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2021 MLB Draft Preview Position Rankings: Right Handed Pitcher

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Today we look at the final group of players in the 2021 MLB Draft, right handed pitchers.

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship
Kumar Rocker
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The 2021 Atlanta Braves MLB Draft Preview Position Rankings moves to the final position group yet to cover, right handed pitchers. With this list and it’s writeups, we will have written up 160 players and ranked 300 in total between all of the position groups. More thorough scouting reports will of course follow for the players the Braves pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, but these should at least be a useful guide to help navigate the draft as it unfolds.

The right handed pitcher group as a whole is above average. There are some big names at the top, some college guys, some prep guys, and plenty of guys in those middle rounds to excite.

The Braves seem to be in the market to draft some pitching, whether in the first round or the other high picks on Day 2 of the draft. I can’t say for sure they would be looking at the right handers over the lefties, but it is a safe bet we see some of these guys become Braves.

As usual, if you think a player is missing from this list, it may be because he is listed in another position group.

  1. Jackson Jobe, Oklahoma HS

The top pitcher in the class for me is Oklahoma prep right hander Jackson Jobe, who was arguably a better shortstop prospect at this time last year until a breakout pitching performance at Perfect Game Nationals established him as a high end arm. Jobe is the son of PGA’s Brandt Jobe and has a filthy arsenal featuring maybe the best slider in the draft and a plus fastball up to 96, a plus change, and an above average curve and you might have the best arsenal in the draft. If that’s not enough Jobe has high spin rates on his pitches, projection on his body, and average command potential. There aren’t many questions with this athletic former two way guy with great genes, and I would strongly consider him for the #1 pick against anyone in this draft.

2. Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt

Jack Leiter is the top pitcher in most other boards and it’s easy to understand why. Great pitchability, mostly great results at Vandy, a fastball he can get up to 98 MPH with a plus curve, two more above average pitches and solid command. The son of Al Leiter is easily the highest floor guy in the draft and should at least be a solid big league starter. The reason I don’t have him higher is because he is a physically mature 6’1, 205 and hasn’t proven to be the most durable pitcher over the course of a college season. Once he moves into a big league rotation pitching every fifth day(as opposed to once a week) for 162 games, that durability comes more into question considering he had to skip a start this year and I had seen his stuff back up in person in high school a week after arguably his most impressive outing.

3. Andrew Painter, Florida HS

Painter is a projectable 6’6, 230 pitcher with a plus fastball up to 97 MPH, a plus change, two potentially above average breaking balls, and the potential to have at least plus command if not plus plus. That is an extreme rarity, not just for a prep pitcher but also because that type of command for such a tall(6’6” and above) prep pitcher is almost unheard of. Painter has the makings of a frontline starter if he sees enough gains with filling in his body and improving the breaking balls. Painter is tough to really project in terms of draft position as he could go anywhere from 12 to outside of the first round as the Florida commit has a very high price tag.

4. Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt

Kumar Rocker was once the favorite to be the #1 pick in this draft, but he’s been picked apart a bit more since that time. While still a lock of a Top 10 pick, the lack of movement on his fastball and the questions about future durability due to heavy slider usage have him behind the other top tier arms. That said it is still easy to get excited considering the fastball does get up to 99 MPH, a nasty plus plus slider, and some potential with the change to become an average pitch. He is the third member of the top tier to have pro athlete genes, as his dad is former Auburn football star Tracy Rocker.

5. Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss

Gunnar Hoglund was at one point at the bottom of the top tier of arms and a near lock for Top 10, but he went down with Tommy John surgery and his stock has taken a slight hit because of it. The former Pirates first rounder who picked school over signing in 2018 has a bit of a unique profile for such a top prospect. Nothing he throws is plus, though he does have some remaining projection and saw his stuff tick up this spring pre-injury. What he does have is three above average pitches and plus to plus plus command along with strong results pitching in the SEC. Hoglund is a higher floor guy who shouldn’t have a hard time being a middle of the rotation arm, and there is some potential for his stuff to tick up. Obviously his medicals will play a huge part in how high he ends up going.

