Written by: Ray Butler
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It’s been one heck of a month.
Throughout the past thirty days, I have dove head-first in this year’s amateur class. College players, high schoolers and J2 prospects alike. This has been an awesome challenge, and the first time I’ve ever composed a list that, in its entirety, is comprised of players I knew very little about just a few months ago.
When I began prospecting, some of the people I respect the most within the industry told me to be sure I watch talent at every level. High school, college and throughout the minor leagues all the way to Triple-A and the big leagues. Perhaps now more than ever, I understand why that facet of evaluation is so important.
While the list you’re about to read has been an extensive, exhausting process, P365 has published some of its most popular articles—ever—throughout the last month. Ian Smith released the first mock draft in site history. Mason McRae joined the site, brought his War Room with him, then nearly broke our server when he published his first P365 mock draft. I am immensely proud of the way our staff has mobilized and shifted to MLB Draft content during the COVID-19 shutdown, and I look forward to draft content continuing to be a staple on our site in future seasons. As a matter of fact, I’m planning on creating and publishing my first-ever mock draft prior to next month’s MLB Draft. Mason and Ian have one more up their sleeves, too. Be on the lookout for that in the coming weeks.
With around three weeks remaining before the 2020 MLB Draft, you might think this is a weird time to publish the first version of an amateur list. I would contest that now is actually the perfect time to publish said list, without any mainstream noise or organizational biases influencing my rankings. A blank canvas, if you will. It will be fun to keep tabs on how this list evolves throughout the summer, fall and winter, eventually leading up to the start of the 2021 season once all dynasty drafts are in the books.
This First Year Player list is chalked full of extensive reports on 80 amateurs, including prep, college and J2 prospects. At the very bottom, you’ll see a 21-prospect honorable mention section, bringing the total to 101 prospects. If you read my prospect lists, you know they’re technically fantasy-focused, but the reports themselves are mostly under a real-life lens. I feel this is especially important when creating a FYPD list in which most prospects who are included have non-MLB floors. My goal in creating this list was to lay a solid foundation that I’ll be able to refer to throughout the future as some of these prospects develop in the minor leagues before ascending to the big leagues. I feel I’ve accomplished that below.
I hope you enjoy. Let’s dive in!
1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State. Age: 20
Torkelson is currently the odds-on favorite to the first ever collegiate first baseman selected with the first overall pick of the MLB Draft. Everyone (and I mean everyone) knows how valuable the 20-year-old will likely become from a fantasy standpoint, so allow me to talk about his real-life value for a moment. Right/right first baseman are a dime a dozen in today’s MLB, so Torkelson will have to really hit—and really hit consistently—to accrue the WAR organizations dream about with the first overall pick. Luckily, the first baseman’s most likely outcomes as a professional range anywhere from a 55-hit/55-raw power output to a 60-hit/70-raw power output. In an organization starving for pure offensive talent, Torkelson fits that label in spades. Much like Andrew Vaughn, Torkelson projects as a fast mover throughout the minor leagues, perhaps being ready for every day MLB playing time by sometime in 2022. As of now, Torkelson will immediately slot into the top-10 of my prospect list (yes, slightly ahead of Vaughn) as soon as he’s drafted.
2. Austin Martin, 2B/3B/SS/OF, Vanderbilt. Age: 21
While Spencer Torkelson likely projects as a better fantasy asset than real-life player, Martin will really have to compile offensive counting stats to outperform the real life value he’ll add to whichever organization selects him next month. Capable of playing multiple defensive positions at an average-or-better level, Martin’s defensive versatility really embodies the type of player he is in general. A true five-tool talent with a well-rounded skillset, the 21-year-old is commonly comped to Dansby Swanson, who’s also a former Vanderbilt Commodore. While I love Swanson and fully believe he’s destined for big things in 2020 and beyond, Martin carries a better hit tool and should produce at a higher clip in the stolen base department. If you already roster the 21-year-old in open-universe dynasty leagues or plan on drafting him in your league’s First Year Player Draft, cross your fingers and hope the organization that selects him inside the top-5 doesn’t insist on sticking him at third base or in the outfield exclusively. From a fantasy standpoint, Martin’s likely output will really pop if you can someday stick him in your second base, shortstop or middle infield slot once he hypothetically debuts at the big league level. I found this Keith Law chat response on Martin’s throwing arm from the outfield this spring really interesting and something to keep an eye on once the 21-year-old debuts professionally.
3. Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State. Age: 21
Thanks to our Ian Smith’s deep dive on Gonzales last month, there’s not too much to add here. I will say the second baseman’s makeup has been compared to that of Royce Lewis. Prospect Live’s Matt Thompson is correct when he says you ‘can’t put those types of qualities in a spreadsheet’, but it does allow us to feel fairly confident Gonzales will always get the most of his skillset. If you’ve done much reading on the 21-year-old, you know we’re not allowed to finalize this evaluation without mentioning the similarities between Gonzales and Keston Hiura. The latter has massively outperformed his base stealing projections despite being an average runner; Gonzales will likely need to do the same to become a top-50 player in redraft leagues, which Hiura has accomplished leading up to the 2020 season.
4. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Florida). Age: 18
There appears to be some legitimate smoke that Veen might not be as high within organizations as he is throughout the draft industry. While a hypothetical drop could possibly lead to an overslot in real life, it would only be advantageous in FYPDs this offseason, especially if you play with unsuspecting league mates. In actuality, Veen is indisputably one of the best hitters in this class. At this point, an eventual 50-hit, 55-raw power outcome would be relatively disappointing when you evaluate his present skillset. Luckily, it appears as though the most likely outcome is a 55-hit, 70-raw power output that chips in a handful of stolen bases per season (some outlets are bullish on Veen’s speed, but I believe he benefits from being a long strider and likely won’t impact the stolen base category much once he reaches the big leagues). The teenager likely transitions to a corner outfield spot defensively, but the offensive skillset will play fine regardless of position. If you’re a dreamer, .270 BA/30 HR/5 SB with a healthy OBP from right field isn’t even the 90th percentile outcome here.
5. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M. Age: 21
Asa Lacy and Emerson Hancock form the perfect antithesis amongst top pitching prospects in this draft class. While Hancock (you can read his full report directly below) is practically the quintessential ‘sum-of-the-parts’ pitching prospect (the parts just so happen to mostly be above average), Lacy wows you with his explosion. Armed with a left-handed fastball that touches 98 mph with insane ride at the top of the zone (21.7″ vMov, 96% spin efficiency, 17.3% SwStr in 2020) and a true wipeout slider (46.4% SwStr in 2020, LOL) that’s weaponized versus both left-handed and right-handed hitters, Lacy undoubtedly boasts the best two-pitch combination (both of which grade at 70 in my eyes) in this draft class. It was primarily the fastball/slider duo that led to these ridiculous stats prior to the college season being canceled: 24.0 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 8 BB, 46 K (0.71 WHIP, 0.75 ERA). Not too shabby, though it’s worth mentioning Lacy’s changeup is extremely underrated (46.2% SwStr in 2020, HAHAHAHA) and has become a viable third pitch in this impressive arsenal. So how the heck is the southpaw not the universal, consensus top-ranked pitching prospect in the 2020 draft class? Simply put, his mechanics. Varying opinions abound on just how durable Lacy will be throughout the course of a full professional season. The left-hander’s biggest proponents see a pitcher whose arm gets to an optimal position at release, all while being supported by a well-utilized, strong lower half. Those with concerns cede the previous points while pointing out Lacy’s head movement (it appears he’s looking directly downward at the ground at release) as his momentum carries him towards home plate. Consequently, the detractors point out that the left-hander’s mechanics remaining unaltered would lead to consistent, continual stress on the shoulder, leading to inevitable injuries and ailments throughout his professional career. It’s important to note that, while he’s likely the safer pitching prospect, Hancock currently has a longer injury track record than Lacy. It’s even more important to note that Lacy is so model-friendly within most organizations (he’s not a fantastic spinner of the ball from a raw RPM standpoint, but he is highly-efficient, extends well and has ridiculous vMov/hMov and SwStr% numbers) that teams will simply be willing to draft the stuff and track record this summer while acknowledging future mechanical alterations may be needed for the southpaw to continuously take the ball every fifth day throughout the minors and big leagues. In either direction, you can’t ‘full send’ on Lacy unless you rank him as the top pitching prospect in this class or bury him somewhere in the 20-30 range. After ranking him behind Hancock on my projected 2021 top-100 prospect list, I’m swapping the order here after attaining Lacy’s Rapsodo data and speaking with several people who aren’t overly concerned with the mechanics.
6. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia. Age: 20
Hancock epitomizes the phrase ‘prototypical college pitcher’. There’s an optimal frame (6-foot-4, 215 lbs.), plenty of stuff (you can make a case for three above-average-or-better pitches), solid command and elite pitchability that was evident in each of the right-hander’s four starts this spring. After allowing nine hits and six earned runs in just four innings in Georgia’s Opening Day game versus Richmond, Hancock settled in nicely throughout his final three starts: 20 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 30 K (0.75 WHIP, 1.80 ERA); even against the Spiders, scouts came away impressed with the crispness of the right-hander’s stuff. Hancock was sidelined at times last season due to arm soreness, which also kept him away from competition throughout last summer. He showed no lingering signs of ailment this winter and spring prior to the collegiate season being canceled. While Hancock doesn’t quite possess the otherworldly two-pitch combination of Asa Lacy (fastball/slider), the former’s holistic arsenal—paired with worry-free mechanics and the prospect of above-average-or-better command as a professional—makes him the easy choice as 2nd-ranked pitching prospect in this draft class. As the industry as a whole continues to dive-in and become more comfortable with this draft class, don’t be surprised if Hancock dips to the Max Meyer/Mick Abel/Garrett Crochet tier of pitchers before next offseason. The driving force behind that hypothetical drop would be further dissection of an arsenal in which no pitch posted a swinging strike rate higher than 13.0% in a shortened 2020 campaign.
7. Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA. Age: 21
Joe Doyle (a contributor for many different sites) has become a voice of authority throughout the MLB Draft world, and he recently did an outstanding job pinpointing the issues that have suppressed Mitchell’s in-game power to this point of his career. But even if that thread, Doyle admits the 21-year-old could peak at 20 home runs at the big league level if his eventual suitor is able to iron out the mid-pitch issues with his lower half. If Mitchell becomes capable of posting 20 home run seasons, this profile will be an absolute nightmare for anyone who doesn’t roster the outfielder in fantasy leagues. There’s an above average hit tool, 70-grade speed and undoubted aptitude in center field defensively. From a fantasy standpoint, Mitchell reaching his ceiling means we’re drafting him similarly to pre-2019 and pre-2020 Starling Marte in redraft leagues—all while he flirts with four-win seasons in real life (especially since there were no split concerns throughout his collegiate career). There’s a very real possibility Mitchell spins his tires a bit statistically the first season or two of his professional career, but don’t worry; in all likelihood, it would simply mean an organization has overhauled his swing to maximize his power output.
8. Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota. Age: 21
If you’re a glutton for risk/reward in First Year Player Drafts, look no further than Meyer. The right-hander fully transitioned to the starting rotation this season after relieving his freshman season and oscillating between the rotation and bullpen last season; the pre-shutdown numbers were fantastic: 4 GS, 27.2 IP, 15 H, 6 ER, 8 BB, 46 K (0.83 WHIP, 1.95 ERA). In the same mold as Asa Lacy and Garrett Crochet, Meyer’s arsenal is headlined by a fastball/slider combination. The former possesses premium velocity, but multiple sources have indicated the pitch plays down thanks to unintentional cutting (an obvious sign of unoptimized spin efficiency). The latter is a true 70-grade weapon and a pitch that would serve as an awesome foundation for any profile. The premise regarding the perception of Meyer’s relief risk is mostly based on his size (6-foot, 185 lbs.) and lack of track record in the rotation (his command and explosiveness tapered a bit later in starts in 2020). However, I fully believe the 21-year-old has the athleticism and arsenal to remain in the rotation long-term, especially if he’s able to optimize his fastball spin efficiency as a professional. The margin between Meyer and Crochet is fairly narrow, though I’m giving a nod to the former here thanks a presently-better third pitch (changeup) and superior athleticism.
9. Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Oregon). Age: 18
While Emerson Hancock epitomizes a prototypical college pitcher within this class, Abel embodies the prototypical prep pitcher. Armed with a 6-foot-6, 215 lb. frame with some projection remaining, clean mechanics, premium fastball velocity and an advanced breaking ball for his age, Abel might have more upside than any prep prospect in this class other than Zac Veen. Recently-released Rapsodo information on the right-hander’s fastball included 99.5 mph velocity, a raw spin rate of 2660 RPM (would be 99th percentile amongst all MLB pitchers), a spin efficiency of 94% and above average vertical movement. I assume releasing that information (even if it was a max-effort rep) is a calculated, necessary step for a prep pitcher who didn’t pitch against varsity competition this spring prior to the high school season being canceled. If any under-exposed prep pitcher will be immune to a draft day drop this summer, it should be Abel. He likely has the most upside of any right-handed pitcher in this class.
10. Cristian Hernandez, SS, Dominican Republic. Age: 16
I won’t pretend to be the world’s foremost-known expert on this season’s J2 class (the 2020 J2 signing date is still yet to be decided, for what it’s worth) when it’s currently darn near impossible to project outcomes for MLB players this summer, but I will say Hernandez has earned average-or-better grades across the board on outlets who have seen the teenager in person. Choosing between Hernandez and Carlos Colmenarez is practically splitting hairs at this point, but I’m giving the former the nod thanks to a swing that generates more natural loft, slightly smoother actions at shortstop and a frame that projects a bit better. In the fantasy world (which is a realm that doesn’t necessarily care about handedness), Hernandez projects as a slightly-less loud version of Robert Puason from last summer’s class. Whenever J2 signing day rolls around, it’s assumed the teenager will ink with the Cubs.
11. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee. Age: 21
Crochet might have the best two-pitch combination of any arm in this draft class other than Asa Lacy. The left-hander’s fastball touches triple digits and is complimented by a wipeout slider that is assisted a bit by a closed-off delivery (Crochet begins on the third base side of the rubber, but his stride carries him directly towards the center of home plate). The 21-year-old’s eventual role will hinge greatly on the development of a reliable third pitch, an offering that will likely be utilized primarily against right-handers the second and third time thru the order. Luckily, a changeup might not even need to possess average qualities for it to be an extremely effective pitch for a left-hander with triple-digit fastball velocity that possesses fantastic horizontal movement in the opposite direction of a left-handed changeup. Crochet only made one start this season prior to the shutdown due to shoulder soreness, which adds to the complexity of this profile evaluation within MLB organizations. I’m interested to see where the southpaw is drafted this summer.
12. Carlos Colmenarez, SS, Venezuela. Age: 16
If you read Cristian Hernandez’s write-up (slightly above this one), you’re likely already aware of why he slots above Colmenarez on this list. In a season with practically zero dynamic information on prospects (much less J2 prospects) outside of MiLB Spring Training, Colmenarez slots as my 2nd-ranked international prospect mostly thanks to a more compact frame and a flatter swing plane. But don’t fret about Hernandez ranking over Colmenarez in a May FYPD list. Instead, simply ask the organization that’s slated to sign him (the Rays) about their recent track record of developing J2 shortstop prospects with compact frames (hello, Wander S. Franco). On paper, Hernandez and Colmenarez are very similar prospects who likely project to remain at the same, premium defensive position (shortstop) throughout their professional careers. If the industry generally falls the same way this list does, Colmenarez should have quite a but of value in 2021 First Year Player Drafts.
13. Wilman Diaz, SS, Venezuela. Age: 16
Heading into the process of creating this list, I was well-aware of both Cristian Hernandez and Carlos Colmenarez (the top-2 J2 prospects in this class) after including both in my first-ever projected prospect list for 2021. Diaz was on my radar even then, but evaluating the teenager throughout the past few weeks has been an absolute joy. In a word, Diaz is “loose”. The swing is super athletic and generates natural loft with above average bat speed. At 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, the teenager already possesses over-the-fence power; as he continues to fill-out his extremely projectable frame, the power could very easily peak at plus. Right or wrong, I associated the looseness of the 16-year-old’s swing to an aggressive approach, though he’s excelled against his limited competition in Venezuela. The industry might not get a good sense of the hit tool until he debuts stateside (sometime in 2021, hopefully). Currently graded as a plus runner according to FanGraphs, Diaz is presently a great athlete with fluid movements both on the basepaths and defensively at shortstop. Depending on how much weight he adds as he finalizes his physical development, there’s certainly a chance he shifts to third base and becomes more of an above-average runner than a plus runner (his frame is more broad than Hernandez and Colmenarez, but we don’t have enough video to get a good feel one way or another at this point). One thing is certain: Diaz is going to be an exciting prospect with a huge ceiling. Wipe the drool away from your chin, then begin drooling again as you read he’s expected to sign with the Dodgers. The ceiling here appears to be quite mesmerizing, and I assume Diaz’s stock will continue to rise as the dynasty world gets to know him.
14. Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (Tennessee). Age: 18
Watching Hassell play for Team USA throughout the 2019 summer, I got some Bryce Harper vibes from the outfielder’s stance and timing mechanisms. There’s just something so satisfying about about an aesthetically-pleasing left-handed swing, and Hassell possesses exactly that. While it’s true that he and Pete Crow-Armstrong share some similarities within their respective profiles, Hassell’s frame projects better, his swing has more natural loft and he barrels the ball more frequently (presently, anyways). There’s a real chance the 18-year-old finalizes as a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed prospect who’s capable of remaining in center field defensively; that means there should be plenty of value to go around both in real life and in the fantasy world. Like PCA, Hassell is committed to Vanderbilt and figures to be a fairly difficult sign on draft day. FYPD discussions regarding this prep position player class tend to begin and end with Zac Veen, but Hassell and Crow-Armstrong are where the value will be found.
15. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard Westlake HS (California). Age: 18
There are several prospects who matchup well with specific teams leading up to the first round of the next month’s MLB Draft, but none pair quite as well as Pete Crow-Armstrong and the Mets. An elite defender who should compete for Gold Gloves in center field someday, PCA also possesses above average bat to ball skills (with very little wasted movement in his swing mechanics) and plus speed, which form a fine foundation for any prep draft prospect as you prepare for your FYPDs. The 18-year-old is easily one of the most decorated high schoolers in this draft class, excelling for Team USA and being named a Baseball America All-American throughout his prep career. As a professional, the next step will be maximizing the outfielder’s power projection (read: adding 10-20 pounds of muscle to a frame that should be able to absorb a bit of bulk) without eroding the immense athleticism that makes PCA so intriguing. Optimistically, the teenager’s raw power likely finalizes somewhere between average and above average. Committed to Vanderbilt, it wouldn’t surprise me if Crow-Armstrong is an overslot selection next month. This might scare the penny-pinching Mets away, but after watching Jarred Kelenic’s meteoric rise to prospect stardom last season as a member of the Mariners after he was traded for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano last offseason, the pairing makes a lot of sense at pick-19 next month.
16. Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Illinois). Age: 18
Ed Howard is going to be an extremely good professional baseball player. A five-tool talent with average-or-better tools across the board, Howard currently possesses an extremely projectable 6-foot-2, 185 pound frame that should add strength in the near future. The teenager is a plus athlete with slick defensive skills at shortstop; he should remain at the position throughout his professional career. He’s also an above average runner and, with fantastic bat speed and a frame that should continue to add strength, there’s an outside chance he reaches plus raw power too. While it’s unfair to compare Howard to the top prep shortstops from last season’s draft class (Bobby Witt Jr. and CJ Abrams), that doesn’t mean the 18-year-old won’t be very good in his own right. Practically a shoe-in to be a first round pick in next month’s MLB Draft, I assume Howard might slide down some FYPD boards (further than his ranking here) due to a perceived lack of fantasy ceiling. Don’t let that happen in your dynasty leagues.
17. Ha-Seong Kim, SS, Kiwoom Heroes (South Korea). Age: 24
Kim is my number-one reason for becoming a Kiwoom Heroes fan during the MLB shutdown. It has been heavily rumored that Kim will be posted during the 2020-2021 offseason, meaning the shortstop’s potential move lead to the same hype that Yoshi Tsutsugo and Shogo Akiyama garnered about six months ago (of course, that pair is transitioning from the NPB). Luckily, compared to Tsutsugo and Akiyama, Kim has both age and the ability to play a premium fantasy defensive position on his side. The fantasy ceiling here isn’t spectacular, but an optimistic big league projection would be something in the realm of .270 BA/10 HR/20 SB from shortstop—with a likely ETA of 2021 season in Kim’s Age 25 season (an outlier—in a good way—compared to the ages of typical prospects who transition from the KBO to MLB). There’s no telling where the hype around Kim will head if he’s officially posted, but the shortstop will be an ideal addition for already-contending dynasty teams in FYPDs next offseason. Don’t fret over the fact Kim has started slowly in the KBO this season.
18. Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville. Age: 21
Detmers is such a unique profile in this class, sort of assuming the role George Kirby held last season. The southpaw’s track record of performance while pitching at Louisville is darn impressive; despite this, he’s perceived as more of a high-floor pitcher than a prospect oozing with upside like his college stats indicate. Why? Detmers has relied heavily on his fastball and curveball throughout his college career. The former sits in the low-90s (T94, 17″ vMOV, 11″ hMOV) and projects as a fringe average pitch professionally. The latter is widely-regarded as a 70-grade pitch and perceived by some as the single best pitch in this draft class, though some fear its high usage and shape will make it easily-distinguishable against advanced hitters. Both of Detmers’ primary offerings are assisted by above average command and obvious pitchability traits. Other than perhaps tinkering with the shape of his curveball post-draft, the 21-year-old will likely look to add a viable third pitch—probably a changeup that serves as a fading compliment to his curveball—to decrease his arsenal predictability while combatting right-handed hitters as his outings progress. For a prospect with Detmers’ track record and pedigree, there’s a surprising amount of unknown and variance attached to this profile.
19. Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M. Age: 21
I was aroused as I wrote-up DeLoach. Everything prior to last summer in the Cape Cod League? Rip it up and throw it out. The outfielder transitioned from a leg kick during his sophomore season at Texas A&M to a toe-tap in the Cape (as noted in this write-up from Prospect Live’s Ralph Lifshitz), and he quickly became a drastically new and improved player. The differences were so stark that I have no choice but to display them here. Just look at this.
All aboard the Zach DeLoach hype train. The outfielder has quickly evolved into a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed prospect with perhaps a little wiggle room remaining in the profile. And despite the fact left field is the 21-year-old’s likely defensive destination (which will lower the real life floor and put pressure on the bat), the late bloomer qualities will likely make DeLoach a steal both in next month’s MLB Draft and in First Year Player Drafts next offseason (though his ranking on this list won’t help). While I admit the relatively-small sample of success adds a bit of risk to this outlook, I won’t let a shortened 2020 collegiate season due to COVID-19 scare me away from this type of fantasy potential.
20. Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU. Age: 21
Cabrera is the sneakiest player in this draft class. Even superficially, the 21-year-old’s skills (headlined by a plus hit tool and above average raw power) should plant him squarely on your dynasty league radar heading into next month’s draft. But there’s also several little things—the mid at-bat adjustments, emerging base-running skills and the growing confidence he can play right field professionally—that really give this profile the feel of a future every day big leaguer. When you blend everything together, you don’t have to squint too hard to see .280 BA/20 HR/10 SB upside at the big league level. Statistically, those numbers would make Cabrera 2019 Avisail Garcia with better plate discipline. Pair that projection with the fact the outfielder has been commonly mocked to either the Dodgers or Yankees leading up to next month’s MLB Draft, and there’s a ton to like here, especially at a non-elite price tag.
21. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pennsylvania). Age: 19
Hendrick isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Old for his prep class and riddled with swing and miss issues at the worst possible time last summer, the teenager appears to project as the quintessential power-first outfielder whose real life and fantasy value will largely hinge on the development of his hit tool. For now, I worry a chicken-winged back elbow and a bat wrap will leave him extremely susceptible to elevated velocity, especially against advanced pitching. Shopping cart in hand, Hendrick is the Great Value version of Zac Veen (in a similar sense, he’s the high school version of Heston Kjerstad with slightly more upside); simply put, you’re receiving a discount because because the hit tool developing to average-or-better is a higher than average outcome. Not unlike Veen, Hendrick likely profiles best from right field, where his boom-or-bust offensive profile will be aided by adequate fielding skills and an above average arm. With very little speed output expected, Hendrick is the position player version of Jared Kelley in this class, meaning I’ll gladly let one of my league mates select him in our FYPDs prior to next season.
22. Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (Georgia). Age: 18
While it’s a near-consensus that Zac Veen is the best outfield bat in this prep class, Walker is widely regarded as the best infield bat in this prep class. Armed with what will likely finalize as plus plus power with a surprising feel to hit relative to his frame (6-foot-5, 220 lbs.), Walker’s potential gives me vibes of the way Alec Bohm currently ranks on prospect lists (that’s more of a statistical comparison than mechanical similarities). With his massive frame, there will always be questions regarding Walker’s ability to remain at the hot corner defensively; however, most evaluators currently believe he possesses the lateral agility and throwing arm to remain at third base throughout the majority of his professional career. Much like Nick Bitsko receives a boost for being ‘young for his class’ amongst 2020 prep pitchers, Walker receives that same benefit amongst high school position players. There’s a lot to like here.
23. Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (Pennsylvania). Age: 18
The first thing I noticed about Bitsko was his thicc lower half, which, if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I’m a sucker for when evaluating pitchers. But Bitsko’s lower half is especially impressive because there’s plenty of athleticism here. The right-hander touts one of the best fastball/curveball combinations in this draft class, which is extremely important since he’ll battle the dreaded ‘cold weather, right-handed prep pitcher’ stereotype (not to mention the general lack of exposure thanks to a canceled 2020 regular season) leading up to the draft. The 18-year-old reclassified from the Class of 2021 in January, so the ‘young for the class’ label undoubtedly solidifies him as one of the best high school pitchers in this class. Cementing a viable third pitch and adequate command will be the most important hurdles Bitsko faces as a professional.
24. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma. Age: 21
Before we collectively begin guffawing over Cavalli, there’s some things we need to come to terms with. First, there’s a history of injuries. The right-hander didn’t pitch during his senior season in high school due to a back injury, and he only logged 17.1 IP during his freshman season at Oklahoma as he worked his way back from the ailment. Cavalli was fairly mediocre statistically last season in 12 starts (once again, he missed time with a stress reaction in his right arm) and 60.1 IP (1.46 WHIP, 3.28 ERA, 8.80 K/9) before beginning to miss more bats in 2020 prior to the college season being canceled (4 GS, 23.2 IP, 1.27 WHIP, 4.18 ERA, 14.07 K/9). Possessing a track record of statistical success, he does not. I’d like to go on the record and say I don’t have a legitimate issue with Cavalli’s mechanics, though I do wish he strode further. His short-ish stride does allow for a great front-leg hinge, which serves as a catalyst for a fastball that topped-out at 98 mph this spring. The 21-year-old’s over-the-top arm slot creates fantastic ride with above average vertical movement, so the heater projects to miss bats (especially at the top of the zone) throughout Cavalli’s professional career. The arm slot also assists with the tumble of both the right-hander’s slider and changeup; the former will likely finalize as plus while the latter flashes above average. And while he didn’t showcase it much in 2020, I’m very interested to see if Cavalli begins utilizing his curveball as a professional. On paper, his mechanics should lead to a nasty 12-6 hook if developed properly. For my money, the 21-year-old has one of the best frames (6-foot-4, 225 lbs.) of any player in this draft class, and there’s no question—assuming good health—he’ll remain in the rotation throughout his professional career. He’ll need to prove durability post-draft, but the body and arsenal scream middle of the rotation at the MLB level.
25. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas. Age: 21
As the majority of prep prospects continue to descend on draft boards thanks to the canceled 2020 high school season, Kjerstad appears to be one of the biggest benefactors. With double plus power but very little speed output potential, the 21-year-old’s fantasy outlook will depend heavily on his hit tool. There’s some volatility there, with some outlets labeling it as above average and others slapping a 40 (below average) on it. I tend to side with the more pessimistic group, mostly because Kjerstad’s swing is naturally susceptible to elevated velocity and, when he becomes a professional and sells out to impact the high heater during an at-bat, advanced sequencers will expose him elsewhere (the set-up and swing itself reminds me of Colby Rasmus). The 21-year-old has a sterling track record of offense performance (he’s already unlocked his massive power in-game), and his above-average arm in right field practically makes him a lock to be selected in the top half of the first round next month. But for recent-memory fantasy purposes, Kjerstad is Hunter Bishop with less upside, and that means I’ll likely be avoiding him in FYPDs this offseason.
26. Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada HS (Georgia). Age: 18
There’s plenty of room for the Cole Henrys and Tanner Burnses of the world, but after evaluating that floor-first pair, transitioning to Jones was like taking the first bite of your favorite dessert. Athleticism and explosion. That’s what defines the small sample Jones emitted to the baseball world this spring prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The arsenal consists of a truly-plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 99. Just as important as the premium velocity is the elite raw spin rate (2500-2600 RPM), which would currently slot into the top-10 percentile at the MLB-level. The spin efficiency of Jones’ fastball isn’t perfect, but his velocity, raw spin rate and extension give the pitch bat-missing qualities at the top of the zone (up to 19.5” vMov this spring). I also assume his eventual suitor will work to optimize the spin efficiency of his heater post-draft. The right-hander’s slider possesses similar spin to his fastball; the pitch took a noticeable step forward this offseason and spring, and it projects to above-average-or-better as a professional. For me, the ‘cherry on top’ of Jones’ evaluation is the potential I see in his changeup. The 18-year-old is extremely athletic, and there’s very little noticeable arm deceleration when he throws the pitch. The changeup already flashes above average fade, but I’d like to see Jones throw the pitch in the mid-to-upper 80s in the future instead of the low-90s we witnessed during his senior spring. There’s also a high-spin curveball that sits 74-77; while the hook is ahead of the changeup presently, I think the curveball eventually becomes a second weapon to showcase versus left-handed hitters (behind the changeup). Some knock the right-hander for his currently ‘undersized’ frame (6-foot-2, 180 lbs.), but I fully believe he’ll be able to add some extra mass moving forward without it having a damning effect on his athleticism. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Jones has been working on cleaning up his arm path as well as narrowing the gap in release point between his fastball and offspeed pitches. There’s undoubted middle-of-the-rotation upside here.
27. Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia. Age: 20
I watched film of Wilcox in the Cape Cod League last summer and felt rather indifferent about what I was watching. I watched film of Wilcox pitching for Georgia this spring and was thoroughly impressed. The fastball had more ride at the top of the zone, and in general, I thought the right-hander sequenced better while showcasing a better pitch usage. Wilcox doesn’t project overly well from a physical standpoint, but you can make the case he’ll peak with three above-average-or-better pitches, headlined by a high-90s fastball and a sharp slider. His development throughout the last nine months will make him much more friendly on organizational draft models than previously perceived, and that fact is also evidenced in his statistics from a shortened 2020 collegiate season (4 GS, 23.0 IP, 0.87 WHIP, 1.57 ERA, 12.5 K/9). Blessed with a behemoth frame of 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Wilcox should remain in the rotation throughout his professional career. Barring a late descent, the right-hander should be selected sometime in the first round next month.
28. Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State. Age: 21
If you scroll down and read my write-up on Patrick Bailey, you’ll see that he’s no longer the clear-cut top catching prospect in this draft class. You can blame Dingler for that change. The 21-year-old has been one of the hottest names in the draft world lately, recently being mocked to the Rangers with the 14th-overall pick by our Mason McRae. While underslot aspirations are playing a small role in the Dingler steam, let’s not discard this skillset. While best projecting as a catcher, the 21-year-old also played around the infield as a high schooler. During his freshman season at Ohio State, Dingler saw the majority of his playing time in center field. While the position was both demanding and foreign to Dingler, his athleticism and makeup allowed him to pass the test with flying colors. Now a full-time backstop, the 21-year-old possesses a fantastic approach with above average bat-to-ball skills and raw power. While the catcher’s extreme athleticism for the position doesn’t figure to translate to stolen bases as a professionally, it does allow us to easily believe he’ll continue developing his game on both sides of the ball. Fantasy-relevant tools of 55-hit and 60-raw power from catcher would be something like the 85th-percentile outcome here.
29. CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State. Age: 21
This evaluation is all over the place. It’s undeniable that Van Eyk has qualities you can’t teach. The fastball, slider, curveball and changeup all flash above-average-or-better, with both breaking balls (they’re plus) acting as the rotation headliners. The fastball has touched 98 mph with ride when it’s evaluated, and the changeup won’t ever have to be an elite pitch to be a weapon thanks to the explosiveness of Van Eyk’s other pitches. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old’s mechanics have not yet been optimized. His delivery is very reliant on his upper body; while I certainly wouldn’t classify the right-hander as a short strider, it’s blatantly obvious he hasn’t maxed-out his stride length. Deliveries that are heavily dependent on the upper body have less margin for error than deliveries that appropriately utilize the bottom half, and Van Eyk’s walks per nine innings throughout his career at Florida State (4.76 in 2018, 3.71 in 2019, 5.23 in four starts this season) speak to his lack of command. It’ll be easy for Van Eyk to get lost in the shuffle within a class that will forever be best known for its incredible college pitching depth. That would be a mistake. I fully understand this is a bullish ranking, but there’s some untapped upside here, especially since the right-hander’s biggest flaw (rotational issues due to an unoptimized stride length) is easily fixable. Assuming the organization that drafts Van Eyk helps him reach his mechanical potential, the 21-year-old’s command should experience an uptick. The cherry on top would be the arsenal reaching new heights due to delivery optimization.
