2021 Amateur Draft
The 2021 First Year Player Draft was the fifty-seventh Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. For the first time, it was held as part of the All-Star Game festivities, starting on July 11th, and not in early June, as had traditionally been the case. This meant that it took place after the College World Series and not immediately before. The game was originally scheduled to take place in Atlanta, GA, but was moved to indicate baseball's displeasure with Georgia's adoption of restrictive voting laws. Therefore, both the game and the draft took place in Denver, CO, with the draft staged at the Bellco Theater in Denver's Convention Center.
The 2020 Amateur Draft was limited to five rounds due to the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down amateur baseball in March, and that same agreement provided for a draft of twenty rounds this year. It was originally not clear how many rounds would take place going forward, but the decision was to cut off the draft at 20 rounds, instead of the traditional 40, given the re-organization - read contraction - of the minor leagues. The Houston Astros, who would normally have had the #15 pick, were without a first-round choice, having been deprived of their top two selections in both the 2020 draft and this one as punishment for their sign-stealing trespasses discovered after the 2019 season. Also, the slot values for signing bonuses in this year's draft were maintained at the same level as in 2020, and not increased in proportion with the rate of inflation in major league salaries, in deference to the lower revenues resulting from the pandemic the previous year.
The best players in the draft, according to the early consensus, were two teammates, both pitchers for Vanderbilt University, Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter. The two were seemingly staging a personal competition to outstage one another during the early weeks of the collegiate season, each one putting up incredible numbers making it unclear which of the two would be picked first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates. This reminded observers of the 2011 amateur draft, when UCLA teammates Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer had gone first and third respectively, a year when the Pirates also held the top overall pick. However, as amateur baseball re-started around the country, other names began to emerge as competition for the two college pitchers, including high school shortstops Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer. By mid-May, the Pirates were said to be considering seven separate players for their selection and the choice was still no clearer as June came to an end, given Leiter and Kumar had led Vanderbilt University to the finals of the 2021 College World Series, and the top high school players had done nothing to lower their value either. In the end, though, the Pirates caught most observers off-guard by selecting C Henry Davis from the University of Louisville, considered a sure top-10 pick, but not discussed much as a potential first overall pick.
The signing deadline was on August 2nd. Rocker was the only player drafted in the first round not to sign, as the New York Mets declined to make him an offer over concerns about the health of his elbow and shoulder.
|30||Cincinnati Reds||Jay Allen||OF||John Carroll Catholic High School (H.S.)||Fort Pierce, FL||Compensation for Trevor Bauer|
Competitive Balance Round A
|31||Miami Marlins||Joe Mack||C||Williamsville East High School (H.S.)||Williamsville, NY|
|32||Detroit Tigers||Ty Madden||P||University of Texas (Col.)||Cypress, TX|
|33||Milwaukee Brewers||Tyler Black||2B||Wright State University (Col.)||Toronto, ON|
|34||Tampa Bay Rays||Cooper Kinney||2B||Baylor School (H.S.)||Chattanooga, TN|
|35||Cincinnati Reds||Matheu Nelson||C||Florida State University||Largo, FL|
|36||Minnesota Twins||Noah Miller||SS||Ozaukee High School (H.S.)||Fredonia, WI|
Other Sports Selections
The Los Angeles Angels selected a pitcher with each of their 20 picks, something completely unprecedented. The most pitchers previously taken in the first 20 rounds of a team's draft was 18 by the Atlanta Braves in 2015. Going back to 2018, the Angels had made 64 picks in the top 20 rounds, 55 of which were pitchers.
The first player from the draft to reach the majors was not one of the top selections, but a rather unheralded pitcher from the group of those taken by the Angels, 11th round selection Chase Silseth, who made his debut on May 13, 2022.
- Jim Callis: "Here's the 2021 MLB Draft order", mlb.com, October 12, 2020. 
- Jim Callis: "Leiter vs. Rocker: Who's better? Vandy teammates could be first pair to go 1-2 in the same Draft", mlb.com, April 6, 2021. 
- Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo: "Five guys on the rise in the Draft", mlb.com, April 13, 2021. 
- Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo: "Draft Day 1: Pick-by-pick rundown, analysis", mlb.com, July 12, 2021. 
- Jim Callis, Sam Dykstra and Jonathan Mayo: "Here are our favorite picks from the Draft", mlb.com, July 15, 2021. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "'21 All-Star Game, Draft moved from Atlanta", mlb.com, April 2, 2021. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Top storylines from a thrilling Day 1 of Draft", mlb.com, July 12, 2021. 
- Jack Crouse: "GM on No. 1 pick: 'We need to get this right': Pirates narrow down choices 2 weeks out from 2021 MLB Draft", mlb.com, June 27, 2021. 
- Tyler Maun: "Notable picks, analysis from Day 2 of Draft", mlb.com, July 12, 2021. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "Here are the Top 100 Draft prospects for '21", mlb.com, December 14, 2020. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "The great Mayer vs. Lawlar debate: Four prep shortstops could be taken in the Top 10 of July's Draft", mlb.com, June 7, 2021. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "Who will be the No. 1 pick in the Draft?", mlb.com, July 9, 2021. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "Everything you need to know about the Draft", mlb.com, July 11, 2021.