Farm Futures: First-Year Player Draft Tiers

Farm Futures: First-Year Player Draft Tiers

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

This year's international class will sign on Jan. 15, 2021 instead of July 2, 2020, so most of the remaining unsigned players on the Amateur Board, which has not been updated since prior to the draft, will not be signing anytime soon. While there are relevant international players who have already signed in 2020, such as Javier Alexander Francisco, who signed with the Giants as an international free agent in March, I will focus exclusively on players selected in this year's draft for these rankings in order to keep it as straightforward as possible.

In going through this process, I made some minor adjustments to the top 400, but it stayed largely the same, especially in the top-200 range. After having 56 players from this draft following Day 2 of the draft, there are now 62 players from this class in the top 400. I think of the tiers kind of like this: if there are multiple players available from a tier during the FYPD, I'm not looking to trade up for that draft pick, but if there is only one player left from a tier, then I might be interested in moving up to get that player.

TIER 1

1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Tigers

No. 7 overall is the highest I've ever ranked a player directly out of the draft, so it's not hyperbole to say Torkelson is a once-in-a-generation type of college hitting prospect. Batting average, OBP, power — it will all be there.

This year's international class will sign on Jan. 15, 2021 instead of July 2, 2020, so most of the remaining unsigned players on the Amateur Board, which has not been updated since prior to the draft, will not be signing anytime soon. While there are relevant international players who have already signed in 2020, such as Javier Alexander Francisco, who signed with the Giants as an international free agent in March, I will focus exclusively on players selected in this year's draft for these rankings in order to keep it as straightforward as possible.

In going through this process, I made some minor adjustments to the top 400, but it stayed largely the same, especially in the top-200 range. After having 56 players from this draft following Day 2 of the draft, there are now 62 players from this class in the top 400. I think of the tiers kind of like this: if there are multiple players available from a tier during the FYPD, I'm not looking to trade up for that draft pick, but if there is only one player left from a tier, then I might be interested in moving up to get that player.

TIER 1

1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Tigers

No. 7 overall is the highest I've ever ranked a player directly out of the draft, so it's not hyperbole to say Torkelson is a once-in-a-generation type of college hitting prospect. Batting average, OBP, power — it will all be there. He will likely be battling with Vladimir Guerrero for the title of No. 1 fantasy first baseman in the middle of this decade.

TIER 2

2. Austin Martin, CF/3B/2B, Blue Jays

Martin will be quick to the majors and has the upside to someday compete for batting titles with 20-25 home runs and 15-20 steals while finishing top five in the majors in runs scored — basically what I envision from peak Ozzie Albies, who I view as a top-20 player for both contending and rebuilding teams in dynasty leagues.

TIER 3

3. Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates

His college numbers are bonkers, but we don't need to reference what he did in an extremely hitter-friendly environment. He hit .351/.451/.630 with seven home runs and a 22:20 K:BB in 42 games with a wood bat in the Cape last summer. This is a premium bat-first middle infielder in the Gleyber Torres/Keston Hiura mold. His ceiling is just as high as Martin's, but Martin's SEC track record and defensive utility gives him an undeniably higher floor. I also think Martin is a better bet to still be stealing bases at a notable frequency in 5-7 years.

TIER 4

4. Asa Lacy, LHP, Royals

5. Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins

6. Zac Veen, RF/LF, Rockies

7. Ed Howard, SS, Cubs

Even for fantasy, I think the two pitchers are safer than the two hitters in this tier, which should tell you how risky I think prep hitters are. Lacy has the edge over Meyer in size, handedness and depth of arsenal, while Meyer has the edge in command and the quality of the top of their arsenals (Meyer's fastball/slider combo trumps Lacy's fastball/slider combo). Just as there isn't a wrong answer when picking between the two pitchers, I don't think there's a wrong answer when deciding between Veen and Howard. Veen has the higher power ceiling, but I think Howard has the higher batting average and stolen bases ceiling. I don't think either guy will end up in a platoon, but if one of them did, it would be the lefty-hitting Veen. Still, I'm giving Veen the very slight edge due to his landing spot with the Rockies — I had Howard ahead of Veen pre-draft.

TIER 5

8. Garrett Mitchell, CF, Brewers

9. Austin Wells, LF/C/1B/DH, Yankees

10. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, Mets

11. Heston Kjerstad, LF/RF, Orioles

It's tempting to put Mitchell and Wells in TIER 4 and put Crow-Armstrong and Kjerstad in TIER 6, but I think there's just enough separation to form a little four-player tier with these hitters. I like Wells more than Kjerstad because I think he will log significantly higher batting averages and on-base percentages while the raw power edge goes to Kjerstad, albeit with more risk of his hit tool limiting how much power he gets to in games. Mitchell and Crow-Armstrong are super toolsy, and most notably for fantasy purposes, they both project to steal 20-plus bases early in their big-league careers. Mitchell needs a swing change to get to his plus power in games, while I think Crow-Armstrong could naturally grow into 20-homer pop.

