Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2021 Draft Coverage: Mock Draft Mania and current draft trends


Jack Leiter has been in 1-1 consideration forever. Photo via sportsnet

We’re starting to get into draft season!

Here’s my current collection of Mock Drafts from leading pundits.  We usually see the first crazy-early mock just after the 2020 drafts, then again after the end of the 2020 season when the draft order is more or less determined, then it really starts to heat up in May.  Thanks to the draft moving back to July/All Star break, we will get a whole new batch as players finish up college seasons and start wood bat leagues/show cases.

I’ll keep adding to this list as Mocks come in and re-publish just before the draft with a final prediction.  In the mean time …

Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #11 (if they project out that far).  this year I’m ordering them Chronologically as rec’d instead of grouping by pundit…. this should let us see kind of an evolution of the top of the draft.  Players are bolded the first time they’re mentioned, not again afterwards.

  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) Way too Early 2021 Mock, 6/12/20: Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House, Adrian Del Castillo, Matt McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v1.0 6/25/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jud FabianLuke Leto, McLain
  • Prospects365 (Mason McRae) 2021 Mock draft v2.0 9/4/20: Rocker, Fabian, Leiter, Del Castillo, Jaden Hill
  • Prospects365 (Ian Smith) 2021 Mock Draft 1.0 11/9/20: Rocker, Leiter, Jordan Lawlar, Hill, Fabian.  Nats take James Wood, prep OF from IMG Academy in Fla.
  • BA (Collazo) v1.0 Draft 1/4/21: (missed it)
  • BA (Collazo) v2.0 draft 3/29/21Jordan Lawlar, Rocker, Leiter, Marcello Mayer, Del Castillo.  Nats take House.
  • MLBPipeline (Callis/Mayo) Apr 2021 mock draft 4/26/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Rocker, Mayer, House.  Nats take Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Okla.).
  • BA (Collazo) v3.0 Mock draft 4/28/21: Leiter, Lawlar, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats also take Jobe.
  • MLBpipeline (Callis): May 2021 mock 5/6/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, House.  Nats at 11 take Jobe.
  • CollegeBaseballDaily May 2021 mock 5/12/21: Rocker, Leiter, Lawlar, Kahlil Wilson, Mayer.
  • MLBpipeline (Mayo) May 2021 mock 5/20/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Davis, House, Leiter.  Nats take Ty Madden, RHP Friday night starter from UTexas.
  • BA (Collazo): v4.0 Mock Draft 5/24/21: Lawlar, Mayer, House, Leiter, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.
  • ESPN/McDaniel Mock 1.0 5/25/21: Lawlar, Leiter, Mayer, Rocker, Davis.  Nats take Jobe.

My thoughts on the top of the draft, based on what we’re seeing.

  • Three of the names that have been projected in the top 5 have been there since the beginning (Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter, Brady House).
  • Very early in the spring HS season, two prep HS short stops in Jordan Lawlar and Marcello Mayer started getting mentioned as top5 guys … and now several mocks are thinking they go 1-2.
  • Rocker and Leiter’s starts are hyper overanalyzed each week; Leiter missed a start and suddenly the next mock dumped him out of the top5.
  • I really like Leiter; if you’ve seen him pitch, he looks like he could be in a MLB rotation right now.  Rocker is impressive, but has been really inconsistent and I could see him slipping.
  • College catchers who can hit go high; see Adley RutschmannHenry Davis fits that boat and is a safe pick for a team that has been burned in the past by either a prep kid or a pitcher.  He’s going to go high.

My current prediction on the top5 (which excludes any bonus money shenanigan picks that we’re hearing Baltimore may pursue) would basically include the 5-6 names just high lighted here, in some order.

What about the Nats at 11?

Well, its pretty notable that a number of the Mock drafts all have the Nats taking the same kid: prep arm Jackson Jobe. Yes, another pitcher. And a HS one at that. Echos of the failure we saw in our ability to capitalize on Lucas Giolito, or the ridiculosly bad luck of the Mason Denaburg pick.

I’ve seen a couple outlier mocks here and there; i’ve seen Ty Madden mentioned (#2 Texas’ friday night starter) and Sam Bachman (Miami of Ohio’s big arm). Both are safer than a prep arm … but both also might be gone by #11 based on these projections. I’d like either honestly; i like college track records.

