A Thriller of a Draft

Updated: October 24, 2016

The 2024 PEBA draft was recently completed and with it comes a new group of prospects entering the Fargo Dinosaurs‘ minor league system, and with the first pick, Dinosaurs’ general manager Cristian Shofar made a surprise pick that many GM’s where left wondering if they could beat it. You might call Shofar a smooth criminal in swiping up talented Arizona State starting pitcher Michael Jackson with the 14th pick of the first round, or you might call the move quite bad, due to the rumored large singing bonus Jackson is said to be seeking ($7 million or so). Although we try to make things clear-cut in our snap judgment evaluations of drafts, it is rarely so black or white. Jackson just finished his third season with Arizona State before entering the draft, and had his strongest season yet, rolling in with a 1.90 ERA in 12 starts. The 21 year old right-handed pitcher throws in the upper 90s, clocked as high as 99 MPH, and right now features a fastball and slider combo. The lack of a third pitch is a second knock on the prospect and could lead the Dinosaurs’ GM to take a long look at the man in the mirror if things don’t work out with Jackson. That being said, Jackson flashed an outstanding 10.4 K/9 rate this past season, with the Arizona State coaching staff often telling Jackson to, “don’t stop ’til you get enough” when it came to using his slider in two-strike counts to nail the strikeout. Time will tell for Shofar whether this top pick in the 2024 draft will be a bust or if he’ll be able to remember the time that Billie Jean, assistant scouting director, talked up a true gem of a talent and he gambled and won.

Now that I got that out of my system, a few comments on the other picks from the draft:

2nd round pick, Kunimichi Oishi, is a starting pitcher that looks like a possible back of the rotation arm or middle reliever. He’s a lefty and looks like a low-floor type of guy. Throws in the mid to low 90s, not a ton of strikeout potential but he throws six pitches on they all have movement on them. Should do pretty well at keeping the ball in the park.

3rd round pick, Rich Kefer, also a starting pitcher. He’s more of a long shot, but has great command of his pitches and should make it by on his low walk rate. If he struggles with the long ball though, he’ll have a hard time making it to the bigs.

4th round pick, José Arrojo, is a young guy at only 18 years old and out of high school, but profiles as a potential starting pitcher with great stamina, two solid pitches (fastball and curveball) and a in development third pitch (change-up) that will determine if he returns to the bullpen or not.

5th round pick Roberto Figueroa is also a high school draft pick, but the first position player taken by the Dinosaurs in this draft. Figueroa plays third base, and the hope is that he can stick there as his bat is middling at best, though he does have an above average eye at the plate.

8th round pick Juan Gallegos was a nice find. He’s out of college at age 21, but profiles similarly to Figueroa, but with more development defensively at this point.

9th round pick Will Wood is also listed as a third baseman coming out of college, but has probably the highest offensive ceiling of any of the position players taken by Fargo in this draft, and may be able to shift to second base.

-Steve Youngblood

Fargo Gazette