Oakland Athletics MLB Draft Review: Reports and grades for each pick

Oakland Athletics (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Oakland Athletics (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /
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Oakland Athletics
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2. Oakland Athletics’ second-round pick

  • Who the Oakland Athletics took: Jeff Criswell, RHP, Michigan
  • 58th overall pick
  • Expected Signing Bonus: Just below or at slot value
  • Future-Value Grade: 35+
  • Grade: B

Criswell has been known to scouts and prospect writers since high school when he impressed on the showcase circuit. After foregoing turning pro to develop at Michigan, he immediately became a difference-maker in the Wolverine bullpen.

As a sophomore, Criswell had good success in the starting rotation before returning to the bullpen in Michigan’s unexpected run at last year’s College World Series.

This spring, scouts were curious to see if he could take another step, but Criswell only made four starts before the end of the pandemic shortened season.

Criswell is a track-record pick from a scouting perspective. He has never taken the final step toward becoming a first-round prospect, but he’s continued progressing as a pitcher since he showed up on scout’s radars.

Over his collegiate career, he’s filled out his 6-foot-4 frame and consistently pumps his fastball into the mid-90s. He’s also been showing mid-90s velocity since high school.

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His repertoire includes a slider and changeup that both have the potential to be average big-league pitches and if that all comes together you can see a mid-rotation starter.

However, Criswell has long struggled to control his walk numbers and command remains a concern. His walk-rate steadily improved over his time at Michigan, but even if we trust the career-best 3.4 BB/9 mark he set this spring, it’s still reasonably concerning.

Those concerns paired with a fairly short track record as a starter leave fair concern that his future is in the bullpen.

With that said, his stuff is good enough to justify a move to the bullpen if that’s where he plays best. He may be the perfect 3-inning swingman to pair with an opener down the line as well.

For now though, if Criswell continues improving his location he’ll be a big-league contributor in a couple of years.