The 2021 MLB Draft Preview Position Rankings are starting to come to a close as we look at the first group of pitchers today.
This is a very much below average crop of lefties, both on the college and prep side. There just isn’t much impact talent and there are more questions than answers even compared to a normal draft class. Only one of these guys is a lock to go in the first round, though you could make a case for any of the Top 8 lefties to be taken in the later part of the first round minus the one who recently pulled out of the draft.
The Braves have been linked to a couple of the lefties here and could very well take one of the top guys, but I don’t think it is a guarantee that they take one early as much as I do think it is a guarantee we see a pitcher drafted in the top three picks by the Braves.
This list expands from 40 to 41 because of a late withdrawal from the draft that is being left on the list.
- Jordan Wicks, Kansas State
Jordan Wicks is the top lefty in the class, a safe middle of the rotation arm who has a plus plus changeup, fastball up to 95 MPH, and a slider that flashes as a third plus pitch at times. He should also have plus future command. It’s hard to see this profile not being a big league starter, and it is safe to assume he is among the Top 15 picks in a class that may not have another lefty taken in the first round.
2. Anthony Solometo, New Jersey HS
Arguably the top prep lefty in the class is New Jersey’s Anthony Solometo. Solometo can bring his fastball up to 96 MPH with plenty of movement and has a plus slider. He doesn’t use his changeup much but it shows signs of being at least usable and the command has a chance to be above average as he improves the consistency. I saw him in Boston at the Future Stars Series International Week and came away thinking he was the most impressive pitcher there without a doubt from a group that will feature numerous high picks.
3. Maddux Bruns, Alabama HS
Maddux Bruns is the other guy in the running for top prep lefty and the 6’2, 210 pounder is a bit more of an arm strength guy at the moment. Bruns has topped out at 98 mph with a pair of plus breaking balls and an average or better potential changeup. His biggest issue is the command is erratic, though reports are that it has improved this spring from what we saw last summer against top competition. One other thing working against him is the fact he’s older for the class at 19-years old. Bruns has the most upside among the lefties, but he will need a considerable amount of work more than a Solometo for example.
4. Josh Hartle, North Carolina HS
Hartle withdrew from the draft and is headed to Wake Forest. He is a very projectable arm who could be a first rounder in a couple years as he has three pitches as average or above and plus command potential.
5. Gage Jump, California HS
An undersized but talented lefty from prep power JSerra HS, Gage Jump has a plus fastball up to 96 MPH and a plus curve with a change that grades as average and at least average command potential. Some teams don’t love his delivery and when you combine that with his size(5’11, 180), some see relief risk. The stuff really makes him interesting and he faces some of the better prep competition in Southern California, so there is a case for him to go in the first round.
6. Ky Bush, Saint Mary’s
After tweaking his delivery to improve his command, the 6’6, 240 lefty from Saint Mary’s has moved into first round consideration and has been linked to the Braves. Bush brings a fastball up to 96 mph and has a swing and miss slider to go with a pair of other pitches that get average to slightly above grades. The command was a major issue in the past but played at above average this year. If a team believes the command improvement is for real they could take him early.
7. Matt Mikulski, Fordham
Matt Mikulski was in the draft last year and went undrafted but had a breakout this year. Mikulski is up to 98 MPH and has a plus change though his slider is fringy. His control is better than his command so that, and not having a third average pitch, he brings some relief risk and teams aren’t sure if he can start. Either way Mikulski, who is older for the draft at 22 years old, should have a promising future and could get to the big leagues fast as a reliever if a team doesn’t try to let him develop as a starter.
8. Frank Mozzicato, Connecticut HS
Mozzicato is the final potential first rounder from this list. A spring helium guy who got himself on the map after throwing four straight no hitters. Of course those came against less than ideal Connecticut HS competition, but he has one of the better curves in the high school class, an above average fastball, and potentially average command along with the fact he’s young for the class at barely 18 years old. The biggest thing working against him is his spring success came against weaker competition and he didn’t do many showcases last summer, so he isn’t proven against top hitters.