6. Jaden Hill, LSU

Jaden Hill came into this year as a potential Top 5 pick, but with a lot of question marks considering he had 21.2 career innings heading into this spring. Hill got off to a rocky start to the spring and made it just 29.2 innings before he would require a Tommy John surgery of his own to further complicate the profile. That said there is a lot to like and on paper it is easy to see why he was getting so much preseason hype, as the fastball up to 98 MPH, a legit plus plus change, and a slider that has in the past shown to be a plus pitch- though it didn’t quite play up to that this spring. There is frontline starter upside for this young and athletic starter, but he also has the most questions of any potential first round pick in the draft.

7. Chase Petty, New Jersey HS

Maybe the hardest throwing arm in the draft belongs to Chase Petty, as the New Jersey prep arm has touched 102 MPH with his fastball and has a plus slider. Petty has simply nasty stuff but also comes with some question marks. The biggest one is his command as it has been inconsistent to this point and probably won’t ever reach average, then you have the fact that he throws so hard in a 6’0, 185 pound frame leading to future durability questions. The third question with him is a bit of a lesser question as he has flashed some feel for the change but has rarely used it since prep arms who throw as hard as Petty are encouraged not to use it because it allows for high school hitters to see a pitch they’d be much more comfortable hitting against than his other offerings. Petty has huge upside, but the development of his command will go a long way towards defining his future role.

8. Gavin Williams, East Carolina

After a great performance in the NCAA Tournament, Gavin Williams moved from fringe first/second rounder into the mix to go anywhere from 11-30 in this draft. The 6’6, 255 pounder brings a fastball that has touched 101 MPH with a swing and miss curve, an average slider, and feel for the change. The 22 year old who was undrafted last year does have some questions however. The biggest might be that he’s had his share of injuries in his career, and for a guy who throws as hard as Williams does it leads to real durability concerns. Then there is the past command issues, and while the command took a big step up this year in his breakout, it can’t be forgotten that walks had been a real issue for him in the past. Due to his past health issues Williams is a guy who has a wide variance of potential landing spots, but the Braves are among the teams with interest.

9. Thatcher Hurd, California HS

Jobe isn’t the only former hitter to break out at PG Nationals last year as an arm, as former catcher Thatcher Hurd did the same thing but with less of a previous pitching background. Hurd is a projectable 6’4, 205 with a plus curve, above average fastball that currently tops out at 94 MPH and should continue to add more to, an above average or better slider and an above average change. Mix in at least average to potentially above average command considering what he’s shown so far and his athleticism, and Hurd is an arm to get excited about even though he will require plenty of developmental time.

10. Sam Bachman, Miami(OH)

Sam Bachman is a guy with two potential plus plus pitches in his 100 MPH fastball and one of the top sliders in the draft. He is also a guy with a ton of question marks as he rarely ever uses his third pitch, has some injury concerns(missed time with arm soreness this spring), and a delivery that typically says reliever. He’s a pitcher that brings a wide variance of opinions for those reasons, but he’s got the stuff to be a dominant reliever should he have to move to the pen because of the delivery or the lack of a third pitch.

11. Ty Madden, Texas

Ty Madden moved himself towards the top of the second tier of arms this spring with a spike in velocity, seeing his fastball start to touch 99 MPH to go with a potentially plus plus slider and above average command. Madden is hoping to become the first Texas pitcher to make 50 starts at the MLB level since Roger Clemens, but he isn’t a lock to remain a starter considering his third pitch lags behind the rest of his arsenal and the movement on the fastball is below average which limits his ability to pitch up in the zone with it.

