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2021 BA 400 Draft Rankings

Baseball America’s MLB Draft Prospects rankings are compiled in consultation with scouts and evaluators from major league clubs. 

By Carlos Collazo

We’re excited to roll out an updated and expanded draft ranking, pushing our list to the top 400 players in the class for the first time. 

This means the BA 500 is right around the corner. In a typical year, that would mean the draft is right around the corner as well. However, 2021 is far from typical, and a July 13 draft date means players and teams will have to navigate uncharted territory in the weeks leading up to the draft—especially for those players whose seasons conclude early enough to provide a large dead period.

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Will players opt to participate in recently developed summer leagues? And if so, what caliber of talent will teams expect to see in places like the MLB Draft League or the Appalachian League? The former kicks off on May 24 and the latter gets going on June 3. Additionally, the first ever MLB Draft Combine is scheduled to be held from June 20-28. How valuable will that be for players and teams alike? 

Will teams be aggressive in bringing in priority targets for workouts, batting practices or bullpen sessions at their home stadiums? How will perceived day one talents or first round talents weigh the benefits and risks of those additional evaluation opportunities? 

How will teams manage their staffs to handle these new events while also getting started on the 2022 draft class? That process typically starts in June, but a later draft date means a compressed schedule and teams will be forced to either split their attention or miss out on one group or another without adding more staff.

“The truth is we don’t know,” said one upper-level scout when asked about how the new draft schedule impacts clubs’ processes. “We really don’t know.”

That also seems like a reasonable summation of how the industry is stacking up the talent in the class. Beyond the top tier of players, consensus of the talent falls apart rapidly—a result of the shortened 2020 season and handicapped summer months that have thrown a wrench into the typical scouting process.

“We ripped out the middle chapter of a book,” the scout said. “You know the ending, but you don’t have the full story on anyone.”

Baseball America subscribers can see the full list below, with reports on every player listed. 

*Note that players currently have preseason, March or May reports. Each player will receive a fully updated report as we get closer to the draft date and the release of the BA 500.

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Expand Collapse All Updated on: 5/3/2021
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    Carter Holton

    Benedictine HS, Savannah, Ga. LHP

    Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-L
    Commit/Drafted: Vanderbilt
    Age At Draft: 18.9

    Preseason Report: Scouts expected Holton to look like a solid college player, but maybe not a priority pro prospect entering the summer. That changed quickly once he got on the mound and showed his stuff. While Holton will have to battle questions about his size—he’s listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds—he impressed scouts with a dangerous fastball/breaking ball combination and standout competitiveness and moxie and the mound. Holton sits mostly in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball, occasionally touching 95 with good feel to spin a solid slider and mixes in a changeup as well. None of Holton’s pitches grade out as plus at the moment, but his entire arsenal plays up because he does a nice job sequencing, changing speeds and attacking hitters with good control and tempo. Holton has a quick arm from the left side and hides the ball well behind his body in his delivery, though at times his arm action can get a bit deeper than evaluators would like. While there’s not as much upside in Holton’s frame as scouts would like to see, it isn’t hard to envision at least two above-average offerings in the future from the Vanderbilt commit to go along with solid command.

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