Michigan righty Criswell headlines A's Day 2

Oakland selects college players in Rounds 2-5

June 12th, 2020

OAKLAND -- After taking Turlock (Calif.) High School catcher Tyler Soderstrom with their first-round pick on Day 1, the A’s found him a potential batterymate to begin Day 2.

The A’s used their second-round pick, No. 58 overall, to select Jeff Criswell, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Michigan. Criswell helped Michigan reach the College World Series in 2019, going 7-1 with a 2.72 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 106 innings over that sophomore year.

Having spent the majority of his career as a starter, there is intrigue over whether he might be suited better as a reliever long-term. Over his three seasons at Michigan, the 21-year-old righty started 21 of his 50 games and was often utilized as a reliever during Michigan’s run to the College World Series.

“You’re not going to find a better competitor,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said on A’s Cast, the club’s 24/7 audio streaming station on TuneIn. “Whatever he projects as, you’re going to see him very soon.”

“The team will try to develop him as a starter first,” MLB.com Draft expert Jim Callis said. “I think what he did last year, [Michigan] made him a troubleshooter. They got one win away from winning a national title.”

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Criswell is considered to have good athleticism, as he posted a 35-inch vertical jump and brings a heavy fastball that sat around 93-96 mph as a starter to go with a good changeup and breaking ball that plays like a slider. In three seasons at Michigan, Criswell went 10-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings.

“We’ve seen him up to 97 [mph] and he’s got a good breaking ball,” A’s scouting director Eric Kubota said. “He’s got some delivery issues we think can be worked out. We do think there is a chance he could start.”

With the A’s top two prospects, Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, set to graduate to the Majors full-time this season, Criswell helps restock the club’s pitching depth that includes other promising right-handed prospects such as Daulton Jefferies, James Kaprielian and Grant Holmes.

Third round, 98th overall: Michael Guldberg, OF, Georgia Tech
Guldberg is a versatile outfielder who projects to stick at one of the corner outfield spots. He finished second in the ACC with a .355 batting average in 2019 and hit .304 overall with three home runs and 50 RBIs over 104 games in three seasons at Georgia Tech. Guldberg also rarely struck out, with just 41 in 318 career at-bats.

Fourth round, 127th overall: Dane Acker, RHP, Oklahoma
Acker made headlines just before the college baseball season was shut down when he no-hit No. 11 LSU at Minute Maid Park on March 1. He struck out 11 and walked just one in what was the first no-hitter ever thrown against LSU in the school’s history. Acker played at San Jacinto Junior College in 2019 and posted a 2.36 ERA in 14 starts. Among the pitches in Acker’s arsenal are a fastball in the 90-93 mph range and a big-breaking curveball.

Fifth round, 157th overall: Stevie Emanuels, RHP, Washington
Emanuels only became a starter this past season at Washington after spending most of his time at the school as a reliever, but the A’s believe his stuff can play as a starter. He brings a fastball that reaches up to 94 mph, a slider for his out pitch and he’s also developing a changeup. Emanuels was a Collegiate Baseball Third Team All-American in 2020 after going 3-1 with a 0.79 ERA in four starts and accumulated a 2.81 ERA with 135 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings in 69 games over three seasons at Washington.