TIER 6

12. Reid Detmers, LHP, Angels

13. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals

14. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Mariners

15. Mick Abel, RHP, Phillies

16. Nick Bitsko, RHP, Rays

17. Robert Hassell, LF/CF, Padres

18. Austin Hendrick, RF/LF/CF, Reds

19. Isaiah Greene, CF/LF, Mets

20. Masyn Winn, SS/RHP, Cardinals

21. Slade Cecconi, RHP, Diamondbacks

22. Carson Tucker, SS, Indians

The players I love in this tier (Cavalli, Abel, Bitsko, Greene, Winn, Cecconi) are also extremely risky for various reasons, but their upside is such that I think they are worthwhile gambles in this range. Cavalli, Greene and Cecconi have the tools but not the track record. Abel and Bitsko are prep righties, so they are extremely risky by nature, but they also have the upside to be top-10 fantasy starters. I would have Winn in Tier 4 if he was being developed strictly as a shortstop and I would have him in Tier 7 if he were being developed as a starting pitcher, but he settles here on a two-way development track (still hoping they pull the plug on pitching eventually). I also love Detmers, but I acknowledge that he is probably more floor than ceiling, so I love him in the same way I love Mike Soroka. Hancock is just a really solid pitcher, but I don't see enough upside to have him in a higher tier. I'm mildly betting against Hassell's power/speed and against Hendrick's hit tool, but I don't feel confident enough in either case to have them any lower than this. Tucker has supposedly reworked his swing to get to more power while also getting faster since last summer, so he is here now, but could be 10-15 spots higher/lower whenever we get a sense of how legitimate those improvements are.

TIER 7

23. Jared Shuster, LHP, Braves

24. Dillon Dingler, C, Tigers

25. Tyler Soderstrom, 3B/RF/LF/C, Athletics

26. Tanner Burns, RHP, Indians

27. Garrett Crochet, LHP, White Sox

28. Blaze Jordan, 3B/1B, Red Sox

29. C.J. Van Eyk, RHP, Blue Jays

30. Justin Foscue, 2B, Rangers

31. Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers

32. David Calabrese, CF, Angels

33. J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mets

34. Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Diamondbacks

35. Zach DeLoach, LF/CF, Mariners

36. Jake Vogel, CF, Dodgers

37. Aaron Sabato, DH/1B, Twins

38. Jordan Nwogu, LF/CF/RF, Cubs

39. Clayton Beeter, RHP, Dodgers

40. Logan Allen, LHP, Indians

This is the tier that best illustrates the depth of college pitching in this class. There are nine college pitchers in this tier and all of them have at least No. 3 starter upside. All of the position players in this tier have an avenue to become very good fantasy options, but the bats I like the most are either catchers (Dingler, Soderstrom) or 17-year-olds (Jordan, Calabrese).

TIER 8

41. Dax Fulton, LHP, Marlins

42. Jared Kelley, RHP, White Sox

43. Jordan Walker, 3B/RF, Cardinals

44. Cole Wilcox, RHP, Padres

45. Freddy Zamora, SS, Brewers

46. Petey Halpin, CF/LF, Indians

47. Hudson Haskin, CF/LF, Orioles

48. Nick Loftin, SS/2B, Royals

49. Daniel Cabrera, LF/RF/DH, Tigers

50. Patrick Bailey, C/1B/DH, Giants

51. Alex Santos, RHP, Astros

52. Nick Yorke, 2B, Red Sox

53. Kala'i Rosario, LF/RF/1B/DH, Twins

54. Nick Swiney, LHP, Giants

55. Nick Garcia, RHP, Pirates

56. Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals

57. Werner Blakely, SS, Angels

58. Ian Seymour, LHP, Rays

59. Chris McMahon, RHP, Rockies

60. Hunter Barnhart, RHP, Rays

61. Colt Keith, 3B/RF/LF, Tigers

62. Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants

The risk really gets amplified in this tier, while some low ceiling players like Loftin and Cabrera get mixed in. This is a nice spot to take a big swing in a deeper dynasty league, but in leagues where only 300 prospects are rostered, I'm not really looking to roster any of these guys until they prove something in pro ball.

TIER 9

63. Jesse Franklin, LF/CF, Braves

64. Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates

65. Alec Burleson, 1B/DH, Cardinals

66. Anthony Servideo, SS, Orioles

67. Zavier Warren, C, Brewers

68. Jordan Westburg, 3B/SS/2B, Orioles

69. Cole Henry, RHP, Nationals

70. Landon Knack, RHP, Dodgers

71. Tyler Gentry, RF/LF, Royals

72. Coby Mayo, 3B/RF/LF/1B, Orioles

73. Ben Hernandez, RHP, Royals

74. Alerick Soularie, LF/2B/DH, Twins

75. Casey Martin, SS, Phillies

76. Justin Lange, RHP, Padres

77. Hayden Cantrelle, 2B/SS, Brewers

78. Casey Schmitt, 3B, Giants

79. Owen Caissie, RF/LF, Padres

80. Keon Moreno, RHP, Cubs

81. Trei Cruz, 2B/3B, Tigers

82. Tyler Keenan, DH/1B/3B, Mariners

83. Carter Baumler, RHP, Orioles

84. Michael Guldberg, LF/CF, Athletics

85. Trent Palmer, RHP, Blue Jays

86. Alika Williams, SS, Rays

87. Liam Norris, LHP, Diamondbacks

88. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, Pirates

89. Jimmy Glowenke, 2B/SS, Giants

90. Zach McCambley, RHP, Marlins

91. Gage Workman, 3B, Tigers

92. Kyle Nicolas, RHP, Marlins

93. Christian Roa, RHP, Reds

94. Connor Phillips, RHP, Mariners

95. Zach Daniels, CF/LF, Astros

96. Shane Drohan, LHP, Red Sox

97. A.J. Vukovich, LF/RF/3B/1B/DH, Diamondbacks

98. Samuel Infante, SS/3B/2B, Nationals

99. Jeff Criswell, RHP, Athletics

100. Milan Tolentino, SS, Indians

The best of the rest — I'd bet against any of these individual players becoming fantasy assets, but undoubtedly several will emerge from this tier to join the top 400 in the coming years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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