As the 2021 MLB Draft came to a close Tuesday, Mississippi State had five current athletes and three signees selected over the three-day event.
The draft began for Mississippi State when Will Bednar, a right-handed pitcher from Valencia, Pennsylvania, was selected No. 14 overall by the San Francisco Giants in the first round. Bednar is the eighth first-round draft pick produced by Mississippi State in the last 10 years.
Bednar was an ace for the Bulldogs all season, but his true MLB potential was shown during the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. In just 18 1⁄3 innings, Bednar struck out 26 batters, had an ERA of 1.47 and allowed only three runs. He received the win in the Bulldogs’ opening game against Texas, who started Ty Madden. Madden went 32nd overall in the draft and was selected by the Detroit Tigers. In Bednar’s final game in the M over S, he pitched six no-hit innings against Vanderbilt, who started Kumar Rocker, the No. 10 overall pick.
Bednar set the record for most strikeouts by a single pitcher in one game with 15 strikeouts in six innings against Texas. The previous record was 10. This would also break Bednar’s personal record of 13 strikeouts. He finished the season 9-1 with a total of 139 strikeouts and was awarded the Most Outstanding Player of the CWS.
It is also worth noting Bednar issued Jack Leiter his first loss of the season at Hawkins Field in April. Leiter would go on to be the second overall pick of the draft.
The next three picks were Mississippi State signees. Maddux Bruns was the final selection of the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. A senior left-handed pitcher at UMS-Wright, Bruns was the 29th overall pick. Bruns was 7-0 on the season with a 0.86 ERA. Similar to Bednar, Bruns had over 100 strikeouts with 102 total to go with just 19 walks in 49 innings. Additionally, he earned himself two shutouts and a perfect game this season.
James Wood was selected 62nd overall in the second round by the San Diego Padres. From IMG Academy in Florida, Wood is an outfielder prospect who is compared to Aaron Judge due to his physically dominating 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame.
Shortstop Jordan McCants was selected 88th overall in the third round by the Miami Marlins. Hailing from Pensacola, Florida, McCants batted .450 in his 2021 senior season with a total of 24 RBIs in 27 games. In high school, McCants was aggressive on the base path and was considered one of the top high school shortstop prospects due to his .920 fielding percentage over his four years at Pensacola Catholic.
In the fourth round, Southeastern Conference player of the year Tanner Allen was the 118th pick by the Miami Marlins. This may sound familiar because former Diamond Dawg Jake Mangum was also the 118th pick in the fourth round in the 2019 draft, though he was selected by the New York Mets. With the most hits on the team for their championship season, Allen batted .383 with 66 RBIs in 100 hits. Eleven of those hits were home runs. On top of being SEC player of the year, Allen was a first-team All-American honoree, tied the Mississippi State record for most hits in the CWS with a total of nine and is only the second Bulldog in program history to hit at least 50 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs during his career at Mississippi State.
Eric Cerantola was selected in the fifth round by the Kansas City Royals as the 139th overall pick. The right-handed pitcher from Oakville, Ontario, has immense power and speed behind his pitches, maxing out at 100 mph, but a dangerous lack of control. Due to him not being able to command the ball, his last start was against LSU in March. However, this command issue did not deter MLB teams, and rumor has it Cerantola is built more for the majors than for college.
Only 20 picks later, left-handed pitcher Christian Macleod was selected 159th overall in the fifth round by the Minnesota Twins. While Macleod had a rough ending with the Maroon and White that shot his ERA to 5.23, he proved to have “the stuff” the rest of the season. Along with Bednar, Macleod had over 100 strikeouts. In 19 appearances, Macleod pitched 82 2⁄3 innings, struck out 113 batters and walked 33. He had an even record with six wins and six losses.
To conclude Mississippi State’s participation in the 2021 draft, center fielder Rowdey Jordan was selected in the 11th round as the 322nd overall pick by the New York Mets. Jordan will join the same organization as his former teammates Jake Mangum, JT Ginn and Cole Gordon. While Allen tied the record for most hits by a Mississippi State player in the CWS, Jordan broke it with 10 total hits in the CWS. He too was in the double digits for home runs with 10. He batted .323 and had 45 RBIs on 87 hits on the season.