2023 Dynasty Baseball FYPD Primer
Chris Clegg breaks down how to approach this year's first year player draft.
It is one of my favorite times of year, FYPD season. Since COVID bumped back the J2 International Signing period to January 15, most FYPDs do not occur until after the international free agents have signed. This primer will be coupled with my rankings which you can find here tomorrow!
Navigating an FYPD is tough. The transition from prep or college ball to the pros is tough. The transition for NPB, KBO, or the J15 signings is also difficult. Imagine leaving where you grew up and moving across the world. You not only have to learn a new culture, but a new language and new teammates. In some ways, the game is played differently. The ball that the MLB uses will be completely different than NPB or KBO use. These factors do not get talked about often but affect a player’s mental state.
2023 FYPD Primer
2022 Lessons Learned
Every draft pick made in an FYPD is a risk. There is no “safe” player. But knowing what to look for in players can help you avoid landmines. Every now and then, you will hit on a late player that will break out. Ricky Tiedemann comes to mind last year. The same can be said for Andrew Painter, but Tiedemann was ranked much lower.
What did those two pitchers have in common that we could have seen?
With Painter, he showed a strong four-pitch mix as a prep arm. He had a bulldog frame at 6’7/225. He had a fastball that got up to 99 mph. Here is what I wrote last offseason in my FYPD writeup about Painter:
“Andrew Painter is a monster on the mound for a high school arm. Standing at 6’7/225 pounds, Painter has a smooth delivery and a true four-pitch mix. Painter’s fastball sits near the mid-90s and can reach 99 with good spin rates. Both his curveball and slider are easily average or better pitches and Painter’s changeup shows solid upside. While having great velocity, there is plenty of room for Painter to gain strength and add more. If you are willing to invest in prep arms for fantasy, Painter is one of the best options”
Why did I not draft more Painter or rank him higher than 20 overall in last year’s FYPD rankings? I learned my lesson.
What about Tiedemann? He was not ranked in most top-100s for FYPDs. When he was drafted out of Golden West Junior College, his fastball was sitting 89-92 mph. His changeup had plus tendencies, but there was minimal velocity separation between it and his fastball. When he reported to instructs for the Blue Jays, a video of him throwing a bullpen surfaced on Twitter. He was sitting between 94 and 98 mph with his fastball. The fastball velocity increase allowed his changeup to play up because of the velocity separation. Simply catching the news that his fastball ticked up could have netted you a super late pick on a stud pitching prospect.
On the hitting side, James Wood was one of the biggest risers alongside Jackson Merrill. What did they have in common? Wood is massive but extremely athletic for a 6’7/240 player. He always possessed elite power and even some speed. The concerns were ultimately his swing and miss. Wood made a few changes to his setup to help drive his hands straight to the ball. It paid off as Wood made excellent zone contact while having colossal power.
On the other hand, Merrill added 30 pounds of muscle before the draft while also growing a few inches. He already had a strong feel to hit with good bat speed. The increased muscle mass only allowed him to begin to get to more power.
To sum those players up, paying attention to the news goes a long way. I will do my best to spot that for you as pitchers and catchers start reporting to get you as much of an edge as possible.
On the flip side, what were the warning signs of some top-ranked FYPs that saw their stock drop significantly?
Kahlil Watson - Makeup concerns were said to be why he fell to the Marlins at 16 overall. We saw some of those off-the-field things this year.
Jack Leiter - Too many walks at Vanderbilt throughout his career. Those carried over to the pros.
Matt McLain - The ability to get to power.
Alex Binelas - Strikeout/contact skills
We could go on and on. But I think what I am getting at is to trust what scouts, data, and the eye test tell us. Know the warning signs and do your best to avoid landmines. What are those warning signs?
Poor command without elite stuff (Elite stuff can sometimes mask a pitcher with command issues)
Poor fastball velocity
Only two pitches(even though we have seen pitchers make that work)
Struggling with high fastballs
Chasing breakers out of the zone
High strikeout rates as a prep/college player
Lack of power(Teams generally focus on players with high exit velocities)
FYPD General Strategy
You can spearhead your FYPD in many different directions, and each year provides a different class of players. Given the breakdown of the 2023 player pool, there are a couple of strategies you can attempt:
Trade to be in the top 4
Druw Jones will likely be the consensus number one, but the fourth spot grants you whichever of the “big four” falls.
If you have picks 5-7, trade back to try and add a back-end first-round pick(if 12-15 team league) along with a second-rounder.