9. Andrew Abbott, Virginia
After going undrafted last year Abbott moved into the Virginia rotation this year. That’s a bit misleading because he was always one of the top pitchers on the staff, but the coaches preferred to use him out of the pen as a weapon. Abbott had a strong year thanks to his 98 MPH fastball with a high spin rate that drew a lot of swings and misses to go with an above average curve and average change. Abbott has the ingredients to be a starter, but may be best to be a weapon out of the pen where his fastball can potentially play up even more.
10. Steven Hajjar, Michigan
Hajjar has been on the radar forever now and the 6’5, 215 pound lefty still isn’t 21 years old yet. Hajjar doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he has a solid three pitch mix and great results while pitching for a top program. There is hope that he can add more as he fills in more and gets another year out from a previous knee injury that slowed the start of his career, but at this point his best pitch is an above average change with an average fastball. If you see more coming for him, Hajjar would appeal to you in the second round.
11. Ricky Tiedemann, California JUCO
After going undrafted last year Tiedemann gave up his four year college commitment and headed to JUCO, where he has taken another step forward. Tiedemann is still a projectable arm and his velocity hasn’t taken a massive step up, but he has improved. At this point, he has what looks to be a plus plus change with an at least average fastball that currently tops out at 94 MPH. Add an average slider and average command and there is a lot to like once he fills in his 6’4, 220 frame especially when considering he hasn’t even turned 19 yet.
12. Joe Rock, Ohio
Rock is a 6’6 lefty with a strong two-pitch mix, a fastball up to 96 MPH and an above average to potentially plus slider. He doesn’t have much of a third pitch and his command is questionable, so there are real relief risks with him. Rock is an easy arm to like, even if it is coming out of the pen where he could get his stuff to play up in shorter stints.
13. Drew Gray, Illinois HS
Drew Gray is an interesting two-way player, who would also be a legit hitter prospect though his brightest future would be on the mound. It is important to note that he is an Arkansas commit where his older brother is currently playing, so signability does become a question. Gray is a very athletic prospect with a high spin fastball up to 94 MPH and an above average slider. The command needs work, but with his athleticism, projection, and concentrating on pitching full time, there is hope he can be at least average in the future.
14. Pierce Coppola, New Jersey HS
Coppola is a projectable 6’8, 230 lefty with a bunch of questions and a ton of upside. His command is his biggest issue as it can really come and go which isn’t uncommon for such a young pitcher with his size, but he typically does better than most guys his size and age with the command. His fastball can touch 95 MPH, but it is inconsistent and he doesn’t hold the velocity deep. He also has a potential slider and splitter that can get swings and misses. The upside is massive just like the body, but he will need plenty of time in development first.
15. Robert Gasser, Houston
One of the surprise breakouts of the year, Robert Gasser was not even a name to know for the 2020 draft when he went undrafted. He worked really hard since the end of 2020 season to improve his stuff and now has two above average pitches and above average command. The thing working against him is that nothing is plus and he doesn’t have a long track record with his new stuff, so for a guy without a carrying tool he drops a bit in the rankings.
16. Brandon Clarke, Virginia HS
Clarke had a massive breakout early this year after missing last summer in Tommy John rehab, but fell back to Earth as the spring went on. He’s an athletic and projectable 6’4, 210 lefty who has been up to 97 and has good feel for his breaking ball, so there is hope that he can hold his stuff and command it better as he moves another year out from surgery. He is an Alabama commit who will need to be bought out.
17. Carter Holton, Georgia HS
Holton is another undersized lefty without a plus pitch, but the Vanderbilt commit has two above average pitches and a pair of average pitches with average command. He also looked good last summer and in key matchups this spring with scouts in attendance. He is on the older side for the class but he could draw enough interest for a team to try to buy him out.