Notably … nobody has them on a bat. I know this will irritate some who read this (ahem KW), but there’s no point fighting it. If it wasn’t clear by now, this team focuses on pitchers in the draft and then uses them like currency to acquire bats later on. So, be prepared for another pitcher-heavy draft in July.

Written by Todd Boss

June 4th, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Draft

7 Responses to '2021 Draft Coverage: Mock Draft Mania and current draft trends'

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  1. The Nats system is flush with a lot of pitching talent but maybe someone in the front office could take the time to look at the hitting stats in Harrisburg.

    Mark L

    4 Jun 21 at 3:05 pm

  2. To me, Bachman’s reliever risk makes him a less safe bet than Jobe. I’m normally very anti-prep pitcher (at least with a first- or second-round pick), but like Mick Abel last year, Jobe is very advanced for a high school arm. (FWIW, I don’t think Jobe falls past the Mets, and probably not even that far, unless there’s some wacky underslot drafting in the top ten that blows off the chalk.)

    MLB Pipeline is basically the only reliable scouting source I’ve seen that doesn’t think Bachman ends up in a bullpen. For an 11th overall pick, that would just be massively disappointing.

    While I don’t really honestly think it’s even worth speculating about position players, given the Nats’ track record, I do like what I’ve seen/read of Colton Cowser a lot, and he’s consistently mocked in that #9-14 range.


    4 Jun 21 at 3:18 pm

  3. The best hitter in the Nat organization right now would be . . . um . . . um . . . maybe Jacob Rhinesmith, a 25-year-old way overage at A+? Just sayin’.

    Cowser, McLain, and Frelick are all hitters who profile around where the Nats pick, with Fabian not that much farther down. Del Castillo is a real need at catcher, but probably too far down most boards for consideration. But I know, I’m just setting myself up for disappointment . . .

    For frame of reference, here are all previous #11 picks:

    Yep, the Nats already have the greatest #11 pick of all time (Max). The hard truth, though, is that out of 56 picks, only 9 have topped 7 bWAR, and only 5 have made it past 20 bWAR; 16 didn’t make the majors at all, and 17 others posted less than 1 WAR. So 33 of 56 picks never made it at all. (Although we should probably cut some slack to the guys from the last four or five years, particularly considering that the 2020 and 2019 picks have already made The Show.)


    4 Jun 21 at 4:26 pm

  4. I agree with Sao that I don’t think Jobe makes it to the Nats. Bachman has a risky low floor and isn’t nearly as high on some boards (#19 on and a staggeringly low #78 on FG Big Board). FWIW, has Jobe all the way down at #29. FG board sure doesn’t look like it has been updated to reflect the current season.

    LH starter Jordan Wicks is another arm who profiles in the Nats’ range, although he doesn’t have the high-level heat that Rizzo & Co. like.

    If I had to guess right now, I’d say Madden. I really don’t know who would be Rizzo’s fallback if Madden is gone.

    Am I dreaming to wonder whether Rocker could fall to the Nats? I look at his numbers and scratch my head why he has fallen down draft boards. Teams are going to pass up this guy for three or four high school SS lottery tickets? Probably not going to fall all the way to #11, though.


    4 Jun 21 at 11:03 pm

  5. Ghost over at Talk Nats said he spoke to a source who said the Nats are heavily interested in FSU catcher Matheu Nelson if he is available when they pick in the second round.

    Number 90 on MLB’s top 100:

    Hot 23 bombs this year.


    5 Jun 21 at 9:25 am

  6. I would love to see the Nats draft a power-hitting catcher. Most teams don’t deviate too much from projected draft boards, though. It might be more likely that the Nats look at him at #82 in the 3d round than #47 in the 2d, unless Nelson’s stock really has been rising within MLB circles.

    That said, the Nats really did reach beyond most big board expectations to take Infante in the 3d round last year (and pay him over slot). It’s really disappointing that he isn’t ready for A ball, as he was “old” when drafted and turns 20 this month. He’s only a year younger than Garcia.


    6 Jun 21 at 7:42 am

  7. So, BA just released their monthly incremental updates to the top 100 … and Cavalli has rocketed up the list.

    Cavalli started the year ranked at 100 or so, then moved up to 87 with a slew of graduations of players who were losing rookie eligibility … but now they’ve got him at 33 based on his start in High-A.

    Todd Boss

    8 Jun 21 at 9:54 am

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