Oakland Athletics: Scouting second-round pick Jeff Criswell

The Oakland Athletics selected former Michigan star Jeff Criswell in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft.

The Oakland Athletics landed perhaps their catcher of the future in first-round pick Tyler Soderstrom and they followed that up with an equally intriguing pick in the second round.

With the 58th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the A’s selected former Michigan standout Jeff Criswell. Criswell is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher who has experience as both a reliever and a starter.

Playing on a stacked Michigan team, he first began as a reliever with the Wolverines before being moved into the starting rotation in his sophomore season. And that’s the season that would put him on the map.

Criswell would finish the year with a stellar 2.74 ERA while striking out 99 batters over 95.1 innings pitched. Amazingly, however, he arguably wasn’t even the best pitcher on his team. Or the second best for that matter.

Teammates Karl Kauffmann and Tommy Henry were both selected in the second round a year ago and ranked ahead of him as draft prospects until 2018. And now Criswell joins his former teammates as second-round picks in the MLB Draft.

Where was Oakland Athletics’ second-round pick Jeff Criswell projected in the 2020 MLB Draft?

Projections for the talented right-hander were all over the place heading into the draft, but one site actually managed to hit the nail right on the head. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 58 prospect in the class which is exactly where the A’s picked him.

Other sites ranked him anywhere from No. 53 by Baseball America to No. 142 by FanGraphs. There was no consensus ranking for him, and that likely has to do with how different scouts view his future.

Some will likely see Criswell as being limited to a relief role. But the 21-year-old proved over the past two seasons that he could be effective as a starter as well.

Upon being placed into the starting rotation, Criswell maintained his effectiveness and velocity still reaching speeds of up to 96 mph on his fastball. On top of that, he has the secondary pitches and repertoire to insist that he could have a future as a starter.

And for what it’s worth, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle revealed the following quote from an A’s scout that seems to suggest that the team views him as a starter.

“Is he going to throw100 out of the bullpen? Maybe. But he’s really valuable at 94-97 as a starter.”

Criswell will have to continue working on his command if he wants to have a future as an MLB starter. But even if he never gets that far, he projects as a solid relief option and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach the majors before long in that role.

Next: Oakland Athletics fully expect to sign first-round pick Tyler Soderstrom

It will be interesting to see if Criswell could ever develop into a viable starting pitcher, but expect to see him at least competing for a bullpen role in the future provided things go to plan.

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