30. Tyler Soderstrom, C/3B/OF, Turlock HS (California). Age: 18
Soderstrom is a fun prospect to evaluate because, unlike most ‘catchers’, his future fantasy value is not entirely tied to his defensive position. Yes, the upside is that of a prospect with a plus hit tool and above average raw power who develops just enough defensively that we’re able to slot him as our catcher in redraft and dynasty leagues. While that’s certainly a sweet dream, it’s far more likely Soderstrom develops into a third baseman or right fielder with those same offensive tools. He’s athletic enough to play either position (the throwing arm is probably the best facet of his catching acumen), and the bat certainly plays at both spots. It’ll be interesting to see how committed his draft suitor is on keeping him behind the plate, especially with an automated strike zone in baseball’s near future. Once he fills out physically, this profile has 55-hit, 55-raw power written all over it.
31. Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Texas). Age: 18
The top-end of this pitching class is largely littered with arsenals that hang their hat on deadly fastball/slider combinations, so Kelley and his fastball/changeup duo were a relative breath of fresh air throughout the evaluation process. At first glance, the teenager strikes me as a ‘bulldog’ type. The body is already maxed out (6-foot-2, 225 lbs.), and it meshes well with Kelley’s apparent attack plan of simply overwhelming opposing hitters. The characteristics of the right-hander’s arsenal—specifically a high-velocity fastball paired with a bugs bunny changeup—means he could pile-up eye-opening strikeout numbers throughout the low minors before hitting a relative wall in High-A or Double-A. You already know that prep right-handed pitchers are notoriously risky, but prep right-handers who rely heavily on a fastball/changeup combination are even more volatile. When you combine that with the fact Kelley isn’t a natural ‘spinner’ of the baseball (which stacks the deck against the notion he ever develops a weaponized breaking ball), I’ll gladly let my league mates grab Kelley in 2021 First Year Player Drafts, especially since he’ll come at a premium and this class is extremely college pitcher-heavy.
32. Austin Wells, C/1B/OF, Arizona. Age: 20
Scroll down a couple of spots and read what I wrote about Tyler Soderstrom. It feels good to write up a ‘catcher’ prospect knowing the majority of his projected value won’t directly correlate with his ability to remain behind the plate defensively. Wells might have even less of a shot than Soderstrom at sticking at catcher, though he’ll surely be given a chance to succeed if he’s selected by an organization in the first round (and who knows how patient teams will be with robot umps on the horizon!). The 20-year-old ranks this favorably thanks to his bat. While I suspect the hit tool will settle somewhere between average and above average, there’s a chance Wells eventually accesses plus in-game power. There are some Three True Outcome traits that should give the 20-year-old some added value in OBP leagues, but he shouldn’t hurt your standard league teams either. If the industry is currently overrating Wells’ standing on organizational draft boards, it’s likely due to discrepancies in real life floor. Assuming he eventually moves away from catcher, Wells will be relegated to first base or left field defensively, which are the two least-valuable positions on the field. In this instance, the 20-year-old’s real life value will hinge greatly on his ability to consistently mash. Luckily, it appears this offensive skill set is up to the challenge.
33. Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville. Age: 21
Miller and CJ Van Eyk form two different sides of the same coin. While the latter has some lower body flaws that will likely be ironed out once he’s drafted, Miller has some upper body abnormalities (long arm action, head tilt) I’d like to see tinkered with at the next level in hopes of enhancing his strike-throwing ability. Fortunately, much like Van Eyk, I don’t see anything within Miller’s mechanics that would naturally preclude him from starting as a professional. Mason McRae alludes to this in his War Room, but it’s fairly easy to get Matt Manning vibes when watching the way Miller carries himself on the mound. The former utilizes a mid-90s fastball (T98), a slider that should finalize as an easy-plus pitch at peak and a changeup that is becoming a viable weapon versus left-handed hitters. Despite the gaudy strikeout numbers in a shortened 2020 collegiate season (34 K in four starts and 23.1 IP) and premium fastball velocity, The right-hander commonly featured a two-seam fastball while at Louisville, a pitch that possesses a tilt similar to that Aaron Nola and Aaron Sanchez’s (somewhere between 1:00 and 1:30) primary fastball. Like most two-seamers, Miller will induce soft, ground ball contact with the pitch more frequently than he’ll miss bats as a professional. While I don’t think the 21-year-old should scrap the two-seam altogether, I do hope we see more of his four-seam (a fastball with bat-missing, vertical movement traits) as he ascends the minor leagues. This could unlock strikeout viability that does not currently exist within the right-hander’s profile. However, I do think Miller’s slider and changeup both tunnel well with a fastball that leans on horizontal movement, so the 21-year-old will still miss his fair share of bats after being drafted regardless of pitch usage. His ranking on this list reflects that.
34. Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami, FL. Age: 21
Extension, extension, extension. If you prioritize it when you evaluate pitching prospects, Cecconi has it in spades. Oh, and while he rightfully leaned on his fastball/slider combination at Miami, the arsenal actually consists of four pitches (topped off with a curveball and changeup to combat left-handed hitters), all of which could finalize as average-or-better as a professional. The frame (6-foot-4 and 220 pounds) is awesome, the mechanics are smooth, the command is more than adequate and he’s a draft-eligible sophomore. There’s just not many holes to poke here. Even if Cecconi’s stuff isn’t explosive enough to project as an ace, this is a starter’s profile that should play well in the middle of a rotation at peak. Further refinement of the changeup and curveball and maintaining his fastball velocity (up to 96 mph) deep into outings will be the biggest boxes the right-hander needs to check post-draft. If he’s still on the board at the end of the first round next month, Cecconi will provide solid value in the Comp A round or at the beginning of Round 2.
35. Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State. Age: 21
As a Mississippi State alum, it’s been an absolute pleasure to sneak back to Starkville a couple of times each spring to watch Westburg and Justin Foscue among others. If Foscue is the ‘floor’ prospect in State’s middle infield duo, Westburg is certainly the ‘ceiling’ prospect. In the fantasy world, this profile’s cup of tea is above-average-or-better raw power (he hasn’t accessed it in-game yet) and above average speed. The approach is aggressive, and the K/BB numbers throughout his collegiate career make it difficult to feel too confident about projecting the hit tool to improve to average once the 21-year-old begins his professional career. A lot of people assume Westburg (standing at 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs.) is destined to shift to third base defensively after he’s drafted. However, when you watch him play, you quickly realize the fantastic instincts, above average footwork and strong arm Westburg possesses from shortstop. I think he’ll be given every chance to succeed at the 6 throughout the minor leagues. I’m hopeful the 21-year-old is drafted by an analytically-leaning organization that will assist him in elevating the ball more frequently at the plate, which will undoubtedly assist in unlocking the power that is evident in Westburg’s collegiate exit velocities. Stargazers can dream on plus raw power, double-digit stolen bases annually and a hit tool that nears average—from shortstop.
36. Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina. Age: 21
Studying Sabato—and hearing where he stands on organizational draft boards—proves two things. First, understanding a prospect’s real-life floor is crucially important when projecting future fantasy viability. Secondly, and in a smaller vacuum, Sabato is a fantastic example of just how tiny the margin for error is amongst first base prospects. The best fantasy prospect in this class (Spencer Torkelson) possesses the same archetype with potential to reach 60-hit and 70-raw power; he is hailed as a future organizational cornerstone. Sabato projects to be an average-or-better (50+) hitter with plus-or-better (60+) raw power, yet he’ll almost certainly be drafted outside of the first round and is facing an uphill battle to ever be labeled as a consensus every day big leaguer. Despite being a below-average athlete, Sabato should prove to be a bit underrated from a fantasy standpoint if the post-draft path to big league playing time is decent and he’s able to prove his adequacy at first base defensively (which won’t be overly easy, with some evaluators believing he’s a future designated hitter). Of course, he’ll need to consistently rake to ever attain and retain the all-important mark of >50 future value.
37. Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke. Age: 22
There’s a whole lot to like about Bryce Jarvis. I don’t often talk too much about starting place on the rubber, but I feel it’s truly important here. Jarvis starts on the third base side of the rubber, and he uses the natural angle his delivery creates to attack left-handed hitters on their hands. Often when we see this, it typically means pitchers like Jarvis are incapable—or unwilling—to attack right-handed hitters on the hands as well. But this is simply not true for the right-hander, who confidently commands his arsenal well enough to be unencumbered by plane issues that hinder so many other pitchers. The stuff isn’t crazy elite—his changeup is his best pitch and both the fastball (T96, 18.6″ vMOV) and slider play-up thanks to his plus command—but the frame, mechanics, pitchability and command means Jarvis should start throughout the entirety of his professional career. It also doesn’t hurt he added muscle this offseason and enjoyed an uptick in velocity during the shortened collegiate season. The right-hander’s age (22.4) is the biggest knock on this profile, and it should certainly be taken into account as you create your own personal board for the First Year Player Drafts in your dynasty leagues. With less leverage than other top-tier college pitchers in this class, an underslot pick at the end of the first round or during the first competitive balance round makes a lot of sense.
38. Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami, FL. Age: 21
After his first two collegiate seasons were partially suppressed due to injuries, McMahon looked healthy and primed for a big breakout (25.2 IP, 38 K, 0.94 WHIP, 1.05 ERA) in 2020 prior the collegiate season being canceled. Everything came easier for the right-hander this spring, displaying smoother mechanics (it looked quite effortless most of the time) and an improved strike-throwing ability. I’ll never get down on one knee and ask a sinker-baller to marry me, but McMahon’s has high spin and heavy arm-side run, which should lead to tons of soft, ground ball contact as a professional. Neither the slider nor the changeup are overly-arousing, but the sum of the 21-year-old’s arsenal parts plus an unquestionable starter’s frame means McMahon could peak as a low-end, middle-of-the-rotation starter someday.
39. Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest. Age: 21
If for some reason you ever doubt the legitimacy of forward-thinking collegiate baseball programs, look no further than the way Wake Forest has developed Jared Shuster. Once considered a crafty lefty with abnormal mechanics who leaned heavily on his secondary offerings, Shuster topped out at 95 mph this spring (18″ vMOV, 15″ hMOV) with a short, efficient arm path. An over-the-top delivery means working inside to both right-handers and left-handers will be a challenge professionally, but the delivery also works to aid the shape of an above average curveball and a plus changeup. While so many prep pitchers you’ll read about on this list will be penalized due to the COVID-19 pandemic, breakout college pitchers like Shuster—who will also receive a bump in a draft class starved for viable left-handed pitchers—will almost certainly benefit. If the fastball gains are here to stay, Shuster will carry SP4 upside moving forward.
40. Pedro Pineda, OF, Dominican Republic. Age: 16
If you’re a pipe-dreamer, you can close your eyes and visualize Pineda sticking in center field with an adequate hit tool, big time power and above average speed. In actuality, it’s much more likely the teenager shifts to a corner outfield spot and eventually boasts a fringe-average hit tool, big time power and average-to-above-average speed. At 6-foot-1 and 170 lbs., Pineda possesses a projectable frame that should add good weight early in his career. The swing is simple and has natural loft, so there is some hope the outfielder is able to outperform his projected hit tool without sacrificing too much power. If you’ve read Future Value, you understand the impact a positive PED test can have on an amateur prospect’s projection and outlook. FanGraphs’ report on Pineda mentions a positive PED test in February 2019, which makes it easier to remain conservative on an already-volatile profile.
