Pitcher List’s 2018 Mock Draft Recap: Ben Pernick’s Picks
As the PitcherList 2017 champion and winner of the PLATYPUS (PitcherList Award for Team this Year that Pulverized Us to Smithereens), I suppose there was some pressure on me to dominate the mock draft. So naturally, as a perennial fan of the underdog, I choked. Okay, all kidding aside, let’s look at the picks from my draft position on the far turn.
To read the analysis of other teams in the draft, head to our Mock Draft hub page here.
Round 1, Pick 13: Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) – I wanted to stick to my 2017 strategy of starting my draft with a 5-tool performer (last year was Altuve) so I was happy to find Betts still available. Much ado was made about his disappointing year, but I am confident that bad BABIP luck was a major factor and he should safely rebound to a .290+ average and great OBP with easy 30-30 ability and 100+ Runs and RBI. And he only just turned 25. Here’s to hoping he gives Trout another run for his money.
Round 2, Pick 14: Max Scherzer (SP, Washington Nationals) – I was a bit torn here as I got burned by taking an early round SP (Bumgarner) over Freeman last year, but I really wanted an ace and I knew that Scherzer, Sale, and Kluber
would all be gone by my next pick. He may be 33, but his 2017 was so phenomenal that I just had to bet on him coming close to that again. Don’t worry, I’ve already confiscated Mad Max’s dirt bike.
Round 3, Pick 39: Daniel Murphy (2B, Washington Nationals) – With many of the true offensive studs now off the table, I wanted to double down on batting, and Murphball averaging .334 AVG. with 24 Home Runs the past two years was enough for me to bite. I am expecting some decline at 32 but I still feel like he’ll allow me to get some sluggers with AVG downside in later rounds.
Round 4, Pick 40: Marcell Ozuna (OF, Miami Marlins) – I felt good to get Ozuna here because at Pick 40, there isn’t much downside. His 2017 stats were WAY better than others on this list, with upside for high power and average, so even with likely BABIP regression and under 35 homers he’ll be valuable. He’s only 27, so I don’t expect skill decline and have some hope it’s a mid-career blossoming a la Nelson Cruz (who was taken before Ozuna).
Round 5, Pick 65: James Paxton (SP, Seattle Mariners) – I preferred Pax Vaporizer to a few of the other starters nabbed before him. I felt Paxton was the last of his SP tier (with the possible exception of Nola) and his STEAMER projections were, well, steamy. I’m not expecting him to stay healthy all year, but with proven ace ability at pick 65, that expectation’s baked into the price.
Round 6, Pick 66: Miguel Sano (3B, Minnesota Twins) – At the time, since his ADP is far higher, I felt good about this pick. Now, in retrospect? Not great, Bob! It’s entirely possible that Sano finally stays healthy all year and hits 40 dongs as foretold in the prophecy, but him hitting over .250 will take a lot of luck with that K rate and only Hard-Contact-induced high BABIP to keep it afloat. The bigger reason I was kicking myself is that corner infield ended up being so deep… I mean, Mike Moustakas, who hit 38 homers last year, lasted until Round 11, Pick 140! 140!!! It’s exciting to bet on youth, and the hopes he’ll be the next Aaron Judge (He DOES have the hard contact to make that a reality), but it’s a lot of risk.
Round 7, Pick 89: Wil Myers (1B, San Diego Padres) – Wily Mo Padre was the top name on the draft board according to ADP for several rounds at this point, and I was thrilled to nab him with most of the other mid-tier 1B options taken. I didn’t want to draft a pure speed guy, and Myers provides rare speed from the 1B position with great power to boot. I believe the average will improve to .260 as his high K rate regresses to career norms, which would make him an absolute steal here.
Round 7, Pick 90: Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies) – This was admittedly a bolder pick, and the only pick that any of my league-mates rated as BAD (2). I took him ahead of his ADP, but it made sense for two reasons. First, SS got thin after Story, with Simmons and Cozart the next best available guys, neither of whom do I trust to maintain their 2017 performance. But also, I believe that the 26-year old, in his 3rd year in the majors, he can turn things back around. STEAMER agrees with this sentiment, projecting him for .252 with 27 HR, 75 R, 84 RBI, and 10 SB, which would make him an excellent value for his position and ADP. Picking him may get you razzed, but I think he may now be a sleeper… Everybody loves a good comeback Story.
Round 9, Pick 117: Yasiel Puig (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Puig was one of my boys in my 2017 preseason predictions, and I was surprised to find his ADP so low, when he essentially put up similar production last year to that of Justin Upton who went in round 4. It depends on whether you believe 2017 was a fluke or a breakout. When I look at his raw ability plus how substantially his plate discipline improved, I’m banking on the latter, and remain hopeful for even further improvement.
Round 10, Pick 118: David Price (SP, Boston Red Sox) – It’s not often that you get ace name recognition without the ace premium. It’s understandable after missing much of 2017 and pitching in the bullpen, but he’s been a 200+ inning workhorse every other year with great ratios and win potential. It may not be flashy, but I think it’s the sensible counterbalance to the riskier Paxton and a sleeper to regain his ace status.
