Last week, we began this series with the First-Year-Player Draft Top 25 for 2021 Fantasy Baseball.
As we move into the next group, my favorite league is beginning it’s draft. I suspect we’ll be right around my pick, 26 of 30, by the time these pages hit the newsstands. Not that I expect anyone in the league much cares. Lots of good FYPD rankings out there. But still, it’s an odd game: drafting with 30-ish teams who mostly know my thoughts are public if they care to take a peak. I suppose you get numb to it across time. A league mate told me last night that my Wilman Diaz ranking (No. 6) helped finalize his decision to draft Diaz at 16 rather than trade the pick to me. I’d been trying to move up since the ninth pick. Long night. Only one way to go after burning up the chats trying to make a play only to fail: Forward. On to the next play. Plenty of talented dudes on the board. Missing out on one is never a make or break scenario unless you let it become that. So here we go!
26. RHP Emerson Hancock | Mariners | 21 | NCAA | 2022
Waylaid by a lat injury near the end of 2019 and arm soreness at the training site this year, Hancock remains a front-of-the-rotation prospect elite stiff but one who lands closer to the second tier of arms in this group than the first for the time being.
Here’s a link to Hobbs detailing Hancock’s abilities in his Top 10 College Prospects to Target in Dynasty Leagues.
27. OF Pedro Pineda | Athletics | 17 | NA | 2025
His corner outfield profile pushes him down non-fantasy lists partly because he’s surrounded on the international market by mostly shortstops, centerfielders and catchers, but that’s good news for our purposes. Pineda won’t garner the hype of a Puason, but he’s immediately on that level in my opinion. Plus hit, plus power, plus run prospects without much hype are the coolest.
28. C Austin Wells | Yankees | 21 | NCAA | 2023
Hasn’t shown all his power in-game to this point but it’s pretty clear he can hit and has enough thump to match up well with that park in New York. His carrying tool is likely his incredible plate skills. He walked more than he struck out across his two years at Arizona, and if he can recognize much tighter spin in a similar fashion, he’ll keep improving for a long time.
29. RHP Slade Cecconi | Diamondbacks | 21 | NCAA | 2022
Reports from the alternate site rave about Cecconi, implying he may already be the club’s best pitching prospect. A draft-eligible sophomore who was already a dude out of high school, the 6’4” 220-pound righty employs four functional pitches and a heater than can sit mid-nineties early but fades a bit as the evening wears on. Real splash potential here.
30. SS RHP Masyn Winn | Cardinals | 18 | HS | 2024
Announced as a two-way player on draft night, Winn figures to split his time between shortstop and the mound. He’s 5’10” with plus-plus athleticism, so even though he’s devastating on the bump (he hit 98 miles per hour at a Perfect Game event and has been mostly untouched in his high school career), he might find a home at short sooner than later while keeping pitching as a tasty fallback option. He’s got impressive hand speed at the plate, excellent chops with the leather, and a chance to keep adding power as he better incorporates his base. I’m not comping his hit tool to Mookie Betts’ by any stretch, but Mookie’s smooth, do-it-all athleticism pops to my mind anytime I’m imagining Winn’s future.
31. OF Hudson Haskin | Orioles | 22 | NCAA | 2023
A speed-power blend who minimizes strikeouts, Haskin signed for slot value ($1,906,800) after being selected 39th overall in 2020. He’s 6’2” 200 lbs with loft in his swing and quick enough hands to turn around elite heat. He didn’t run much while smashing baseballs at Tulane but stole 17 bags in 32 games for the Newport Gulls in 2019. I suspect my rankings will represent the “industry” high on Haskin because he’s exactly the kind of dude who pops in fantasy and people say he came from nowhere even though Tulane is in New Orleans and the Orioles, a very smart front office, clearly love him.
32. RHP Cade Cavalli | Nationals | 22 | NCAA | 2022
The 22nd overall pick in the 2020 draft, Cavali looks like a linebacker and works with pace on the mound, an intimidating combo when paired with his high-fastball proficiency and nasty pair of breakers, one a high 80’s slider and the other a decent curveball. As a fun bonus, Cavali has always been a good hitter, posting a .319/.393/.611 line in 84 plate appearances as a sophomore. Natural athleticism and physicality give him more upside on the mound than teams can typically find that late in the first round.
