The 2021 MLB draft picture is coming into focus now, with all the top prospects playing for multiple weeks and plenty of time for pop-up types to be seen multiple times by each team. After this group of the top 100 players plus seven who just missed, things really open up and there's a seemingly endless number of players you could squint at and see sneaking into the fourth round if things break right.
Texas high school shortstop Jordan Lawlar and Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter started to separate themselves as a clear top tier in this group. Beyond them, a pretty consensus second tier has formed, with the majority of teams calling it an overall top eight with the players listed below in a similar order, but there's obviously some room for disagreement toward the tail end of Tier 2 and the top of Tier 3.
The 2021 class is generally seen as a down crop since there isn't a slam-dunk clear 1-1 choice (not to mention no generational talent), but I also found there are about 10-12 players to feel good about as top-20 picks, then a gap where we're missing about 10 players, then some solid 20-30 types, with broad agreement from the industry on this instinct. Obviously, some players will step forward and fill those spots, but 2022's draft class is already seen as better, with a potentially historic prep pitching class and Florida prep CF Elijah Green as that once-every-few-years, slam-dunk talent at the top.
I've had a decent feel for club preference in the top five to seven picks for a few weeks, but not a ton behind that. Events like the Brady House matchup I wrote about last week help greatly to reveal both where I should rank a player, where the interest is, and which teams are in even more than you'd expect. There was one GM at the game I went to, then two GMs at House's next game that I didn't attend, but the information-collecting inclination of scouts (to be fair, I also do it) has them noticing these sorts of team preferences via attendance at specific games.
The last thing to note is an interesting demographic glut of prep hitters in the 20-40 area. There's a big demand for polished position players and a real lack of quality in the college ranks this year, so teams are turning to high schoolers. Some have a strong summer of performance with wood bats against strong competition, which is almost as powerful as one spring of college looks if there's a question about upside, health, competition level, etc. on the college options. I've shuffled the order of these 20-40 prep bats a number of times and clubs seems to be revealing their overall preference for style of hitting prospect by whom they're most enthusiastic about now. The candidates from the colder locales specifically (Benny Montgomery, Lonny White Jr., Alex Mooney, Joe Mack, Josh Baez) just began their seasons and have a chance to jump with a strong start while top-level scouts are coming in now.
I included a tier system for the more casual reader and FV grades for the hard-core types who want to slot players into their team's prospect lists.