The Dodgers’ present is pretty busy at the moment, what with opening day set for Thursday and all. But it’s never too early to glance at the future as well. Thanks to Carlos Colazzo at Baseball America, who on Monday unveiled his second mock up of the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft, we can.
To get to the Dodgers’ pick, we have to wait until No. 29 overall, the last pick in the first round, because the Dodgers had the best record in baseball in 2020, a season that ended with Los Angeles winning the World Series. People sometimes forget this.
Colazzo has the Dodgers taking Mississippi State right-handed pitcher Will Bednar, who has a 2.12 ERA so far this season with 31 strikeouts against only two walks in 17 innings. He didn’t allow a run through 12 innings in his first four games, including three relief appearances as he worked his way back from a neck injury.
Dominant SEC Debut for @bednar_will— Mississippi State Baseball (@HailStateBB) March 21, 2021
7 strikeouts in 40 seconds pic.twitter.com/rQMCpv7YgV
Bednar finally allowed runs on Saturday, losing to Arkansas but still managed to strike out 10 in five innings.
In the truncated 2020 season, Bednar had a 1.76 ERA with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 15⅓ innings.
“Bednar has a limited collegiate resume overall, but his fastball gets a ton of whiffs in the zone and his slider can be an out pitch as well,” Colazzo wrote.
From 2003-2015, the Dodgers drafted pitchers with 16 of their 20 first-round picks, counting supplemental selections. But in their last five drafts, only three of their eight first-rounders have been pitchers: Jordan Sheffield, now a Rule 5 pick with the Rockies, J.T. Ginn, who did not sign in 2018, and Bobby Miller, last year’s first-rounder out of Louisville.
The first mock draft at BA, back in January, also had the Dodgers drafting a right-handed pitcher: Chase Petty, a high schooler out of New Jersey.
Bednar is a draft-eligible sophomore who turns 21 in June.
“Obviously, the draft is a possibility,” Bednar told Dan Zielinski at Baseball Prospect Journal in February. “But I try not to let that loom over me. I don’t want that to be my main focus. I just want to win games and have a good season.”
Bednar’s brother David is a pitcher for the Pirates, who incidentally struck out 17 of his 31 batters faced this spring training.
The last Mississippi State player drafted by the Dodgers was first baseman Connor Powers in 2009, though he did not sign. Ginn was the team’s first-round pick in 2018 out of high school, but did not sign and ended up playing college ball with the Bulldogs. The last Mississippi State player drafted and signed by the Dodgers was catcher Cliff Wren in 1999. The only one to reach the majors was left-handed pitcher Gary Rath, picked by the Dodgers in the second round in 1994 and reached the majors in 1998.