In dynasty baseball, the June draft is must-watch television and the July 2 international signing day is fodder for a million clicks.
Months later, typically in February or March, dynasty leaguers select their favorite college, high school and international players in annual first-year player drafts. I have attempted to consider and rank this year’s player pool for your reading pleasure.
*Note: I’ve written a fair bit about each of these guys if you’d like more than the words here and are curious enough to follow the threads to my Top 150 for 2020 Fantasy Baseball or my organizational top ten lists.
** Note pt. 2: I recommend synthesizing this list—or some list of your own design—with your league’s free agent pool if that’s allowed in your league. Guys like Francisco Alvarez, Luis Matos, Heriberto Hernandez, and Joe Ryan won’t be listed here, but they might be available in your league.
1. SS C.J. Abrams | Padres
Steals are drying up, but more importantly, they’re coagulating around not-good hitters in an era when everyone is hitting so well it makes the Dee Gordons and Mallex Smiths of the world that much tougher to start. Would love to have either guy.
Get Vaughn up! (in the immortal tones of Lou Brown)
Totally reasonable to react that way to this sequence and wind up taking him over the top two here. Elite hit-tool potential. I’ve always believed wooden bats let the super elite hit-tools separate themselves because the sweet spot matters so much with the wood. That’s what she said.
League-dependent qualifiers apply to Rutschman. I might take him over Carroll in a 20-teamer with two catchers, but in most leagues I’m rolling the dice on a special combination of speed, hit, power, and defense in Corbin Carroll.
Witt’s got the crazy exit velocity read-outs to suggest he should go among the top two.
8. OF Erick Peña | Royals
9. LHP Nick Lodolo | Reds
10. SS Robert Puason | A’s
I’m surprised at my own ranking here. The first-year-player draft is a time for bats, but I’m so excited for these arms that they keep jumping out at me. It’s not easy to separate the fast movers from the slow on the pitching side, but that’s a good way to make a profit, and these two college-ace, first-round picks just scream fast-track to me.
Peña or Puason are the choice if you’re doing a slow-burn, pure-upside build, but if you’re running the combo game where you try to build/maintain and contend simultaneously, these arms are the kind of special that should help on start-days and be MiLB eligible to expand the bench when they’re not on the bump. Their trade value should be comparable to the teeny boppers’.
11. SS Greg Jones | Rays
12. OF Riley Greene | Tigers
13. OF J.J. Bleday | Marlins
14. 3B Josh Jung | Rangers
15. 3B Kody Hoese | Dodgers
16. OF Yoshi Tsutsugo | Rays
17. 2B Michael Busch | Dodgers
Riley Greene feels like swinging for a double, which probably isn’t fair, but it’s a tough world when the guy beside you has 80 speed and you’re a long way from the finish line.
Which means Greg Jones is the play here for the risk-happy roller.
Bleday, Jung, Hoese and Busch feel just as doubly as Greene, but they’re much further along than the rest of this group, and time is money. They’re all plus plate-skills, developing-to-plus-power, plus hit-tool types with solid college track records. Each took a big step forward in his junior season in 2019, and they all feel like good value here.
Had Yoshi hatched elsewhere on the map, he could’ve been ten spots higher. In Tampa, his topside feels capped. Might be a tough sell in weekly leagues but creates a buying opportunity in the daily game.
18. RHP Alek Manoah | Jays
He’s easily in the previous tier in a league where pitching is prized, but in most standard settings, I’d prefer the bats.
19. RHP Daniel Espino | Indians
20. 1B Bryce Ball | Braves
Ace is a fuzzy word, clearer in fantasy than reality. Espino is a dream match of athleticism and organization: Cleveland knows arms and got a gift in Espino.
You don’t have to draft Ball here to get him, but I just missed him slow-playing perceived value in the Razz 30 Supp draft, and it did not feel good. He’s a tall lefty with fast hands and crazy power.