Amid all the uncertainty swirling around baseball over the last several months, at least one thing on the sport's calendar remained a certainty: the draft. Every organization has the opportunity to add top-shelf talent Wednesday night and we're here to break down all the first-round picks.
If you're wondering why only 29 teams are picking in the first round, well, need we remind you of the Houston Astros? Here's the first-round draft order, with names and analysis to be added as each pick is announced.
1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Arizona State
Torkelson is the most established power hitter in this year’s draft. He led all Division I hitters with 25 home runs as a freshman in 2018, and followed that breakout season up with 23 as a sophomore. In 129 career games at Arizona State, Torkelson slashed .337/.463/.729 with 54 homers. At 20 years old, Torkelson projects to be a mainstay in the middle of the order by the time the Tigers are ready to contend again. Interestingly, Torkelson was not drafted out of high school like a lot of top college prospects. Now, he’s the first overall pick.
2. Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Kjerstad is the best left-handed power hitter in the draft class. He hit 37 homers in 150 games at Arkansas, and he projects to be a 25-30 home run hitter in the majors.
The Orioles have restocked their farm system quickly, with a lot of strong pitchers who are close to MLB ready. They took switch-hitting catcher Adley Rutschman first overall last year, but they’re going to need more bats than him to climb back into contention over the next 3-5 years. Getting an elite power bat makes sense for the Orioles.
3. Miami Marlins: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Meyer is the most MLB-ready pitcher in the draft. He boasts an elite fastball-slider combo, with his fastball hitting 99 mph and a putaway slider at 93. The one question about Meyer is whether he’ll reach the bigs as a starter or reliever. He needs to add a third pitch to be a front-end starting pitcher. He throws a changeup, but it is not as strong as his fastball and slider. Either way, it’s a safe bet that Meyer will be an effective big-league pitcher.
4. Kansas City Royals: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Lacy is perhaps the best starting pitching prospect in the draft. His fastball tops out at 98 mph and sits at 93-94. He has a very good changeup and an above-average slider. In his four starts before the 2020 season was suspended, Lacy went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 0.708 WHIP and 46 strikeouts over 24 innings. That’s an impressive stretch for any pitcher at any level.
5. Toronto Blue Jays: Austin Martin, SS, Vanderbilt
Martin is the most athletic, well-rounded position player in the draft. He rarely strikes out—10% of the time last season, with incredibly quick hands. He hits for both average and power, plays strong defense and runs well. Martin was a member of the Vanderbilt team that won the 2019 College World Series, and he set a school record with 87 runs scored last year.
Defensively, Martin can play all three outfield positions, as well as second, shortstop and third base. He was drafted as a shortstop, though with the young core of infielders Toronto has, he could end up in the outfield or as an everyday utility player. Regardless, the Blue Jays got the best overall position player in the draft at No. 5.
6. Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Hancock is the prototypical pitching prospect. The 6’4” right-hander has great command of his electric fastball, which sits between 93-97 mph, and his changeup and slider project to be above-average secondary pitches. Mechanics could be a bit of a concern for Hancock. He has a jerky motion and his head shakes while he pitches, which sometimes causes him to lose his arm slot. But that can be fixed as he works his way through the minors.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales, SS, New Mexico State
Gonzales was leading the NCAA in home runs when the 2020 season shut down. He finished his college career with a .399/.502/.747 slash line, absurd numbers at any level. There are some questions about whether his fence-clearing power will translate to the majors—New Mexico State plays its home games at 3,900 feet above sea level—though he should hit for average regardless.
8. San Diego Padres: Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (Tenn.)
Hassell III is one of the best hitters in the class, with a sweet left-handed swing and a quick bat. His line-drive swing makes him more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a pure power guy, but as he fills out and matures as a hitter, he should be good for 15-plus homers in the big leagues.
Fun fact: Hassell played in the 2014 Little League World Series, and his Tennessee team was shut out by Mo'ne Davis.
9. Colorado Rockies: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Fla.)
Veen might be the best high school hitter in the draft. His smooth lefty swing generates hard contact, and he has great power potential. He’s an above-average runner and a good center fielder. At 18, he’s still a few years away from the majors, but the Rockies’ next window of contention isn't coming any time soon.
Inside The Seams: Rockies Select Two High Schoolers in First Round
10. Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
Detmers is the most polished left-handed pitcher in this class. He doesn’t throw hard—his fastball sits between 88-93—but he has great command around the zone. He has three above-average pitches, with a curveball and changeup complementing his fastball, and he varies speeds well.
The Angels need more starting pitching if they’re going to compete during Mike Trout’s prime. Detmers could be in the big leagues as soon as next season. Great pick.