Cam Collier has as strong of a chance to be taken as pick five as he does 12. A pick in the 10-12 range gives you a strong college bat. If you can add a second-rounder, enabling you to grab one of the arms, I would be thrilled.
Sell picks for next year’s FYPD for this year.
It is still early, but the 2023 FYPD class feels deeper than 2024. Yes, there are some studs at the top such Dylan Crews, Wyatt Langford, Max Clark, and others. But if you project to be a contending team in 2023 in your dynasty league, trade your picks and try to cash in this year’s draft class.
This year here is how the draft shapes up:
The “Big Four” prep hitters.
Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday, Elijah Green, and Termarr Johnson are the cream of the crop in this year’s draft. Kodai Senga may sneak in the top 4 in some drafts, but in most rankings, you will find some order of the four prep bats. Those bats all provide a different ceiling, floor, and skillsets, but all project to provide enough high-end impact for fantasy leagues.
Safe Pick: Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday
Elite Upside with Risk: Elijah Green
Kodai Senga and Masataka Yoshida are the big signees from Asia this year. If you are looking for immediate production or play in a points league, you can make an argument for Kodai Senga being the first overall pick. Senga may lack elite upside, but he is an immediate mid-rotation starter for your fantasy team in the worst case.
I’m lower on Yoshida than most. He has elite bat-to-ball skills but will likely provide little power. Fenway Park is also a brutal place for left-handed hitters with fringe power. The Sox discussed hitting Yoshida leadoff, but he said he was not comfortable with that. Even if he hits .280-.290, it may only come with 15 home runs. I’m not sure Yoshida is a big-time fantasy impact.
Standout College Bats
After the big four prep bats plus Senga, there is a slew of talented college bats. The upper tier of those includes Brooks Lee, Cam Collier, Spencer Jones, Drew Gilbert, Chase DeLauter, Gavin Cross, Zach Neto, Dalton Rushing, and for some, Jacob Berry. Berry is in a lower tier for me due to his poor quality of contact, but you can make an argument for him here. Each of these college bats brings different skill sets to the table, but each has proved they are worthy of being a first-round selection in FYPDs. I will break them down in more detail in tomorrow’s rankings. The benefit of college bats is they are generally a bit safer because we have seen more of a track record, and they are likely to make the Majors much faster(except Cam Collier who just turned 18).
Safe Pick: Brooks Lee, Chase DeLauter, Dalton Rushing
Upside with Risk: Cam Collier, Spencer Jones
The top arms in this year’s class are Dylan Lesko, Brock Porter, Cooper Hjerpe, and Cade Horton. Some may include Kumar Rocker, but I see too much RP risk and mechanical issues. Some sleepers that could jump into this tier are Jacob Misiorowski, Brandon Barriera, Owen Murphy, and Landon Sims.
Safe Pick: Cooper Hjerpe(also has upside)
Upside with Risk: Dylan Lesko, Brock Porter, Cade Horton
International Free Agents
This grouping is the hardest subset to rank. Over the last several years, we have seen plenty of the top-ranked international free agents bust. It has driven the price down a bit in FYPDs, which can make these players more attractive buys. But, to show you that the opportunity cost here is not great, here is a list of the international free agents not selected in my 30-team league full of smart industry minds last season. 150 picks were made and Josue De Paula, Jarlin Susana, Michael Arroyo, Jaison Chourio, Jose Gerardo, Oswaldo Osorio, Axiel Plax, Nelson Rada, and others in my top 400 overall were not drafted. To sum it up, we just don’t know. There will be plenty of international signees who did not get ranked pop-off in the DSL next year. Scoop those players up off waivers. With that said, here are a few of my favorite targets from the international class at the right cost.
J15 Targets: Felnin Celesten, Brandon Mayea, Ethan Salas, Joendry Vargas, Welbyn Francisca, Emmanuel Bonilla, Luis Guanipa, Jesus Starlyn Caba, Alfredo Duno.
Underrated Picks to Click (In My Top-50)
Deep Picks To Click
Traits to Look for In a Draft Pick
Strong Hit Tool
Low Strikeout Rates
High Walk Rates
Low Walk Rates
Command, Command, Command
High Strikeout Rates
3 or more Pitches
High Fastball Velo
I hope you find this helpful in your FYPDs this year. Be on the lookout tomorrow for my Top-100 FYPD Rankings. You can support me by subscribing and clicking the link below. If you enjoyed this read, feel free to share it!