41. Freddy Zamora, SS, Miami, FL. Age: 21
While it’s practically inarguable that college prospects will ‘benefit’ from the canceled season more so than prep prospects, you can make the argument Zamora should be near the very top of the list. Slated to miss the entirety of the 2020 collegiate season after suffering a torn ACL in February, the 21-year-old should now be able to avoid a slide down draft boards that appeared inevitable a few months ago. While it’s not incorrect to label Zamora as a glove-first shortstop, he also possesses above average speed (assuming he doesn’t lose a step after completing rehab). Add average-or-better raw power and a solid hit tool, and the 21-year-old projects as a high-floor prospect with sneaky upside who should remain at shortstop professionally. That’s a label I can get behind as in this draft class.
42. J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State. Age: 21
The initiated are well aware of Ginn’s backstory. A touted prep prospect, Ginn declined to sign with the Dodgers after being selected in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft. After opting to sign with Mississippi State (#HailState), the right-hander posted stellar numbers throughout his true freshman season, albeit the fact he was partially restricted by elbow discomfort that caused him to miss multiple starts. It was assumed Ginn was able to avoid further damage until the 2020 season, when he made one mediocre start before Mississippi State announced he would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Our Mason McRae comped Ginn to Jake Arrieta and I’m a fan of the comparison; the former is certainly a floor-over-ceiling pitching prospect whose sterling pedigree will likely lead to him being drafted at the tail end of the first round this summer. A huge chunk of the 2020 collegiate season being canceled actually plays to Ginn’s advantage; assuming a lack of vertical movement with his fastball and a reliance on his slider (fringe-plus depending on who you ask; the changeup likely gets to average) for strikeout viability, I project an upside of SP4 as a professional.
43. Casey Martin, SS/OF, Arkansas. Age: 21
What a funky profile. Martin hangs his hat on truly elite speed and above average raw power, but it’s the development of the hit tool and defensive skills that will likely determine his eventual viability. On paper, the 21-year-old reeks of a 20 HR/30 SB ceiling. However, the prevalent holes in his swing (24.5 K% in 2019, 31.0 K% in 71 plate appearances in 2020) could really eat into the counting stats potential—even to the point that the dreaded ‘Quad-A’ label comes into play. While Martin certainly possesses the athleticism to stick at shortstop, a lot of evaluators believe he fits better in center field, where his 80-grade speed would be fully utilized. Without a full senior season sample, Martin will enter the draft as a rock-bottom floor, sky-high ceiling prospect who will be a fun lottery ticket in First Year Player Drafts this winter.
44. Alex Santos, RHP, Mount St. Michael Academy HS (New York). Age: 18
Santos is that dude. Starter’s frame. Uber-athleticism. Fantastic arm action. A high-spin fastball and curveball with a developing changeup. There’s a droolworthy foundation here, but the upside is even more enticing. The right-hander will almost certainly be an overslot pick in next month’s MLB Draft. Because of where he’s selected, it’s likely he’ll be somewhat of an afterthought in First Year Player Drafts throughout the dynasty world leading up to the 2021 season. Take advantage of this. Yes, he’s a right-handed prep pitcher, but there’s a reason an organization—likely one that’s analytically-leaning—will structure their first (and perhaps second) pick of the draft in a way that will allow them to meet Santos’ number (he’s currently committed to Maryland). The fastball (up to 94 mph with elite raw spin but very low spin efficiency) and swing-and-miss curveball will steal the headlines here, but Santos has also flashed a bat-missing changeup when necessary. The entirety of the arsenal plays-up thanks to Santos closing himself off at stride, which creates a tough angle for opposing hitters (especially righties). Oh, and the “when necessary” I mentioned above will increase in frequency as a professional, so the 18-year-old could peak with three above-average-or-better offerings with adequate command.
45. Dylan Crews, OF, Lake Mary HS (Florida). Age: 18
Our MLB Draft Analyst Mason McRae published a feature on Crews earlier this month, so it doesn’t make sense for me to repeat the meat and potatoes of that article here. In the fantasy world, Crews is more of a ‘what you see is what you get’ type prospect than a prospect who drops your jaw with physical projection or ball-of-clay traits. There seems to be some disparity within his fantasy-relevant tool grades; bullish outlets grade Crews with 55-hit, 60-raw power, 55-speed while those who are a bit more pessimistic have him at 60-hit, 55-raw power, 50-speed. You might think those differences are extremely subtle, but the gap between those grades often separates good players from great players. There’s some tweener risk here, with the 18-year-old perhaps not possessing the athleticism and instincts to remain in center field while also not possessing the offensive tools to profile well from either corner spot. Mix in a spotty track record versus elite prep competition (a quality that high school prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong and Robert Hassell III don’t have to worry about), and Crews becomes a bit of a wild card both in real life and throughout the dynasty world.
46. Nick Swiney, LHP, North Carolina State. Age: 21
Just as I neared the checkered-flag of pitcher evaluations throughout this process, I added Swiney after obtaining some of his arsenal analytics. The southpaw was somewhat of an afterthought on draft boards heading into the 2020 season thanks to a lack of premium fastball velocity paired with a head whack. Suddenly, Swiney was up to 93 in his early-season outing, all while displaying ironed-out mechanics that allowed scouts to breathe a cautiously-optimistic sigh of relief. The best part of these improvements is the fact Swiney induces 22 inches of vertical movement with his heater, which is both 1) an elite number even for MLB pitchers and 2) a solid indicator the 21-year-old’s fastball will be viable versus professional hitters despite sitting in the low-90s. Luckily, Swiney’s heater only has to serve as an adequate table-setter to allow his changeup and curveball—both of which project to above-average-or-better—to miss bats in pitcher-friendly counts (his arm speed allows both of these pitches to play-up). There’s some deception in the mechanics (our Mason McRae compared the delivery to Ethan Small’s in The War Room, and I agree), which certainly played at least a small role in Swiney’s arousing statistics from the shortened 2020 college season at North Carolina State (28.0 IP, 0.68 WHIP, 1.29 ERA, 42 K). If you want to dream big, the left-hander’s frame could seemingly add another ~15 pounds, which might help the fastball top-out at 95 mph at Swiney’s peak. This is one of the more sneaky profiles in this entire draft class, and I can only assume the 21-year-old will be the apple of a forward-thinking organization’s eye a bit earlier than expected next month.
47. Alerick Soularie, OF, Tennessee. Age: 21
Maybe the weirdest comparison you’ll read this draft season, but I love Soularie for the same reasons I love Carson Montgomery (scroll down for that write-up). Unfurl your brow and let me explain myself: Like Montgomery, Soularie already possesses the floor of a fringe every day player (the left field outlook dents the real life outlook a bit, but I’ll get to that shortly). But have you ever woken up from an amazing dream and desperately attempted to fall back asleep so you could pick up where you left off? That’s Soularie’s upside. If everything clicks professionally, the 21-year-old can become a 55-hit, 55-power left fielder who sneakily adds 5-10 stolen bases per season. The knock on the outfielder heading into the draft will be that he needs to access more of his raw power in-game. However, it appears he was in the process of doing exactly that before the collegiate season was canceled, hitting 5 home runs in 74 plate appearances after only hitting 11 in 237 plate appearances last season. Since debuting at Tennessee in 2019, Soularie has walked more times (49, 15.8%) than he’s struck out (47, 15.1%). The .336/.448/.586 collegiate slash also speaks for itself. Adequate fielding skills, average speed and a below average arm means the 21-year-old will likely be a left fielder on defense, but above average instincts on the basepaths means he shouldn’t be a complete zero in the stolen base department (think Marcell Ozuna, Juan Soto or Yadier Molina from that standpoint). The defensive profile here means Soularie will be drafted low enough to have a decision to make (as to whether he signs or returns to Tennessee), but it goes without saying he should be squarely on your radar leading up to the MLB Draft and your subsequent First Year Player Drafts.
48. Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State. Age: 21
The Kody Hoese of this draft class. Foscue’s skill set will never blow you away, but he’s a high floor player capable of playing multiple positions who should move relatively quickly throughout the minor leagues. While I wouldn’t certainly characterize the 21-year-old’s swing mechanics as ‘athletic’, I do wonder if starting from a more upright position would allow the infielder to tap-in to a bit more power. For now, Foscue is a 50-hit, 55-power (you can argue it’s plus to his pull side) prospect capable of playing both second base and third base. Possessing a profile that will likely be known more for it’s ‘compiler’ qualities than pure explosiveness, dynasty players should hope the 21-year-old’s draft suitor plans to primarily slot him at the cornerstone. Foscue strikes me as a prospect who could lean on pulled fly balls as a professional; this will help him maximize his power potential, but it will likely come at the expense of a high batting average. Luckily, the infielder’s patience and willingness to take a walk could make him a bit of an OBP-league darling if my ‘pulled fly ball’ hunch comes true.
49. Pedro Leon, OF, Cuba. Age: 22
There’s already a ton of variance regarding Leon’s rank on 2021 projected prospect lists and FYPD lists alike. While I’ve seen the outfielder ranked as highly as inside the top-30 on a projected prospect list for next season, he’s not even inside the top-40 of my First Year Player Draft list for the 2020-2021 offseason. What gives? While I concede the raw tools are incredibly loud (plus raw power despite a 5-foot-9 frame, above average speed and an 80-grade arm from the outfield), there’s also a ton of inherent risk within this profile. First, Leon wouldn’t debut stateside until his Age 22 season, turning 23 in May of 2022. And while the fact that he’s destined to sign with the Astros is a bit problematic from a path to every day, big league playing time standpoint, the crudeness of the hit tool is far more troublesome. Based on reports from evaluators who watched Leon play in the Cuban National Series, the ceiling for the 22-year-old’s hit tool likely plateaus at a step below average. All things considered, this profile simply resembles that of Julio Pablo Martinez and Victor Victor Mesa a bit too much for me to be overly optimistic before Leon even debuts stateside. Historically, this archetype has such little margin for error that you’ll really need to be okay absorbing a ton of risk to pick Leon instead of one of the many college pitchers ranked around him on this list. Still, the power/speed ceiling here means one of your league mates will likely reach to snag him in your dynasty’s FYPD.
50. Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (Texas). Age: 18
If you’ve done any reading on Tucker leading up to next month’s draft, you’re already aware of two things: 1) yes, he is the younger brother of Cole, and 2) at some point, he’s going to need a lower-half overhaul—most notably an alteration with his stride foot—to ever possess much in-game power. Luckily, every other part of the teenager’s game is awesome. Lightning-fast hands with adequate bat-to-ball skills, above average speed and the defensive prowess to remain at shortstop give this profile a solid foundation. It also helps that—unlike most high school seniors—Tucker was able to give scouts and organizations a small sample sample this spring in Arizona before the prep season was canceled. The teenager will eventually need to unlock legitimate in-game power to attain true fantasy viability; luckily, you should be able to pay less than top-dollar to acquire ground-level shares in First Year Player Drafts. Assuming he has half of his big brother’s 80-grade makeup (from all accounts, he does), being patient with Tucker throughout the first few seasons of his development should lead to an easy positive return on investment.
51. Yoelqui Céspedes, OF, Cuba. Age: 22
Céspedes falls victim to the same perpetrator who’s victimizing Pedro Leon: age. Céspedes is actually eight months older than Leon, so he’ll be faced with even more of an uphill climb from that perspective. After defecting last June, the 22-year-old has been training in the Bahamas, where he’s added 15 pounds of muscle and has reportedly improved his bat speed and raw power. Along with sharing unsavory prospect ages, Leon and Céspedes share similar profiles as well. Chiseled bodies in maxed out frames, plus raw power, above average speed and positive defensive value headline these skill sets. Like Leon, Céspedes will likely peak with a fringe average hit tool at best. Again like Leon, there’s significant bust risk for Céspedes if the hit tool settles at anything worse than 45. Again again like Leon, the power/speed combination means someone in your dynasty league will break FYPD ADP to grab him next offseason. Throw in the allure of rostering cult hero Yoenis Céspedes’ half brother, and I get chill bumps thinking about how out-of-control the hype may become here.
