2021 MLB Draft

MLB issued a press release with some information regarding this year’s draft (some of this was known previously, some not):

  • The draft of course has been moved to a month later and this year’s will be on July 11-13
  • MLB is still playing coy about the number of rounds this year only saying in the PR that it will be a “minimum” 20 rounds
  • A la the NFL and NBA, MLB for the first time will have a draft combine involving both college and HS players. The combine is scheduled for Jun 20-28 in Cary, NC
  • Also as part of the combine will be a showcase tournament for the top 88 HS players in the country

I’m having trouble imagining what a baseball combine would consist of and how useful it would be. Scouts could verify physical attributes and I suppose some fielding skills, but I’d be wary of projecting key skills of either hitters or pitchers off of non-game activities.

Here is what gets measured during a separate event called the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) and I suspect it will serve as a model for the combine:


The combine will also involve a medical component which I suspect is what interests MLB organizations the most particularly as regards pitchers.

High tech tryout camp

So a number of interesting tidbits from this BA article:

  1. The JUCO season kicked off this past weekend which is good news for players on teams which are actually having a season

  2. And not so good news for players on teams which have cancelled their seasons

  3. Because some teams are having a season and some teams ain’t the NJCAA has ruled that this year will not count towards a players eligibility status (yes…that’s a tad confusing)

  4. Not so confusing is that the NJCAA (just like the NCAA did) has said the prematurely-ended 2020 season will not count towards a player’s eligibility status

  5. So there will be a number of players who could transfer to a 4-year school in 2022 and despite having played at the juco level for 2 years will still have 4 years of eligibility remaining. In other words they could end up playing college baseball for 6 seasons.

  6. Because the MLB draft was only 5 rounds in 2020 only 5 JUCO players got drafted last year (that says BA compares to 120 in 2019 and 103 in 2018)

  7. High school kids who might have gotten drafted in a “normal” year didn’t in 2020 so a number of them chose to go to college instead and some have ended up at the JUCOs

So what does that mean for the 2021 draft in general and more specifically the Astros?

As far as the former it could mean a larger number than normal of JUCO players being drafted. Or not. The draft this year may be limited to 20 rounds and a number of JUCO guys often in the past got popped in the 21st round and later. The kids who play for schools not playing this spring also aren’t gonna get scouted. And the shortened draft also affected kids at 4-year schools as well so there’s a backlog there too.

Still there might be more talent than normal in the JUCO ranks. Which at least in the Kansas/Oklahoma/North Texas region could benefit the Astros as super scout Jim Stevenson has certainly been known to ferret out the talent pool from the 2-year schools there.

Also FWIW in the last “full” draft in 2019 the Astros went JUCO heavy. They took 4 JUCO guys in the first 16 rounds which is a really high concentration that early in the draft. And then picked 2 more JUCOs later who were signed for full slot or over-slot. All that doesn’t really mean anything necessarily because 1 year does not make a trend (particularly given the regime change since that draft). But perhaps the stars are aligning here for the Astros to again go heavy in 2021 with JUCO players.


I assume JUCO kids be at the “combine” along with 4 yr college players and HS? This is going to be a packed draft because of the 2nd year seniors who stayed in college in addition to the larger JUCO classes.

Haven’t see any confirmation of it but I would assume there would be at least a few JUCO guys there.

And whether this draft is 20 rounds or 25 rounds or 30 rounds, because of that backlog of players I would think any smart organization would be wise to invest heavily in UDFAs this year. Particularly a smart org who happens to lack a first and second round pick.

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And the increase in the number of 21 yr old Sophomores - Those are usually rare but this year, there should be plenty.

I’ll note in this thread some interesting names to know leading up to the draft. First up is Darren Baker, Dusty’s son. The article below says it was expected that Darren would go in the top 10 rounds of the 2020 draft. The draft was truncated of course to just 5 rounds and after not being drafted Darren said he was returning to Cal for another season this spring. Because the 2020 season did not count towards NCAA eligibility, Baker retains negotiating leverage as he could also return to Cal for 2022.

Despite being the son of a guy who hit 242 major league home runs, Darren has zero pop. Just 1 longball in 111 games entering this spring for the Golden Bears. Baker put his name on the draft map after a stellar summer in the Cape in 2019 where he hit .342/.384/.376. Baseball America listed him at #46 in there Top 50 Cape Cod League prospects after the season. Lefty swinger and second baseman.

Clubs were recently informed that the draft will be just 20 rounds.

Bad move I think. I don’t think they should have dropped it below 25 rounds. Arguably it should have been even higher this year given last year’s abbreviated draft of 5 rounds. As far as not having available roster spots for a higher number of drafted players, well that was a self-inflicted wound by MLB when they eliminated two levels of the minor league system.

The bonus pools for the draft and related rules were also released…

  • Owing to their loss of their 1st and 2nd round picks, the Astros will again have the smallest pool at just $2.9MM
  • Astros of course could still have a larger bonus pool than the above number if they offer QOs to departing free agents who sign elsewhere
  • As has been true in recent years, guys drafted in rounds 11-20 can be signed for $125K without counting against the pool
  • Like 2020, NDFAs are limited to bonuses of $20K

Jim Callis with the writeup on SE Missouri St. lefty Dylan Dodd. Super scout Jim Stevenson knows his pitchers (Dallas Keuchel, Josh James) and the Astros have drafted/signed several players out of SEMO over the years (Alex Winkelman in 2015, Justin Dirden last year).


Another interesting name to keep an eye on is Virginia righty Mike Vasil, who was a first round pick in 2018 out of HS, but has struggled somewhat at UVA and now looks more like Day 2 selection. Mid 90’s four seam FB, with low 80’s slider and high 80’s cutter. Keith Law thinks the latter might be his best pitch, actually.

Me, I’m wondering if there’s a particular professional baseball organization that has an affinity for developing pitchers with four seam fastballs and happens to have a couple of picks nestled around the fourth round of this year’s draft.

Ty Madden at UT has been very impressive this year outside of his 1st start, pretty sure he’s draft eligible

Madden is like a consensus top 10 pick so unfortunately he’ll be long gone by the time the Astros get around to making their first selection.

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Gotcha, he redshirted I guess? I have watched more UT baseball this year than in a long time (thanks covid), so I’ve seen 7 or so of his starts, he’s quite good. Didn’t know he was that highly regarded.

No redshirt. Abbreviated 2020 season didn’t count from an eligibility standpoint. He’s draft eligible since he’s 21.

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Yep, forgot that. I did get to watch Kumar again last night against a good Miss State team and he is something to see.

I don’t check the mocks too often, so I don’t know if there is a consensus between him and Leiter, but it’s not too clear to me.

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Yeah, I think I’ve seen Leiter pitch twice, so I have no idea.