Author: Shaun P Kernahan

Final 2021 NFL Mock Draft

After a trade at the QB position for the Broncos on Wednesday and more info leaking, I have adjusted my mock draft!

1JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemson
2JetsZach WilsonQBBYU
349ersMac JonesQBAlabama
4FalconsKyle PittsTEFlorida
5BengalsJa’Marr ChaseWRLSU
6DolphinsDeVonta SmithWRAlabama
7LionsPenei SwewellOTOregon
8PanthersJaycee HornCBSouth Carolina
9BroncosMicah ParsonLBPenn State
10CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabama
11GiantsRashawn SlaterOTNorthwestern
12EaglesJaylen WaddleWRAlabama
13ChargersChristian DarrisawOTVirginia Tech
14VikingsKwity PayeEDMichigan
15PatriotsTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota State
16CardinalsChristian BarmoreDTAlabama
17RaidersTrevon MoehrigSTCU
18DolphinsAlijah Vera-TuckerOTUSC
19Football TeamJustin FieldsQBOhio State
20BearsRashod BatemanWRMinnesota
21ColtsSamuel CosmiOTTexas
22TitansElijah MooreWROle Miss
23JetsGregory RousseauEDMiami (FL)
24SteelersNajee HarrisHBAlabama
25JaguarsCaleb FarleyCBVirginia Tech
26BrownsJeremiah Owusu-KoramoahLBNotre Dame
27RavensJaelan PhillipsEDMiami (FL)
28SaintsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwestern
29PackersKadarius ToneyWRFlorida
30BillsJayson OwehEDPenn State
31RavensTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSU
32BuccaneersAsante Samuel JrCBFlorida State

2021 NFL Mock Draft

1JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemson
2JetsZach WilsonQBBYU
349ersMac JonesQBAlabama
4FalconsKyle PittsTEFlorida
5BengalsPenei SewellOTOregon
6DolphinsJa’Marr ChaseWRLSU
7LionsDeVonta SmithWRAlabama
8PanthersRashawn SlaterOTNorthwestern
9BroncosJustin FieldsQBOhio State
10CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabama
11GiantsMicah ParsonsLBPenn State
12EaglesJaylen WaddleWRAlabama
13ChargersChristian DarrisawOTVirginia Tech
14VikingsKwity PayeEDMichigan
15PatriotsTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota State
16CardinalsChristian BarmoreDTAlabama
17RaidersTrevon MoehrigSTCU
18DolphinsAlijah Vera-TuckerOTUSC
19Football TeamWalker LittleOTStanford
20BearsRashod BatemanWRMinnesota
21ColtsSamuel CosmiOTTexas
22TitansJaycee HornCBSouth Carolina
23JetsGregory RousseauEDMiami (FL)
24SteelersNajee HarrisHBAlabama
25JaguarsElijah MooreWRMississippi
26BrownsJeremiah Owusu-KoramoahLBNotre Dame
27RavensJaelan PhillipsEDMiami (FL)
28SaintsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwestern
29PackersKadarius ToneyWRFlorida
30BillsJayson OwehEDPenn State
31RavensTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSU
32BuccaneersTravis EtienneHBClemson
Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

It was September 3, 2017, Brent Honeywell Jr. took the mound for the Durham Bulls in front of just 3,073 fans at Coolray Field against the Gwinnett Braves. He went 5.1 innings that day, striking out five and giving up no runs. His first strikeout victim of the game was Ronald Acuna Jr., another of the strikeout victims that day was first baseman Matt Tuiasosopo. 16 days later Honeywell took the mound against the Memphis Redbirds and the Bulls won the Triple-A National Championship.

In 2018 the Gwinnett Braves were rebranded the Gwinnett Stripers, Acuna made his big-league debut and won Rookie of the Year, Tuiasosopo was out of affiliated ball and retired after a season in the Indy ball circuit. Meanwhile, Honeywell was out the entire season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training and ending up going under the knife for Tommy John Surgery.

Fast forward to April 11, 2021, Acuna is in year three of an eight-year $100 million dollar contract, Tuiasosopo is the manager for that Gwinnett Stripers club, and Honeywell finally made his long-awaited MLB debut against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. There have been 1,316 days between that outing at Coolray Field in 2017, exactly 1,300 since a game that counted, and his debut in 2021, and Honeywell had thrown precisely zero pitches in a regular season game.

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Throughout that time, Honeywell wound up undergoing four separate elbow surgeries and went from the guy with the most talked about pitch among prospects, his plus screwball, and flirting with being a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, to a guy MLB.com has ranked at the 19th ranked prospect in the Rays system.