52. Dax Fulton, LHP, Mustang HS (Oklahoma). Age: 18
Fulton finds himself in a unique spot heading into this summer’s draft. The left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last September, and it was originally thought he was destined to be an over-slot pick towards the end of the first round or in the compensatory round. Now, his prep peers were also unable to provide a sufficient sample during their senior varsity seasons thanks to COVID-19; with the 2020 minor league season currently in major limbo, it’s also unlikely Fulton will miss much development time compared to the other high school pitchers in this class before returning to competition next season. I assume these facts bode well for the 18-year-old as the MLB Draft approaches. Fulton is only a functional athlete who doesn’t possess droolworthy physical projection, but he repeats well for a 6-foot-6 teenager and is armed with one of the best curveballs in this draft class. His fastball will also likely take another step forward professionally once an organization helps him optimize the spin efficiency of the pitch. I’ve laid out the argument that—despite undergoing Tommy John surgery at what appeared to be an extremely inopportune time—Fulton’s arrow is actually pointing up relative to other prep arms in this class due to current circumstances throughout the country. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s selected this summer.
53. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn. Age: 21
There seems to be quite a bit of relief worry attached to Burns thanks to his 6-foot frame. While I do agree the body doesn’t project overly well, I’d contest that actually examining the frame—which is highlighted by a thick lower half—would render those concerns needless. Burns possesses four pitches that are all average or above, but none that are definitively plus. That makes the 21-year-old more of a floor-first profile rather than one that makes you drool when you ponder its potential. However, Burns certainly projects as a rotation arm professionally, and there’s no reason he can’t reach the label of SP4 at peak. The right-hander’s arsenal consists of four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) that give him a nice mix of weapons versus both right-handed and left-handed hitters. After walking nearly four batters per nine innings in his freshman season, Burns posted a BB/9 under 3.00 both in 2019 and during an abbreviated 2020 campaign. The 21-year-old’s command should peak somewhere between above average and plus as a professional. The long track record of success at Auburn (including a line of 4 GS, 22.1 IP, 0.98 WHIP, 2.42 ERA, 12.9 K/9 during the shortened 2020 season) will surely give organizations a peace of mind during what will easily be one of the most volatile drafts in MLB history next month.
54. Carson Montgomery, RHP, West Orange HS (Florida). Age: 17
Montgomery is an exciting prospect to write-up because—despite the fact he falls into the ‘right-handed prep pitcher’ category—there’s already a nice foundation built here, with notable projection remaining. Montgomery spins the ball well, but he’s currently a sinker-baller who doesn’t yet fully optimize his lower body as he strides towards home plate. The right-hander has a starter’s build, is young for the draft class and already possesses an above average slider and a changeup that projects to at least average as he continues to develop. Both of the aforementioned issues (I really want him to scrap the sinker and utilize a four-seamer as a professional) should be easily fixable, so I’m hopeful a progressive, forward-thinking organization selects Montgomery this summer. The 6-foot-2, 200 pound frame should be able to add 10-20 pounds of muscle as the right-hander finalizes his physical development, and the body itself helps ensure the teenager is able to remain in the rotation long-term.
55. Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech. Age: 21
Looking at his build as he stands on the mound, Beeter reminds me a lot of Dylan Bundy. Within this list, the right-hander’s over-the-top arm slot lands him in the same category (albeit the right-handed version) as Jared Shuster, Nick Swiney and Seth Lonsway. While the 21-year-old has abnormal mechanics that don’t exactly scream ‘smooth’, Beeter is a natural spinner of the baseball and, paired with his arm slot, he possesses above average vertical movement with his fastball (a pitch that tops out at 98 mph) and tremendous tumble with 12-6 curveball. He mixes speeds with his breaking ball depending on the count, and you can make the argument that both the heater and curveball are plus offerings. Beeter missed the entirety of his true freshman season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He pitched 20.2 innings (with 20 walks and a 1.55 WHIP)—all in relief—in 2019 before officially transitioning to the rotation prior to the shortened 2020 collegiate season (four walks and a 0.81 WHIP in 21.0 IP). Beeter credits his uptick in command to small mechanical tweaks made in between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. While I’m not in love with the delivery, I feel it is far more important the 21-year-old develops a reliable third pitch to pair with his fastball and curveball. His changeup acted as a ‘show me’ pitch in 2020, but the offering is often flat and currently grades below average. The atypical mechanics and present lack of arsenal depth will likely lead to reluctance within more-traditional organizations on draft day, but teams that lean on analytically-friendly traits might take Beeter off the board before the end of the first round. Don’t be surprised if the right-hander’s arm action looks different as a professional than it did at Texas Tech.
56. Chase Davis, OF, Franklin HS (California). Age: 18
Even though there’s a ton of athleticism that’s apparent within the first ten seconds of his evaluation, Davis is still a bit of an acquired taste at the plate. As of last summer, the teenager was utilizing back-arm movement as a pre-pitch timing mechanism. With a swing already reliant on timing, Davis also has a pronounced bat-wrap that’s a bit scary when you project how the mechanics will fare against premium velocity. Thankfully, the outfielder possesses fast hands and obvious bat speed, so the quality of contact should be appetizing even with some concerns regarding the overall hit tool. Davis has one of the best arms amongst any outfielder in this class, and the skill set and athleticism should provide solid value from either center field or right field. Lastly, the 18-year-old is an above-average-or-better runner capable of impacting the basepaths. It’s likely that Davis’ hit tool won’t ever have to fully develop to average for the outfielder to become a notable prospect, though we shouldn’t yet assume that even fringe average is the highest-probability outcome. The teenager will need to receive an adequate bonus to persuade him to sign instead of attending the University of Arizona.
57. Drew Bowser, 3B, Harvard Westlake HS (California). Age: 18
Too many draft takes regarding Drew Bowser begin and end with his inability to play shortstop professionally, and not enough do his offensive skills justice. Sure he’s a third baseman at the next level, but Bowser projects for above-average-or-better power with a solid chance to reach an average hit tool despite his long levers. Currently listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, some evaluators see the teenager’s below average run times and wrongly associate them with a poor defensive profile. But when you watch the 18-year-old in the field and project his prep career at shortstop to third base as a professional, you see a solid first step, good instincts and an above average arm. Some outlets think Bowser will eventually transition to first base, but I feel he projects fine from the hot corner (if the frame adds another 20 pounds, I’ll re-evaluate). More importantly, the teenager’s swing has natural loft and fantastic bat speed for someone his size; for a prep prospect with perceived mobility issues, Bowser’s swing is athletic, loose and fluid. I’ll conservatively slap 20-25 home run potential on this profile assuming relatively-linear development. Mostly projected as a second or third round pick, it remains to be seen if the 18-year-old can be swayed from his commitment to Stanford.
58. Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central HS (Mississippi). Age: 17
*extreme Billy Joel voice* For the longest time, I refused to include Jordan on this list, because I selfishly hoped he would be buried on draft boards and elect to attend Mississippi State in lieu of signing. However, as draft day grows ever closer, that scenario seems increasingly unlikely. Jordan is a reclassified prep who will only be 17.5-years-old on June 10th. His favorable age would be a bigger deal if the teenager weren’t likely a first base-only prospect with a body (listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds) that will need to be well-maintained throughout his career. While Jordan’s profile inherently provides minimal defensive value (though he has a better chance to stick at first base than Aaron Sabato), the teenager makes this list thanks to what is unquestionably some of the best raw power in the entire class. There’s differing opinions on Jordan’s hit tool, with older reports projecting it to peak at above average while newer reports tend to reflect his contact struggles from last summer. Since the 17-year-old has been around a year younger than most of the competition he’s faced throughout the past calendar year, most evaluators are inclined to believe Jordan’s hit tool will have the opportunity to peak at average or better. If you’ve read this list thoroughly—especially my write-ups on prospects like Spencer Torkelson, Austin Wells and Aaron Sabato—you know that first base profiles on lists like this one have very little margin for error. With that in mind, Jordan will need to develop into a consistent, middle-of-the-order masher to ensure his path to every day big league playing time remains unencumbered.
59. Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State. Age: 21
While it’s no longer the universal consensus it was a few months ago, Bailey is still largely regarded as the top catching prospect in this class. Statistically, the 21-year-old has a fantastic track record of success throughout his collegiate career at North Carolina State, even surpassing 2019 first round draft pick Adley Rutschman in several statistical categories. Unfortunately, in the fantasy world, Bailey’s likely road to viability will stem from compiling. A switch-hitter who should remain behind the plate, the 21-year-old projects as middle-of-the-road both from a hit tool and power standpoint. With no stolen base threat to speak of, Bailey reminds me a bit of a mixture between the 2019 versions of Omar Narvaez and Kurt Suzuki in terms of what we might come to expect from the backstop in the fantasy world once he hypothetically debuts at the big league level.
60. Mario Zabala, OF, International HS (Puerto Rico). Age: 18
Zabala is a tool shed. Using the terms ‘loose’ or ‘fluid’ to describe the 18-year-old would probably be a step too far, but placing him in the ‘physical’ bucket doesn’t do the profile enough justice. Already standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 195 pounds, Zabala possesses some of the loudest present tools in this prep class. A combination of bat speed, barrel control and raw strength leads to consistent, hard contact from the teenager, with plenty of evaluators slapping a plus-grade on his future raw power. You don’t really get this sense as you evaluate the frame alone, but Zabala has also posted some of the best run times in this entire class (a 6.28 60-yard dash is a legit 80-grade time). The body doesn’t exude future projection (and there’s some stiffness in the swing), so there is a chance the outfielder begins to slow down a bit quicker than his peers. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Zabala is 1) a bit more unrefined than most of the prep prospects you’ll read about within this list, and 2) doesn’t possess the elite competitive track record of high school outfielders such as Robert Hassell III, Pete Crow-Armstrong, etc. There are legitimate questions regarding the hit tool, but you can dream on Zabala becoming a Heliot Ramos (a fellow Puerto Rican) type if everything clicks. The universal praise of the teenager possessing elite makeup should help him overcome the inevitable ebbs and flows he’ll face professionally. Currently an FIU commit, the 18-year-old is assumedly a solid bet to sign with his suitor following next month’s MLB Draft.
61. Cole Henry, RHP, LSU. Age: 20
If you watch Henry from the broadcast view, his stiff front leg as his momentum begins to carry him towards home plate reminds you of Justin Verlander (I think @eccentricladdie was the first to mention this). The frame (6-foot-4, 215 lbs.) and fastball/curveball combination makes you want to dream big, but this profile isn’t flawless. Henry missed time last season with a sore elbow; then, in early March, he exited an outing versus UMass Lowell after four innings after experiencing a velocity dip. Unfortunately, that was the right-hander’s final outing before the college baseball season was canceled. While that aside is more speculative than anything, what can’t be argued is the fact Henry still has not fully-ridden himself of the violent head whack he possessed as a prep pitcher. The changeup likely finalizes as an average pitch professionally, but it simply feels as though Henry is missing an ingredient that would allow him to springboard from possessing the upside of a solid SP4 to that of a middle of the rotation starter. Let’s hope the velocity dip in April proves to be nothing.
62. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina. Age: 21
After missing the entirety of the 2019 collegiate season due to a broken foot, Mlodzinksi showcased an interesting ‘sum of the parts’ profile earlier this spring before the college season was canceled. No present fact of the right-hander’s profile will overwhelm you: the body doesn’t project overly well, the arsenal benefits from depth instead of explosion and there’s a limited track record of success at the collegiate level (though he was great in the Cape Cod League last summer). In the end, I think Mlodzinksi will profile as a SP4 who leans heavily on a sinker/slider/cutter trio. The sinker and cutter specifically mirror each other well, with the latter taking a notable step forward this spring. The continued development of his curveball and changeup–especially against left-handed hitters throughout the minor leagues—would likely help him reach his ceiling. The fastball will never miss a ton of bats, but the holistic arsenal is good enough to make the 21-year-old a successful professional pitcher.
63. Seth Lonsway, LHP, Ohio State. Age: 21
I keep hearing really good things regarding Lonsway, including the facts he’ll benefit from a canceled 2020 season and he possesses ‘insane’ Rapsodo viability. After sitting in the high-80s last summer in the Cape Cod League, the southpaw’s velocity jumped to 92-95 this spring for Ohio State. When you pair a sudden increase in fastball velocity (which also possesses above average vertical movement thanks to an over-the-top arm slot) with a slider and curveball that possess ungodly spin rates, you arrive at a pitcher who struck out 42 in 18.0 IP this spring (four starts). Unfortunately, Lonsway also walked a batter per inning this spring (leading to a 1.61 WHIP). In an article in which you’ll read the word ‘advanced’ quite frequently, Lonsway’s command certainly falls in the opposite direction. He’ll almost certainly be drafted by an analytically-inclined organization in June, and he’ll embody the ole ‘lottery ticket pitching prospect’ cliche in 2021 First Year Player Drafts. Even if the command never improves once he’s drafted, Lonsway will be a dynamic threat out of the bullpen at the big league level, assuming good health.
64. Hayden Cantrelle, 2B, Louisiana Lafayette. Age: 21
Other than knocking a power tool that may never ascend to league average, there’s not a lot to dislike about Cantrelle. The 21-year-old possesses an average hit tool (with awesome plate discipline), a plus run tool and defensive skills that should keep him up the middle (shortstop or second base) as a professional. In over 900 plate appearances since debuting collegiately (both at UL Lafayette and in the Cape), Cantrelle has managed to only hit 17 home runs. While the switch-hitting shortstop will likely never tempt the 30 home run mark in a single season, double-digits should be attainable at his peak. Pair that with a solid on-base percentage, ~20 stolen bases annually and up-the-middle defense, Cantrelle is an underrated prospect heading into next month’s draft.
65. Kyle Harrison, LHP, De La Salle HS (California). Age: 18
Aided by an increasingly-engaged lower half, Harrison really appeared to grow into his mechanics in the brief sample we were given in 2020. Working from a lower arm slot, the fastball has sinker qualities and is up to 94 mph; while it does have swing-and-miss viability up in the zone versus high school competition, I assume he’ll make his money low in the zone as a professional. The biggest development for the left-hander from last season to this season is his commitment to a slider, which is an evolution from the curveball with slurve-ish qualities he utilized in prior seasons (thanks, lower arm slot). With further experience and development, the slider has a chance to become above average or plus professionally. With an arsenal headlined by a sinker and slider, the next step for Harrison will be to develop a viable changeup, which is a needed weapon versus right-handed hitters, especially if you assume the southpaw turns professional in lieu of honoring his commitment to UCLA. There’s some variance to his ranking on draft boards—thanks in large part to the canceled 2020 high school baseball season—so it’ll be interesting to see where he’s selected this summer.
66. Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina. Age: 21
Everything Parker Chavers does on a baseball field is loud. There’s above average power, plus speed and a plus throwing arm from the outfield. The swing mechanics are also loud, featuring a big leg kick and an approach that can get carried away at times. The 21-year-old was set to miss a huge chunk of the 2020 collegiate season after undergoing shoulder surgery in December, so we can place him in the tiny bucket of draft prospects who actually benefit from the canceled season. Some evaluators believe Chavers 1) can’t stick in center field defensively, and 2) he doesn’t possess the offensive firepower to project rosily from either spot. However, it’s my belief that those detractors aren’t giving the 21-year-old enough credit for his in-game power, and I feel Chavers should fit comfortably in right field as a professional. The further development of the outfielder’s hit tool will be the driving factor that eventually determines his real-life and fantasy value. While the most likely current outcome is the hit tool settling a tick below average at peak, Chavers outperforming that projection would mean he’s become a legitimate prospect or big league player.
67. Hudson Haskin, OF, Tulane. Age: 21
Quirky, abnormal, atypical and unique are words typically reserved for pitching mechanics on lists like this one. However, any of those descriptors certainly fit Hudson Haskin’s swing. The 21-year-old stands upright pre-pitch, but he becomes much more squatty and compact as the pitch nears home plate. This transition includes quite a bit of head movement, and the progression itself immediately makes you think 1) the outfielder would be susceptible to elevated velocity, and 2) the batted ball profile is skewed towards a high ground ball rate. But to this point in his career, neither are true. Haskin possesses fantastic barrel control, often changing his attack angle depending on the location of a pitch. In the fantasy world, the outfielder will hang his hat on plus speed, though you almost get the sense Tulane muzzled his stolen base ability during both his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 32 NECL games last summer, Haskin stole 17 bases. He only stole five bases in 73 career games while playing for the Green Wave. The 21-year-old is an above average defender in center field, which gives this profile a nice floor moving forward. The next step in Haskins’ development (and his biggest hurdle remaining) will be unlocking more power in-game. The body and bat speed scream 20+ home run ability, though the outfielder has a ways to go to achieving that feat. With wiggle room remaining, both the hit and power tools presently grade as average.
68. Justin Lange, RHP, Llano HS (Texas). Age: 18
Less than a year ago, Lange sat in the upper-80s and lower-90s. Now, he’s topped out in the triple digits and sits in the mid-90s. Pair that fact with a 6-foot-4 frame that’s ripe for good, added weight, and you begin to understand the stupefying projection within this profile. Despite the jaw-dropping velocity of Lange’s fastball, I actually question the bat-missing ability of the pitch at the next level. That concern centers around a tilt that will likely classify the pitch as a sinker, possessing more bat-busting horizontal movement than bat-missing vertical movement. Both the slider and changeup are only passable at the moment, but I have no problem projecting both secondaries to become average or better professionally (that’s a fairly conservative estimate, in my opinion), especially since the teenager throws from a lower arm slot (I would actually like to see the right-hander add more horizontal movement to his slider, which is currently a bit slurvy). I think of Lange in a similar sense as I thought of Jimmy Lewis last season: you have to dream a little bit since he’s more of a projection type than present skills that blow you away, but there are some big time ingredients here.
69. Masyn Winn, RHP/SS, Kingwood HS (Texas). Age: 18
I didn’t want to include Winn on this list. He has some huge red flags, and his route to eventual fantasy viability is much narrower than most (likely all) other pitching prospects on this list. But the prevailing thought is simple: Winn has so much potential—and so much explosiveness—the risk of not including him is higher than the risk of including him. A Pascal’s wager of sorts, if you will. A two-way player who likely projects better as a pitcher, Winn is both 5-foot-10, 180 lbs. and has a nasty head whack (to the point he struggles to keep his hat on his head at times). Woof. If you didn’t scroll to the next prospect after you read that sentence, the flip side of that coin is some of the best athleticism in this entire class. Armed with electric arm speed, Winn hangs his hat on a high-90s fastball and a wicked, high-spin curveball that plays up thanks to the right-hander’s movements. In my eyes, it’s only a matter of time before the teenager adds an adequate-or-better changeup; the pitch wouldn’t need to possess tremendous fade to be a big weapon if Winn can maintain his lightning quick arm speed. For my money, the 18-year-old will be one of the most intriguing lottery tickets in FYPDs this offseason. In a dynasty world overflowing with risk/reward profiles, Winn will personify that label as a professional. A lot of people in the know think the teenager will need to be over-slotted to sway him from his pledge to the University of Arkansas. PS: Those who share my concern regarding the 18-year-old’s pitching mechanics told me to write him up as a shortstop. Those within the industry who have seen Winn multiple times as a position player told me they like him better on the mound. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
70. Petey Halpin, OF, St. Francis HS (California). Age: 18
Of course I’m not going to agree with every take our Mason McRae publishes (especially his Asa Lacy takes, smh), but he comped Petey Halpin to a ‘toned-down’ version of Dylan Crews (scroll up to read about him) and I think it’s a solid comparison. Halpin is a late bloomer who really began to emerge as a legitimate MLB Draft prospect late last summer. The headliners here are above average athleticism, plus speed and the fact the outfielder won’t turn 18 until June. While Halpin is certainly hit-over-power at the plate currently, he has shown the ability to elevate with authority to his pull-side. The ceiling here is in the realm of 55-hit, 50-power, 60-speed from center field; if Halpin reaches this peak, he’ll be a multi-win big leaguer who is also valuable in the fantasy world. Projected to be selected in the third or fourth round of next month’s MLB Draft, the teenager will likely be faced with a tough decision to sign or head to the University of Texas.
71. Jake Vogel, OF, Huntington Beach HS (California). Age: 18
Vogel wasn’t really on my research radar until a few weeks ago when Ralph Lifshitz told me to dig a little deeper. Man, was he right. Let’s talk about the floor first. Vogel is an 80-grade runner who utilizes his speed well from center field. He also has a strong arm, with outfield-to-home throws clocked at 95 mph despite the 18-year-old’s small frame (5-foot-11, 165 lbs.). There’s obviously not a ton of inherent power at the plate, but Vogel gets the most from his strength by utilizing a swing with an uppercut. Small-bodied hitters who maximize their power potential are traditionally noisy, but Vogel is the exact opposite. The swing has no wasted movement and is simple with a moderate leg kick. It’s extremely aesthetically pleasing, and no one can argue the way the ball jumps off the teenager’s bat. Traditionalists will knock Vogel’s lack of elite competition throughout his prep career, but it’s impossible to not love the present tools. Perfect Game has hit max exit velocity at 97 mph (a 10 mph increase from August 2018), which is the same number attached to Corbin Carroll’s PG profile. I’m trying my best to not jump the gun on a prospect with a limited track record who’s only beginning to emerge (damn you, canceled 2020 season), but I will be all over Vogel in my First Year Player Drafts if he’s swayed away from his commitment to UCLA. I’ll throw some water on your excitement before we move on: there’s heavy skepticism regarding Vogel’s signability leading into next month’s MLB Draft. I guess that’s the fun in publishing a list like this one less than a month before the draft!
72. Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor. Age: 21
It’s an impossible question to answer, but I really wonder how many home runs Loftin would have hit in a full 2020 campaign (he had already hit 2 home runs (8 XBH) in 15 games after only hitting 7 home runs (30 XBH) in 62 games between Baylor and the CCBL last season) after a swing change last offseason. The 21-year-old appears destined to be a better real-life player than fantasy contributor. Despite possessing non-elite speed, everything Loftin does defensively at shortstop is above average—mostly thanks to solid instincts and an impressive arm. There’s also a thought that—depending on the organization that selects him—Loftin could also be utilized at second base and center field defensively. The power expectation here should be fairly subdued (though the 106.8 max exit velocity in 2020 makes you raise your brow), but both the hit tool and speed grade at average. In the end, Loftin is a deep dynasty league target who makes the tail-end of this list, thanks largely to a solid real-life floor that should make the 21-year-old a top-40 pick in next month’s draft.
