Some questions and answers about the MLB draft -

2021 MLB Draft

Some questions and answers about the MLB draft

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Major League Baseball draft begins on Sunday, and here are some questions and answers about it.

This year’s draft is more than a month later than in previous years. This way, it doesn’t conflict with June’s College World Series and is part of the All-Star Game festivities in Denver.

Where do the Orioles pick? The Orioles tied for the fifth-worst record in baseball with Arizona in 2020, and they get the fifth pick. The draft begins shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday, and the Orioles have only one pick in the draft’s first day.

On Monday, the draft begins at 1 p.m., and will include rounds 2-through-10 plus Competitive Balance Round B.

The Orioles’ second-round pick is the 41st in the draft. This year, they’re in Competitive Balance Round B, and get the 65th pick.

Their third-round pick is the 76th overall, and the fourth round is the 106th.

Tuesday will feature rounds 11-through-20 and begins at noon.

On Sunday, the draft will be broadcast on ESPN and the MLB Network. Monday and Tuesday’s proceedings will be streamed on

How much money can they spend? The Orioles are allowed to spend $11,829,300 on their first 11 picks (rounds 1-through-10 plus the competitive balance pick).


The Orioles are slotted to spend $6,180,700 on their first pick.

Each pick in the first 10 rounds is assigned a slot value. The second-round pick’s slot value is $1,813,500. Their Competitive Balance Round B pick is $1,025,100. Their third-round pick is $818,200. Their final slot value is $148,200 for the 10th-round pick.

Last year, the draft was only five rounds, and the Orioles signed a number of undrafted free agents for $20,000.

There’s been a lot of chatter about underslotting, where the Orioles will draft a player who they rate lower than fifth and pay him less than he would have gotten if he was truly rated fifth. The difference is used to draft players in lower rounds and pay them more money than their slot value.

This tactic is generally used to convince high school players to forego college and sign a professional contract.

Last year, the Orioles drafted outfielder Heston Kjerstad from the University of Arkansas, who was rated 10th in some mock drafts, second and used the difference to draft high school third baseman Coby Mayo and high school pitcher Carter Baumler.

Unfortunately, Kjerstad has yet to play because of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and Baumler has undergone Tommy John surgery. Mayo is playing for one of the Orioles’ teams in the Florida Complex league.

Who will the Orioles draft? In mock drafts, there are a number of predictions.’s Jonathan Mayo predicts the Orioles will draft Kahlil Watson, a North Carolina high school shortstop.’s Jim Callis and Baseball America’s Ben Badler predict the Orioles will draft Henry Davis, a University of Louisville catcher.

The Athletic’s Keith Law and FanGraphs predict the Orioles will pick Sam Houston State centerfielder Colton Cowser.

Bleacher Report suggests the pick will be Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter.

Last year, many predicted the Orioles would draft Vanderbilt infielder Austin Martin, but they went for Kjerstad instead.

Unlike 2019 when the Orioles picked catcher Adley Rutschman first overall and last year when Detroit chose first baseman Spencer Torkelson first, there is no consensus on who will go first.

At the beginning of the season, Leiter and another Vanderbilt pitcher, Kumar Rocker, were considered the two top picks. Now, high school shortstops Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar and Watson are thought to be early picks.

The Orioles also have been linked with another college outfielder, Sal Frelick, from Boston College, as a possible underslot candidate.

When must players sign? This year, players must be signed by August 1st, so it’s going to be a busy month for general manager Mike Elias. There’s the draft, the July 30th trade deadline, and the signing deadline just two days later.

Where will the players start? It will be interesting to see if the Orioles want their players to get a few weeks of minor league play in or wait until the October Instructional League to begin their professional career.

The Orioles have two teams in the new Florida Complex League. Its schedule runs through August 28th, so newly signed players could get a quick introduction to pro ball. Low-A Delmarva, a possible destination for early-round college players, doesn’t end its season until September 19th.

How soon can a draft be evaluated? It’s not the NFL draft, where if a player hasn’t made it in three years, the teams move on. Top prospects are often given five years or more.

Players drafted at shortstop are often moved. The Orioles have done this with several of their infielders drafted in 2019 and 2020. That creates versatility.

Even if the Orioles draft Davis, who would be the second catcher selected in three drafts, they could move him to first base or the outfield.

The Orioles haven’t drafted pitchers high in Elias’ first two drafts. It will be interesting to see how quickly they draft their first in 2021.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 9, 2021 at 8:43 am

    I beg your pardon Rich, but I intend to evaluate this draft at it’s conclusion. Why wait 5 years or more?

    Nice wrap up on the possibles Rich .. I’m not one to research MLB drafts ahead of time, so this gives me a little to chew on before Sunday.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2021 at 9:00 am

      Ken, five years ago, the Orioles drafted Cody Sedlock, Keegan Akin, Matthias Dietz, Austin Hays and Brenan Hanifee with their first five picks.

      Dietz was released, Hanifee had Tommy John surgery. We’re waiting on Sedlock, Akin and Hays. It’s still a year too soon to evaluate.

      You may evaluate a draft any time you wish.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        July 9, 2021 at 11:38 am

        I understand and totally agree Rich. I should have put a smiley face on that 1st comment.

  2. 33d St

    July 9, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Question: why lose all these games to get an extremely high draft pick if you’re only going to take an “under slot” guy you could have gotten with the 12th or 15th pick?

