Major League Baseball's 2021 amateur draft is now more than halfway finished. The draft started on Sunday night and continued until the completion of round 10 on Monday afternoon. The rest of the event, or rounds 11 through 20, will take place beginning Tuesday at 12 p.m ET. Teams will then have less than three weeks before the signing deadline, which falls on Sunday, Aug. 1.
1. Pirates' portfolio approach pays off
The Pirates raised some eyebrows on Sunday when they selected Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the fifth No. 1 pick in franchise history. Pittsburgh's decision was assumed to be part of a larger, strategic decision to save money upfront so that the team could reinvest it in the later stages.
The Pirates appear positioned to do just that after making a series of high-upside picks to kick off day No. 2.
Pittsburgh drafted three more members of CBS Sports' pre-draft top 50 list, in lefty Anthony Solometo (taken with the 37th pick), outfielder Lonnie White Jr. (64th), and righty Bubba Chandler (72nd). Presuming the Pirates can sign those three players, plus Davis, they'll have walked away with twice as many members of CBS Sports' top-50 list (four) as top-50 selections (two).
It's to be seen how those players develop, of course, but for now, anyway, the Pirates' approach seems to have worked.
2. Red Sox draft Jud Fabian
The Red Sox are proving that good things come to those who wait -- especially those who wait near the top of the board. In round one, the Red Sox landed California prep shortstop Marcelo Mayer, the top player on CBS Sports' pre-draft top 50, with the No. 4 pick. In round two, they popped Florida outfielder Jud Fabian, who was a projected top-five pick in the spring.
Why was Fabian still available? CBS Sports provided the answer when placing Fabian as the 41st best player in the class:
Fabian entered the season ranked as the third-best prospect in the class. He had an impressive track record against SEC competition; he was young for a college junior; and scouts foresaw him having plus power. Then Fabian, a wrong-way guy (he bats right, throws left), went … well, the wrong way. He punched out in 29.4 percent of his regular season plate appearances, including 36 percent of those he took in February and March. He made several mechanical tweaks thereafter, and he went on to strike out at a more modest clip (24.7 percent) the rest of the way.
Still, Fabian represents a worthy gamble at that spot, and the Red Sox have to be pleased with how their draft has played out so far.
3. Taylor, Stovall, Jump among top undrafted
Every draft, there's bound to be some players who decide they'd rather play collegiate ball than sign and become a professional. This year has proven to be no exception, as three members of CBS Sports' pre-draft top 50 appear to be heading to school: outfielder Will Taylor (No. 12), infielder Peyton Stovall (No. 28), and left-hander Gage Jump (No. 38).
Taylor has a scholarship to play baseball and football at Clemson, while Stovall tweeted his intent to attend Arkansas and Jump seems bound for UCLA. It's worth noting that one scout predicted Jump would become a future top-10 pick back in the spring, and even guessed he would require college to do it.
4. Braves land two-way college player
Leading into the draft, one of the rumors that circulated the most had the Braves infatuated with Nebraska two-way player Spencer Schwellenbach. (One veteran scout called it the "worst-kept secret" in the draft cycle.) The Braves didn't take Schwellenbach in the first round last night, but they nevertheless were able to land their player in the second round at pick No. 59.
Here's what CBS Sports wrote about Schwellenbach when we ranked him as the 24th-best prospect in the class:
The name that surfaces most frequently as a comparison for Schwellenbach is Jake Cronenworth; it's sensible, if lazy, as both were two-way players who attended Big Ten schools (Cronenworth went to Michigan) and who have long surnames. Schwellenbach is unlikely to develop into the next Cronenworth, but he has promise on both sides of the ball. He hit .284/.403/.459 with six home runs and nine stolen bases while manning shortstop for the Cornhuskers this season; he also struck out 34 batters in 31 innings as a reliever. His ball-tracking data indicates he hit the ball hard, and that his mid-90s fastball, sweeping slider, and changeup each have potential. It's anyone's guess as to whether his pro team will allow him to play both ways; if not, there's a case to be made for him either hitting or pitching.
Of note: Schwellenbach was not announced as a two-way player. Rather, the Braves chose him as a pitcher, suggesting that's his outlook for now.
5. Former CWS star Abel goes in seventh round
It may seem odd to highlight a seventh-round pick, but the Cincinnati Reds' selection of Oregon State right-hander Kevin Abel merits some attention.
Abel is a familiar name for those who follow college baseball. He capped off a phenomenal freshman season by making four appearances during the 2018 College World Series, and by throwing 247 pitches over a six-day span. He's since battled numerous injuries, including a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery, and his reduced velocity this season caused his draft stock to tank.
Abel is, without a doubt, a dogged competitor. For his sake, here's hoping he can figure out a way to reach the majors someday.
6. Nationals take Darren Baker
You may know Darren Baker as Houston Astros manager Dusty's son, or as the youngster who J.T. Snow rescued during the 2002 World Series, or as an infielder at Cal. On Tuesday, he added another facet to his identity: a 10th-round pick by his dad's former employer, the Washington Nationals.