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MLB Draft 2021: Oakland A’s make picks in Rounds 2 through 10

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Tracking the A’s selections on Day 2 of the draft.

2021 Major Leauge Baseball Draft
Rollie!
Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The 2021 MLB Draft has reached Day 2 of its three-day schedule. The Oakland A’s made one pick on Sunday in the 1st round, and now on Monday they’ll make nine more in Rounds 2-10.

In the 1st round yesterday, the A’s selected high school shortstop Max Muncy, and you can click here to read all about him. It’s the second straight year they’ve taken a California high school hitter in the 1st round, the second time in three years they’ve led off with a shortstop, and also the second time in the past decade that they’ve drafted an infielder named Max Muncy (though the original came in the 5th round in 2012).

The rest of the draft doesn’t come with the same level of hype as the opening burst, but a lot of stars can still be discovered in these later rounds. For example, on the current A’s roster, Sean Murphy (3rd round), Cole Irvin (5th), Tony Kemp (5th), and Mark Canha (7th) all began their pro careers in this range.

Sunday’s proceedings already got going at 10 a.m. PT with the beginning of the 2nd round, so see below for all the A’s newest picks. This post will be updated as the day goes on, so keep checking back for the latest notes.

2nd round (No. 60): Zack Gelof, 3B

Gelof is a 21-year-old college junior out of University of Virginia. MLB Pipeline ranked him 86th on their pre-draft board, with the following report for the 6’3” infielder:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50

Gelof still has some of the best raw power of any bat in this Draft class, especially among college hitters. That power showed up in games in 2020 at his pitching-friendly home ballpark in Virginia, with five homers in 18 games, though he wasn’t finding that power stroke consistently in 2021. It’s come with a bit of an all-or-nothing approach that has led to a good amount of swing-and-miss, presenting an Adam Duvall-like offensive profile. While his strikeout rate was down and he drew a lot of walks in 2021, it did not lead to an increase in offensive impact.

The 6-foot-3 infielder runs well, especially for his size, and is a better athlete than people might expect. That said, it’s unclear if he will stick at third. He has enough arm and might move well enough to stick and become an Austin Riley-type at the hot corner. But his limitations might necessitate a move to an outfield corner, where he could profile well as a power-hitting right fielder.

More info coming on Gelof, and keep hitting refresh to find out the next picks below!

3rd round (No. 97): Mason Miller, RHP

Miller is a college senior out of Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, currently age 22 but turning 23 in August. The 6’5” pitcher ranked No. 161 on MLB Pipeline’s pre-draft board, with this report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 40

Miller averages 95 mph with his fastball, tops out at 99 and works in the mid-90s deep into games. While his heater doesn’t feature a lot of life, he displays the ability to locate it to either side of the plate. His low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup show flashes of becoming solid offerings but need more consistency, with his slide piece sharper last fall than it has been this spring.

For a big guy, Miller has good body control and repeats his delivery well enough to reliably provide strikes. He’ll need to learn to finish off more advanced hitters, but he has a legitimate chance to start and a nice fallback as a flamethrowing reliever. He belongs in the first five rounds on talent alone and could match Gardner-Webb’s record for highest pick ever (third round) because he’ll turn [23] a month after the Draft and thus will come with a discount.

Instant take: Love this pick. Always nice to find a premium 70-grade tool in the 3rd round, and even if he just ends up as a power reliever that can still be impactful these days. Even better that he sounds like he’ll go under-slot, which can help maximize the later picks. The A’s plucked Sean Murphy out of a small school in the 3rd round a few years ago, and Miller’s age and relatively short track record provide plausible optimism for an undervalued gem.

4th round (No. 127): Denzel Clarke, OF

Clarke is a 21-year-old college junior out of Cal State Northridge, measuring 6’5” and 220 pounds. MLB Pipeline ranked him 98th, with this report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Clarke gets a lot of his athleticism from his mother, who was an Olympic heptathlete at the 1984 Summer Games. He’s learned to translate his plus speed on the basepaths to be an effective basestealer and to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. He did a better job this spring using his tools more consistently overall at the plate with a strikeout rate that was trending in the right direction, with plenty of raw power still to tap into. There is still some concern about the swing-and-miss, and while he punished fastballs this year, he did struggle more against spin.

A center fielder exclusively this year, Clarke does have the chance to play there because of that speed, and some scouts feel he can stay there with some tweaks with his first step and angles on fly balls, though some think it might be safer to move him to a corner given his 6-foot-5 frame. There’s some ceiling here that comes with a little risk, with some team sure to bet on the tools at the next level.

The report also notes that Clarke is cousins with Cleveland Indians outfielder Josh Naylor and prospect Bo Naylor. Clarke is from Ontario, Canada.

Kevin Goldstein of FanGraphs loves this pick: “I can’t begin to tell you how big a fan I of of the Denzel Clarke pick for OAK in the fourth. Think there’s a second-round tool set and crazy great makeup.”

