Mock draft season never ends here at PitcherList, and our new-look, revamped, outstanding dynasty staff banded together to bring you all a first-year player mock draft.
For those of you who are new to dynasty, a first-year player draft is a yearly occurrence in many dynasty formats where the league selects all the newcomers to the professional ranks from the previous season. Primarily this includes players selected in the June MLB Draft, although international players signed during the J-2 period and free agents posted from other foreign leagues, including the NPB and KBO, are often included as well.
No surprise, but 2020 made doing so many things more difficult—and included in that is first-year player drafts. Normally an FYPD would take place early in the offseason, after most of the recent draft picks had half of a season of minor league experience, and the J-2 signings had all inked new deals. This year, with no minor league season keeping every 2020 draft pick except Garret Crochet from playing this year, and with J-2 signings not happening until January, FYPDs this year are going to be even more of a guessing game than usual.
But that’s what makes them fun, right? Picking your favorite draft pick, or 17-year-old international prospect, and hoping they will turn into the next Mike Trout or Juan Soto, and not the next Dustin Ackley or Kevin Maitan.
12 of our staff members put together a five-round mock, giving you a look at how we collectively valued 60 of the top prospects eligible for first-year player drafts. Additionally, many of the staff members will be recapping each of their five picks in individual write-ups, giving you all a chance to learn more about your next favorite prospects!
Round 1, Pick 12: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Mets
Outside of the first few picks, first-year player drafts are more or less a guessing game. When I saw I was selecting at the turn, I kept my fingers crossed that Mets outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong would last, because I had him just inside my top-10. Sure enough, I was able to get him at No. 12 overall and I’d be more than happy with that in any first-year player formats.
Crow-Armstrong has a sweet swing from the left side of the plate, along with plus speed and good feel on the base paths. He should be able to stick in center field as well, with an overall profile that is somewhat reminiscent of another recent first-round pick by the Mets, outfielder Jarred Kelenic.
PCA doesn’t have the raw power that Kelenic does, but Mets fans will hope the speed and plus hit tool make him a very solid big league regular. A little bulk could have him pushing 20 home runs annually as well—potentially allowing them to forget about the pain of the Kelenic trade. Potentially.
If you don’t have a top pick in your first-year player draft, PCA is a perfectly fine option and one that should return fantasy value in a few years.
Round 2, Pick 13: Austin Hendrick, OF, Reds
I strongly considered Phillies right-hander Mick Abel here, but I have an aversion to prep pitchers and, while Abel appears to have top-of-the-line ace potential, a lot can go wrong in the next few years. Even in the best-case scenario, Abel likely isn’t making a fantasy impact for probably four years, and while the same can (probably) be said for Reds outfielder Austin Hendrick, I still believe his range of outcomes is safer, which makes me more comfortable taking him at this spot.
Hendrick is a power bat who, despite being six-foot and 195 pounds, could challenge for 30 home runs annually with his powerful stroke. His hit tool is still a question mark, as is the amount of speed he will bring to the table, but that all makes him a perfect compliment to PCA in my top two picks.
The two of them could/should make a well-rounded potential future outfield, and I think you all will be more than happy with the results you’ll get from these two in the 12/13 pick range.
Round 3, Pick 36: Zach DeLoach, OF, Mariners
Another guy that I was really happy to see last until my third-round pick, Zach DeLoach is an intriguing, but high-risk, outfield prospect that the Mariners plucked in the second round of the 2020 MLB draft.
DeLoach wasn’t good his first two collegiate seasons at Texas A&M, but he broke out in a big way on the cape in 2019 and carried that power surge with him into his final season in College Station, where he blasted six home runs in 18 games.
The Mariners saw enough to snag him in the second round, and while there are definitely questions about how sustainable his one year of success really is, DeLoach does seem to have enough skills to be a solid fantasy contributor. He’ll add some speed and some power, and his plate discipline will likely make him an even more appealing asset in OBP dynasty formats.
DeLoach is definitely a risky pick, but he’s a risk I’m absolutely willing to take at this stage of any first-year player draft. I’m obviously not concerning myself with positional needs, having taken three outfielders so far, but that’s not something I ever worry about during FYPD—and unless you have a gaping hole somewhere or are way overstacked at a certain position, you shouldn’t either.
Round 4, Pick 37: Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals
I mentioned at the top that I have an aversion to high school pitching, but apparently, I’m just going to keep avoiding pitching all together during this mock—a strategy I would be just as likely to use in a real FYPD as well—especially if I can snag Walker and his prodigious raw power at pick No. 37.
Walker is another prep bat with immense power, much like Hendrick, and I’m banking on one of them to find enough of a hit tool to have some serious fantasy relevance.
Walker’s approach is very unrefined, and his long frame makes him susceptible to a lot of swing-and-miss, but he is young enough to refine these things and potentially turn into a 35-40 home run threat at his peak. I’m happy to take a gamble on that at this point in the draft and think he could be a fantasy darling if he can stick at third base long term.
Round 5, Pick 60: CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Blue Jays
I figured I should round this draft out with a pitcher, and with my top choice Tanner Burns going earlier in the round, I settled on Toronto right-hander CJ Van Eyk.
Van Eyk went 42nd overall to Toronto after a productive three-year career at Florida State. He started as a reliever, posting a 2.86 ERA and an 11.3 K/9 in 56.3 innings as a freshman, before transitioning into the starting rotation as a sophomore in 2019.
Van Eyk was the team’s ace that year, with a 3.81 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 99.1 innings, although he once again had command issues.
Finally, Van Eyk looked flat-out dominant in 2020, in just four starts before the season shut down because of COVID-19, but that was enough for him to draw Toronto’s attention in the middle of the second round.
Van Eyk’s profile is certainly a risky one, as his excellent breaking ball and solid numbers in college make him a potential No. 3/4 starter type with strikeout upside – but his command issues and a lack of a third pitch, not to mention a rather average fastball, could easily push him into a bullpen role.
I like Van Eyk for a lot of reasons, but perhaps most notable is the similarities one can draw between him and Astros right-hander Lance McCullers, a similarity I detailed in this article shortly after the draft.
There is a risk here, as there always is with the 60th pick in a first-year player draft, but I’d be happy taking a shot on Van Eyk here. If he does end up as a reliever, he could still be useful in deeper dynasty formats, with potentially plus strikeout stuff and a very real chance to settle in as a late-inning stopper. If he finds a third pitch and his fastball command improves—both big ifs—he could settle in as a mid-rotation starter, which would be an absolute steal for me here.
Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)