Omaha! Omaha! Either Peyton Manning just put together a quick game of pick-up flag football in my backyard, or the College World Series is officially underway in Nebraska. *editor buzzes into my earpiece* Manning is in fact in Canton learning how to properly construct a Super Bowl trophy out of a Wheaties box for the next incredibly average Peyton’s Places segment, so it must be the latter — which is good for him, because my backyard is currently infested with slime mold and being treated for turf diseases, so that simply wouldn’t be advised for the local neighborhood youths. But alas, the CWS is here, and we have the luxury of scouting an excess of 2021 MLB Draft talent from June 19-30. Six players in my top 30 were able to advance to college baseball’s ultimate event, but countless others such as Arizona’s Ryan Holgate, Vanderbilt’s Isaiah Thomas and NC State’s Luca Tresh made the Omaha cut as well. This not only means that these rankings are fluid and will undoubtedly change prior to the July 11-13 draft, but also that I recommend taking the below intel and doing some of your own personal scouting over the course of the next week-plus. So, who has made the cut as we inch closer to the release of the complete college top 100? Check it out below, as there are a handful of new names previously excluded from the preseason list that utilized excellent 2021 campaigns to springboard their stock — such as Washington State’s Kyle Manzardo and Florida State’s Matheu Nelson. Where they’ll ultimately fall in the draft, nobody knows! For that reason, I like to refer to such players as this year’s “unsupervised children flying off trampolines at the annual Memorial Day reunion.” There’s always bound to be one or two.

Top Five College Prospects for the 2021 Draft | Top 10 College Prospects for the 2021 Draft

Preseason Top 50 College MLB Draft Prospects

Prospect Watch: Robby Martin (April 29) | Collegiate Corner: May 13

Collegiate Corner: Feb. 25 Collegiate Corner: March 18 | Collegiate Corner: April 15

2021 Draft Noise: Jan. 21 | Way-Too-Early College Top 25: July 16

Top Five Underclass Prospects: May 14 | Top 10 Underclass Prospects: May 21

1. Jack Leiter | RHP | Vanderbilt | 6-4 | 225 | R/R

Already went over him in the Top Five College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

2. Kumar Rocker | RHP | Vanderbilt | 6-3 | 210 | R/R

Already went over him in the Top Five College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

3. Sal Frelick | OF | Boston College | 5-10 | 175 | L/R

Already went over him in the Top Five College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

4. Jud Fabian | OF | Florida | 6-1 | 180 | R/L

Already went over him in the Top Five College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

5. Henry Davis | C | Louisville | 6-2 | 195 | R/R

Already went over him in the Top Five College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

6. Colton Cowser | OF | Sam Houston St. | 6-3 | 195 | L/R

Already went over him in the Top 10 College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

7. Ethan Wilson | OF | South Alabama | 6-2 | 210 | L/L

Already went over him in the Top 10 College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

8. Matt McLain | OF | UCLA | 5-11 | 175 | R/R

Already went over him in the Top 10 College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

9. Sam Bachman | RHP | Miami (OH) | 6-1 | 235 | R/R

Already went over him in the Top 10 College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

10. Ty Madden | RHP | Texas | 6-3 | 215 | R/R

Already went over him in the Top 10 College Prospects for the 2021 Draft.

11. Jordan Wicks | LHP | Kansas State | 6-3 | 220 | L/L

12. Gunnar Hoglund | RHP | Ole Miss | 6-4 | 220 | L/R

13. Will Bednar | RHP | Mississippi State | 6-2 | 230 | R/R

14. Ryan Bliss | INF | Auburn | 5-9 | 165 | R/R

15. Gavin Williams | RHP | East Carolina | 6-6 | 240 | L/R

This is called the “Grupo Bimbo and Land O’ Lakes Tier” because the way I see it, this is where the bread and butter portion of the 2021 collegiate draft class begins. Although the names preceding this tier — which isn’t so much a tier as it is a grouping of five — are elite prospects, I believe the 2021 class has a far greater quality of depth than we saw last year. In 2020, we had a plethora of advanced pitching prospects worthy of a top-10 selection (Max Meyer, Asa Lacy, Emerson Hanrock, Reid Detmers, etc.) as well as refined positional names (Spencer Torkelson, Austin Martin, Nick Gonzales, Garrett Mitchell, Patrick Bailey, etc.) that made prep players few and far between in the first round. Without a doubt, you will see a higher percentage of high school prospects in the first round this year, but the college players to follow in the latter half of the first round and rounds 2-5 will be where fantasy owners make their mark in dynasty leagues/2021 first-year player drafts. Beginning with high-and-above the best left-handed college arm in the class in Jordan Wicks, there are a surplus of players on this list that would typically belong in the top-20 but have instead been pushed down due to the quality of depth of the crop. This list was initially intended to be a top 25, but I extended it to 30 because the players at the tail-end deserved inclusion in today’s post. Following Wicks (55-FB, 65-CH, 55-SL, 45- CB), who will go in the top 15-20 picks with a low-to-mid 90s heater and perhaps the best changeup in the entire draft, you’ll find three elite, right-handed pitching prospects from this past year’s NCAA Super Regional. Unfortunately, Hoglund tore his UCL in mid-May, effectively ending his season and putting a dent larger than John Kruk’s press box seat cushion in his draft stock. As a dynasty leaguer, you should view Hoglund’s injury as an opportunity to acquire value this summer, as his setback in development will impact your dynasty roster much less than the team who ultimately drafts him. Elsewhere, I’m relatively high on Bliss, who batted .365/.428/.654 with 15 home runs and six steals as a third-year player at Auburn and should be able to stick up the middle long term. If you had a chance to tune into any early College World Series action, then you’re likely well aware of Bednar, who struck out 15 Longhorns in just six innings on Sunday night. Williams has really jumped up this board from where he was in the preseason (unranked, listed as “outside looking in” in my preseason top 50), as he went 10-1 with a 2.65 ERA/.193 BAA with 130 strikeouts over 81 1/3 frames this past season.

