2020 First Year Player Mock Draft: Reviewing Natan Cristol-Deman’s Picks

A combination of high floor and high risk.

As a new addition to the Dynasty team here at Pitcher List, this was my first ever FYPD. I did my pre-draft research and went in with a loose strategy of best-player-available, but because prospects are always a gamble I wanted to balance that risk with some higher floor picks.

Part of this strategy had to do with the impact COVID-19 had on baseball season, where college players with a track record were easier to scout than high-schoolers who had not played in a year. With the 11th pick, I also figured to miss out on the elite group of prospects at the top, but positioned myself to grab anyone who fell.

I am pretty happy with the group I drafted, which I think is a good mix of upside with some safer picks mixed in. I am interested to see what people think, so feel free to reach out with questions or critiques.

Here’s a look at the overall draft board.

Now onto the picks:

 

Round 1, Pick 11: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Baltimore Orioles

 

Kjestad may have been an under slot reach by the Orioles at #2, but I still did not expect him to fall to #11 in our draft. Maybe #7 or 8-ish, but I was happy to take him here. He doesn’t have the highest upside as a slugging college corner bat, but has a relatively high floor and a profile that translates well to fantasy production.

In 150 games at Arkansas, Kjerstad slashed .343/.421/.590. He was even better than that to start 2020 before COVID-19 halted the college season. He has a well-composed load before unleashing vicious cuts where the barrel seemingly explodes through the zone. His stride is closed, which lends itself well to an opposite field approach, but his bat is quick enough to turn on mistakes and generate pull power. The bat stays in the zone long enough that I don’t worry about contact issues too much, but I can also see potential of him getting tied up or jammed on inside FBs.

I think 25-30 homers at peak is a fair estimate. Kjerstad also runs well for a 6-foot-3, 215 lb. projected corner defender, which doesn’t necessarily translate to SBs but should allow him to stretch a few extra-base hits on balls in the gap. I won’t lie, the more I watched Kjerstad the happier I was with this pick. It may be a safer pick, but I think Kjerstad could be the steal of the FYPD.

 

Round 2, Pick 14: Mick Abel, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

 

After choosing a high-floor college bat with my first pick, I decided to get a bit riskier with my second. Prep pitchers are about as risky as they come, and I was debating between Abel and Rays RHP Nick Bitsko for this pick. Having already written about Bitsko for the Rays top 50 list (shameless plug), my laziness was telling me to take him. But I think Abel is the better pitcher so took him at #14, one spot ahead of where the Phillies took him in the June draft.

Abel looks the part of a top pitching prospect. His mechanics are sound, with a free and easy delivery that gets max extension from his 6-foot-5 frame. He was clocked at 97 mph in a few pre-virus showcases with a plus SL that Abel himself calls his “best off-speed pitch right now.” He also mixed in a sinking FB that sat 89-91 mph. Had his senior season not been canceled, Abel was set to unleash a promising new changeup, and flashed more advanced changeup feel than the typical prep arm in the few showcases he threw it.

The Oregon State commit signed with the Phillies with a signing bonus of just over $4M, with Phillies scouting director Brian Barber calling Abel “a potential workhorse and dominating presence at the top of the rotation.” Prep arms are always riskier picks, but I think Abel has the makings of a future ace.

 

Round 3, Pick 27: Patrick Bailey, C, San Francisco Giants

 

I wanted Carlos Colmenarez with this pick, but Vincent Ginardi swooped in to take him with pick 26. I pivoted to Patrick Bailey, the switch-hitting catcher from NC State taken 13th overall by the Giants. Bailey went into college as a premier defensive prospect, but emerged with the bat to slash a robust .301/.411/.568 over 131 NCAA games. After starting for the Team USA 18U squad he set a NCAA freshman record with 13 homers in 2018.

He is equally capable from both sides of the plate, though has more power from the left side. The one aspect that made me reconsider this pick has nothing to do with Bailey, more so the existence of Joey Bart — not to mention Buster Posey, even if he moves to 1B more regularly in the next few seasons. The universal DH would mitigate some of those concerns and present an opportunity for the Giants to rotate three catchers between C/1B/DH.

Bart’s progression should provide a blueprint for how the Giants handle Bailey, so expect him to get a taste of big league action fairly quickly, especially if the universal DH is implemented.

 

Round 4, Pick 30: Christian Santana, SS, IFA/DET(?)

 

If I had a least favorite pick in this draft, it would this one. I was considering a number of players here, namely Tomoyuki Sugano and Nick Loftin. But after going for a lower-upside option in Bailey, I turned my attention to Christian Santana, a 17-year-old IFA from the DR. Like Colmenarez, Santana is more polished than the typical IFA. He has a quiet swing that is short to the ball with a gap-to-gap line-drive approach. BA notes both the advanced  ability to recognize off speed pitches a “knack for frequent contact.”

I wouldn’t consider him a power hitter, but I think he has a sturdy power floor with the potential to grow into 15-20 HRs at peak. With average defensive tools he is very consistent defender. He can handle SS just fine, if not moving around to either 3B or 2B to improve versatility. He is widely tied to Detroit, and signing with the Tigers seems like all but a foregone conclusion despite not being made official yet.

 

Round 5, Pick 42: Petey Halpin, OF, Cleveland Indians

 

It was once again a toss up for me at 42, between Orioles SS Anthony Servideo and Halpin. I suppose this could be my NorCal bias showing, but I do think Halpin is an underrated pick from this draft. He fell to pick 95 in the June draft with teams reportedly worried about a strong commitment to Texas. Cleveland signed Halpin for $1.53 M, just shy of double the slot value for pick 95. Halpin has a similar profile to Pete Crow-Armstrong, with the speed and athleticism to stick in CF and an advanced contact feel at the plate. Some scouts think Halpin is not as far from Crow-Armstrong as their draft rankings would indicate. He stands upright at the plate with very little pre-swing movement. A small modified leg kick makes for a modest load, but the bat speed through the zone makes up for that a bit. He is not known for power, but was seen driving balls out of Angel stadium with ease last fall.

I think he develops into at least average power with age. Cleveland Scouting Director Scott Barnsby agrees, saying, “he continues to develop physically, so we feel there’s going to be some power down the road.” Speaking of age, it’s worth noting that Halpin is the second-youngest player in this class after turning 18 just prior to the draft. After the top 20 or so, the difference between picks is marginal. Halpin is underrated in my opinion and very much worth the risk if he is still on the board towards the end of FYPDs.

Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter and Instagram.)

Natan Cristol-Deman

A California native and noted Mike Soroka fan, Natan's interests include player development, roster construction, strategy, and analytics. You can find him on twitter @natan_cd

  • Avatar brandon says:

    hey, love this and would love more FYPD data. Is it possible to show the entire draft results? would love to see who went where. thanks

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