33. SS Carson Tucker | Cleveland | 18 | HS | 2025
Find someone who looks at you the way Cleveland looks at smooth middle infielders with on-field skills. They don’t mind if a kid isn’t physical yet. They just want to see it on teh field, and Carson Tucker seems to me the type of guy who’ll hit the ground running in the minors. He spent a bit of the shutdown working out with older brother Cole the Pirate, who’d helped organize a number of pick-up games. Momentum from here carried over to the instructional site, where Tucker generated positive buzz for his pro readiness and his pop.
34. RHP Tanner Burns | Cleveland | 21 | NCAA | 2022
Tanner Burns baseball is a near perfect four-seam fastball followed up by a ten-part documentary. He’s got two benders to back up his true spin heater that succeeds atop the zone, and you can bet Cleveland is going to get this kid in the lab and find the best possible pairings for that fastball. Very exciting stuff here.
35. 2B Justin Foscue | Rangers | 22 | NCAA | 2022
Foscue is a ready-made professional hitter who walks more than he strikes out. Might signal something of an organizational shift in Texas. The 14th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Foscue checks in at 6’ 203 lbs and walked ten more times than he struck out in his three year career at Mississippi St. 15 walks and 3 strikeouts across 16 games as a junior. Just two home runs in those games but 14 home runs across 67 games as a sophomore. If I had more confidence in the power, I’d put him in the three spot here, but Foscue is not an explosive rotator despite the explosive name
36. SS Maikol Hernandez | Orioles | 17 | NA | 2025
If anyone is going to put Baltimore on the international prospect map, it’ll be someone from this year’s 17-signee class, and my money is on Maikol Hernandez, a sturdy 6’3” middle infielder with present power, speed and baseball skill who signed for $1.2 million.
37. RHP Bryce Jarvis | Diamondbacks | 23 | NCAA | 2022
The son of former big leaguer Kevin Jarvis, Bryce has taken a very current, data-driven approach to building his repertoire and has four plus pitches to show for the effort. His 2020 was obscene: 40 strikeouts and two walks across 27 innings, but his two previous seasons were not so breezy, as evidenced by his 1.41 WHIP after logging a 0.944 WHIP as a freshman. It’s interesting to think he’s a work in progress who will might always be seeking that next edge, which, to me, is what pitching at the top level is all about.
38. RHP Bobby Miller | Dodgers | 22 | NCAA | 2023
Los Angeles sees something it loves in Miller, a closer convert with a 70-grade fastball and three passable off-speed pitches. I don’t love the mechanics, but they know much better than me and will likely find his best self as they so often do with pitchers. Trouble is they never have any incentive to rush anyone, so while he’s pretty safe money for our purposes, his chances to help you soon are not real high.
39. LHP Nick Swiney | Giants | 21 | NCAA | 2022
Swiney is a strange case. A reliever his first two years at NC State, he was converted to the rotation his Junior year and dominated his four starts in 2020. He and teammate Harrison both generated positive feedback for the work at the training site, whatever that’s worth. Key takeaway for our purposes: Swiney struck out 15.1 batters per nine across 56.2 innings as a sophomore and 13.5 across 28 innings as a Junior. Succeed or fail, who can say? He’ll strike people out either way.
40. RHP Mick Abel | Phillies | 19 | HS | 2025
Abel’s senior season never started, but that didn’t stop the Phillies from popping him at 15th overall on draft night. It’s easy to make a case he would’ve been higher if he’d seen any game action this year. At 6’5” 200 lbs with a two-way track record, Abel looks every bit the part of an elite pitching prospect, featuring a three-quarters arm slot that gives him easy 96 mph cheese that tunnels well with his plus-plus slider, Abel just needs innings and health. It’s unlikely he’ll find much resistance in the lower minors and will need to force the changeup into his starts if he’s going to refine it.
41. LHP Kyle Harrison | Giants | 18 | HS | 2024
Farhan Zaidi has something of a magic touch, in my opinion, which really just comes down to a thoughtful process well executed. San Francisco paid Harrison 2.5 million to sign after drafting him 85th overall. Basically first-round money to sign him away from UCLA. Then he went to the training site and showed the ability to command his repertoire even against high-end hitters, even while adding velocity. Feels kind of like the Blake Walston type, grand slam swing that’s going to take a while to materialize.