11. Chicago White Sox: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Crochet could have the best stuff in the draft. He has a deceptive delivery, with a fastball that can hit 99-100 mph. He’s a 6’6” left-hander who draws is an easy comparison to Chris Sale. They are the same height and have similar throwing motions. Crochet has three pitches, with a nasty slider that is a lefty hitter’s nightmare. If they are in contention, the White Sox could do with Crochet what they did with Sale: fast-track him to the big leagues and use him out of the bullpen as soon as possible.
• South Side Hit Pen: More on the White Sox' first-round pick
12. Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)
Along with Hassell and Veen, Hendrick is a promising high school hitter. A lefty with great raw power, Hendrick hits the ball really hard, though there are some concerns about him making consistent contact. He’s committed to play at Mississippi State, so he could opt to go there instead of joining the Reds. (Though you'd have to imagine Cincinnati feels good about its chances to sign Hendrick.)
13. San Francisco Giants: Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
This is interesting. Bailey is the best catcher in the draft class, a switch-hitter with power, which is incredibly valuable for any team. The Giants took catcher Joey Bart, their top prospect, two years ago with the No. 2 overall pick, and they still have Buster Posey. Now in his 30s, Posey will probably move to first base (or DH, hint-hint) part time when Bart reaches the big leagues, though it’s uncertain what the Giants will do with two top catching prospects in their system.
14. Texas Rangers: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
Foscue was a much better hitter in his sophomore season than he was as a freshman in 2018. He moved to second base in 2019 and developed his power stroke. He’s a dead-pull hitter, which could be an issue as he works through the farm system, but he hits the ball hard and rarely strikes out.
• Inside the Rangers: More on Rangers' first-round pick.
15. Philadelphia Phillies: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Ore.)
The first high school pitcher selected, Abel is a two-time player of the year in Oregon. He has four above-average pitches, with a fastball that sits between 92-95 mph. At 6’5”, Abel has the typical pitcher body. He has great command and a smooth delivery. He’s committed to Oregon State and could opt to go there instead of Philadelphia.
16. Chicago Cubs: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)
Howard is the best high school shortstop in the draft. He’s a smooth defender with soft hands and a strong arm. His bat is not yet at the level of his glove, but he has great bat speed and could develop power as he matures. Like Hassell, Howard also played in the 2014 Little League World Series.
17. Boston Red Sox: Nick Yorke, 2B, Archbishop Mitty HS (Calif.)
This came out of nowhere. Yorke was ranked the No. 139 overall player in the draft, according to MLB.com. He’s an above-average hitting prospect, though it seems like a reach. It’s worth noting the Red Sox don’t have a second-round pick—they lost it as a penalty for their illegal sign stealing in 2018—so if they really liked Yorke and felt another team would take him before they picked again, that could be why they snagged him here. He’s committed to play at Arizona, and there were concerns about whether he’d sign or elect to take his scholarship and play with the Wildcats.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
Jarvis’s draft stock spiked as his fastball velocity did. He’s added 10 mph to his fastball since he was drafted in the 37th round last year as a redshirt sophomore. He has good command of his fastball, his changeup and slider are also above average pitches, and he’s working on a curveball.
19. New York Mets: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Crow-Armstrong is the latest draft pick out of high school powerhouse Harvard-Westlake, which boasts Jack Flaherty, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito among its big-league graduates. He’s the best defensive outfielder in the draft class, with an elite glove, really good speed and a strong arm. He’s more likely to hit for average than power, though he could develop power as he matures. The Mets have now drafted high school hitters in the last three first rounds. They signed each of the previous two. Crow-Armstrong is committed to Vanderbilt, so we’ll see if he signs with the Mets, too.
20. Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Mitchell is an elite runner and defensive center fielder. There were some questions about his bat before the 2019 season, but since then (including the shortened 2020 season), Mitchell slashed .350/.419/.550 while striking out just 12% of the time. The biggest concern with Mitchell is his health; he has Type-1 diabetes. At 20th overall, though, Mitchell is a great value—MLB.com ranked him sixth overall heading into the draft.
21. St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (Ga.)
Walker is the most athletic high school prospect in the draft, with great speed and power and a strong arm. At 6’5” and 220 pounds, Walker is the size of a big leaguer. He has quick hands and a violent swing. He could end up moving to the corner outfield, which could be best for him considering the Cardinals already have top prospect Nolan Gorman at the hot corner.
22. Washington Nationals: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
Cavalli wasn’t primarily a pitcher until his sophomore season, when he was a two-way player. He transitioned to pitching full-time for the 2020 season, and his upper-90s fastball, slider and curveball give him a solid three-pitch mix. He doesn’t have too much of a track record as a pitcher because of his time hitting, but there’s a lot of upside for Cavalli.