Still, when he toed the rubber at the Trop on Sunday afternoon, it was truly a goosebump inducing moment for all that had followed his career, and he shut down all six Yankees he faced, two via the strikeout.

Despite only pitching the first two innings of the game, those weren’t without high tension moments. Austin Meadows was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, Honeywell was asked if he considered taking justice into his own hands, he replied “I think I took justice into my own hands and shut them down for the two (innings) I was able to work.”

The Rays wound up falling 8-4 and Honeywell was optioned back down to the alternate site after the game, but Honeywell has plenty of confidence he will be back, saying “I know I belong here.”

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

It was not the start to his Colorado Rockies career that Austin Gomber had envisioned, opening the game with a walk, E1, walk, then allowing Mookie Betts to score on a wild pitch that really should have been an out at the plate had Gomber held onto the ball. His first inning wound up with a stat line of three runs on zero hits that ended with a cannon of a throw from Charlie Blackmon to double up Max Muncy at third base on a sac fly from Gavin Lux.

The second inning didn’t start out much better as Gomber gave up a leadoff double followed by a sac bund before walking Betts a second time. Betts proceeded to be thrown out attempting to steal second and Gomber escaped the second without any damage. He got out of the third unscathed despite walking the leadoff hitter, then got the Rockies first hit of the game in the bottom of the third and was replaced on the mound by Chi Chi Gonzalez in the fourth.

That was one of only three hits Julio Urias gave up in his season debut, the last coming in the eight inning on an infield single by Ryan McMahon who eventually came around to score on a double by Garrett Hampson off Jimmy Nelson.

The first run of the game to come off a base hit was a solo home run by Will Smith to lead off the top of that eighth against Robert Stephenson.

In the end, it was a quickly played game, nine minutes shy of three hours that saw eight total hits and the Dodgers coming out on top 4-2 despite on the back of that three run, no hit first inning. Gomber loses his Rockies debut while Julio Urias picks up his first win of the season and Cory Knebel his first save.

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

World Series ChampionsToronto Blue Jays
AL PennantToronto Blue Jays
NL PennantLos Angeles Dodgers
AL EastNew York Yankees
AL CentralChicago White Sox
AL WestOakland Athletics
AL Wild CardToronto Blue Jays
AL Wild CardMinnesota Twins
NL EastAtlanta Braves
NL CentralMilwaukee Brewers
NL WestLos Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild CardSan Diego Padres
NL Wild CardNew York Mets
AL MVPMatt Chapman 
AL Cy YoungLucas Giolito
AL ROYBobby Dalbec
NL MVPFernando Tatis Jr.
NL Cy YoungJacob deGrom
NL ROYKe’Bryan Hayes
Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Spring Training of 2021 is as unique as there has ever been. Typically the oddities are limited to seeing minor league guys come up wearing a number in the 70s or 80s pinch hitting with the massive MiLB dual flapped helmet while listening to the announcers shuffling through their notes to try and find the player’s name. Instead, the minor league guys are wearing single flapped helmets and there aren’t any call ups for the day thanks to the limited number of players in camp, but the rest of the game has gone odd, here are the ones that stand out:

7 inning Games

The default length of a game this Spring is just 7 innings. With the previously mentioned limited rosters there aren’t the guys to fill out the 8th and 9th inning duties, so most games end after seven, which is just weird to watch MLB games essentially last as long as a local High School game.

6 Inning Games

If 7 inning games are odd, 6 inning games are downright bizarre. In no level of baseball are there games scheduled to go just 6 innings, except Spring Training 2021. A number of games have been scheduled to go just six due to pitching availability.

8.5 Inning Game

The March 4 game between the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks was scheduled to go 8.5 games regardless of the score. The D-Backs happened to be up 9-2 after the top of the 8th, so the box score looks normal, but had the score been flipped, there still would not have been a bottom of the 9th!

Double Walkoff

On March 2, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 after 6 innings thanks to not one, but two winning free passes. Bases loaded tied 2-2 with Christopher Sanchez in the mound, Riley Adams gets hit by the pitch to give the Blue Jays the 3-2 victory. One problem, the Phillies wanted to see more from Sanchez, so they allow Phillip Clarke to step into the batter’s box where he proceeds to draw a walk to walk it off….again.

