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MLB Draft 2021 Preview

This year’s draft will be unlike any other.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Previews Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The 2021 MLB Draft begins today, roughly a month later than it normally does. This is Major League Baseball’s first attempt at making the draft into an event with as much draw as the other professional sports leagues in North America. By scheduling the draft during the All-Star break, the hope is that fans with nothing else to watch between regular season play will tune in to see the stars of five years from now tomorrow get selected.

WHERE AND WHEN TO WATCH:

DAY 1: July 11, 7 pm EDT

TV: MLB Network, ESPN

Streaming: MLB.com

DAY 2: July 12, 1 pm EDT

TV: MLB Network

Streaming: MLB.com

DAY 3: July 13, 12 pm EDT

TV: MLB Network

Streaming: MLB.com

Even if the scheduling were the same, this would still be a draft unlike any in recent years. Before the pandemic, the draft stretched 40 rounds. In preparation to sever the affiliation of 43 minor league teams, last year’s affair was shortened to just five rounds. 2021’s draft will be 20, the minimum allowed by the infamous March agreement of last year.

Players that would have been selected after the 20th round will instead try to play in one of the independent partner leagues formed from the former minor league affiliates. They could be joined by current minor leaguers squeezed out of a job by the influx of talent from the draft. Draftees typically went to short-season ball, but that level of the minors has been deleted from existence.

Day 1 of the draft will see the first round and Competitive Balance Round A selected. Day 2 will cover rounds 2-10, including Competitive Balance Round B. Rounds 11-20 will be picked on Day 3.

As part of their punishment for using technology to steal signs, the Astros have forfeited their first-round pick and will not make a selection until the third round.

The two most well-known names of the 2021 draft class are Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, but neither of the Vanderbilt co-aces is considered likely to be taken first overall. Some mock drafts have Rocker falling to the Royals who have the seventh-overall pick.

The Pirates, who have the first pick, are rumored to be favoring a position player, and high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer appears to be the favorite. FanGraphs called Mayer the best overall player in the draft. Brady House, Jordan Lawler, and Kahlil Watson are three other high school shortstops who figure to go in the first 10 picks. Louisville catcher Henry Davis and Sam Houston State centerfielder Colton Cowser will be taken early as well.

Mock Drafts

CBS Sports

FanGraphs

Sporting News

MLB.com

The Athletic (subscription required)

Baseball America (subscription required)

ESPN