12. Bubba Chandler, Georgia HS

Bubba Chandler is a legit two way player and a legit two sport athlete. Teams are legitimately split on whether they prefer Chandler as an arm or as a shortstop, but either way they will need to convince him to walk away from a scholarship to play quarterback for Clemson. On the mound he has a plus fastball up to 97 MPH with a potential plus curve. As a bat he makes hard contact and could have an average hit tool with above average power and run grades to go with a big arm capable of handling either spot on the left side of the infield. Chandler has a lot of potential but will need a lot of development whether he’s taken as an arm or bat, but the gains he will make by giving up one of those two roles as well as football make him especially intriguing. The Braves are among the teams with real interest in Chandler.

13. Will Bednar, Mississippi State

The younger brother of Pirates pitcher David Bednar, Will Bednar saw his stock shoot up after a great College World Series performance. Bednar brings a plus fastball up to 97 MPH with a plus slider with adequate command. While he does have feel for the change, it is a pitch he has rarely used in college and along with effort in his delivery that leads to significant reliever risk.

14. Ben Kudrna, Kansas HS

Ben Kudrna is an athletic and projectable arm with a pair of plus pitches in a fastball up to 97 MPH as well as his slider, who also throws strikes. The change is a bit behind the other two pitches, but he has shown a feel for it.

15.Brody Brecht, Iowa HS

Brecht is an interesting helium prospect this spring, He’s a still projectable 6’4, 205, and athletic enough to be a four star wide receiver commit for Iowa football- a commitment which is said to be very strong. Brecht has brought his fastball as high as 97 MPH and has the makings of a second plus pitch in his slider. There are questions beyond the football commit though, mainly the effort in his delivery leading to command issues and reliever risk, but also his lack of big showcase events to face off against top competition.

16. Chase Burns, Tennessee HS

Chase Burns is another pitcher in this class with a 100 MPH fastball, and the Tennessee commit also has the potential to develop a plus slider as part of his four pitch mix. Burns other two pitches are a curve that has average potential and a fringy change. There are command questions for him, but based on how he has shown more ability to command the arsenal when dialing things back there is hope that he can develop enough command to utilize the arsenal. He also comes with some effort in his delivery beyond just command questions, leading to reliever risk.

17. Michael McGreevy, UC Santa Barbara

Michael McGreevy is a command and pitchability guy with the potential for plus plus command. His stuff saw an uptick this year and because of that he is in the mix to go somewhere in the first round. The reason I don’t rank him higher is because he doesn’t have anything that can be considered a plus pitch, though does have four pitches that are all average to slightly above. While still on the younger side for a college prospect, just recently turning 21 years old, there isn’t a ton of projection remaining in his 6’4, 215 frame. He comes with a high floor because of the pitchability, command, and those four pitches, but there is some reason to question his upside unless he sees his stuff tick up again. McGreevy is a name the Braves have been linked to.

18. Irving Carter, Florida HS

Carter is an athletic and projectable 6’4, 200 pounder with a pair of currently above average pitches in his fastball up to 95 and his slider. The change lags behind presently, but there is some feel for it. Command can be an issue for him, but there is hope that refining his delivery can lead it to being average. Carter is a kid who competes and brings good pitchability when trying to challenge hitters and keep their timing off.

19. Landon Marceaux, LSU

Landon Marceaux is a different type of pitcher than most above him on this list. He brings just an average fastball and average slider with an above average change. The undersized right hander is all about command and pitchability and brings a great track record in SEC play. He’s a safe bet to become a back of the rotation starter, but there are teams who think they could help add some velocity on to his 94 MPH fastball, giving him a little more upside if that happens.

20. Dylan Ross, Florida JUCO

Dylan Ross is a big 6’5, 250 but surprisingly athletic hard throwing JUCO right hander. Ross brings a fastball as high as 100 MPH with some ability to potentially add on to it by another mile or two per hour. He’s also got a splitter that has shown enough to become a second plus pitch for him, and an average slider. Command hasn’t always been consistent, but there is some thought that he could see improvement there in a pro system. An Atlanta area native, Ross is committed to Georgia for next year and could really move up draft boards with a strong year of SEC play- something teams will be mindful of this year when considering him.

