Brandon Neely, Jacob Young grab scouts’ attention for 2021 MLB Draft
For the first time, the Major League Baseball Draft will take place during All-Star Weekend.
Most of the headlines revolve around Vanderbilt’s powerful pitching pair Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, as well as a talented high school shortstop trio – Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar and Kahlil Watson.
However, there is a chance that at least a handful of baseball stars are coming from Daytona-St. The Augustine region could hear their names called out over 20 rounds – down from five a year ago, but down from the traditional standard of 40.
The draft takes place this evening until Tuesday. The top 36 picks will be picked tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN and MLB Network. The final two days of the draft will be broadcast on MLB.com.
Here’s a look at some of the most likely candidates, ranging from recent high school graduates to established college stars and junior college gems under the radar.
Brandon Neely, RHP, Spruce Creek
The News-Journal’s Male Athlete of the Year for the Volusia-Flagler region, Neely had a formidable senior campaign leading the Hawks to the Class 7A State Championship game.
Neely, a 6-3, 200-pound right-hander, allowed just six earned runs in 63 ”. He racked up 82 strikeouts, walked 25 batters and kept his opponents at a 0.160 batting average using primarily a combination of fastball and slider.
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MLB.com ranks the 18-year-old No.205 among all draft-eligible prospects.
Signability will be the big question when it comes to Neely, who has a verbal commitment to Florida. The Gators’ track record of developing high first-round pick weapons is well documented – AJ Puk, Alex Faedo, and Brady Singer are some of the more recent examples.
2021 Draft: Brandon Neely, RHP | 06/14/21
Neely arrived in Gainesville last month and said he values himself a lot. He’ll need a substantial signing bonus offer to quit college.
Jacob Young, OF, Florida
The Ponte Vedra graduate broke a 21-year-old Gators record in a terrific second red shirt season.
Young went on a 30-game hitting streak, the fourth longest mark in SEC history. The streak actually began two years ago – June 7, 2019 – but has remained intact during the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent cancellation for most of the 2020 season.
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Young made 60 total starts for UF this spring, producing a .315 / .385 / .461 slash line with five homers, three triples, 16 doubles, 56 runs, 41 RBIs, 27 walks and 13 interceptions. Baseball America ranked Young 32nd on its preseason list of the top 150 college players, and he also won All-SEC tournament team honors.
Prospects Live ranked Young as the No. 198 draft-eligible prospect available in May, describing him as both a “successful thief” and “above average runner with a dashing arm.” Its frame (6ft, 175lb) raises concerns about the long-term impact on the plate.
Colby Frieda, RHP, Creekside
Of the St. Johns County prep stars, Frieda probably has the best chance of being selected.
Engaged verbally in Kentucky, Frieda guided the Knights to the playoffs as a reliable and often dominant ace. The 6-3, 195-pound right-hander drew 86 batters in just 56 innings, posting a 6-2 record with a 0.75 ERA.
This includes a draw in a home start on March 9 against Nease.
Frieda’s fastball peaks at around 93 mph, but sits comfortably in the ’90s. It has a three pitch mix that includes an animated slider and a slurve.
Chase Costello, RHP, Stetson
Ineligible for the 2021 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Costello might not pitch a single game for Stetson.
Hatters head coach Steve Trimper believes the 6-foot-4, 218-pound hard throw could come off the table between the sixth and tenth rounds. Recalling Robbie Peto, who signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Costello would have been a weekend starter as a junior redshirt, Trimper said.
Sixteen of Costello’s 17 appearances for LSU were made in relief. He posted an ERA of 8.72, hitting 13 walks and 31 hits in 21⅔ innings.
He was, however, a much sought-after preparation arm at Pompano Beach. Baseball America ranked him 289th among the nation’s draft-eligible players in 2018, a year in which he was named Rawlings Perfect Game First All-American in Florida.
Spencer Rich, OF, State of Daytona
It’s been six years since the Falcons produced an MLB draft pick – right-hander Justin Lawrence, who made his big-league debut in Colorado this season. Could that change, however, with one of the best JUCO bats in the state?
Rich recorded 49 hits in 112 batting appearances in his first season at Daytona State, pitching 10 homers, stealing 20 goals and marching 18 times against 24 strikeouts. The 6-foot-1, 184-pound freshman from Longmont, Colo., Cut an eye-catching .438 / .518 / .821.
Prep Baseball Report took note, ranking Rich second among JUCO hitters in Florida behind Gabriel Rincones of St. Petersburg College.
Dylan DeLucia, RHP, Northwest Florida State College
DeLucia, a new Smyrna Beach graduate, also caught the attention of the Prep Baseball Report folks this spring. It registered number 5 among the best JUCO weapons in the state.
DeLucia, 6-1 / 1, 205 pounds, was 9-2 with 119 strikeouts (highs in the NJCAA during the regular season) and a 2.48 ERA in 87 innings. He had two full games, including a six-hit shutout with a dozen strikeouts at Chipola on April 18.
As a freshman, he notched wins in six of his seven appearances before the COVID-19 shutdown, adding 44 strikeouts and a 0.67 ERA in 40 innings.
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DeLucia’s arsenal includes a two-stitched fastball, sitting at 90-94 mph and hitting 95 mph, with a slider, shift, and articulation curve.
Originally engaged in Charleston during her final year at New Smyrna, DeLucia expects to be part of the SEC instead. He announced a commitment to Ole Miss in April, a possibility that could outweigh any signing bonuses a team might be willing to offer.