Round 11, Pick 143: Raisel Iglesias (RP, Cincinnati Reds) – It occurred to me after my Round 10 pick that I may have waited too long to take a closer, and I had my fingers crossed that nobody would take Raisel, as the closer market got much uglier after he was gone. Raisel has continued to excel in his closer role even with less fanfare than some of the other more dominant options, and he’s a safe bet to keep his job, so I’m happy to get him here.
Round 12, Pick 144: Johnny Cueto (SP, San Francisco Giants) – Considering how many times I justified my moves by pointing to 2017 stat lines, I know it’d be hypocritical to pretend Cueto’s awful 2017 didn’t happen. It did, and it wasn’t just a fluke, as his velocity and control are trending downwards. But he’s also only 31, and even though his sub-3 ERA days are behind him, I still believe in his skill set and experience to keep his ERA under 4 this year.
Round 13, Pick 169: Nick Castellanos (3B/OF, Detroit Tigers) – Noting that Sano is my most injury-prone hitter, I felt it right to get a 3B in my first UTIL slot. I was like Ed Sheeran, singing Castellanos Hill all year, due to his excellent hard hit rates (which may have been inflated by Comerica’s gun, but are still good post-adjustment). I was encouraged by his strong finish after he moved the OF, where he now has dual eligibility.
Round 14, Pick 170: Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers) – There wasn’t much in the 2017 stats to suggest his value here, but when in doubt, bet on youngsters with high upside. It’s amazing to see how quick people abandon hope of a breakout on a star-upside slugger just because of a lackluster year (though he did improve his ISO and walk rate). Prospect growth is not linear, and he’s still just 22! Improvement should be expected, but a breakout would make him a heist.
Round 15, Pick 195: Kevin Gausman (SP, Baltimore Orioles) – The first half of the season was so ugly, it’s amazing he ended up in mixed-league drafts at all. But just like muscles, sometimes you need to be broken down to be stronger than before. He was dominant in the second half, showing TWO plus offerings in his splitter and slider, now he just needs to keep that momentum going.
Round 16, Pick 196: Sean Manaea (SP, Oakland Athletics) – I knew Nick would hate me for this pick. I liked Manaea all year, although he was essentially the anti-Gausman with his late-season collapse. Still, I still believe in his high-spin pitches and Swinging Strike rate combined with his massive size, ballpark, and youth (25) to bet on a career year in 2018.
Round 17, Pick 221: Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals) – I assessed early that it made sense to wait on a catcher, since it seemed to be mostly a wash after Sanchez and Posey. I hadn’t expected to get Yadier and was ready to settle for Welington or Grandal, but was happy to land him. I’m expecting some power and speed regression, especially at 35, but he’s still going strong and is a safe bet for batting average.
Round 18, Pick 222: Blake Treinen (RP, Oakland Athletics) – I acknowledge that there is absolutely nothing sexy about this pick. I neglected to focus on closers after Raisel, but Treinen can do it ugly for the A’s in 2018, since he does have the experience and they don’t want to raise any young fireballer’s arbitration prices. Of course, if he lasts, he’ll probably be traded to a contender midseason, but I can live with that.
Round 19, Pick 247: Michael Brantley (OF, Cleveland Indians) – Perhaps it’s far too optimistic to assume he’ll ever return to 100% health, but the late rounds are good for gambles. He did show in 2017 that he can still provide average when healthy, and tapped into power later in the season. A return to .300-15-15 is still well within the range of possibility, and it’s hard to find that balanced profile so late in the draft.
Round 20, Pick 248: Blake Parker (RP, Los Angeles Angels) – Cam Bedrosian was taken in the previous round, but I am going to double down on my Treinen reasoning to assume that Parker will be the Angels reliever who ends up with more saves. He flew under the radar but was dominant in 2017, and if he can approach that and hold the role he’ll be just as good as Raisel.
Round 21, Pick 273: Rick Porcello (SP, Boston Red Sox) – Not a bad slot for the 2016 Cy Young winner. He had a bad year, but the upside is high when everything clicks with his strong K/BB, making him a fine bench starter to sub in if he has a return to form. I definitely felt he was a tier above the other starters left around at this point, since for him at least dominance is possible.
Round 22, Pick 274: Chad Green (RP, New York Yankees) – Just when you thought I was revealing myself as a Red Sox homer! I wanted Green many rounds earlier but I trusted the ADP that I can wait on him, and he may be my favorite get of the draft. Cashman says Green will enter 2018 as a starter, which given his dominance in the pen, makes him very intriguing, plus SP/RP dual eligibility. I expect his ADP to rise substantially if he wins a rotation spot.
Round 23, Pick 299: Willie Calhoun (2B, Texas Rangers) – I know that, generally speaking, projections are pretty lackluster for prospects. So I really got suckered in by the beautiful STEAMER projections for Calhoun, projecting .277 with 27 homers and 4 SB with 2B eligibility. With that power combined with his low K rate, he can be a sneaky fantasy add for power and average if he can just earn the playing time, as his prospect hype is limited by his poor defense. And that defense won’t affect your fantasy team, so long as he plays enough games to qualify at second base, and has the bat to help even as a DH.