Henry Davis
Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

How will the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft play out? We’ll find out this weekend.

The lives of a few hundred baseball players will change this weekend when the 2021 MLB Draft takes place.

From a New York perspective, we’ll have to wait until picks No. 10 and 20 for the Mets and Yankees, respectively, are on the clock. But teams across Major League Baseball will look to change their future with the right picks.

Let’s take our shot at predicting the first round of this year’s draft.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates — Henry Davis, C, Louisville
MLB Prospect Rank: 6

The Pirates are a dumpster fire and need this draft to play out well. Davis is the top college bat this year and plays a premium position. Pittsburgh needs to change their trajectory quickly and may not want to wait for a high school shortstop.

2. Texas Rangers — Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 1

Many recent mocks have had Mayer going to the Pirates. He’s an exceptionally talented, left-handed hitting shortstop with a high ceiling. Texas could be a big spender in free agency this winter but Mayer could be the best prep player in this class.

3. Detroit Tigers — Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 4

Detroit has an enviable collection of arms coming now/soon so looking to add more bats makes sense here. Watson is in the discussion for top prep player in this class and would join last year’s top pick, Spencer Torkelson, as a solid left side of the infield in the future.

4. Boston Red Sox — Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
MLB Prospect Rank: 2

It seems unfair that the division-leading Red Sox have a top-five pick, but here we are. Leiter is a refined arm ready for prime time. He could be in Boston soon and would give them a potential front of the rotation pitcher with ace potential.

5. Baltimore Orioles — Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 7

The top prep arm in this draft, Jobe has been mocked anywhere between the top five and the mid-teens. Baltimore is building for the future so a high school arm with high upside gives them potential for a win here.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks — Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 15

We’ve been seeing Montgomery flying up mock draft boards over the past month. He would likely be a below-slot pick for the Dbacks with a lot of talent.

7. Kansas City Royals — Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 8

The Royals have Bobby Witt Jr. coming to take over shortstop at the major league level soon, but House is a tremendously talented player who could slot into a number of positions if he’s ready while Witt is still holding it down in KC.

8. Colorado Rockies — Matt McLain, 2B/SS, UCLA
MLB Prospect Rank: 12

This could be another below-slot pick for the Rockies who are entering a rebuild with a new general manager. Many recent mocks have had McLain going to the Mets at 10 but he could move up if a team wants a more mature middle infielder.

9. Los Angeles Angels — Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
MLB Prospect Rank: 6

This would be a dream for the Angels. They desperately need pitching to compliment Shohei Ohtani and Rocker likely isn’t far away from the majors. He’s a refined, potentially dominant starter with ace stuff.

10. New York Mets — Colson Montgomery, 3B, Southridge HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 25

Mocks have had the Mets going all over the board, but many mention they love Montgomery. He would likely be a bit of a reach here but if you love the player you have to take him.

11. Washington Nationals — Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
MLB Prospect Rank: 8

The Nationals may be looking to the future without Max Scherzer with this pick. Madden is another college arm who may not need as much runway to get to the big leagues.

12. Seattle Mariners — Jordan Lawler, SS, Jesuit Prep HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 3

Seattle has outfield depth for days right now and could look at either an arm or infielder here. Lawler has been mocked in the top ten in may places and would be a solid addition for the Mariners here.

13. Philadelphia Phillies — Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 18

The Phillies could go in a number of directions here. They have been mocked to select almost every position here, so we’re going with a top prep arm in Painter.

14. San Francisco Giants — Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 13

Ford will likely be the second catcher to hear his name called this weekend. The Giants have Buster Posey and Joey Bart is the immediate future, but Ford could give them a long-term answer behind the plate.

15. Milwaukee Brewers — Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
MLB Prospect Rank: 11

The top college outfielder in this year’s draft, Frelick has been mocked in the top ten overall and as low as the early 20s. Milwaukee has a need for outfield bats and this would be good value for the Brewers.

16. Miami Marlins — Bubba Chandler, SS/RHP, North Oconee HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 21

Miami will get some versatility and athleticism here with Chandler, who plays high school ball in Georgia. Selecting him out of high school will give the Marlins time to decide if he sticks as an infielder or stays on the mound.