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2021 at 9:40 am

      I am not a fan of underslotting. The draft is hard enough to get right without employing that strategy.

      If it works correctly, you’re able to get a really good player in the first round and perhaps two players that you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise, high school players who’d go to college instead.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        July 9, 2021 at 5:11 pm

        Hey Rich – I can see why they pushed the draft back to July 11 – 13th but any insight on why they didn’t pushed back the length of time to sign players? They used to have like a month to sign guys.
        Two and a half weeks to sign all 21 guys drafted isn’t a lot of time. I’m thinking underslotting on players this year with the hope of signing some really good high school players is really risky given just the two plus weeks to sign them. Don’t you?

        • Rich Dubroff

          July 9, 2021 at 7:36 pm

          Dario, if you give people a month, it will take a month, if you give them two months, it will take two months. They’d like to have players get some experience this season, so if you made the deadline August 15, that doesn’t give you that much time to get some games in, particularly if it’s a high school player, and the Complex League ends two weeks later. I’m not a fan of underslotting, seems risky, but it’s for pros only.

    • Orial

      July 9, 2021 at 10:23 am

      Touche’ 33rd–you echo my concern.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 9, 2021 at 11:52 am

      33 … are you implying that the O’s are losing games purposefully? Tanking?

  3. Bman

    July 9, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Only one round on Sunday? I guess they’re going to make us wait it out. No way Leiter makes it to #5. Probably Mayer, Leiter, Lawlar, Davis go 1-4, but the drafts have a certain unpredictability so who knows. If it plays out that way, then Os will have to decide among House, Watson, Cowser, Rocker, Jobe, Frelick. I don’t think they go pitcher so Rocker n Jobe are out. Maybe Cowser is a tick ahead of Frelick so Frelick is out. Then, it’s down to House (SS), Watson (SS),or Cowser (OF). That would be an interesting decision. Under slot with Cowser for second best college bat in the draft seems like the choice. Or, maybe power potential for House is too much to look past. Of course, if Davis slips to 5, then it would probably be Davis. Clear as mud.

    Rounds 2-20 will be where the draft can be successful or unsuccessful. #5 pick is pretty solid regardless.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 9, 2021 at 11:54 am

      I think they’re trying to turn this event into something like the NFL draft. Good luck doing that.

      • Bman

        July 9, 2021 at 2:43 pm

        They shoulda done 3 rounds on Sunday. One round is lame. People are back to work on Monday and Tuesday.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      July 10, 2021 at 8:33 am

      Excellent review.

      I may be in the Minority here, but the Orioles still need a helluva lot more Pitching in their System.

      Jobe is a guy I like here at #5.

  4. Orial

    July 9, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Rich you said the O’s only have one day one pick. Don’t most teams? Nice crop of young HS shortstops to consider. I just wonder if these kids grow into 6’4″ behemoths and become corner players. I look at the International Market for the true SS gem. Don’t know which way I personally lean. Pitchers are a Tommy John away from being shelved,HS shortstops grow out of the position,HS players would be 4 years away(can we last that long?),college players are closer but do they project as high as the younger 18 year old? My crapshoot pick goes to— catcher(yes a catcher)Henry Davis. Seems closest to major League ready as a solid hitter,flexible in the field. Who knows?

    • BarstoolSleeper

      July 9, 2021 at 10:51 am

      Good points orial but I disagree about being shelved after Tommy John surgery. There are plenty of pitchers who come back from the surgery at the top of their game. DeGrom, Strasburg, Wainwright

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2021 at 11:24 am

      Orial, last year Orioles had a pick in Competitive Balance Round A, which was the 30th overall, and they drafted Jacob Westburg on the first day. Same thing in 2019 with Gunnar Henderson.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        July 9, 2021 at 11:57 am

        2 very nice picks … or at least it looks that way today. We’ll have to wait a few more year to make that call, ‘eh Rich?

  5. Birdman

    July 9, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Rich, thanks for this update … the Orioles have such a glaring need for pitching, hope they draft pitching high, preferably a college pitcher or two who will be closer to MLB ready than a high school kid.

  6. dlgruber1

    July 9, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Going off topic here. I’m grasping at straws to see how the O’s can play better at home. I’ve decided they should take the Philadelphia Flyers route and try playing Kate Smith’s version of God Bless America before their home games. Trust me, this is nothing against Rolando Sanz, he’s magnificent, just thinking if it worked so well for Philly, hey, why not give it a shot?

  7. Hallbe62

    July 9, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Excellent article Rich.

    If we are in fact underslotting, I would prefer Frelik (BC center fielder) over Colton Cowser.

    If we’re not underslotting right away……I say get 1 of those Vanderbilt Pitchers with the #5 pick.

    We’ll see. I’m sure Elias has it under control

  8. dlgruber1

    July 9, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    I’m watching the Cubs/Cardinals game now on MLB network and Kyle Hendricks just got taken out after 6.1 innings to a rousing standing ovation. What’s up with pitchers in MLB any more not acknowledging an ovation by the fans? Is it considered not cool any longer to tip your cap to the crowd? I guess that’s asking too much of a MLB pitcher now.

    • CalsPals

      July 9, 2021 at 5:34 pm

      Agree DL, just think I’m getting old, not a fan of the bat flips either, but if the fans are acknowledging you they deserve a response…go O’s…

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