One of the many benefits of the off-season #2EarlyMiLBMock exercise is it has been one of the first, in-depth looks in the industry each year at how first year player draft (FYPD) eligible players fit into the overall minor league player pool. While pundits have often proclaimed this is a weaker FYPD class compared to others, there are many compelling names in helping managers in dynasty leagues in this draft class.
This overview extracts the 80+ FYPD draft-eligible players from the #2EarlyMiLBMock draft board. This article converts the chronological list of picks into a separate FYPD-style draft. While each dynasty league is different, this will take a look at a hypothetical 15 team FYPD draft and help you gauge where these players would fall in your own FYPD drafts. You can always revisit and cross-reference the #2EarlyMiLBMock draft sheet, which has its own FYPD tab.
This class has a distinct top 4 high school shortstop group. These are the most dynamic talents for dynasty managers: Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar, Kahlil Watson, and Brady House. Each of these gifted shortstops bring something different to the table.
Marcelo Mayer‘s offensive profile is carried by one of the better balances of hit, power, and approach in the draft class. Mayer showed mostly what we’d expect in these areas during his 26 game sample at the complex level for the Red Sox, and should fall within most top 2 selections in this FYPD group. Prospects1500 correspondent Shaun Kernahan on Mayer: “Marcelo Mayer was the highest ranked prospect on my pre-draft ranks, so it should come as no surprise I selected him when the opportunity came in this mock. He has a smooth left-handed stroke and has real upside to develop power. Mayer brings plenty of offensive potential.”
Jordan Lawlar may be the consensus number one FYPD selection had he not had his pro debut limited to 6 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks due to a shoulder injury. Lawlar boasts one of the more well-rounded, appealing fantasy profiles in the class with his present hit tool, speed and emerging power. The defensive prowess should not be overlooked, as Lawlar’s defense at a premium position provides an added layer of safety and possible acceleration to the big leagues.
If you prefer to chase ceiling in dynasty, Kahlil Watson may take the cake as a potential fantasy star. Watson made a lot of pre-draft noise with a massive 2021 season, yet he fell to the Marlins at 16 overall. Make no mistake that Watson belongs in the top tier of this FYPD class due to the overwhelming tool set with much-coveted power and speed threat.
Brady House has been a “household” name for years in amateur prospecting. The physically imposing House brings top notch power to the Nationals and profiles as a middle-of-the-order run producer. House exceeded expectations in hit tool and approach in his pro debut, which helps bring optimism he can get to his impact power. Prospects1500 correspondent Nate Eckert on House: “House is a man-child physically, simply a beast with light-tower power. There’s no telling just how good this kid can be.”
The college bats in the first 15 picks all bring appealing profiles. Henry Davis is the most polished college bat in the class, which was a big factor in him going first overall to Pittsburgh. Davis has the athleticism to put up double-digit steals and may ascend among the top offensive catchers with a close ETA. Colton Cowser may get somewhat overlooked because of the underslot play that Baltimore is getting known for, but Cowser’s beautiful stroke is an intriguing add to the Orioles hitting development machine. The powerful Trey Sweeney and hit-tool/speedster Matt McLain went to the Yankees and Reds respectively, are both compelling bat-first infield targets with high MLB probability. Sal Frelick is undersized but there’s no denying he has a well-rounded offensive skillset. Prospects1500 correspondent Daniel Victor on Frelick: “As a polished college player with a short left-handed stroke and premium grade foot speed Sal Frelick offers a high floor and could be a very fast riser in the Milwaukee system.”
Nearly burying the lead, Jack Leiter was one of the more dynamic college arms in recent memory and brings high expectations to the Rangers. Leiter’s electric athleticism on the mound, along with his well-rounded and metrically crisp arsenal, should make for a thrilling and rapid ascent to the majors. Right hander Will Bednar crept up into this first round here, in part due to his fastball-slider combo landing with the pitching savvy San Francisco Giants organization. Prospects1500 correspondent David Gasper on Bednar: “One of the top college arms in the class this year, Bednar has a lively fastball, and a high floor as a starter in the bigs with plenty of upside to be near the top of the rotation.”
The four high school players selected outside the top 6 are viable targets for competitive dynasty teams. Jackson Jobe has some of the nastiest pitch arsenals that oozes frontline potential, though as a high school arm could take plenty of development time for the Tigers. Nate Eckert on Jobe: “Armed with athleticism, projectable size, and a kitchen sink for an arsenal, the ‘creme de la creme’ for Jobe is his bust-down slider. At 3000+ RPM’s, it’s a total killer and Jobe will land it at will.” Mariners Catcher Harry Ford has electric bat speed and premier hitting potential, along with the athleticism to play anywhere on the field. Prospects1500 correspondent Michael Kelley on Ford: “power and athleticism is his calling card, think Russell Martin, with enough of a hit tool to play everyday somewhere on the diamond.” Benny Montgomery is a physical marvel who has the power and speed you can dream on, especially playing in Colorado, though there are some questions on if the hitting mechanics will enable him to capitalize on his enormous potential. Prospects1500 correspondent Greg Rosenthal on Montgomery: “He is an extremely talented high school OF with a chance at 5 above-average to plus tools.” Colson Montgomery has a powerful, lofted left handed swing and immediately adds a high upside 3B prospect to the White Sox prospect group.