Free Substitutions

Also on March 2, John Means got the start on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees. Means gave up a single, fly out, single, groundout, single and was pulled from the game in favor of Jay Flaa who got a fly out to end the inning. Fast forward to the top of the second, replacing Flaa on the mound was, yup, John Means! He after struggling with his feel in the first he took a breather then went back out despite having already been removed from the game and finished the second inning on his own, but only going 1.2 innings.

Box Score Glitches

So, this one is more of a glitch, or somebody asleep on the job, or both, but the Phillies-Yankees game from Sunday March 7 showed a bizarre scenario. DJ LeMahieu lined out for the first out of the second inning before Aaron Judge is called out on strikes for out number two, then it gets weird. I have yet to confirm what actually happened, mainly because I don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story, but apparently Zach Britton, the pitcher, “starts inning at 3rd base” despite there having already been a grand slam earlier in the inning and he was not on base, and he is immediately out at third. No explanation, not play-by-play just out at third. The box score after the game does not list Britton as having participated in the game, and the Yankees opened the next inning with Aaron Hicks, who was batting behind Judge in the lineup.

Best Goals from Non-Top Tier Leagues

Over the weekend, Elisha Sam of Notts County scored one of the more unbelievable goals you will ever see as they took on Oxford City in the FA Trophy Quarter Final. Notts is currently in the fifth tier of English football, and the goal is a favorite for the 2021 FIFA Puskas Award.

The Puskas Award has been awarded every year since 2009 and it goes to the “most beautiful” goal of the year. Ten goals are nominated each year, so I scrubbed them all and put together a list of all the nominees from non-top tier competitions. Many are World Cup goals, but are of the U-age variety, so those don’t count as senior goals, therefore not top tier. Here are the eight I found:

Lionus Hallenius with a ridiculous volley for Hammarby IF against Syrianska FC in the second-tier of Sweden’s football in 2010, the Supperettan.

Julio Gomez bicycle kick for Mexico vs. Germany in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup

Olivia Jimenez from distance for Mexico against Switzerland in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

2015’s Puskas award winner is this spinning bicycle kick off an impressive volley for Wendell Lira and Goianesia against Atletico Goianiense in 2015.

David Ball finds the corner from distance for Fleetwood Town against Preston North End in the 2014-15 League One season.

Daniuska Rodriguez of Venezuela breaks multiple Colombian ankles before tucking one in the corner for this goal in the 2016 South American U-17 Women’s Championship.

Denya Catellanos wastes absolutely no time at all putting a ball in the net for Venezuela against Cameroon in the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan.

Jordi Mboula makes multiple Borussia Dortmund defenders look foolish as he scores for Barcelona in the 2016-17 UEFA Youth League.

Reactions to the new MiLB/MLB Agreement

Reactions to the new MiLB/MLB Agreement

Major League Baseball sent out a press release on Friday, February 12 announcing all 120 Minor League Baseball teams, their affiliations, and highlighting some features of the agreement. All 120 teams have agreed to 10-year deals, meaning there will not be the every-other year shuffle of affiliates so fans really start following a given team’s system that plays in their town for the next decade. Every team that was extended an invitation to be among the affiliated clubs accepted, with the only one that did leave some doubt being the Fresno Grizzlies as they dropped from Triple-A all the way down to Low-A.

Much has been made of the less than creative league names, but that is sure to change sooner than later, and there is plenty of question about how the 2021 season will look given the ongoing pandemic, but what about the long-term implications of the deal? Let’s dive into the good, the bad, the misleading, and some wish list items that has come out of the deal.

Good

10-year deal: This is big, the mass shuffle of affiliates is now a thing of the past and the clubs can truly market themselves as an extension of the big-league club they are affiliated with. No longer will we see a team like the Lancaster Jethawks (more on them in the bad) who were affiliated with five different big-league clubs in their 24 seasons.

Low-A Warm Weather: This one is easy to overlook, but the swapping of progression for most teams at the A ball level makes much more sense now compared to the past. No longer will we see players make their full season debut, in April, in Ohio or Michigan, or Wisconsin, instead they will be in Florida, California, or the Carolinas. It may not seem like much, but there is enough of an adjustment for a high school draftee transitioning into pro ball without many having to pitch in near freezing temps for the first time.

Bad

42 Cities Removed: There are now 43 cities across the county that used to have an affiliated minor league club that don’t anymore. This means states like Colorado go from having multiple minor league teams to none, while states like Montana have no affiliated baseball of any kind in their state any longer. True, many have turned into summer collegiate leagues or independent teams, but a place like Lancaster, California lost their 25th season to the pandemic and currently sit with no immediate plans to host a baseball team any longer.

