After snagging Tyler Soderstrom in the first round after he slid all the way to them at number 26, the A’s celebrated their coup by going right back to work. They had to wait to make their choice, unfortunately, as they picked 58th. After a run of pitchers went, the A’s decided to use their selection on University of Michigan right-hander Jeff Criswell. The 21-year-old son of former A’s pick Brian Criswell stands at six foot four, 225 pounds. In his time at Michigan, Criswell was made a first-team all-Big 12 selection as a starter in his sophomore year after appearing in 22 games, making 17 starts, having a 2.72 ERA, striking out 116 batters in 106 innings, and being selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate team. He also had a very impressive run in the College World Series as a reliever, recording 10 scoreless innings after coming in from the bullpen. The tall righty has a fastball that he can consistently throw in the 93-96 range with sinking action as a starter and rounds out his repertoire with a plus slider thrown in the mid-80s with a strong bite and a tailing change up that some see as a plus pitch, while others think it’s just average. There are control concerns and Criswell does have the bad habit of overthrowing at times, but his polished arsenal of pitches gives him a high floor and if he can improve his control and not overthrow so much, he could become a solid middle of the rotation starter.
The A’s love their utility men. They have four of them between AAA and MLB! So why not add another? With the 98th pick of the draft, the A’s selected Georgia Tech’s Michael Guldberg. Standing at a flat six-foot, 171 pounds, the speedy Guldberg is known for his eye and speed. As a sophomore, he led Georgia Tech and was second in the ACC in average with a .355 mark and was second on the Yellow Jackets in OBP with a mark of .441. He utilizes a flat swing with quick hands that helps with the average but doesn’t project to produce much power in the future. Another concern with Guldberg is that he doesn’t have a defensive home. In high school, he was tracked at firing the ball in the 80s as an infielder, but an arm injury in college forced him to spend time at DH, first base and corner outfield where he showed a noticeably below-average arm. Should Guldberg’s arm never get to the point where he can play the left side of the infield or the corner outfield, he could still be a talented second baseman and center fielder, the latter of which he could excel at and show off his speed. He runs a 6.80 60-yard dash. In fact, A’s scouting director Eric Kubota said they’ll try to develop Guldberg as a centerfielder, but if that plan falls through he could always return to second base.
If you thought the A’s were gonna change their ways and take more prep players after the first round, you thought wrong! After their tradition-breaking choice of Soderstrom in the first round, the A’s went back to formula and selected three straight college players. The third of which, Dane Acker, they selected with the 127th pick. Standing at six foot two, 189 pounds, the Oklahoma right-hander dazzled in his short time on the mound, no hitting LSU during the Shriners classic. In that game, he struck out 11 and only walked one. Over his four total starts, he put up a 3.51 ERA while striking out 28 and walking just five. A polished pitcher, he throws all his pitches with good control. His arsenal is made up of a low 90s fastball with sinking action (Although he sometimes throws 94 with rising action) and rounds it out with a good curveball, changeup and developing slider. None of his pitches are plus, although his curveball borders on it sometimes, but his ability to locate the way he attacks batters make him greater than the sum of his parts.
The A’s finished their draft by taking another pitcher, this time the tall righty Stevie Emmanuels. The University of Washington starter stands six-five and weighs 210 pounds. He shined in the spring before the season was cut short, posting a 0.76 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched. He has a low 90s fastball that can touch 95 and rounds out his arsenal with a slider with plus potential and an average changeup. His delivery, while not allowing him to get full use of his frame, does allow him to get on hitters in a hurry making his low 90s fastball seem faster than it already is. He has the ability to throw strikes, although he isn’t going to be picking any corners. If he puts more muscle on his lean frame, his velocity could see a jump. The A’s will start developing him as a starter, but a move to the bullpen is feasible if his velocity needs a boost to be effective.