Five High Risk/High Reward FYPD Players

A look at the high risk, high reward players in this year's FYPD class.

There aren’t many better feelings in dynasty baseball than nailing a First Year Player Draft (FYPD) selection. It makes sense too – these drafts are difficult! For most of the eligible players in your FYPD, we will have almost no professional data or film to evaluate. That means you’re most likely reviewing scouting reports and looking at how these MLB hopefuls performed in high school, college, or overseas. Inherently, the lack of data and exposure we have to these players means that they all have a wide range of outcomes.

A common strategy to employ in these types of drafts is chasing a high ceiling. It’s very easy to see the benefits to this strategy – if prospects as a whole have a relatively high bust rate, you might as well chase the players who are more likely to turn into fantasy stars. A lot of the time, these high-ceiling players also come with a low floor, whether it be a power hitter who strikes out a tad too much or a pitcher with great stuff but a scary injury history.

Let’s take a look at five of these types of players that are likely eligible in your upcoming FYPD. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume a 12-team league and look at one potential high-risk, high-reward player per round of a five-round draft.


First Round


Max Clark, OF, DET – Clark is almost the first-round pick for this exercise by default, and some of that may be unfairly narrative-based. The Tigers took Clark with the third overall pick in June’s 2023 draft and despite Clark only having 23 professional contests under his belt as an 18-year-old, many have criticized Detroit for passing on Wyatt Langford at that selection. Despite how Clark turns out, it’s tough to argue that the criticism of Detroit is unfair. Langford already looks MLB ready, and like a potential star, while Clark is several years away.

But just because Langford looks like a slam dunk does not mean that Clark, himself, is bad. In fact, he may have the highest upside of anyone in the class. He is a five-tool prospect in the way that most of the position players here are not, and it would not be surprising in the least to see him eventually develop into a fantasy player who contributes in every category across the board. That’s a league-winner ceiling.

The risk here is that this FYPD first round is littered with players who appear to have safe floors. And not only that, but so many of them are already knocking on the door of making an MLB impact. It’s easy to scan the likely first-rounders and want to pass on Clark just because he feels so much further away from helping your team than many of the other options. There is a good chance this leads to him falling to the back half of the first round of your draft where the value of his ceiling will be too good to pass up.


Second Round


Bryce Eldrige, 1B/P, SFG – Like Clark, Eldrige was selected in the first round as a teenager, so it’s likely we won’t see him at the MLB level for quite some time. That’s where part of his high risk comes from, but the bigger risk here is that Eldridge is a two-way player and, at least as of now, intends to pursue his career in that capacity.

Before getting into why that may be a risk, it must be said that Eldrige performed exceptionally well as both a pitcher and a hitter in 2023. He earned Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the best high school player, hitting  .422 with nine home runs while also posting a 1.30 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. Most teams view the 6’7 Eldridge as a hitting prospect, but he has the stuff on the mound, too.

So where is the risk? Well, it’s hard enough to make it to the show for those that focus on one specialty. Trying to make it as a two-way player makes it inherently more difficult to succeed as either a pitcher or hitter – there’s only so much time in the day. Add in that there is probably an increased likelihood of getting injured due to the different focus in the positions on muscle usage, and it’s pretty easy to see the path to flaming out.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m not sure anyone is going to fit the bill of “high risk, high reward” better than Eldridge. As fantasy managers, we have all witnessed how much of an advantage having Shohei Ohtani can be. No, I’m not putting that type of ceiling on Eldrige, that would be beyond foolish. But having roster flexibility of a two-player, and one who can be an above-average hitter and an above-average pitcher is incredibly beneficial. You’re essentially getting two players for the price of one. It’s a fantasy ceiling that most in the draft can’t match, even if their individual positional ceilings may be higher.


Third Round


Enrique Bradfield, Jr., OF, BAL – Bradfield will probably end up going somewhere in the 20-30 range in most FYPD player drafts, which means he’s a late second or early third-round selection in 12-teamers. That’s close enough to include him here, especially as this is the exact type of high-upside ceiling player to aim for once the first-round types are off the board. Bradfield possesses an elite skill – speed. Someone who has at least one elite trait you can cling to should theoretically give them a high ceiling. If other parts of their game start to come together, all of a sudden you have a star.

The Orioles selected Bradfield with the 17th pick in the draft and there is a good chance that he gets viewed by some fantasy managers as a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one. That may very well be the case, but the upside here is one of the top base stealers in the sport. We know how valuable that can be, even with steals ticking up dramatically in 2023. Bradfield was an efficient base stealer in college, swiping 130 bags in three seasons while only being caught 13 times. That’s a success rate north of 90%. That’ll play. Add in that he also knows how to take a walk, and there is a leadoff profile in the works here.

The risk is that Bradfield doesn’t have much power. He did hit 15 home runs in his college career, so it’s not like he has zero thump, but it would be surprising to see him get more than 10 or 12 in a season at the big league level. If he does, he’s a potential fantasy star, but the downside of his power never developing is that he becomes a fourth outfielder/pinch runner/defensive replacement type.


Fourth Round


Ty Floyd, P, CIN – The Reds took Floyd with the 38th pick in the draft. He’s a 6’2 right-hander out of LSU, and an arm that made a name for himself in the 2023 College World Series. Against Florida in the first game of the finals, Floyd punched out a record 17 batters.  From a strikeout perspective, it capped off a nice junior campaign for Floyd, who ended the season with 120 strikeouts in 90 innings.

That strikeout upside, paired with reports that Floyd’s velocity has been ticking up, gives him a fairly high ceiling. Cincinnati has also had some success in getting their top arms to the bigs in recent years (see Andrew Abbott, Connor Phillipsand Lyon Richardson), albeit to mixed results in their rookie seasons.

The risk here, outside of inherent pitching prospect injury risk, is that despite some success, Floyd’s run prevention numbers in college were far from spectacular. The right-hander finished his three-year career with a 4.17 ERA, and even though he had a shiny 7-0 record in his junior season, he closed the year with a 4.35 ERA. Throw in the fact the Reds play in one of the more hitter-friendly parks in baseball, and it can be easy to see the path where Floyd busts here.

But in the fourth round of your FYPD, most pitching prospects that are going to be viewed as a high ceiling are going to be teenage arms with a long road ahead of them. I like zagging a little here with a college arm whose increase in velocity and strikeout ability could offer a good ceiling, and we’ll know much sooner if it is obtainable.


Fifth Round


Brandon Winokur, SS/OF, MIN – Winokur was committed to UCLA before signing over-slot following a third-round selection by the Twins. Winokur may be the closest you can get to a tooled-out prospect this late in your FYPD – he has monster power and plus speed. He’s a 6’5 18-year-old who has started his professional career at shortstop, though it is very likely he will size out of it as his body matures.

Getting to the tools in game could end up being the sticking point for Winokur. If his brief 66 at-bat sample size in the Florida Complex League is any indication, there will probably be strikeout concerns throughout his minor league career. Again, it’s a small sample, but Winokur struck out 35%. The Twins aren’t afraid to emphasize these types of players, though. Last season, Minnesota ranked sixth in home runs but first in strikeout rate.

In a best-case scenario, Winokur sticks at shortstop and finds a way to maximize all of his tools in-game. At this point of the FYPD, most of your options are going to be dart throws, so might as well go with one that has the upside of Winokur.

Graphic adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on X)

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