Shortened Draft: The draft has been shortened from 40 rounds to 20. This is not a massive issue since the great majority of big-league ballplayers are either international signings or were drafted in the top five rounds, but it cuts the number of players who get to call themselves pros in half.

Misleading

Salary Increases: In the release, the first bullet point of the “many improvements” is a 38-72% increase in player salaries. This was much needed but is also highlights just how bad player salaries were. JJ Cooper of Baseball America helped crunch the numbers and Rookie level salaries (yes, there is still Rookie ball, but complex only) went from $290/week to $400/week. Both levels of A ball went from $290/week up to $500/week (the biggest jump of any level), while Double-A now gets paid $600/week compared to $350/week and Triple-A jumps to $700/week from the old rate of $502/week. Players only get paid during the season, so 6 months of A ball means a player makes roughly $13,500/year while Triple-A players make $18,200. Compare that to the Triple-A player who is on a big-league deal with a minimum wage of $570,500, which would be $21,942.331/week if paid out over the same time frame. This means one player could make more in a single week than another makes for an entire season.

Better Geographical Alignment: The release points out that, on average, Triple-A clubs are more than 200 miles closer to their MLB affiliate than previous seasons. For the most part this is an improvement, but there are still some outliers that stick out like a sore thumb. The Colorado Rockies Triple-A affiliate is still down in Albuquerque, New Mexico but their Double-A affiliate remains all the way out in Hartford, Connecticut. Then there is the High-A East which has five teams in the North Division and seven in the South Division that will include bus rides from Brooklyn, New York down to Rome, Georgia and back. Sure, scheduling will likely have those teams make stops at other clubs along the way, but that doesn’t exactly scream “better geographical alignment”.

Modernized Facilities: Part of the agreements between the Minor League and Major League teams included requirements for improvements, modernization, and general upgrades for fans, players, and staff alike. At first glance this doesn’t seem like it could be anything but a good, but let’s take a look at why so many ballparks need improvements. The old California league teams, now mostly consisting of the Low-A West division, saw Bakersfield and High Desert run to the Carolina League back in 2016. The remaining teams didn’t have commitments for more than a handful of years, makes it tough to commit to sinking millions into ballpark improvements. Then there is the Rocky Mountain Vibes, formerly the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, who saw their Triple-A team move to Amarillo only to be replaced by a short-season club, then be eliminated from affiliated ball all together. It is no surprise, with all those moving parts and without a long-term commitment, the owners of the ballpark didn’t dig up right field and insert better irrigation at a field that would rain out with the sun shining because water would merely pool in the outfield rather than drain.

Wish List

MiLB TV Everywhere: Now that MLB has taken over operations of MiLB and there are long term commitments, there is no reason every club shouldn’t have their own broadcast team. This would take some time, but part of the modernization of the ballparks should come with the addition of camera wells and a broadcast booth ready for TV. MLB Network could then pick a Game of the Week to air mid-week, mid-day to fill programing but also allow fans to see the stars of the future and highlight great minor league cities.

Televise the Draft League: The Draft League, an amateur summer league run by MLB in conjunction with Prep Baseball Report, still has many questions looming, and it is not technically MiLB affiliated, but should have its own broadcasting package included in MiLB.tv.

Conference/Division Naming Contests: One of the many fun aspects of Minor League Baseball is the naming rights contests for teams when they move or re-brand that sees fans submitting crazy names and voting on them to determine what the team’s moniker will be moving forward (see Rocket City Trash Pandas). Why not take a big negative out of the announcement (uninspired league/conference/division names) and turn it into a positive by opening it up to a fan vote?

Allow Loans: Ok, this may be a wild idea on the surface, but stay with me. Under the new schedule of a July draft, teams will likely negotiate future contracts (i.e., drafted in 2021 but the contract begins in 2022), so why not allow teams that make up the Indy ball circuit loan those college draftees? This allows teams to sign a player to a same year contract, reducing the negotiation struggles sure to come with agents and teams arguing over when the contract begins, and let Indy teams bid to pay the player’s salary that summer in exchange for them suiting up for those teams. This wouldn’t work for top of the draft guys, and high school picks will likely head to the complex leagues but sending the 15th round college senior to the Missoula PaddleHeads helps strengthen the relationship with “partner leagues”.

The next twelve months will be fascinating to watch the minor league landscape settle in, but there are opportunities for Major League Baseball to better the game at the lower levels, and a season with so many moving parts as the 2021 season has is the perfect time to give it a shot.