Loading scores...
Prospect Roundup

Top 10 2021 MLB Draft Prospects

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: July 12, 2021, 10:12 am ET

The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

This is normally where you'd be reading the top 10 fantasy prospects for the rest of the 2021 season.

But with the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft completed, it's time to switch things up. For a week, anyway.

Similar to how the prospect list is not a representation of the best prospects in baseball, this is not a list based on the best overall talents. This is a look at the best players who were drafted on Sunday from a fantasy perspective.

For those who want to talk more about the draft, come join the Twitch channel at 3:30 eastern as we'll be talking about the event, prospects overall, and also opening up some cards. That should be a lot of fun.

Without further ado, here's a look at the top 10 fantasy prospects drafted Sunday.

1. Jordan Lawlar, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks -- For the second straight year, the top fantasy prospect -- in my eyes, anyway -- goes outside the top four. Last year it was Austin Martin to the Blue Jays, this year it’s Lawlar to the Diamondbacks. The Bobby Witt Jr. comparisons are probably unfair, but it’s easy to understand why they exist. They both have plenty of plus tools, and they both are Texas infielders who offer big athleticism along with the (potential) ability to make them translate. Lawlar will not likely be a fast-track prospect, but he has a chance to be a five-category helper when all is said and done.

2. Jack Leiter, RHP, Texas Rangers -- Leiter may not compare to the elite pitching prospects like Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole coming out of their drafts, but he’s not far behind that. The draft-eligible sophomore has become the most “famous” player in this draft because of his sensational sophomore season, and the stuff should play at the highest level. While he needs to use his change more often -- and should as a professional -- the 21-year-old has had that pitch graded plus at times, and it’s his worst part of his arsenal. Leiter has as high of a ceiling as any pitcher in this class (obviously), and the floor seems pretty high too because of his four-pitch mix. He could be a fantasy ace when all is said and done.

3. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Boston Red Sox -- Many believed that Mayer would be the first pick of the draft -- more on who went first in just a second -- but Boston had to be thrilled to see him last all the way to four. The left-handed hitting shortstop has a chance to hit for both average and power, and while he doesn’t have elite speed, his actions and hands in the infield along with a very strong throwing arm make him likely to stick at short -- at least in the short-term. The only reason I rank Lawlar above is that I don’t see Mayer stealing a ton of bases, but a potential .300 hitter who can hit 25-plus homers is awfully nice, too.

4. Kahlil Watson, SS, Miami Marlins -- I was stunned to see Watson fall as deep as he did, but other team's loss is the Marlins’ gain. Watson has some of the best speed of the “elite” prospects, and on top of that, he has the potential for plus pop despite the fact he’s listed at 5-foot-9, 175-pounds. He should be able to stay at short, and the bat will play just fine if he moves to second base or center. Don’t let the fact that Watson fell to the 16th pick fool you. Watson is a potential star.

5. Henry Davis, C, Pittsburgh Pirates -- We finally get to the first pick of the draft. Davis may not be the best fantasy prospect in the class, but there’s a lot to like about him, too. There’s obvious value in his position, but this is a player that showed a plus hit tool and power while he was at Louisville. The question mark here is defense, but Davis has a strong throwing arm, and there have certainly been worse receivers who have stuck at the position. Davis could be the first of these players who make the majors, and he’s an obvious addition in keeper leagues. I just wouldn’t have taken him with the first pick. That’s not an insult. 

6. Jackson Jobe, RHP, Detroit Tigers -- Jobe will not be the first player from this class to make his debut -- barring something unforeseeable -- but there’s a very good chance that he just might be the best. The risk of a prep pitcher is obvious, and there’s a reason a high school righty has never been the first pick of a draft. That being said, Jobe has electric stuff; a fastball that touches the high 90s with elite spin, a wipeout slider and already a well above-average change. Add in elite athleticism, and Jobe may have been the first pick in this draft if he was a college arm. You’ll have to be patient, but he should be worth the wait. 

7. Kumar Rocker, RHP, New York Mets -- There’s a very good chance that Rocker would have been the first pick of last year’s draft if eligible, and the first pick of this class if the draft was held before the season. It’s weird to say that a player who struck out 179 hitters in 122 innings had his stock slide, but it did, and that’s why he went 10th overall. When he’s at his best, this is a pitcher that has an 80-grade slider and a mid-to-high 90s fastball, and he has prototypical size (6’5/245) and a bulldog mentality on the mound. The stuff hasn’t always shown up and he was operating in the low 90s for much of the year, but Rocker absolutely has a chance to be a top of the rotation starter. A potential steal for the Mets.

8. Sal Frelick, OF, Milwaukee Brewers -- Another player that slipped to the middle of the first round -- in this case 15 -- but another player that has a chance to be excellent in fantasy leagues. Frelick is smaller than your typical starting outfielder at 5-foot-9, 175-pounds, but he has easy plus-plus speed, sprays the ball around the park and can turn on fastballs on the inner half. He’s also a strong defender, and while that defense doesn’t earn fantasy points, it does help him project as a fast advancement. Frelick could be a leadoff hitter, and he and Garrett Mitchell both were underdrafted players that could be a big helper for the Brew Crew in the coming years.

9. Brady House, SS, Washington Nationals -- House and Rocker were considered the best prospects in the class by many, but both saw their stock slip. Again, it’s more to do with the players above than anything they really did wrong. House has some of the best raw power in the class -- college or prep -- and the ball jumps off of his bat. The reasons for the slide to the 11th pick outside of the performances of the above is that House is the most likely of the “big four” shortstops to have to move to third, and he does have some swing-and-miss. Still, you could argue that House has as much upside as any player in the class, and he could be a 35-homer player that play shortstop someday. You can do a lot worse than that.

10. Colton Cowser, OF, Baltimore Orioles -- Cowser is a bit of a surprise pick with the fifth selection -- similar to the surprise when Baltimore selected Heston Kjerstad with the fifth pick -- but surprise doesn’t necessarily mean bad pick. Just surprising. The outfielder has a chance to hit for both average and power from the left side of the plate, and while he doesn’t have the speed of Frelick, he’s by no means slow. Cowser is a better “real life” bet than a fantasy darling, but he could be a .280 or so hitter who also adds 20-plus homers and 15 steals. There’s certainly relevance in that kind of profile.

Just missed: Benny Montgomery, OF, Colorado Rockies; Matt McLain, SS, Cincinnati Reds; Harry Ford, C, Seattle Mariners; Sam Bachman, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports EDGE and also appears on the Circling the Bases Podcast.