73. Yiddi Cappe, SS, Cuba. Age: 17
Finishing my write-up on Mario Zabala then diving into Yiddi Cappe film and reports was quite the beat switch. The former is a 6-foot-2, 195 pound terror who’s already getting those most from his body; the latter is a 6-foot-3, 175 pound string-bean who is yet to grow into his frame. Cappe is a “this is what they look like” prospect who should easily add 20-30 pounds of muscle throughout his first few professional seasons. This time last year, Cappe’s detractors were concerned with his in-game aptitude. Those worries seem to be fading as the 17-year-old grows closer to becoming a professional player. When adding a significant amount of mass to a frame is such an important part of a prospect’s future outlook, you’re forced to admit a fair amount of uncertainty. Will Cappe remain fleet of foot when he’s 20 pounds heavier? Will he remain at shortstop when he weighs 200 pounds instead of 175, or is an eventual shift to third base or the outfield in the cards? This conundrum embodies the volatility and variance baked into evaluating J2 prospects before they’ve officially signed. If you’re looking for a recent comparison, Cappe reminds me a bit of Alejandro Pie. A tall but slight frame that will undoubtedly add muscle as it develops. Present ability to play shortstop, present power projection and present speed. The talent is undeniable. But there’s also a good chance we’ll be evaluating a completely different prospect two years from now as he begins to fill out. For now, Cappe is an interesting, talented ball of clay who possesses a similar frame as a same-age Carlos Correa.
74. Jace Bohrofen, OF, Westmoore HS (Oklahoma). Age: 18
With high school baseball shut down since March, I’m guessing scouts have spent the past two months pinpointing just how signable Bohrofen will be following next month’s MLB Draft. The 18-year-old is currently committed to play collegiately at Oklahoma, where he would be both teammates with his older brother and a legacy following in his father’s footsteps (his dad played for OU from 1988-1991). Regardless of signability, Bohrofen will be selected in June thanks largely to an adequate hit tool, above average raw power and solid, present defense in center field (I suspect he’ll eventually transition to right field). I use the word ‘adequate’ to describe the hit tool because Bohrofen utilized a compact, contact-oriented swing last summer before shifting to a steeper path this spring, assumedly to increase his power output. We simply need to see a larger sample of the outfielder’s new swing before we award it the same above average label it received prior to the shortened 2020 season. Bohrofen is somewhat of a late bloomer in the power department; standing at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, it’s very possible the 18-year-old reaches plus raw power as he finalizes his development down the road. In May 2020, I’m conservatively projecting Bohrofen as a 50-hit, 55-raw power, 50-speed future right fielder while ceding a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 50-speed future (also from right field) would only be an ~80th percentile outcome.
75. Gage Workman, 3B, Arizona State. Age: 21
Workman possesses athleticism you don’t necessarily see when you look at him. He’s played multiple positions in the infield (including shortstop), he’s continued to steal bases throughout his collegiate career and he moves well laterally for someone standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 200 pounds. A switch-hitter, Workman possesses at least above average raw power, though it hasn’t fully shown up in-game as of yet. Unfortunately, there are fairly large concerns regarding the 21-year-old’s hit tool. In 2019, Workman posted a 26.8 K% at Arizona State and a 26.2 K% in the Cape Cod League. Prior to the 2020 collegiate season, he struck out in 27.6% of his 76 plate appearances. For now, this hit tool is below average (40) with a chance to peak at fringe-average (45/50) if Workman increases the patience within his approach. Defensively, the 21-year-old profiles best at the hot corner, and he should be able to provide solid value at the position. With a subpar hit tool and a lack of power output in-game, Workman’s present, fantasy floor/ceiling combination leaves some to be desired heading into next month’s MLB Draft.
76. Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS (Texas). Age: 18
Romo is practically on this list for one reason: assuming good health, he’s a lock to stay behind the plate. The teenager is the best defensive catcher in this class, and the skills are so immense, it’s easy to dream on Romo someday providing notable defensive value behind the plate at the big league level. Of course, Austin Hedges is currently the best defensive catcher in Major League Baseball, yet he’s completely unrosterable in most fantasy baseball formats. While the switch-hitting 18-year-old has a chance to develop an average hit tool and above average raw power, I don’t have to tell you the hurdles Romo—like any prep catching prospect—will have to overcome in order to ever become a top-200 type. Much like 99% of catcher prospects, the development here will be a slow burn. That should give us plenty of time to hope Romo eventually develops into a redraft-worthy fantasy catcher. The teenager possesses makeup and on-field leadership qualities that all organizations crave behind the plate.
77. Logan Allen, LHP, FIU. Age: 21
Allen typifies a high-floor pitching prospect. This profile includes low-90s fastball velocity, a plus changeup, plus command, clean mechanics, elite pitchability and an undersized (his listed size 6-foot, 180 lbs. is reportedly generous) frame. The southpaw’s third pitch (a curveball) is fringe average presently, but evaluators believe the offering is just good enough to alleviate Allen from any relief-risk concerns. Typically, a low-90s fastball that’s located well gets slapped with a 45/50 (fringe-to-average) and is then forgotten about. However, Allen’s heater possesses above average carry at the top of the zone (17.7″ vMOV), racking up swings and misses despite a lack of premium velocity. And while it’s true the left-hander’s 60-grade changeup is the catalyst behind the 21-year-old’s surprising 33.0 K% throughout his collegiate career (including last summer in the Cape), the fastball plays a viable role too. Presently, Allen projects as a backend rotation arm who will need an uptick in velocity or the development of a viable third pitch to outperform that label. The southpaw will be model friendly, so his eventual suitor should be of major interest for those who are interested in selecting him in First Year Player Drafts next offseason.
78. Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida. Age: 21
I read two different comps on Mace before I evaluated him: Alex Faedo and Jackson Kowar. The good news is Mace’s stuff doesn’t play down due to a short stride, à la Faedo. The bad news is he doesn’t really possess a true ‘out’ pitch, à la Kowar’s changeup. In a class chalked full of bold opinions of a deep pitching class, Mace’s profile doesn’t make you feel too strongly one way or another. For my money, the 21-year-old’s best trait is his above average extension from a 6-foot-6 frame; Mace will certainly get the most out of his passable fastball velocity, though it wouldn’t surprise me to see an uptick as the right-hander adds strength post-draft. The real-life concern here is that Mace doesn’t project as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but his arsenal also doesn’t take a huge leap when you envision it from the bullpen. I assume that will lead to some reluctance from organizations leading up to this summer’s draft.
79. Jesse Franklin, OF, Michigan. Age: 21
Sometimes I feel like Jesse Franklin forces it. The natural ability is obvious, and Franklin’s above average raw power and speed lay what should be a nice profile foundation, especially if the 21-year-old is able to remain in center field defensively. Franklin is blessed with solid bat to ball skills, but the plate approach is far too aggressive. A moderate lack of breaking ball recognition—and an affinity to chase pitches below the zone—means Franklin hits a lot of pitcher’s pitches, which suppresses the outfielder’s quality of contact. Oh, and the above average speed mentioned above? The 21-year-old rarely utilized the tool throughout college, stealing only 8 bases in 115 games between two full seasons at Michigan and two summers in the Cape. Franklin has already unlocked a lot of his power in-game, so the next steps in his development will be to maximize his stolen base output while trusting his eyes at the plate. The outfielder did not play at all during the shortened 2020 season after breaking his collarbone in a skiing accident in the weeks leading up to Opening Day. There’s a ton of variance in Franklin’s perceived draft stock (and his profile in general), with projections slotting him anywhere from the third round to being undrafted altogether. While the floor here is scary low (it includes a move to left field and continued durability concerns), everything clicking for Franklin would mean he reaches 20+ home runs and ~8 stolen bases with a batting average that hovers between .250 and .260.
80. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Virginia. Age: 21
If you, too, are creating MLB Draft content and/or evaluating draft prospects, you know I’m projecting Abbott to receive an opportunity to pitch in the rotation post-draft by including him in the top-80 of this list instead of the honorable mentions. That’s obviously not a given, seeing as the 21-year-old is undersized (6-foot, 180 pounds), has pitched almost exclusively from Virginia’s bullpen and leans heavily on a two-pitch combination. If you think that’s a lot of factors to overcome in order to someday possess fantasy viability, you’re absolutely right. But Abbott is included at the tail-end of this list because, while he only showcases two primary pitches (a fastball and curveball), they both display bat-missing qualities. The left-hander’s heater only sits in the low-90s, but it remains on plane well and misses bats when elevated. Abbott’s true arsenal headliner is his curveball, a high-spin, 1/7 hook that tunnels well off the left-hander’s elevated fastball. There’s also a changeup that’s currently considered somewhat of an afterthought, though Abbott hasn’t felt the need to feature it from the bullpen at UVA. The two most likely outcomes for the 21-year-old appear to be an above average reliever or a backend starter; the nuances of his repertoire means he should rack-up a sneaky amount of strikeouts regardless of his destination. Obviously, I’m selfishly hoping Abbott is given an opportunity to take the ball every fifth day for the organization that drafts him. He’ll need to continue developing his changeup to hypothetically remain in the rotation long-term.
Below, in alphabetical order, are 21 prospects who are certainly worth monitoring in the coming months, especially as they’re selected in June’s MLB Draft. If you think 21 prospects are too many to include in an Honorable Mention section, that was intentional. I wanted you to be aware of each and every prospect who was strongly considered and evaluated throughout the last month. Depending on who signs with their suitor and who opts to return to school/attend college following next month’s draft, some—if not several—of the prospects below will ascend to the actual list in future versions. Becoming acquainted with these prospects now. Even if they choose to attend college now, we’ll likely write-them up in future draft classes.
Werner Blakely, SS, Southfield HS (Michigan). Age: 18
Cam Brown, RHP, Flower Mound HS (Texas). Age: 18
Ryan Bruno, LHP, American Heritage HS (Florida). Age: 18
Oscar Colas, OF, Cuba. Age: 21
Harold Coll, SS, Georgia Premier Academy (Georgia). Age: 18
Jeff Criswell, RHP, Michigan. Age: 21
Armando Cruz, SS, Dominican Republic. Age: 16
Trenton Denholm, RHP, UC Irvine. Age: 20
Isaiah Greene, OF, Corona HS (California). Age: 18
Ben Hernandez, RHP, De La Salle Institute (Illinois). Age: 18
Yohandy Morales, 3B, Braddock HS (Florida). Age: 18
Kyle Nicolas, RHP, Ball State. Age: 21
Elijah Nunez, OF, Martin HS (Texas). Age: 18
Baron Radcliff, 1B, Georgia Tech. Age: 21
Marco Raya, RHP, United South HS (Texas). Age: 17
Alejandro Rosario, RHP, Miami Christian HS (Florida). Age: 18
Ian Seymour, LHP, Virginia Tech. Age: 21
Norge Vera, RHP, Cuba. Age: 19
Cayden Wallace, 3B, Greenbrier HS (Arkansas). Age: 18
Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State. Age: 21
Tanner Witt, RHP, Episcopal HS (Texas). Age: 17
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Featured image courtesy of site graphic designer Dorian Redden. Follow him on Twitter (@dRedden26) and Instagram (@d26gfx)
The headline says this is a 2021 Draft list, though, well, it’s clearly not.
Indeed. This is a list for First Year Players who will be selected in dynasty leagues leading up to the 2021 season.
I’m just talking about how the headline reads.