42. 2B Nick Yorke | Red Sox | 19 | HS | 2025
Yorke has a tight, spring-release righty swing that makes exceptional use of his lower half. He’s had some throwing-shoulder injuries that might lock him into a right-side infield spot, or maybe even DH. These defensive limitations are partly why Yorke’s selection in the first round of 2020 shocked much of the draft-watching world. Second basemen just don’t go that high. Boston is hoping Yorke rocks out like Kid A and signed the 17th overall pick for an under-slot deal, saving about a million bucks off the sticker price for the 17 spot, money the front office then allocated to third-round, high-school first baseman Blaze Jordan. I suspect they’ll wish they’d picked some pitching in this arm-heavy draft.
43. OF Shalin Polanco | Pirates | 17 | NA | 2025
Love this guy’s swing. Great balance. Great torque. Calm/still head and neck. Maintains control and strength in his base throughout. Kind of a wow for me, given he’s written up as something of a speedster due to impressive outfield defense and base running. As a Pirate named Polanco, he’s got a chance to slide under some radars.
44. SS Hayden Cantrelle | Brewers | 22 | NCAA | 2023
Milwaukee likes to nab a falling draft stock, and Cantrelle fit that bill in the fifth round after batting just .148 during his covid-abbreviated Junior season. He’d been a stud in 2019 and full-time starter at short as a freshman, so I’m giving him a pass on his slump this season because his plus speed plays in game, and he’d always hit before 2020. His pop is more gap-to-gap than over the fence, but I tend to like these sum-of-their-parts dudes with solid hit tools because I think they outperform their pedigree more than any prospect player type.
An advanced feel to hit and field should propel Santana near the top of prospect lists as he hits the ground running in the low minors thanks to plus plate skills and smooth simple mechanics. His signing of $2.95 million represented a new high-water mark for the franchise.
46. SS Freddy Zamora | Brewers | 22 | NCAA | 2023
Zamora got himself suspended at Miami, tore his ACL and fell to the second round this summer. Could be a nice windfall profit for both Milwaukee and anyone who snags the polished hitter with plus plate skills and speed.
47. OF Daniel Cabrera | Tigers | 22 | NCAA | 2022
Cabrera brings high-intensity experience, having held down the middle of LSU’s order these past few years. Plus hit and plus power form the core of the profile. Drafted 62nd overall in 2020, Cabrera’s a decent athlete though he looks a little boxy. He’s yet to face professional pitching, but he’s hit well everywhere he’s been, including his Freshman year in the pitching rich SEC when he slashed .315/.405/.525 across 257 plate appearances, striking out just 36 times while waking 34 times. Yes please.
48. SS Casey Martin | Phillies | 21 | NCAA | 2024
Martin’s explosive freshman season at Arkansas set him up to be a top ten pick. His swing has a lot of moving pieces, and he hasn’t adjusted well to pitchers who believe they can get him to chase, but if it all comes together for this speedy 3rd rounder, he’ll be a fantasy mainstay.
49. RHP Clayton Beeter | Dodgers | 22 | NCAA | 2022
Prospect writer Hobbs was all over Beeter in his 2020 MLB Draft Sleepers For Fantasy Baseball:
“Here’s what makes Beeter a 2020 MLB Draft sleeper: he’s not really in the conversation to become a first round selection, is ranked No. 51 in MLB.com’s top 200 and No. 80 in Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects, yet possesses a four-pitch mix (60-FB, 60-CB, 60-SL, 50-CH) that includes three plus offerings while working 93-96 MPH with a fastball that tops out at 98 MPH. If there had been a complete 2020 college season, Beeter might have been able to pitch himself into the first round. After walking over eight hitters per nine innings in the closer role in 2019 (20 2/3 IP, 3.28 ERA, .167 BAA, 17.4 K/9, 8.7 BB/9, eight saves), Beeter put it all together in his four starts as the Red Raiders’ Friday night man in 2020, as the astronomical walk totals pulled a Bobby Fisher and disappeared off the face of the Earth. He finished with a 2.14 ERA, .169 BAA, 14.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 across 21 innings while also flashing some pretty sexy metrics on his fastball and curveball. On top of that, Beeter is one of the more refined pitch tunnelers in this class. This is about as enticing of a player as you’ll find with a second round ceiling. My advice? Go beet it!”
50. OF Jordan Nwogu | Cubs | 22 | NCAA | 2023
His mechanics have always been a work in progress, but top-tier athleticism allows him to succeed through the constant tinkering. I’m always leery of a guy who looks a little robotic and changes things a lot, so I’ll be lower on Nwogu than some, but his plus-power, plus-speed profile is enticing, even if his latest swing change looks so wild I wonder if he can maintain it.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.