva in terms of biggest names, as Panzini just competed in the Perfect Game All American Classic. Panzini is also up to 95 MPH with a nasty slider and the frame to continue as a starter. Texas arm Caedmon Parker was barely on my radar before a dominant showing at the Area Code Games. The two way star hits 94 MPH and showed a slider that can get swings and misses against some of the top bats in the country. This is a chance to further build his fairly limited resume. Sean Hard is a big (6’5’), very projectable New Jersey arm headed to Boston College with a fastball up to 95 and a very intriguing curve, and should he gain just a little more to his present stuff he will be right up there with the other elite arms in Jersey this year as the potential is that significant. Boston College has done a great job in recent years of developing arms, so if Hard makes it to campus he could be an even bigger name in three years. One of two lefties on the team, Mississippi native and Ole Miss commit Hunter Elliott is hitting 92 MPH with an advanced changeup and a solid slider, plus brings pitchability. Elliott has some untapped ceiling as a two way player. The other lefty is a Georgia kid, Michigan commit Jaylen Jones. Jones hits 93 MPH with a very good slider and pitchability with a plan to attack hitters and mix up their looks. His breaking ball had been a work in progress, but he has seemingly seen his curve take a step forward this summer.

Some Louisiana arms worth a look here are led by Texas A&M commit Grant Fontenot, who hits 94 MPH with a nasty slider, and is reminiscent of a young Kevin Gausman. Kenya Huggins Jr. is just a fun prospect. The super athletic two way guy has a ton of upside, though may have a little more as a pitcher where he’s been comped for a young Ivan Nova and is already touching 94 MPH, despite being fairly raw considering he hasn’t focused his time to just one area yet. Jack Walker is a Mississippi State commit who has touched as high as 92 MPH and has an intriguing curve ball. Grayson Gates is a projectable arm capable of hitting 93 MPH and showing some promise with the breaking ball. He’s another two way guy.

Jacob Miller is one of the top prep arms for the 2022 class, and the Louisville commit from Ohio is already up to 93 with a big curve ball. Miller is a year away, but this is the type of arm that should be going very high when he’s draft eligible.

Catching

The headliner for the entire event can be found right here, with Iowa catcher Ian Moller. What’s left to be said about this kid? An elite power bat, defensive ability behind the plate, great character, and a very hard worker. Moller is definitely the guy I plan to have my eye on the most during my stay in Boston as this kid is a legit potential Top 10 pick next summer. Texan Christopher Bernal is a high level defender behind the plate with some athleticism for the catcher position as well as some potential with the bat. Joey Spence out of Wisconsin is a power hitting lefty with very promising defense, and the Notre Dame commit may be a guy that’s a little under the radar after some impressive metrics this summer with his bat.

Infield

The biggest name with this group isn’t in the 2021 class, or even the 2022 class. Cam Collier, the son of former big leaguer and now coach Lou Collier, is an early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Collier is a mature hitter with real power as an infielder and would also be a premium prospect on the mound if it wasn’t for his ability with the bat. Roc Riggio out of California may not be the biggest guy out there or have the most power, but he’s the type of player that fits the label of “gamer.” Riggio plays all over the diamond, including the outfield, and takes good professional level at bats. Another guy who could play the outfield as well here is Joshua Pearson, brother of former Angels third round pick Jacob Pearson. Pearson is a hard worker with a similar hit tool to his brother at the time of the draft and is a very good athlete as well. Ryan Spikes from Georgia has everything to profile as a middle of the diamond leadoff hitter, though the Tennessee commit is also a legit two way prospect for college - a sign there may be more to unlock with his already promising hitting feel once he focuses only on hitting. Aidan Stewart out of Alabama may get listed as a shortstop, but this projectable 6’5” athlete with real power projection feels more like a longterm third baseman. Carson Crawford is another shortstop who may need to move to third base longterm, but the prospect out of California has a very promising bat and the arm to handle either spot on the left side of the infield. Another California prospect is left handed hitting first baseman Blake Burke, a very promising power bat with some feel for hitting. The final California prospect in the infield is Eddie Saldivar, a player only recently on my radar after showing off his hit tool with a pair of hits in just five at bats against top competition at the Area Code Games.

Outfield

There are only three guys listed primarily as outfielders for the National Team, but that is because two of the infielders can easily play in the outfield as well. The biggest name here is Mississippi two way star Braden Montgomery, who may also get a chance to pitch. Montgomery is coming off a good showing at the Perfect Game All American Classic, and is one of the more intriguing players in this prep draft class as there is untapped potential once you lock him into one position. Josh Heath is a left handed power threat out of Pennsylvania who really put up some eye opening metrics with the bat this summer. The West Virginia commit may end up at first base longterm, but it is his bat that will be his carrying tool. Brady Christensen is a big kid with some projection on his body out of Nebraska, and the former two way player has seen his exit velocity moving up this summer. This is a chance to see him against some top competition after a strong showing in a wood bat event recently.