21. Mike Vasil, Virginia

You may remember this name as Mike Vasil was a serious high end first round guy out of high school in 2018, but withdrew from the draft to attend UVA after dealing with some injuries during his draft year. Fast forward a few years and he’s not longer the super premium prospect he once was as he has filled in his body quite a bit and doesn’t have a plus pitch in his arsenal. That said Vasil has pitchability and can command four average to slightly better pitches. The hope with a guy like Vasil is that getting him into a pro system can get his stuff back to what we saw out of high school, allowing a team to potentially find a steal.

22. Eric Hammond, Texas HS

Eric Hammond represents a very projectable 6’4, 175 pound pitcher out of Texas without any present plus pitches but has four average or better offerings with at least average command potential, if not slightly above average. That profile is a guy who could at least be a back of the rotation guy, however if he can add a little velocity when he fills out there could be much more upside with a guy like him.

23. Spencer Schwellenbach, Nebraska

A name you might be familiar with due to reported Braves interest is Spencer Schwellenbach, another legit two way guy with teams being split to some extent on whether to draft him as a hitter or pitcher. As a pitcher he has a potentially plus fastball up to 97 with an average slider and change and above average command, but he would need to be converted into starting as he worked out of the Huskers pen while primarily playing shortstop. As a bat, while productive, he doesn’t have any plus tools excluding his throwing arm- and that would be from third base rather than shortstop as he isn’t athletic enough to handle short defensively. Then you add in the fact that he has dealt with past injury issues as an additional question and it shows you why he is rated more as a second round talent than as a legitimate first rounder.

24. Sean Burke, Maryland

Maryland’s 6’6, 230 pound Sean Burke brings a fastball up to 98 MPH with a swing and miss curve to give a really intriguing starter package. He also adds an average slider and usable changeup to his four pitch mix. The issues with him are that command has always been an issue and you have to project fringe average command to be able to be successful in a starting role. Also he has a Tommy John surgery in his past, so the health red flags are also present.

25. Max Debiec, Washington HS

One of my personal favorite players in the draft is Washington prep pitcher Max Debiec, who unfortunately needed to undergo Tommy John surgery at the end of June. Debiec came out of no where to emerge at PG Nationals last year, and the projectable 6’7, 200 pounder was hitting 98 MPH with a high spin rate and showing off a promising breaking ball with some above average potential and throwing strikes. He hadn’t pitched as well this spring as he did last summer, but if you believe in his health he is the type of guy you hope takes off with added strength and moving to baseball full time(also a basketball player). Had he not needed the late TJ, he would be ranked quite a bit higher here.

26. Dylan Smith, Alabama

Dylan Smith is an athletic and still somewhat projectable college arm who had a breakout spring this year. He's another guy without a plus pitch, but he has four average or better pitches led by his fastball up to 96 MPH, and he throws strikes. If a team believes Smith will see his stuff tick up then they could take him as high as the second round.

27. Jonathan Cannon, Georgia

Jonathan Cannon was stuck in Georgia’s bullpen last year as they were so loaded with high end starters, but finally got to move to the rotation this spring to showcase himself. Of course things didn’t go exactly as planned as illness kept him out at the start of the year and he was solid but inconsistent when he did get to pitch. Cannon represents a still somewhat projectable 6’6, 207 pounder that won’t turn 21 until just after the draft. Taking into consideration that he will throw his fastball as high as 97 MPH, has an above average change, usable slider, and above average command it is easy to see why a team may like Cannon. It is also possible he tries to return to UGA and build on this past season then enter next year’s draft.

