Was it only last year that #TankForKumar was a thing on social media? Last June, the fireballing Vanderbilt righty Kumar Rocker looked to be on his way to the Pirates as the number one pick in the 2021 draft.
Then came this season, and suddenly Rocker’s Commodore rotation mate Jack Leiter became the sexy choice for the number one pick as Rocker’s velocity and command came into question.
In MLB’s second mock draft, though, both Rocker and Leiter have dropped, and a star rises in the west as the new number one—shortstop Marcelo Mayer out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA.
Mayer isn’t exactly appearing out of nowhere, as he was ranked third in June 11th’s mock draft and he’s consistently been in the top ten. And it’s not like Rocker and Leiter have plummeted down the rankings—Leiter’s currently ranked third and Rocker’s at six.
Is Mayer good? Batwise, yes—as of May 31 he was batting .437 with 13 home runs, 40 RBIs, 25 walks, 16 stolen bases, and only three strikeouts in 103 plate appearances. With offense far outweighing defense, of course he’s attractive. He’s also committed to USC, where another Eastlake shortstop alum, Ben Ramirez, is doing pretty well.
Ben Cherington has made his usual mumblings about keeping options open. Although last year’s pick, Nick Gonzales, was drafted as a shortstop, it looks increasingly likely that he’ll be converted to second base. Kevin Newman, however, is only in his second full year with the Big Boy Club, and Oneil Cruz and, to a lesser extent, Cole Tucker, are waiting in the wings.
Should a team always draft the perceived best available player or draft according to its needs? Pitching is always useful, but my colleagues and I have been figuratively jumping up and down for a while hollering “get a catcher!” And look, there’s Louisville’s Henry Davis sitting like a Cardinal in the prospects tree. The Tigers have supposedly had Mayer in their sights for a while now, too, so there’s that.
Let’s pretend it’s up to me. I would take Davis or Leiter before Mayer because, to paraphrase the immortal Tina Turner, we don’t need another shortstop.
Really, Ben, we don’t.