International Team

Pitching

The biggest name here is Erian Rodriguez, a Panama native pitching for the Georgia Premier Academy. Rodriguez came into the spring very under the radar, but has shown off high level pure stuff plus the pitchability to emerge among the Top 50 arms in a deep class of arms. Jose Valadez-Acuna is a talented two way prospect but the Texas Tech commit is more highly regarded for his left handed pitching despite having real juice in the bat, as he has drawn comparisons to former White Sox hurler Wilson Alvarez. Acuna has hit 94 and shown the makings of a promising breaking ball. Dominic Hambley is another Canadian, one who has regularly hit 93 MPH and shown some promise with the curve. Nelson Mercado is an emerging right hander out of Canada who has movement on his fastball, topping out at 93 MPH thus far. The final Canadian hurler is Anson McGorman, a projectable arm who can hit 90 MPH and is committed to a solid producer of talent in Sacramento State. Evan Sweeting is an under the radar arm out of the Bahamas who has been working on his velocity this year and has seen a major increase, so this gives him a chance to show it off.

Jesus Alain Pena may be the most exciting arm on the International Team, but the Mexican native is a 2022 prospect. Still he hasn’t shown any fear facing some of the truly elite guys in the 2021 class and can really help establish himself for his class here. Carlos Isai Vallejo is another Mexican 2022 prospect with some talent, but is new to me as I haven’t focused on the 2022 prep class yet- though he has already been hitting 90 MPH and is know for throwing strikes. Rodolfo Toledano and Bryan Olivarria are another pair of Mexican arms with a chance to make a name for themselves, each of whom is just 16 years old and sits in the low 90s with a feel for pitching. Egory Jesua Manuela from the Curaçao is a 16 year old arm to watch and eligible to sign as an international free agent. The projectable young lefty can bring it up to 94 with the makings of an interesting curve. He’s one of the younger arms here, but certainly a must see guy. Elmer Rodriguez from Puerto Rico is the final arm, a late addition to the roster- and a massive one at that. Rodriguez is extremely projectable at 6’3’, 156 and already touching 92 MPH now with a promising curve, the ability to throw strikes, and solid athleticism. Rodriguez, who also goes by Rodriguez-Cruz is an Oregon commit.

EDIT 9/19: New Jersey’s Anthony Solometo has been added to the team, and the Puerto Rican lefty is suddenly the highest profile arm on the team, if not the whole game. Solometo hits 94 MPH from the left side with plenty of life, and a very promising slider as well. He hasn’t appeared much this summer, so eyes will be on him.

Catching

The top catcher is easily Sergio Guerra, the massively under-rated shortstop conversion is a Mexican native playing for a Texas high school. Guerra is an elite level defender with some real juice in the bat. Canadian Nicolas Deschamps isn’t the biggest catcher, but he’s got some athleticism and shown some promise with the bat. Canadian prospects typically get a little under-rated here and this is a chance for Deschamps to start to get his name out before heading to premier prep program TNXL Academy. Puerto Rican Angel Lassalle is also catching, and a new name to watch.

Infield

The biggest name on the International Team is probably Edwin Arroyo, the Puerto Rican infielder who just had a very strong showing at the Perfect Game All American Classic. This is another chance for Arroyo to show off his very promising infield bat against a high level of competition. Justin Colon is another highly rated infielder, one of the better fielding shortstops in the class with a bat that is starting to make progress as he has significant bat speed to work with. Corner infielder Daylan Pena is a right handed power bat who is starting to make scouts take notice after reaching base seven times at the Area Code Games (4 games played), and has drawn some scout comps to Nelson Cruz. Orlando Pena is a promising third baseman playing in New Jersey that had a strong showing over the summer and is starting to gain more attention. Peter Vasquez is coming off an All Tournament Team selection in his last Perfect Game event and the USC commit out of Puerto Rico has a chance to make more of a name for himself against some top pitching. Vazquez has drawn scout comps to Carlos Baerga. Nathaniel Ochoa Leyva is a projectable infielder from Canada who is eligible for the 2021 draft, but not committed to Purdue until the 2022 class. Ochoa has made real progress this summer and could boost his stock here.

Outfield

The biggest outfielder to watch is Georgia Premier Academy’s Jquann Smith, who might be the fastest player in the entire 2021 MLB Draft class with his legit 6.20 60 times being a regular thing. Smith is more than just speed, as he’s shown potential with the hit tool and has some pop in his bat. Jessiel Tomas Garcia Cruz is a projectable athlete out of Puerto Rico coming off a strong showing in his last major event. Jackson Clemett from Canada is the final outfielder, though the lefty can play first base as well.