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2021 MLB Draft Prep: Opening weekend takes shape, and forcing a combine

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College baseball is getting closer, plus a look at a high school kid throwing 98+.

Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Last time, I noted an opening weekend matchup of Cincinnati and Clemson. Whenever that game is played on February 19, a few players will take steps forward. The pairings for an opening six-team field in Globe Life Park was made official this recently. Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Arkansas clash against Texas, Texas Tech, and TCU. Holy smokes. No cupcakes anywhere. Toss five quality innings, and move up draft boards. Rip two homers, and they were well-earned.

Rob Manfred has decided to add his own special touch to an NFL institution. The pre-draft camp, or combine, as reported by Josh earlier today, is a construct where players get to display their skills for executives. Whether sprints, lifting drills, or position-specific activities, players get a chance to move themselves up or down by their abilities. With an extra month before the draft compared to previous years, Mr. Baseball One Rob Manfred is bullwhipping 88 players into taking physicals for teams. Take the physical (which is unlikely to help in draft selection), and teams can only punish the players to a certain extent if the player is selected. Do poorly enough, and any interest fades. Hire more effective witch doctors?

Prospects Live echoed Mason McRae's call of Harry Ford in a mock draft to the Cubs at 21. At about the same time, prep hurler Chase Petty took his first 2021 bullpen:

Is 98-100.5 good? In January? For a prep? If he stays relatively healthy, he is unlikely to last until 21. Which would drop others from the high-teens to the low twenties.

If a specific Cubs game becomes drudgery this April through July, you're encouraged to filter through a list of top 30 draft likelies, and look at their development as July approaches. I know many of you won't, but baseball is supposed to be about fun, not drudgery. Joy, not seeing how big of a nightly kidney stone you can pass.

Keep track of a few players on the potential board. Christian Franklin is a valid center field option for Arkansas. Since the goal seems to be for Tom Ricketts seems to be to keep players through their inexpensive cost-controlled years only, does Franklin check boxes for you? He hits for average and power, so far. He seems capable in center. Check out Arkansas' three games from opening weekend. (YouTube and other steaming services can be your friend.)

When I post a mock, if you're short on time, read only names 18-24. Take notes on the interesting names. Add names that had been unfamiliar. Perhaps look for Chase Petty. Before long, you'll have eight to ten names you're mildly conversant in, and your internal mental browsers can take it from there. As games begin, you start to carve out a preference list, as if this were a sport where the draft were a discussion topic.

Or, you can get progressively more depressed as Jed Hoyer waits to do anything with free agents until he trades away organizational icons.

Prospects Live assigned last week's headliner, Harry Ford, to the Cubs. Who they assigned is less informational than the why. The premise was that short-term answers, like college bats, seem less necessary if players with upside fall, as had Ford in this instance. Petty might make similar sense. I'm not specifically begging for Ford or Petty, but both seem to have far more upside than players available at 21 a few years back. Nail the draft, or lose to those that do.

Live Stream Tampa is a local outfit in the Hillsborough Community College area of the city. HCC plays their home baseball games at a local ballpark smooshed between Raymond James Stadium and the Yankees training facility. With cameras, baseball in January, and announcers adding flavor, I'm hooked. HCC had a player drafted in 2019 (Carlos Francisco in the 29th Round by the Phillies), so HCC has talent. Monday saw HCC hosting CC of Central Florida (CCF), who had two players drafted in 2019.

My draft-related easter egg was seeing the Patriots right fielder Tre Hondras make a nice two-out catch, and later clip an inside pitch over the wall on a bounce for an RBI double. Doing my homework afterward, I realized/remembered Hondras had been a realistic draft name last June. With COVID and expanded rosters with so many college players sticking around, Hondras is in Ocala, Florida with two college homers already. And the ability to play right field. The South Holland native and graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School at least gets to play non-conference games outside the Big Ten.

Today, for me, Webber International at Keiser in NAIA action. I'm doing podcasts on games I watch or listen to. If you want to hear the three best in whatever is on my computer, I'll give it a Cubs slant. Stay safe.

Poll

Of the names on the mock listed, which name intrigues you the most?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Christian Franklin #19
    (5 votes)
  • 15%
    Ethan Wilson #20
    (3 votes)
  • 42%
    Harry Ford #21
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Sal Frelick #22
    (0 votes)
  • 15%
    Jackson Jobe #27
    (3 votes)
19 votes total Vote Now

Poll

For the Cubs pick at 21st overall in the first round, I’d prefer a...

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Prep bat
    (4 votes)
  • 20%
    Prep arm
    (6 votes)
  • 24%
    College arm
    (7 votes)
  • 10%
    College bat
    (3 votes)
  • 31%
    Best upside
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (include)
    (0 votes)
29 votes total Vote Now