5th round (No. 158): CJ Rodriguez, C

Rodriguez is a 21-year-old college sophomore out of Vanderbilt University, measuring 5’10” and 200 pounds. MLB Pipeline ranked him 235th, with this report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 20 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 40

Rodriguez has soft hands and does a nice job of receiving and blocking pitches, and he moves fine behind the plate despite bottom-of-the-scale speed. His arm earns average-to-solid grades and plays up because he makes accurate throws. He has strong leadership skills and earns praise for his ability to manage a game and his pitchers.

Rodriguez focuses on making contact with a simple right-handed swing. He’s rarely fooled at the plate, controls the strike zone and hits the ball where it’s pitched. He’s walking more often and driving the ball more consistently in 2021 after rarely doing so a year ago, but he still figures to top out at 10-12 home runs annually.

Rodriguez’s hometown is Newport Beach, California.

6th round (No. 188): Grant Holman, RHP

Holman is a 21-year-old college junior out of nearby UC Berkeley, measuring 6’6” and 250 pounds. MLB Pipeline ranked him 138th, with this report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

Holman has the chance to have a legitimate four-pitch mix, all coming from a strong, durable build that points to a potential starting pitching profile. He touched 97 mph as a reliever in San Diego, and was 93-97 mph out of the gate this spring for Cal, throwing his fastball with heavy riding life. He already had a live slider and a splitter he uses as his offspeed offering and added a slower 12-to-6 curve that looks like it could be a usable weapon, while the slider and splitter both can miss bats.

All of Holman’s pitches have a lot of action and he has a feel to find the strike zone with all of them. There’s not a lot of track record yet given his split focus [as a 1B/DH], but he is a college arm with some serious upside, one who could climb boards in a hurry as a full-time starter this spring.

The A’s now have pitching prospects named Grant Holmes and Grant Holman in their farm system, and while few can match Holmes’ flowing hair, Holman could get a Derek Holland comp for this mustache. Holman joins fellow pitcher Daulton Jefferies as products of Cal in Berkeley, and draft classmates Max Muncy and CJ Rodriguez as Southern California natives.

7th round (No. 218): Brett Harris, 3B

Harris is a 23-year-old college senior out of Gonzaga University, measuring 6’3” and 208 pounds. MLB Pipeline didn’t rank him, but does offer this report:

The Gonzaga senior was the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the all-conference first team. He can play good defense at both short and third and took a step forward offensively in 2021, hitting for average (.355) and rarely striking out (10.1 percent K rate).

Melissa Lockard of The Athletic also notes that Harris is “known for his excellent glove work on the left side of the infield.”

8th round (No. 248): Drew Swift, SS

Swift is a 22-year-old college senior out of Arizona State University, measuring 6’0” and 165 pounds. MLB Pipeline ranked him 184th, with this report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60 | Overall: 40

There are no questions about Swift’s glove. Most scouts see him as a plus defender with outstanding instincts, hands, footwork and enough arm to stay at short for a very long time, and he’s already shown he’s a plus defender at second should he have to move around the infield at the next level.

Whether he’ll have to do that or can play shortstop every day at the Major League level will depend on what he can do at the plate. He’s definitely improved and was finding a bit more extra-base authority this year, but the question will be just how much he can impact the ball on a consistent basis. He gets high marks for his athleticism and his makeup, giving confidence he’ll maximize the tools he does have.

Broadcaster Roxy Bernstein called Swift the “best defender along infield I saw all season in college.”

And Swift shares my birthday! But more than a decade apart, unfortunately for me.

9th round (No. 278): Shane McGuire, C

McGuire is a 22-year-old college senior out of University of San Diego, measuring 6’0” and 195 pounds. MLB Pipeline didn’t rank him. In four years at USD he batted .320 with more walks than strikeouts, and this season he added a few homers to go with a 2.0 BB:K ratio.

Shane is the younger brother of Reese McGuire, who is currently a catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays in his fourth MLB season.

10th round (No. 308): Jack Winkler, SS

Winkler is a 22-year-old college senior out of University of San Francisco, measuring 6’2” and 185 pounds. MLB Pipeline didn’t rank him. In his most recent season at USF, he batted .307 with seven homers and 23 stolen bases.

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How did the A’s do today? Here’s one ringing endorsement!

Add it up, and the A’s added nine new college players — two righty pitchers, two catchers, two shortstops, two third basemen, and an outfielder. On the position player side, up in the higher rounds, Gelof and Clarke have a lot going for them, and Clarke sounds like a steal in the 4th round. The catching depth gets a nice jolt too, and it’s always fun to have an MLB sibling like McGuire.

Both of the pitchers bring big frames, highly rated fastballs, and multiple secondaries. Both of them are also examples of gambling on talent over track record, with raw profiles that seem better than you would expect for their respective rounds partly because they haven’t proven as much on the field yet.

It’s impossible to truly analyze a draft on the day it happens, but it’s also tough not to form a first impression. These prospects are easy to get excited about, and it looks for now like the A’s had a good day, especially with the context that they were picking toward the end of every round.

Get ready for 10 more picks tomorrow! Day 3 is coming Tuesday morning, with Rounds 11-20 to complete the 2021 draft.