The trio of high schoolers near the top of this round, James Wood, James Triantos, and Jay Allen are the three biggest risers in part based on their exceptional professional debuts. All three of these dynamic players have emerged as first round FYPD talents and could go in the 10-15 range in any FYPD this winter. San Diego’s Wood is a physically imposing outfielder who’s power-speed combination comes together with unique bat-to-ball ability for such a large body. The Cubs landed a pure hitter with power in Triantos who could land on multiple positions in the infield. The Reds drafted a high school three sport star in Allen, who projects as a loud tooled right fielder who is quickly becoming a consensus favorite target for his immense five category potential.
While the Cardinals Joshua Baez and the Pirates Lonnie White (pick 32) fell somewhat due to their quiet offensive pro debuts, this captivating couple of outfield prospects from the high school ranks should be on every manager’s radar as they boast enormous upside that comes along with present swing and miss challenges.
On the pitching side, the Braves Ryan Cusick has triple digit heat with flashes of a few different secondaries, and his long 6’6″ frame makes for particularly uncomfortable ABs. Daniel Victor on Cusick: “His fastball is his best offering and he gets plenty of extension making it play even harder than his radar gun readings. Encouragingly he struck out 34 hitters in only 16.1 Low-A innings.” Prospects1500 correspondent Michael Parnell on Cleveland’s Gavin Williams: “He finished his pitching career at East Carolina University with a splendid performance against Vanderbilt in an NCAA super-regional tournament that gained him wide recognition. He was already well known by scouts, but 13 strikeouts in 7.1 innings while going up against Kumar Rocker and the Commodores started a rise up fantasy boards that continues. He is poised to begin his pro career next summer.” The Angels Sam Bachman has a high octane sinker that is very hard for hitters to lift that he pairs with a wicked slider which gives him a pair of exceptional offerings.
Greg Rosenthal on Boston’s Alex Binelas: “Binelas is a power hitting 1B prospect from the University of Louisville. Binelas struggled for much of the 2021 collegiate season but hit the ground running in pro ball once drafted by the Brewers.” Binelas was dealt to the Red Sox from the Brewers moments before the lockout as the headliner for Hunter Refroe. David Gasper on Cleveland’s Noah Miller: “A switch hitting high schooler with a great feel to hit with a mix of power as well. Advanced hitter for his age.”
One of the biggest FYPD risers in this group is Oakland’s Zack Gelof, who should now require a top 25 selection on the heels of a blistering 36 G debut. The power hitting third baseman produced a .988 OPS and even made a 3 G cameo at Triple-A. Michael Kelley on Gelof: “current average hit and power tool, with power on the rise. May have to move off 3B as the defense there is just OK.”
The quartet of left handed pitchers all are potential starters and have bat missing abilities in their own ways. Ky Bush and Anthony Solometo are both power pitchers with considerable upside if they are able to harness command and hone their secondaries. Bush operates with a shorter arm action, while Solometo has a long and deceptive crossfire. Frank Mozzicato and Jordan Wicks each are armed with a plus secondary: Mozzicato with the curveball and Wicks with a wicked changeup. Both Mozzicato and Wicks show repeatable deliveries and pound the strike zone with good command.
The outfield crop in this range is worthy of FYPD consideration. Ethan Wilson has a short, lofted stroke with good on-base ability. Daylen Lile is one of my favorite FYPD targets as he has a gorgeous left-handed swing while showing an exciting all-around toolset. Christian Franklin, with his power and ability to stick in centerfield defensively, provide a tantalizing prospect profile.
Shaun Kernahan on Pittsburgh’s Bubba Chandler: “He’s a potential two-way threat. As a pitcher, he has a chance to be a future starter that will provide some strikeout upside thanks to his quality fastball and above-average curve with the potential of having at least an average change and slider on top of it. As a position player, or goes the Ohtani route, his offensive production will come via the power and quality speed, although he is probably a better future defensive shortstop than he is an offensive one.” Daniel Victor on Minnesota’s Chase Petty: “Chase Petty offers a unicorn profile for a prep drafted pitcher. Armed with a fastball that sits in the high nineties and routinely touching triple digits, Petty isn’t plagued by control issues that are often commonplace in precocious fire ballers.” Greg Rosenthal on Tampa Bay’s Kyle Manzardo: “Manzardo is a 1B from Washington State who rakes. He was drafted into the Rays development machine which makes him even more valuable. ”
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This round features plenty of good late round or deep league targets both among hitters and pitchers. On the hitting side, Ryan Holgate has notable all-fields power but the 36% K rate was a struggle at Low-A for a historically good collegiate performer, which could make him a worthwhile pounce if he falls in your FYPD. Adrian Del Castillo is one of a few offense first catchers in this range worth scooping up, as his bat is especially potent and even more of a plus if he’s able to retain catcher eligibility through his development. Greg Rosenthal on Milwaukee’s Tyler Black: “Black is an offensive minded 2B from Wright State who was drafted by the Brewers. He has an above-average hit tool and if more power develops he could be an every day 2B for the Brewers in a few years.” Michael Parnell on Tampa Bay’s Cooper Kinney: “Kinney walked more than he struck out, stole a couple of bases and hit well enough in 47 plate appearances in Rookie ball last summer. He projects as a hitter, not a defensive stalwart.”