16. Jaden Hill | RHP | LSU | 6-3 | 210 | R/R

17. Ryan Cusick | RHP | Wake Forest | 6-6 | 225 | R/R

18. Michael McGreevy | UC Santa Barbara | 6-4 | 200 | R/R

19. Christian Franklin | OF | Arkansas | 5-11 | 185 | R/R

20.  Kyle Manzardo | 1B | Washington State | 6-1 | 2-5 | L/R

All of these “tiers” of five are interesting, but this one might take Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake. For that reason, we’ll call this tier “Trunchbull’s Delicacies.” Leading off with Hill, who I had way up inside the top five in the preseason list, we have five polarizing players as it relates to to big league potential. The LSU right-hander had a chance to secure a hefty signing bonus this July, but instead saw Tommy John surgery drastically impact his prospects. After allowing just two runs across his first 21 2/3 collegiate frames, Hill was blown up for a 6.67 ERA across seven starts in 2021 prior to going down with the UCL injury. With a 65-FB, 55-SL, 60-CH, an athletic frame and the ability to sit 95-97 MPH while working up to 99, the projectability is still there — so pencil Hill in there alongside Hoglund as a name with an attractive injury discount in this year’s FYPDs. After Hill, you’ll find Cusick the strikeout machine (17.3 K/9 in 2020, 13.9 K/9 in 2021) followed by McGreevy of UCSB, who will look to follow Shane Bieber as perhaps the next former Gaucho to reach the MLB. McGreevy’s career numbers (16-3, 2.33 ERA, 189.1 IP, 194 K) are solid, but it’s the elite command (194-to-31 career K-to-BB, 115-to-11 in 2021) that make him special, much like Bieber. I’ve touched on Franklin at length in previous posts, so be sure to utilize the links up top if you want more scouting intel on the toolsy Razorback outfielder. All that does is open up room for me to introduce Manzardo, who slashed .365/.437/.640 with 11 homers and 31 extra-base hits this past season to raise his career batting line to .336/.404/.533. Is he the rightful Lizard King!? Quite possibly so. There are going to be a lot of ‘perts’ who will be baffled by the fact that Manzardo is ahead of prospects like Adrian Del Castillo and Alex Binelas on this list, but the Washington State product can flat-out hit any pitch in any location, so don’t let his lack of positional versatility as a first base-only prospect deter you. He has become a somewhat better defender over the past calendar year and while he’s not a liability out there, showing some level of competency in the corner outfield could have done him wonders.