18. Doug Nikhazy, Ole Miss
Nikhazy is another college arm without a plus pitch along with being undersized, but he has a four pitch mix with all four being at least average. He could see the slider become plus in the future, but profiles more as a 4/5 starter regardless. Either way, teams will like his track record of success in the SEC and that four pitch mix,
19. Philip Abner, North Carolina HS
Abner is a 6’1, 220 pound Florida commit who is already older for the class at 19 years old. He doesn’t have anything plus but does have three average or better pitches with average command. He probably ends up getting to college and having a successful career there.
20. Brant Hurter, Georgia Tech
Hurter was draft eligible last year but didn’t go as he wasn’t far enough out from his own Tommy John surgery at the time. He returned to the mound this spring and had a solid year but nothing was plus for him and with his delivery having some effort, there is real relief risk versus more of a backend starter profile.
21. Hagen Smith, Texas HS
Frank Mozzicato’s four straight no hitters drew more recognition, but Smith had seven no hitters among his first 19 starts to the season after missing last summer following Tommy John surgery. Smith doesn’t have a plus pitch but has four that are average or better and could fill in his 6’3, 200 pound frame since he isn’t even 18 years old yet. The Arkansas commit is an alumni of the same high school as Braves reliever AJ Minter.
22. Christian MacLeod, Mississippi State
Christian MacLeod has had a successful career in the SEC without a true plus pitch. His 94 MPH fastball plays up with its great movement and he also brings a swing and miss curve that gives him a second quality offering and at least a chance to be a solid reliever. MacLeod has a chance to start but to do so will need to tighten up his command after being a little too homer prone this spring.
23. Andrew Walling, Oklahoma JUCO
Walling is an interesting arm, an older player in the class at 22 years old and currently in JUCO. He does have a fastball he can touch 98 MPH with and an above average slider to go with an average change. The Mississippi State commit got off to a slow start to his career because of Tommy John surgery and started his college career at Oregon State. He could improve his stock with a good year at Mississippi State, proving the command gains this year are for real, but he would be 23 years old at the next draft so his clock is ticking a bit to go pro.
24. Larson Kindreich, Biola
One of the toughest guys in the class to rank is D2 lefty Larson Kindreich, who has impressive stuff but more mixed results than a guy with his stuff should have against D2 hitters. Kindreich has a plus change, above average fastball, and average curve but the command has held the results back. He’s currently pitching in the Cape to a similar lineup of good strikeout numbers but with command questions over a short sample size.
25. Justin Wrobleski, Oklahoma State
Stuff wise Wrobleski should be higher as he’s up to 95 MPH with a plus curve, but he got hurt early and needed Tommy John surgery. His biggest questions are medical right now, but in a draft that isn’t strong for lefty pitchers he represents an upside play.
26. Mitchell Bratt, Canada/Georgia HS
Mitchell Bratt left Canada for the Georgia Premier Academy this spring after being undrafted last year, before heading to the MLB Draft League this spring. Still just barely 18 years old, he sits in the low 90s with feel for two secondaries presently. He’s athletic, projectable, and brings projectability while throwing strikes. If he develops as expected physically you could be looking at a middle of the rotation lefty with a nice three pitch mix.
The Next 15
27. Seth Lonsway, Ohio State
28. Ryan Webb, Georgia
29. Russell Smith, TCU
30. Dylan Dodd, Southeast Missouri
31. Julian Bosnic, South Carolina
32.Jac Caglianone, Florida HS
33. Brock Selvidge, Arizona HS
34. Trenton Wallace, Iowa
35. Pico Kohn, Alabama HS
36. Michael Kirian, Louisville
37. Christian Lothes, UNC Charlotte
38. Patrick Wicklander, Arkansas
39. Mo Hanley, Adrian
40. Hugh Fisher, Vanderbilt
41. Mason Albright, Maryland HS