Atlanta’s Spencer Schwellenbach is a compelling two-way prospect with multiple legitimate pathways forward. He has a three pitch mix and runs the fastball up to the high 90’s, and meanwhile can also hit, run, and flash the leather at the shortstop position. Unfortunately, his pro debut will have to wait, as it was announced that he’ll need Tommy John surgery. Nate Eckert on Colorado’s Jaden Hill: “He’s a toolshed packed to the brim. The athletic righty was a top-5 pick heading into the 2021 season before Tommy John surgery.” Prospects1500 correspondent Paul Woodin on St. Louis’ Michael McGreevey: “McGreevey’s fastball is in the mid 90s with good sinking movement. He also owns 2 breaking pitches with a solid slider a touch ahead of his curveball. He uses a average changeup as well at times.”
A few hitters at the back half of this round are particularly interesting targets. A stellar defender, Jose Torres of the Reds should make for a high floor big leaguer who’s glove will give his quick swing the chance to play every day. The Padres landed infielder Jackson Merrill at the end of the first round who looks the part physically and the left-handed swing could make him one of this year’s best late round risers.
Ryan Bliss of the Diamondbacks has the makings of a solid pro middle infielder and fan favorite, who’s offense packs plenty of wallop even from a diminutive build. There’s much to like about Seattle’s Edwin Arroyo, who only just turned 18 at the end of the summer and the shortstop has shown a precocious ability to make contact, get on-base, and impact the game defensively. Like Del Castillo, Matheu Nelson and Nathan Hickey are strong offensive collegiate backstops. Each has carrying power with a patient approach, along with some swing and miss, and questions ultimately about defensive home.
Denzel Clarke is a high-ceiling collegiate outfielder from Canada with immensely loud tools at the plate and in the field. Nate Eckert on Oakland’s Clarke: “Born from a pedigree of professional athletes – cousins with Josh and Bo Naylor, and an Olympic heptathlete mother – Canadian Denzel Clarke’s athletic slate is as perfectly moldable as they come. His work-ethic and his willingness to learn make Clarke’s future as vividly bright as his natural ability, hardworking genes, and student-mentality.” Perhaps one of the loudest professional debuts from this class goes to the Twins corner infielder Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Minnesota favors their power hitters, and Encarnacion-Strand shows plenty of it, knocking 8 extra base hits in 22 G at Low-A. The aggressive approach and miniscule walk rate are a bit concerning, but no denying there’s a legitimate power threat in this righty’s bat. Nate Eckert on Pittsburgh’s Braylon Bishop: “For a player drafted out of high-school, Bishop’s name has been atop many different top-prospects lists for seemingly forever. Athletic, lightning quick hands, good size, and speed, flying out of the left-side of the box, it’s easy to understand why Bishop has remained a front-runner in the national baseball scene.” Michael Kelley on Tampa Bay’s Mason Auer: “Plus speed and very good defense in centerfield is what enticed the Rays to draft Auer out of San Jacinto JC. Gap power will allow him to use his speed to obtain a good number of extra base hits.”
If you are a fan of late pitching in drafts, there are numerous arms to round out your FYPD haul. Irv Carter is a broad-shouldered, physical specimen who has the makings of a three pitch arsenal headed by a mid 90’s heater. Paul Woodin on San Francisco’s Rohan Handa: “Handa owns 4 pitches mid 90s two-seam fastball, slider, changeup and a splitter. Scouts have called both his slider and fastball plus pitches. I saw him in person in the NBCBL and came away impressed. I see him as a mid-rotation starter at worse a solid 8th inning bullpen arm.” Lefty Matt Mikulski of the Giants was one of the top strikeout performers in the country and makes an incredibly uncomfortable at bat for lefty hitters with a devastating fastball-slider combo. Nate Eckert on the Dodgers Nick Nastrini: “UCLA’s ace just two short years ago, Nastrini’s command/control all but vanished in the 2021 NCAA-season. Regardless, Nastrini is a high-ceiling hurler with electric stuff, high velocity, and he features an innate type of in-game tenacity that the Dodgers love. Albeit a very brief stint in Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, Nastrini carved up pro-hitters without much trouble at all.”
Ben is an Assistant Editor and also covers the Red Sox and Dynasty/Fantasy baseball content for Prospects1500. He also runs the #2EarlyMiLBMock, an annual prospect-only mock draft, for the Prospects1500 website. Ben is an experienced fantasy baseball player and is a deep league dynasty specialist. He has also contributed at FantraxHQ, RotoFanatic, and retired blogs Real McCoy Minors and Notes from the Sally. Follow Ben on Twitter @TBDubbs11.