After a disappointing 25-35 finish to the abbreviated 2020 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks are slotted for the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The D-backs have built a deep farm system due in large part to their prowess in the draft over the past four years under general manager Mike Hazen. Arizona stuck with the pitching route in last year’s draft, as four of its five selections toed the rubber.
The 2021 class isn’t as deep compared to last year, but it’s filled with intriguing up-the-middle prep talent and solidified college hitters. Arizona can snag another talented prospect when June arrives, and here are five names that it could target early in the draft process.
Important Note: There is a notable player left off the list whom I will feature in an upcoming story. Stay tuned.
1.) Jaden Hill, RHP, Louisiana State University
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, Jaden Hill is an electric right-hander out of LSU. His fastball arguably has the best velocity in the class, sitting at 94-95 mph and touching 98 on occasion with late movement up in the zone. He has the makings of a power arm with a velocity-packed fastball, hard-breaking slider, cutter and changeup in his arsenal.
In 11.2 innings of work, LSU's Jaden Hill (@iam_jaden_hill) has given up 1 hit while punching out 17. He is up to 98 with a wipe out breaking ball.— VPX Baseball (@VPXBaseball) March 12, 2020
Hill was drafted in the 38th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018, he attended LSU and has seen his stock rise immensely due to his frame and overwhelming stuff. Questions surround Hill about his durability and small sample size throughout his college career. He pitched just 11.2 relief innings before the shutdown in 2020 and suffered a season-ending injury as a sophomore in 2019.
Despite the limited sample size, Hill has plenty of untapped potential if his repertoire comes together. If his velocity continues to trend upward and he puts together a full college season, Hill may not last when Arizona is on the clock. The D-backs have targeted pitching in recent drafts, and Hill’s selection would add to the bevy of talented arms in the system.
2.) Marcelo Meyer, SS, Eastlake High School
As mentioned above, the 2021 class is highlighted by several up-the-middle prep prospects, and there isn’t a more polarizing talent than Eastlake High School shortstop Marcelo Mayer.
For a 6-foot-3 high schooler out of Chula Vista, Calif., Mayer has a mature approach at the plate. He waits for his pitch and slaps line drives to the gaps with a smooth left-handed swing that is well balanced throughout his load. Defensively, Mayer has the instincts and physical makeup to stick at shortstop long term. He makes crisp glove-to-hand transfers and flashes the leather with diving grabs that look to be out of reach.
Ability to hit for power dinged Mayer’s early draft outlook, but he showcased an effective pull-heavy approach during the WWBA World Championships this month. If he continues to tap into raw power as his body matures and develops, Mayer can be a complete package that plays well on the dirt.
Another top prospect, Chula Vista SS Marcelo Mayer has been working hard to show scouts he can pull the ball with authority. It's really been loud the last few weeks.— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) October 8, 2020
This double down the RF line exits the bat at 104mph. He's ending the summer strong.pic.twitter.com/awgPyRsQyp
Teams don’t draft for need in the MLB Draft, but if there is one thing that the D-backs’ farm system lacks, it’s depth and offensive prowess at shortstop and third base. Mayer has put more power on display for scouts to see, and he could be an enticing option for Arizona to take with the sixth pick.
3.) Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville
Speaking of power hitting infielders, Louisville third baseman Alex Binelas is another route the Diamondbacks can look to grab at No. 6 overall. Binelas has established himself as one of the elite college bats in the draft, and his impressive makeup of tools speaks for itself.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Binelas has consistently hit for power and average in his two seasons at Louisville. He stays square through the ball with a slight leg kick to generate loud contact, and the results have followed. Binelas slugged 14 homers at a .291 clip as a true freshman in 2019.
The freshman Alex Binelas delivers with a game-winning hit.— Dominique Yates (@RealDYates) June 3, 2019
Louisville is off to the Super Regional. pic.twitter.com/QTDjeGwqqc
Binelas’ ability to make solid contact and produce eye-opening exit velocities can translate to the next level. His lack of athleticism and average arm makes his defensive fit at the hot corner iffy at times, but he makes enough plays to potentially stick there in pro ball.
In a draft full of uncertainty due to COVID-19, Binelas is viewed as one of the safer options in the class with his bat-first profile. He has plenty of tools across the board, and the D-backs could scoop him up if he’s available.
4.) Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
The run of elite pitching prospects could be gone when the Diamondbacks are on the clock. Vanderbilt right-handers Kumar Rocker, Jack Leiter and LSU’s Hill could be picked with the first five selections.
If that’s the case, Arizona can stand pat and take a bat-first college prospect in South Alabama outfielder Ethan Wilson. Wilson’s untapped power was unleashed in his freshman year with 17 homers at a 1.139 OPS. He totaled three home runs during the shortened 2020 season.
Wilson’s sturdy 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame produces heavy pull-side power that ranks amongst the top in the class. A left handed batter, Wilson has quick hands and creates good extension on pitches low and inside. He creates great torque within his swing path to attack mistakes high or low in the zone, inevitably sending them over the right field bleachers.
@outoftheyardbsb Enjoy @wearesouth_bsb ’s Ethan Wilson 2R Bomb vs @hailstatebsb Follow @outoftheyard for more bombs! Video via ESPN-— OutoftheYardBSB (@outoftheyardbsb) January 2, 2020
#Baseball #baseballlife #baseballglove #baseballplays #baseballdad #baseballcoach #baseball pic.twitter.com/WLd6G0lPed
Strikeouts have plagued Wilson’s effectiveness at the plate. He needs to be more patient and selective for his hit tool and power to reach its full potential. He has a can improve his plate discipline if a college baseball season rolls around. Being from a mid-major conference may hurt his stock, but he’s showcased enough power and offensive upside to be considered an early Top-10 selection.
5.) Brady House, SS/3B, Winder-Barrow High School
Another intriguing prep talent the D-backs can focus on is prep Brady House, who comes equipped with plenty of pop at the plate and a mid-90s fastball on the mound. If his bat wasn’t so advanced for his age, he could be viewed as a two-way prospect.
House is a physical specimen with his towering 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. He’s an intimidating presence in the box and makes the most of his physical tools with a heavy right-handed swing.
Brady House (2021 Winder, GA) sits back on this breaker and smokes it down the LF line for a double. Kept the hands back long enough to keep the LD fair. #WWBAWorlds #PGDraft @PG_Georgia pic.twitter.com/iXSudjUXNA— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) October 8, 2020
House already is touted for 60-graded power, and it’s easy to see why. His natural bat path and brute strength create triple-digit exit velocities and easy pull-side power. He creates good leverage and absolutely barrels baseballs with ease. Scouts got a first-hand view of House’s elite raw power at 15 years old, when he launched a 450-foot blast in the U-15 Baseball World Cup.
Tapping into power is no concern for House entering the draft, and he continues to soar up boards with his profile and loud bat. He still needs to make consistent contact to let his power truly shine. His arm strength, size and lack of mobility may force a move to third base, which could be beneficial long term.
With the sixth pick in the draft, Arizona can take a swing for the fences on House’s power-heavy profile that continues to grow and develop.