The 2021 MLB Draft begins on July 11, 2021, and unlike in 2020, this will be a twenty round draft — shorter than the forty rounds the draft has been in the most recent years prior to 2020, but longer than last year’s five round version. The Rangers’ top three picks are at #2, #38, and #73.
In the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks, looking both at players who are in the mix at #2 and players who would be candidates to be picked in the second or third rounds. Today we are looking at Louisiana high school infielder Peyton Stovall.
Peyton Stovall is a 6’0”, 180-185 lb. lefthanded hitting high school infielder out of Haughton, Louisiana. Stovall plays shortstop for his high school team, but is seen as a second baseman at the professional level.
The first line in Baseball America’s writeup on him in their draft rankings says, “Stovall’s draft profile is not for everyone.” So yeah, he would be a polarizing pick, I’m guessing. While Stovall currently is a shortstop and likely starts his career playing second base in rookie ball this summer, his real position is “hitter.” He’s considered by some to be one of the best pure hitters in the draft, and Keith Law says there are teams who see him as a potential 60 hit tool guy.
The hit tool is the only thing Stovall has right now that profiles as a plus tool, though his swing and ability to barrel the ball is good enough that he could still hit a fairly decent number of home runs. There are also apparently those who feel he could develop plus power, and a 60 hit/60 power guy is a legit middle of the order asset.
The rest of Stovall’s physical tools are such that he’s going to have to hit to succeed. While he currently profiles as a second baseman, there are mixed reports on whether he will be able to stay there, particularly if he fills out. He doesn’t have the arm to play third base or right field, and doesn’t have the speed to play center field, so his defensive options are limited. That said, if he develops into a 60 hit guy with at least decent power, the defensive limitations are less of an issue.
Baseball America has Stovall at #32 on their current top 500 draft list. MLB Pipeline has Stovall at #28 on their board. Kiley McDaniel slots Stovall at #49 on his current board. Keith Law has Stovall as the #71 player in his draft rankings. Fangraphs has Stovall at #61.
Stovall isn’t projected to go in the first round in most mock drafts, although Jim Callis has him going to the Cleveland Indians at #23 in his latest mock, and also mentions him as a possibility for the Chicago White Sox at #22, as well as the San Diego Padres at #27 and the Los Angeles Dodgers at #29.
Stovall has a profile similar to Thomas Saggese, the California prepster the Rangers signed to an above-slot deal in the fifth round in 2020, and given his recent rise and the fact that his profile is going to make him more appealing to some of the analytically bent teams that emphasis hit tool and barrel rates, there’s a good chance he’s gone by #38 unless the Rangers agree to an above-slot deal with him if he falls to #38, which would allow him to raise his asking price to that amount and possibly result in him dropping to them. Regardless, I wouldn’t bet on him being there with the Rangers’ second pick.
If he is there, though, he’s the type of player who fits what the Rangers have focused on in recent years. His profile is very similar to Willie Calhoun and Nick Solak, and while I am sure there are those who will scoff at the idea of drafting another Calhoun or Solak, the skill set has value. Stovall seems like someone who, if he’s there, would be a fit for the Rangers in the second round.