We have officially reached the day that the 2021 MLB Draft starts and to say we, here at Talking Chop, are excited to see who the Atlanta Braves pick in this class is an understatement. This draft class is deep in some weird ways and while you won’t necessarily see a huge, top-level talent taken by the Braves in round one because they are drafting at No. 24, this draft could prove to be a huge boon to not only the Braves’ future at the major league level, but to their overall talent levels in the minors which is getting...a bit more sparse at the lower levels this days.
The Talking Chop MiLB crew has been arguing over the Braves’ first pick in the draft for weeks now and there are some guys that I would say are consensus “we are good with that” picks, others are more polarizing, and some are probably less than desirable. If you want more information on who those guys are, you should definitely read the draft roundtable article that Garrett put up a couple days ago.
Recently, I was asked to participate in an SB Nation Mock Draft which consisted of representatives from most of the baseball team sites and I was happy to do so, but it definitely forced my hand as to the answer of who I ultimately prefer in the draft. I went into the draft resolved to take the best player available and let the draft come to me without forcing anything or doing anything weird like presuming an underslot pick or something. That didn’t seem to make much sense to me in a one round mock draft.
Here are the picks that were made ahead of me so that you have a sense of who was available.
Round 1, Pick 1. The Pittsburgh Pirates select: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep HS
Round 1, Pick 2. The Texas Rangers select: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS
Round 1, Pick 3. The Detroit Tigers select: Jack Leiter, SP, Vanderbilt
Round 1, Pick 4. The Boston Red Sox select: Henry Davis, C, Louisville
Round 1, Pick 5. The Baltimore Orioles select: Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS
Round 1, Pick 6. The Arizona Diamondbacks select: Kumar Rocker, SP, Vanderbilt
Round 1, Pick 7. The Kansas City Royals select: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS
Round 1, Pick 8. The Colorado Rockies select: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
Round 1, Pick 9. The Los Angeles Angels select: Jackson Jobe, SP, Heritage Hill HS
Round 1, Pick 10. The New York Mets select: Ty Madden, SP, Texas
Round 1, Pick 11. The Washington Nationals select: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Round 1, Pick 12. The Seattle Mariners select: Jordan Wicks, SP, Kansas State
Round 1, Pick 13. The Philadelphia Phillies select: Gunnar Hoglund, SP, Ole Miss
Round 1, Pick 14. The San Francisco Giants select: Benny Montgomery, CF, Red Land HS
Round 1, Pick 15. The Milwaukee Brewers select: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
Round 1, Pick 16. The Miami Marlins select: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS
Round 1, Pick 17. The Cincinnati Reds select: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian HS (FL)
Round 1, Pick 18. The St. Louis Cardinals select: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
Round 1, Pick 19. The Toronto Blue Jays select: Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
Round 1, Pick 20. The New York Yankees select: Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi St.
Round 1, Pick 21. The Chicago Cubs select: Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC-Santa Barbara
Round 1, Pick 22: The Chicago White Sox select: Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge HS
Round 1, Pick 23: The Cleveland Indians select: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (GA)
As you can see, there was a bit of a run on college pitching before the Braves’ pick (admittedly, Gavin Williams being gone was my fault because I helped out and picked for the Blue Jays in that spot). With some guys that I would have considered for the pick (Williams, McGreevy, Chandler) gone, I had a choice, in my mind anyways, between a few college arms in Ky Bush, Spencer Schwellenbach, and Ryan Cusick, a few college bats in Trey Sweeney, Ethan Wilson, and Connor Norby, and some prep players like Peyton Stovall, Lonnie White Jr., Will Taylor, Joe Mack, and Tyler Whitaker. For what it is worth, if it were the Braves were picking and the draft broke down this way, I am pretty sure they would have ended up taking Spencer Schwellenbach out of Nebraska.
Ultimately, I settled on Trey Sweeney who is the shortstop out of Eastern Illinois for a few reasons. First, of these groupings of players, I probably like the prep bats the most but I also think there there are going to be prep arms and bats that I like a lot that could be snatched up in the second or third round and none of those players screamed “this guy is a must pick” for me. Would be fine with any of them, but the risk with prep players combined with specific questions about all of them moved me off that demographic.
With the college arms, I like Ky Bush the most but I also think he might be around in the second round so if I feel like I need an arm, I could possibly get him there or take one of the high ceiling guys there that I mentioned. Cusick and Schwellenbach are both interesting players for very different reasons, but I really don’t know what I am getting in Schwellenbach as he has a live arm but has only ever been a reliever and the bat isn’t as good as the bat I ended up taking and in Cusick’s case, I just don’t have a ton of confidence that he is going throw a ton of strikes.
Finally, with the college bats, I have been pretty vocal that I like Sweeney’s bat the best of that grouping. Wilson has big time power, but has hit tool questions even coming from a small conference and Norby can hit, but I question if he is an impact bat and drafting a second baseman who isn’t lights out at the plate is suspect to me. That brings me to Trey Sweeney who I think, and this is backed up by others such as Kiley McDaniel, that if he had gotten a chance to play against higher levels of competition in showcases like the Cape Cod League which unfortunately he didn’t have access to, that he is likely not available at the Braves pick at all. He can hit, he hits for power from the left side, and I am higher on his chances to stick at short than others...but even if he can, I think the bat plays.
How do you think I did? Let me know in the comments. It is almost time, folks.