Baseball Prospect Journal

2021 MLB Draft: Top College Prospects

2021 MLB Draft Kumar Rocker Associated Press

The 2021 MLB draft class appears to be another strong year for college and prep talent. After the 2020 draft was the strongest draft class in recent memory, the 2021 class also presents elite pitching prospects and talented position players.

Below is a look at 10 of the top college prospects in the 2021 MLB draft class. You can read about 10 of the top prep players in the 2021 draft class here.

Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt

Rocker is a 6-foot-4, 255-pound right-handed pitcher who professional scouts considered as one of the best prep players in the 2018 draft class. After signability concerns caused him to slide out of the first round in 2018, Rocker has solidified himself as the early favorite to be the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft over the last two years at Vanderbilt.

Rocker has a high-90s fastball and a devastating slider that generates a high percentage of swings and misses. He posted a 3.06 ERA with 142 strikeouts and 29 walks allowed in 114 2/3 innings in his first two years at Vanderbilt. 

Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

Leiter was a potential first-round pick out of high school in 2019 but his strong commitment to Vanderbilt caused him to fall to the New York Yankees in the 20th round. His freshman year was cut short due to the coronavirus, as he finished with a 1.72 ERA, 22 strikeouts and eight walks allowed in 15 2/3 innings.

Leiter has a clean delivery, mid-90s fastball and a really good curveball.  He also pitches with tempo and has solid control of his pitches. He will have leverage in the 2021 draft, as he will be a draft-eligible freshman after the NCAA granted all college baseball players with an additional year of eligibility due to the shortened season this spring.

Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami

Del Castillo is an offensive-minded catcher who has dominated college pitching the last two years. The left-handed hitter has shown an ability to hit for average and power while also having a strong feel for the strike zone at Miami. He posted a .336 average with 14 home runs and 87 RBIs in 77 games in his first two years at Miami.

Scouts are split on his defensive skills behind the plate and that’s something he will have to improve on if he wants to play the position long term. He has experience playing the outfield. 

Matt McLain, SS, UCLA

The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted McLain with the 25th overall pick in the 2018 draft. McLain turned down $2.6 million from the Diamondbacks to honor his commitment to UCLA, though. That decision might pay off next year, as McLain is in the mix to be a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft.

McLain is 5-11, 170 pounds and has all the tools to play shortstop in pro ball. After hitting .203 with four home runs in 249 plate appearances as a freshman in 2019, McLain experienced better results at the plate, batting .397 with three home runs in 64 plate appearances this spring.

Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State

Cowser has a smooth, compact swing that allows him to consistently drive balls to all parts of the field. The 6-3, 195-pound left-handed hitter is more of a line-drive hitter but has room to grow into more power as he matures physically. 

Cowser has hit .339 with 20 doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 60 RBIs in 328 plate appearances in 70 games in his first two collegiate seasons. 

Jud Fabian, OF, Florida

Fabian has above-average power from the right side of the plate. He has displayed some swing-and-miss in his game throughout his first two years at Florida, but it is hard to deny his potential at the plate.

Fabian hit .250 with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 236 plate appearances in 73 games over his first two years at Florida. He hit .290 with eight doubles, six home runs and 16 RBIs in 137 plate appearances in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Jaden Hill, RHP, LSU

Hill is an intriguing right-handed pitcher who is 6-4, 215 pounds and offers plenty of potential on the mound. He has a high-90s fastball, solid changeup and a promising slider.

Hill has only thrown 21 2/3 innings in his first two years at LSU, missing time his freshman year with a right elbow strain. He posted a 0.83 ERA with 28 strikeouts and eight walks allowed in six games over his first two years at LSU.

Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville

Binelas, a Wisconsin native, missed most of the spring-shortened season due to a hamate injury. But when healthy, the third baseman has produced for the Cardinals. The left-handed hitter has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field.

As a freshman in 2019, Binelas hit .291 with 14 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs and 59 RBIs in 243 plate appearances in 59 games.

Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Hoglund with the 36th pick in the 2018 draft, but he instead made it to campus and has pitched at Mississippi the last two years. He throws a low-90s fastball and two solid breaking pitches.

The 6-4, 210-pound righty posted a 5.29 ERA in 68 innings as a freshman but showed encouraging results this spring, recording a 1.93 ERA with 37 strikeouts and four walks allowed in 23 1/3 innings.

Robby Martin, OF, Florida State

Martin is a 6-3, 210-pound left-handed hitting outfielder who has an exciting set of tools. He has really good speed and is more of a gap-to-gap hitter right now. He has the frame and ability to add power to his game in the future.

Martin struggled in the Cape Cod League last summer but has produced in his two years at Florida State. He has accumulated a .317 batting average with 21 doubles, four home runs and 68 RBIs in 339 plate appearances in 80 games at FSU.

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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