28. Ryan Cusick, Wake Forest

This may be the low ranking you’ll find on Cusick, but that has more to do with the fact he profiles as a reliever without a great chance to start. The 6’6, 235 pounder has hit 102 MPH with his fastball, which has teams very interested even if it is out of the pen. Everything else is a bit of a question as the breaking ball flashes as above average but remains very inconsistent, he hasn’t really used his change up much, and the command has always given him issues to a varying extent. Cusick doesn’t have a great track record of ACC success, but the fastball would make him a high floor guy since he has good reliever potential if he isn’t able to refine the rest of the arsenal or the command.

29. Kevin Abel, Oregon State

I was high on Abel last year, and remain there this year as he didn’t pitch last year in his recovery from Tommy John. Things didn’t quite get back to his 2018/2019 form, but he still has a plus change and an above average curve to work with. Abel’s fastball sits more low 90s, which isn’t ideal for a right hander- especially one almost 22.5 years old at this point, and his command gave him serious issues this year. I think another year removed from TJ could help get him back to being the guy who was seen as a potential first rounder for the 2020 MLB Draft before he went down with injury.

30. Coleman Willis, Georgia HS

Willis is a 6’6, 190 right hander out of Warner Robins, Georgia that still has plenty of projection remaining. He started to fill in a bit this year and took his stuff to the next level, bring his fastball up to 94 MPH with a now above average curve and a potentially average change. Command has been an issue, but that’s not abnormal for such a tall pitcher in the process of filling in. There is a lot to like about this Georgia commit, though he is going to need plenty of developmental time.

31. Eric Silva, California HS

Silva has been among the top prep arms in California for a while now, pitching for powerhouse program JSerra. He brings a plus fastball up to 97 MPH and an above average slider with potentially average command. The change is a work in progress and he’s undersized at just 6’0, 180 which of course brings some reliever questions, but his two pitches and solid command to go with success for a top program in the country make Silva attractive to teams.

32. James Peyton Smith, Tennessee HS

Smith is a big 6’4, 225 right hander who is young for the class at just barely over 18 years old. He brings a huge fastball up to as high as 98 MPH and an above average change. The rest of his arsenal needs work, and he may end up with just one breaking ball instead of the two he currently has since neither is quite average on its own. He comes with reliever risk because of his command issues and the delivery having some crossfire to it that hinders his command a bit. Smith isn’t going to be a cheap signing, but a big, young for the class arm with his fastball and change combo will have teams attention.

33. Mason Black, Lehigh

From the same high school program that produced Pirates rookie Max Kranick, Black had his breakout as a freshman then followed it up with an eye opening Cape in 2019. He was actually a first round candidate coming into the season, but struggled with his stuff and command as he likely was trying to impress a little too hard in his draft year. He brings a fastball up to 97 MPH and a potentially plus slider to go with a more than usable changeup. Black’s command is a bit of a question mark after this spring, but it isn’t awful so there is something to work with.

The Next 27

34. Jacob Kmatz, New Mexico HS

35. Dominic Hamel, Dallas Baptist

36. Will Frisch, Oregon State

37. Michael Morales, Pennsylvania HS

38. Logan Henderson, Texas JUCO

39. Jackson Baumeister, Florida HS

40. Peter Heubeck, Maryland HS

41. Brendan Beck, Stanford

42. Troy Melton, San Diego State

43. Tommy Mace, Florida

44. McCade Brown, Indiana

45. Sean Sullivan, Cal

46. Dennis Colleran, Massachusetts HS

47. Eric Cerantola, Mississippi State

48. Richard Fitts, Auburn

49. Shawn Guilliams, Florida JUCO

50. Shane Panzini, New Jersey HS

51. Caedmon Parker, Texas HS

52. Ryan Johnson, Texas HS

53. Braden Olthoff, Tulane

54. Grant Holman, Cal

55. Thomas Farr, South Carolina

56. Chase Silseth, Arizona

57. Bransen Kuehl, South Dakota HS

58. Calvin Ziegler, Canada HS

59. Daniel Brooks, South Carolina HS

60. Erian Rodriguez, Georgia HS