21. Matheu Nelson | C | Florida State | 5-11 | 190 | R/R

22. Adrian Del Castillo | C | Miami | 5-11 | 210 | L/R

23. Matt Mikulski | LHP | Fordham | 6-4 | 205 | L/L

24. Christian MacLeod | LHP | Mississippi State | 6-4 | 227 | L/L

25. Alex Binelas | INF | Louisville | 6-3 | 210 | L/R

Three on the rise and two on their way down. We’ll just call this grouping “Five Guys,” because Nelson, Mikulski and MacLeod represent juicy double cheeseburgers while Del Castillo and Binelas are the random sacks of potatoes you pass lying on the floor on your way to the cash register. Leading off with Del Castillo and Binelas, both players made my 2020 underclassmen top 10 for this year’s draft at No. 3 and No. 9, respectively — so look no further for in-depth analysis on those two. Each prospect has struggled to maintain their prior levels of production in 2021 and further complicating the matter is that neither has a true defensive home as a professional. Binelas (.256/.348/.621) looks more like he’ll be limited to first base/DH with every game he plays, while Del Castillo really has no surefire defensive home whatsoever. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to stick behind the plate long term, as he’s an average thrower and below-average receiver. If a team believes he can stick there, there’s a shot at him going in the first 20 picks thanks to his work with the bat over the course of his college career: .311/.410/.499, 17 homers, 37 doubles, five steals, 10.2 K%, 11.9 BB%. Moving to the double cheeseburgers, Nelson is a strong bet to come away with the 2021 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award after slashing .330/.436/.773 with 23 home runs, 17 doubles, four steals, a 24.5 K% and 13.1 BB%. Nelson comes with similar questions about his ability to catch long-term and his swing may be less ready for the pro game than Del Castillo’s, but I’m not one to put raw tools over actual production to the extent of having Nelson ranked below the latter. On the pitching side, Mikulski sports some of the best numbers in the entire nation: 9-0, 1.45 ERA, 68.1 IP, .127 BAA, 124 K, 27 KK. That’s a 16.3 K/9 in the Patriot League, but what would you like the guy to do, not pitch because he only got offered a scholarship at Fordham? Mikulski has a 1.45 ERA prior to the 2020 season shutdown, so the performance is legit and he can work 95-98 MPH with a 60-heater paired with a 55-SL and 50-CH. We round out the tier with MacLeod (pronounced McCloud, WTF?), who wasn’t unearthly in 2021 (4.24 ERA, 80.2 IP, 113 K, .234 BAA, 12.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9)  but has the makings of a big league starter with a 50-FB, 60-CB and 50-CH despite below-average velo (88-93 MPH) from the left side.

26. Tommy Mace | RHP | Florida | 6-7 | 225 | R/R

27. Hunter Goodman | C | Memphis | 6-0 | 210 | R/R

28. Spencer Schwellenbach | RHP/SS | Nebraska | 6-1 | 200 | R/R

29. Andrew Abbott | LHP | Virginia | 6-0 | 180 | L/L

30. Doug Nikhazy | LHP | Ole Miss | 6-0 | 205 | L/L

Even with expanding to 30 prospects instead of 25, this tier hurts me. I tried and tried to find a way to include each of these players as well as Florida State outfielder Robby Martin, but just couldn’t find a way to turn 31 into 30. Since I expanded for the mere sake of inclusion, we’ll call this grouping “Participation Trophies for Everyone, Even Grey.” Mace starts off the tier as a highly projectible right-hander with a complete arsenal (55-FB, 50-CB, 45-SL, 50-CH) who was a sinker-baller/two-seam type before deploying a more modern approach this past season. After spending the summer working with Driveline, Mace was able to pitch up in the zone more with his fastball and finished with an 11.3 K/9 — up from his respective marks of 8.7 and 7.4 in 2020 and 2019. Mace has always had great control (career 2.5 BB/9, 2.1 in 2021), so it’s a matter of actually putting it all together to obtain bottom-line results, which he hasn’t quite been able to accomplish (career 4.37 ERA, 4.38 ERA in 2021). Switching gears, I’ve been bullish on Goodman from the onset, as he’s more evidence of a college bat that can flat-out hit and wields enough power to warrant inclusion in the top 30 despite questions regarding where he’ll fit defensively long term. As for Schwellenbach, ‘perts’ are torn on whether the two-way Husker is better suited as a positional or pitching prospect moving forward — but he does both incredibly well. Side note: think about how much corn they could husk out there in Nebraska if everyone was a two-way Husker. Closing out with two southpaws with advanced pitchability, both Abbott and Nikhazy are nothing if not models of consistency and reliability. Abbott owns a career 3.06 ERA with 327 strikeouts over 215 innings at Virginia, having found success in the past as a closer prior to cementing himself as the Cavaliers’ ace in 2021. His low-90s heater works up to 95 MPH and he compliments it effectively with a 60-CB and 45-CH. And it’s nearly impossible to not love Nikhazy, as he brings the magic seemingly every “Doug Day” out there on the mound at Ole Miss: 12-2, 2.45 ERA, 92 IP, 142 K in 2021. Nikhazy has a well-rounded arsenal including a 50-FB, 55-CB, 55-CL and 50-CH while topping out at 94 MPH with a fastball that tends to sit 89-92. He’s a gamer and lives for the spotlight on the hill. If there’s a pitchability poster boy in this year’s class — look no further than Nikhazy.

Outside Looking In: Mississippi State OF Tanner Allen, Wright State 2B Tyler Black, Maryland RHP Sean Burke, Houston LHP Robert Gasser, Virginia INF Zack Gelof, Michigan LHP Steven Hajjar, Arizona OF Ryan Holgate, LSU RHP Landon Marceaux, Florida State OF Robby Martin, Texas A&M RHP Bryce Miller, East Carolina 2B Connor Norby, Ohio LHP Joe Rock, Eastern Illinois SS Trey Sweeney, Vanderbilt OF Isaiah Thomas, NC State C Luca Tresh, Oregon OF Aaron Zavala

That’s all for this week! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.

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DanTheSillyMetFan
DanTheSillyMetFan
Reply to  Hobbs
1 year ago

That made me laugh hard, but I I appreciate the work you put into this list.