23. Cleveland Indians: Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.)
The younger brother of Pirates shortstop and 2014 first rounder Cole, Carson Tucker has quick hands and a steady swing that should translate into a good average moving forward, but he may not hit for much power. He’s a solid defender, even though his arm strength is a bit of a question.
• Cleveland Baseball Insider: What to Know About Indians' First-Round Picks
24. Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks HS East (Pa.)
Bitsko was originally in the 2021 class before he reclassified to enter this year’s draft. Being from Pennsylvania, he did not pitch at all this spring, as the coronavirus shut down his season before it began. Still, at 6’4” and 225 pounds, he has the size and tools—96 mph heater, strong curveball—to make it as a big-league starter.
25. Atlanta Braves: Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
Shuster is a deceptive lefty starter with a fastball that sits between 91-94 mph. He has a really good changeup and solid breaking ball. His command was a bit of a concern in his college career, though that improved last summer in the Cape Cod League.
• BravesCentral: More on Braves' first-round pick
26. Oakland Athletics: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (Calif.)
Soderstrom is a really good offensive catcher, though his defense lags well behind his bat. He has a strong arm but he doesn’t receive the ball well. He’ll probably move to another position (third base), but he hits the ball hard. He hasn’t developed power yet, but that should come as he matures in Oakland's system.
• Inside the Athletics: Can A's Keep Soderstrom Away From UCLA?
27. Minnesota Twins: Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
The Twins set a major-league record with 307 home runs in 2019, so naturally, they picked Sabato, one of the best power hitters in the draft. In 83 games at UNC, he had a lifetime .459 on-base percentage and 25 homers. He projects to be a DH instead of an everyday fielder, but he can rake.
28. New York Yankees: Austin Wells, C, Arizona
Wells is a lefty bat who can hit for both average and power. The sophomore slashed .357/.476/.560 in a little over a year at Arizona. He’s a below-average defensive catcher, so he could end up at another position. Either way, his bat is good enough to warrant a first-round pick.
• Inside the Pinstripes: More on New York's first-round pick
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
Miller is a hard-throwing right-hander, with a good heater and power slider. His control is inconsistent but his high-velocity fastball and sharp breaking ball give him a lot of upside.
• Inside the Dodgers: More on Dodgers' first-round pick
Competitive Balance Round A:
30. Baltimore Orioles: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Westburg hits the ball hard and is a good athlete. He has a strong arm but there are questions about whether he can stay at shortstop moving forward. The biggest concern with Westburg is he strikes out a lot. He has power potential but hasn’t shown it yet consistently. There’s a lot to like about Westburg, but he does need some work.
31. Pittsburgh Pirates: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
Mlodzinski’s dominant performance in the Cape Cod League last summer is rivaled only by his fantastic, Scrabble-friendly last name. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was an absurd 40:4. He has a mid-90s fastball and hard slider, and his changeup is an average third pitch. If his time in the Cape league is any indication, the best is yet to come for Mlodzinski.
32. Kansas City Royals: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
Loftin is one of the best contact hitters in the draft. He struck out less than 10% of the time in college, and he’s a consistent defensive shortstop. He isn’t flashy, but he’s a really good overall player.
33. Arizona Diamondbacks: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
Cecconi has two great pitches, a fastball and slider, and showed some promise while at Miami. Cecconi needs to develop a third pitch before he joins a big-league rotation.
34. San Diego Padres: Justin Lange, RHP, Llano HS (Tx.)
What a difference a year makes. Lange’s fastball velocity jumped to 100 mph this spring, up from the high-80s, low-90s. He’s a very good athlete and has good size (6’4”, 220 pounds). He needs to develop his secondary pitches (cutter, changeup) but he has the potential to be a No. 1 or 2 starter.
35. Colorado Rockies: Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS, (Tx.)
Romo is the foil for A’s draft pick Tyler Soderstrom. He’s the best defensive catcher in the class but his bat needs some work. He is a switch hitter, which requires double the work, so it could take him a little longer to develop as an offensive player. He’s committed to LSU and could end up there.
36. Cleveland Indians: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
Burns probably would have been a higher pick if not for some shoulder concerns from his time at Auburn. But he throws hard, has two solid secondary pitches and good command. In the SEC, the top college baseball conference, Burns had a 2.86 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 188 2/3 innings during his time at Auburn.
37. Tampa Bay Rays: Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State
Williams is one of the best college shortstops in this draft class. He is a strong defender and good contact hitter—he struck out less than 10% of the time at Arizona State. His glove is good enough for him to be a big-leaguer, and if his bat develops, he’ll be a solid starting shortstop.