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2021 MLB Draft 1st Round Primer: The Commits

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These are the commits we do not expect to wear the Gangster Pajamas in 2022. If any of them end up on campus, consider it a coup.

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

Commits Who Might Hear Their Name Called on Day One (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A):

SS Jordan “The King” Lawlar

Depending on who you ask, either Lawlar or Marcelo Mayer is the top SS in this draft. He would be a Day One starter if he decided to come to Vandy—though maybe not at SS, as when Mighty Carter Young’s shoulder finally heals, I expect him to get back to being the Gold Glove type fielder I know he can be. Now I could spend about 1,000 words speculating on what position The King would play at The Hawk, but I’m not hearing any Kumar Rocker/Jack Leiter/Tyler Beede type talk suggesting that Lawlar might turn down the big bucks to come play for Corbs. If he somehow does, we party, but usually we know by now if a kid this talented is going to make it to campus.

Here’s the scouting report from MLB.com:

As a five-tool shortstop from a Dallas-area high school, Lawlar inevitably draws parallels to Bobby Witt Jr., the No. 2 overall pick in 2019 by the Royals. While Witt had louder tools and was more advanced because he grew up around the game as the son of a 16-year big leaguer, Lawlar should go in the same area of the 2021 Draft. He entered the year as the consensus top high school prospect and won Gatorade’s Texas high school player of the year award.

Lawlar is a more polished hitter than Witt was at the same stage with a quick, compact right-handed swing and a mature, patient approach, though he has struck out more than expected as a senior. He focuses on working the gaps and has a knack for inside-outing balls to right field. With his bat speed and the projectable strength in his 6-foot-2 frame, he should develop solid power once he adds strength and starts turning on more pitches.

Lawlar’s plus speed plays well on the bases and in the field, and he’ll even clock some well-above-average run times on occasion. The Vanderbilt recruit is a no-doubt shortstop with plenty of range, quick hands and a strong arm, though like most youngsters he needs to improve his defensive consistency. There isn’t much to quibble with his game, though teams with age-based models won’t like that he’ll turn 19 a week after the Draft.

It’s easy to see why an MLB scout would fall in love with his game and with his potential. Lawlar is a big SS—6’2”, 185 lbs—in the ARod mold. While no one truly comps to ARod, the big SS has real thunder in his bat, quick hands, and a cannon for an arm. The big question with Lawlar is whether or not you think he will stick at SS, and whether you discount him for being slightly older than most in his draft class. If you think he can play an impact SS at the Major League level, you take him #1 overall. If no, you still take him in the top half of the first round, because that bat is special. Like Austin Martin last year, Lawlar could pretty easily become a CF if SS doesn’t work out.

Unless he takes his own name off the board, expect Lawlar to go within the first 10 picks.

Of course, we value delusional optimism around here, Lawlar’s Twitter bio starts with “Vanderbilt Commit,” and this is still his pinned tweet:

Ah hell, let’s go ahead and dream. We’ve got thick skin. No one who’s watched every snap of the Mason era of Vanderbilt feetball can feel pain anymore.

Range: Top 10.

MLB.com Top 250 Ranking: #3.

MLB.com Current Mock Draft: #6 to the Arizona D’Bags.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 99.99%. It will take a miracle to get him to The Hawk.

OF Joshua “Not Javy” Baez

Remember Stanford’s Brock Jones just destroying the ever-loving hell out of baseballs in the NCAA Tourney? Well, that’s the comp for Boston outfielder Josh Baez. He’s bigger, faster, stronger, and throws harder than everyone else in this draft. Seriously. Like Jones, he’s a linebacker/safety playing baseball.

The 6’3”, 220lb OF will turn 18 right around draft time. Let’s just say our lineup could desperately use his power stroke. Of course, tooled up athletic monsters like Baez almost never make it to college. He’s got an exit velo of 102mph. Is that good?

Here’s the scouting report from MLB.com:

Massachusetts high school baseball doesn’t tend to produce a ton of early-round talent. The last time a prep talent from the state went in the top three rounds was when the D-backs took right-hander Matt Tabor in 2017 and Isan Diaz is the most recent position player taken that high, a second rounder — also by Arizona — in 2014. Baez, who had his raw power on display at a number of summer showcase circuit events and showed off his tools enough to be named the Gatorade state high school player of the year, has a very good chance to join them in July.

There might not be a player in the Draft class with more raw pop than Baez. It shows up in games against good competition, like when he crushed a home run with an exit velocity well over 100 mph at the Area Code Games. With that power comes a lot of swing and miss, especially when he gets too home run happy. He doesn’t take bad swings or get fooled, but just swings through pitches while trying to hit the ball 600 feet every time. There is hope that when he learns to trust his strength and tone down his swing, he’ll make more contact and find his power is naturally there.

While not a burner, Baez is a solid runner who knows how to steal a base and could stick in center field for a while. If the Vanderbilt recruit needs to move to a corner, he should profile very well in right, with a hose for an arm that fires fastballs up to 97 mph off the mound.

Range: Late 1st Round to 2nd round.

MLB.com Top 250 Ranking: 24.

MLB.com Current Mock Draft: N/A.

Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 95%. The only reason he’s not in the 99.99% category like Lawlar is that he’s currently being mocked towards the top of the 2nd round. Will that be enough to buy him out of his Vanderbilt commitment? I’d say likely yes, but still, there is a non-trivial chance he could be ours. You know Corbs and Astronaut Mike Baxter will be in his ear all week.

*Note: #42 Fr. RHP Christian “The Answer” Little, had he not graduated early, would have certainly been on this list—between Lawlar and Baez.