Everyone seems to have their own approach to First-Year-Player-Drafts. In mine, I tend to go with high-upside bats. All leagues are different, of course, but once your league is a few years into its existence, the FYPD suddenly becomes the best way to find a potential star. I came into this draft looking for those types of players and felt that I was able to find one that more or less fits the mold in each round.
Round 1, Pick 10: Robert Hassell III, OF, Padres
Robert Hassell III was considered by most to be the best high school hitter in the draft class and the San Diego Padres selected him with the 8th overall pick. The Padres have been able to produce several great players from their farm in recent years so, from a player development perspective, this is a great landing spot for the 18-year-old.
On the flip side, San Diego has also shown no hesitancy in recent years to flip their prospects for Major Leaguers, so it also wouldn’t be shocking to see Hassell on the move at some point.
Either way, Hassell is the exact type of player I love to target. He has a great feel to hit with plus speed. The power is the question mark right now, but there is a chance it will play up because of his hit tool or he will grow into more of it as he matures. The floor here is someone who hits for average and steals a good number of bags and the upside is an all-categories contributor. Sign me up.
Round 2, Pick 15: Ed Howard, SS, Cubs
The Cubs took Ed Howard, a 6’2” shortstop, with the 16th overall pick and he was the first shortstop taken in the draft. Howard is praised for his defense and as a result, it feels he is a little overlooked in terms of what he can do at the plate.
In the batter’s box, Howard is known for his quick hands and hard contact. The in-game power is below average at this point, but given his size and his contact skills, he will likely tap into more and more as he matures and gets consistent looks against professional pitching. Howard’s speed is above average, and he should be a threat on the base paths.
Overall, Howard doesn’t have a standout offensive skill at this point, but he should be average or above average across the board. He also plays a premium position and plays it well, which should allow the Cubs to be patient with him in the event that he does struggle at the plate when he reaches the majors. Howard was also a two-sport athlete in high school before giving up basketball to focus on baseball. Now that his entire focus will be on the diamond, there could still be a lot of untapped potential that he can break into. He has a high floor, but the ceiling may be higher than what the perception of it is.
Round 3, Pick 34: Carlos Colmenarez, SS, Free Agent
Carlos Colmenarez, a 17-year-old shortstop, has previously been linked to the Rays, but we’ll see where he ultimately ends up when the international signing period opens on January 15. Colmenarez is a left-handed hitter that projects to have above-average tools across the board. He has plus speed, too. From an offensive skill point, he does not project to have any holes in his game, and he is expected to stick at shortstop. Overall, Colmenarez has the potential to become an all-categories contributor at a premium position.
Of course, there is always some risk in taking a 17-year-old international prospect. Given his age, it is likely that Colmenarez won’t reach the majors until 2025 or beyond. This is a long-term investment.
Anything can happen between now and then to cause his stock to rise or fall. Several of the young stars at the MLB level are former international signees, so it’s well worth the risk at this point in the draft.
Round 4, Pick 39: Jordan Westburg, SS, Orioles
The Orioles took Jordan Westburg 30th overall in the 2020 draft. Westburg had a productive three seasons at Mississippi State, finishing his career with a .285/.385/.446 triple slash. Those numbers are dragged down by his freshman season, too, where he finished the campaign with a .707 OPS, but Westburg broke out in his sophomore season and was looking even better in 2020 before the season was cut short.
Westburg has good pop and plus speed, though he didn’t steal a ton in college. Still, it is realistic to project double-digit steal numbers on an annual basis and Westburg could have league-average power to go with it. It’s not as high of an upside pick as any of my previous selections, but it’s another well-rounded player.
Westburg does come with some swing and miss concerns and the risk of moving to another infield position down the line, but his all-categories production provides great value.
Round 5, Pick 58: Casey Martin, SS, Phillies
Casey Martin is a pure upside play at this point, but these types of dice rolls are worth it at this stage in the draft. The Phillies selected Martin with the 87th pick in the draft and he was one of the top athletes in the entire class. He’s a true burner with 80-grade speed and has solid power to pair with it. Martin posted a career .931 OPS at Arkansas but his batting averages dipped dramatically following his freshman year as he began to trade contact for power.
Martin has game-changing speed in an environment where steals are becoming more difficult to find. Add in that he should have average in-game power and Martin offers great potential this late in the draft. He did strike out more than 24% of the time at the collegiate level, though, so there is some risk here that he may not be able to hit enough against professional pitching.
Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)