Below is a list of first-year player draft targets typically going outside of the first round in on-going dynasty drafts.
A follow-up piece will roll next week in regards to players you should avoid.
FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT TARGETS
INF Trey Sweeney, New York Yankees
Few players saw their prospect stock rise last draft cycle than Trey Sweeney, who tore it up at Eastern Illinois en route to becoming a first-round selection by the New York Yankees. He then earned a brief cup of coffee in professional ball, posting a .932 OPS in A-ball with six home runs, and eight extra-base hits. Sweeney’s batted ball data at the collegiate level is really impressive – he hits the ball really hard and makes a ton of contact. A lot of that is likely due to the lack of future professional level competition he would have faced in the Ohio Valley Conference; but his offensive profile has a chance to be really impactful, with 55-grade hit and power tools in his future. Factor in that he’s going to be nestled inside the Yankees developmental machine while being a left-handed hitter in that park, offers a pretty immense ceiling.
OF James Wood, San Diego Padres
Wood was largely considered by most draft publications as a top-tier prep prospect prior to last season’s draft cycle, where he struggled with swing-and-miss issues at IMG Academy. Still, and especially in a draft class like this, you want to take high-upside shots as your FYPD draft goes on – especially from a prospect standpoint. There are few people who can do what Wood does, mostly because he stands at 6-foot-7, 240-pounds at 19 years old. Wood is a ridiculous athlete for his stature and there’s even some scouts I’ve spoken to that believe he can stick in centerfield at the next level.
He’ll probably always have some sort of strikeout issues, as the track record of people his size suggests, but his left-handed bat does offer eye-popping raw power. Wood’s athleticism transfers to the basepaths as well and he enjoys running, as evidenced by his 10 swipes at the complex level in the fall. There’s a pretty high ceiling here and you shouldn’t be afraid to take a shot on this profile.
OF Jay Allen, Cincinnati Reds
A high-level prep athlete in last year’s class, Allen was a dual-sport star at John Carroll High School, earning high praise for his work on the football field. The Reds then gave him $2.4 million, which is slightly over slot value, to pursue a full-time career in playing baseball. He’s raw, as you’d expect any high schooler who’s been splitting time between two sports to be, but Allen’s athleticism is rivaled by few in this class. He’s got plenty of bat speed and an equally impressive ability to change planes with his barrel, because of that athleticism attached to his clean right-handed stroke. Though MiLB complex numbers can be skewed, Allen did run quite a lot in his first taste of pro ball and his elite foot speed doesn’t rule that type of production out in the future, either.
OF Joshua Baez, St. Louis Cardinals
Power, power, and more power. An ultra-physical 6-foot-4, 220-pound high school product from this recent draft, Baez is known for, you guessed it – his impressive raw power. How much he’ll be able to unlock it is a real question, his lack of competition against quality arms (because of his cold-weather background) equates to a profile that will need a lot of seasoning in the minor leagues. Still, the Cardinals had this similar profile with Jordan Walker, who had plenty of hit tool concerns heading into his draft cycle. Now, a few years later, Walker’s pure raw juice is on full display and he’s ascended into top prospect status in the organization. Even in the minors if you can get a jump like that from Baez, it makes his value where he’s going in FYPD plenty worth it.
RHP Ben Kudrna, Kansas City Royals
I honestly have no clue how Kudrna fell out of the first round and right into the Royals’ lap in the second round. Even if he is a high school player, Kudrna’s upside is absolutely massive – one that could easily return top-five pick in the draft upside. He owns probably the most projectable frame in the entire class and has already bumped his fastball up to 99 mph this winter with feel for all of his secondary pitches. It’s kind of an absolute no-brainer to take him in the third round of an FYPD if he’s there, even if he is a high school right-hander.
OF Daylen Lile, Washington Nationals
There is a pretty recent track record of high school draftees with high hit tools succeeding at the professional level. It makes sense – most preps struggle when it comes to consistently making contact against high-quality arms and are therefore unable to tap into the high-end tools they were drafted for. That’s not the case with Lile, who owns arguably the cleanest hit tool of this 2021 high school prep group. He makes a ton of contact from the left side, has some foot speed, and though he’s fairly compact in stature is still able to grow into some power as he physically matures. He won’t ever be a 20+ home run bat, but getting a safe batting average floor with top-of-the-order upside in an organization that’s not afraid of pushing players up the minors late in your FYPD is appealing.
LHP Frank Mozzicato, Kansas City Royals
Mozzicato is the type of arm – with his aptitude for spin and physical projection – that steadily climbs up a prospect hierarchy and establishes himself as a southpaw name-to-know in a few years. He’s a lanky, thin-levered 6-foot-3 prep product from New Jersey that has bumped his fastball into the low-90s already and regularly spins breaking balls at a high rate. The ability to spin a hook at such a high RPM typically suggests more velocity is in the tank, which means that Mozzicato’s fastball should tick up even more as he physically matures. Prep pitchers are a risky demographic, but a southpaw that oozes upside both physically and pitch-wise obviously makes for an enticing profile. Even though Kansas City took him as a money saver in the 2021 MLB Draft, there’s a reason they rolled with him at seventh overall, and not someone else.