17. Cincinnati Reds — Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 20

The Reds have been tied to mostly high school prospects heading into this draft. Taylor has been mocked as high as the top ten and has a high ceiling. This would be strong value for the Reds.

18. St. Louis Cardinals — Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (OH)
MLB Prospect Rank: 14

St. Louis needs to add arms to their system. They acquired Matthew Liberatore via trade but Bachman could join him as the next generation on the mound for the Cardinals. He’s a solid, experienced college pitcher.

19. Toronto Blue Jays — Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
MLB Prospect Rank: 28

Toronto is young everywhere, so adding another pitcher to their stable could give them even more options ahead of the trade deadline. McGreevy has top-ten potential; the Jays could benefit from a run on prep shortstops early this year.

20. New York Yankees — Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 17

Could the Yankees look to Jersey for an arm in this draft? Solometo is a solid arm who would be a nice addition to their organization. His local ties would make this a nice story in the draft as well.

21. Chicago Cubs — Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
MLB Prospect Rank: 32

The Cubs are in a bad place right now and their system lacks pitching depth. Bednar had a marvelous College World Series and could climb the board quickly, even jumping into the top ten. Chicago should look for an impact arm early this year.

22. Chicago White Sox — Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi
MLB Prospect Rank: 22

Hoglund was considered a top-ten pick before Tommy John surgery. The White Sox have a good thing going right now with young arms making an impact on the big league roster already. Hoglund could be a steal for the South Siders.

23. Cleveland Indians — Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
MLB Prospect Rank: 10

Cowser is a fascinating player. He’s been mocked in the top ten and out of the first round. There’s a lot of talent here but teams picking high school shortstops or pitchers could see him slide. Cleveland desperately needs

24. Atlanta Braves — Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
MLB Prospect Rank: 16

If you can figure Atlanta out, let us know. They have all the talent in the world, they’re young and dangerous and it’s easy to fall in love with their depth. But they haven’t been able to put it together this year. Given their young crop at the big league level, another arm just adds more options to the future.

25. Oakland A’s — Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
MLB Prospect Rank: 31

Oakland, like Tampa, picks the best player for their organization’s plan. Williams has been mocked in this range by most analysts and the A’s have always loved adding pitching.

26. Minnesota Twins — Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami (FL)
MLB Prospect Rank: 42

Minnesota is the most disappointing team in baseball this year. They have a need for a catcher of the future and Del Castillo coming from the college ranks theoretically puts him on a faster track to the big leagues.

27. San Diego Padres — Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 34

The Padres have pitching for days. And, even though Manny Machado has a long-term deal in place, adding a corner infielder makes sense here. Kath is a solid prep bat who could slide across the diamond in the future.

28. Tampa Bay Rays — Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 19

Tampa always seems to find winners in the draft. Mack has been the second catcher off the board in some mocks and some consider him the best prep catcher in the draft. Looking for great value? Tampa usually finds it.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers — Doug Nikhazy, LHP, Mississippi
MLB Prospect Rank: 56

Sure, just add another pitcher to the collection of studs. Clayton Kershaw isn’t going to be around forever so picking another potential rotation piece here makes sense.

30. Cincinnati Reds (comp) — Spencer Schwellenbach, SS/RHP, Nebraska
MLB Prospect Rank: 54

The Reds get this pick because Trevor Bauer left. Selecting a talented, versatile college player gives Cincinnati some options as they consider their future.

Competitive Balance Round A

31. Miami Marlins — Ky Bush, LHP, St. Mary’s
MLB Prospect Rank: 67

32. Detroit Tigers — Frank Mozzicato, LHP, East Catholic HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 39

33. Milwaukee Brewers — Maxwell Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks HS
MLB Prospect Rank: 33

34. Tampa Bay Rays — Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
MLB Prospect Rank: 45

35. Cincinnati Reds — Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
MLB Prospect Rank: 23

36. Minnesota Twins — Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State
MLB Prospect Rank: 57

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.