DENVER -- Garrett Crochet is the exception, not the rule.
The 11th overall pick in 2020, Crochet went from the Draft to the White Sox alternate training site to the big leagues last summer. He became the first player to make his pro debut in the Majors since the Reds' Mike Leake in 2010 and the first to appear at that level in his Draft year since the Royals' Brandon Finnegan in 2014.
In the past 10 Drafts, the Dodgers' Paco Rodriguez (2012), Finnegan and Crochet are the only players to reach the big leagues in the same year they were selected. It's unlikely that any of this year's draftees will advance that quickly, but whoever gets to the Majors first probably will be a pitcher. That's been the case in nine of the previous 10 Drafts, with the Cubs' Nico Hoerner (2018 first-rounder, 2019 debut) the only position player to buck that trend.
Below are the top candidates (listed alphabetically) to become the first 2021 draftee to make the Majors. All eight are collegians, including six pitchers. High schoolers take longer because they're younger, though right-hander Jackson Jobe (Tigers, No. 3 overall) and shortstop Marcelo Mayer (Red Sox, No. 4) have the tools and skills to develop rapidly.
Sam Bachman, RHP, Angels (No. 9)
If anyone from this year's Draft will emulate Crochet, it's probably Bachman, who's equipped to work out of the bullpen with a lively fastball that reaches 101 mph and a mid-80s slider that locks up lefties and righties alike. Some evaluators gave top-of-the-scale grades to both pitches this spring, when he ranked second in NCAA Division I in WHIP (0.77) and fourth in hits per nine innings (4.4) en route to becoming the first first-rounder from Miami (Ohio).
Will Bednar, RHP, Giants (No. 14)
The younger brother of Pirates reliever David Bednar, Will had one of the best combinations of stuff and strikes among this year's college crop. He rode a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider to a 139/26 K/BB ratio in 92 1/3 innings and Most Outstanding Player honors at the College World Series as Mississippi State won its first national title.
Henry Davis, C, Pirates (No. 1)
In a down year for college hitters, Davis was clearly the best all-around offensive player available, showing the ability to hit for average and power while controlling the strike zone as he hit .370/.482/.663 with 15 homers in 50 games at Louisville. He has a plus-plus arm that enabled him to throw out 46 percent of basestealers, though he needs to clean up his receiving.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers (No. 2)
Leiter may get to the big leagues quicker than anyone on this list because he has an exceptional fastball that plays well above its 92-97 mph velocity thanks to its riding life and induced vertical break. The son of former All-Star Al Leiter also has a plus curveball, the potential for a solid slider and changeup and off-the-charts competitiveness. In his lone full season at Vanderbilt, he threw a no-hitter in his first Southeastern Conference start and tied for the NCAA D-I strikeout lead (179 in 110 innings).
Ty Madden, RHP, Tigers (No. 32)
While he lasted much longer than expected because analytically minded clubs didn't like his fastball metrics, Madden has a pair of plus pitches in his mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider, not to mention a solid changeup and control to match. Strong and durable, he struck out 137 in 113 2/3 innings this year and concluded his Texas career with a pair of quality starts at the CWS.
Matt McLain, SS, Reds (No. 17)
Also a first-round pick three years ago out of high school by the Diamondbacks, McLain joins a team in need of help at shortstop. The UCLA product offers bat-to-ball skills, sneaky power and flashes well-above-average speed, though some scouts think he may fit better at second base or center field.
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Mets (No. 10)
The Mets and their fans were delighted when Rocker fell to the No. 10 selection after tying teammate Leiter for the NCAA D-I strikeout lead and leading the nation in wins (14) and innings (122) while helping pitch Vanderbilt to the CWS finals. Clubs may have developed some scouting fatigue with Rocker, but he ranks among the most physical or competitive in the Draft and has a mid-90s fastball and a filthy slider at his best.
Jordan Wicks, LHP, Cubs (No. 21)
The first Kansas State player ever selected in the first round, Wicks was the best left-hander available and a nice fit for a franchise that has struggled to develop homegrown pitching. He's an advanced pitcher with the best changeup in the Draft, a low-90s fastball with riding action and an improving slider. He set school records for single-season (118) and career (230) strikeouts this spring.