Pitcher List’s 2018 Mock Draft Recap: Nick Pollack’s Picks
To kick off our Mock Draft analysis, I’ve gone round by round to discuss my thoughts as we conducted our first staff-wide 13 team mock draft. Let’s do it.
To read the analysis of other teams in the draft, head to our Mock Draft hub page here.
Round 1: Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies) – I don’t think there is much to contest here. I’m a huge advocate of consistently productive bats in the first two rounds and Arenado is as secure as they come, with an average rising each season to .309 in 2017, and upside for 40/100/100 each year. I felt fortunate to see him fall the #6 overall.
Round 2: Anthony Rizzo (1B/2B, Chicago Cubs) – I was hoping to get Rizzo back in the second round, though I’m not sure I can expect the same to happen in most drafts come March. His steady production of 30+ HR, 90 Runs, 100 RBI with an average that will help consistently, hovering from .270 – .290 is exactly the kind of rock I love drafting in the early rounds. I wanted to test if my previous philosophy of chasing massive production from 1B/3B early is the correct strategy in this mock, as I often feel you can find value at the MI and OF spots later in drafts, with more apparent gaps existing at the corner infield spots. I’m also aware that Rizzo has 2B eligibility, though I elected to act as if that won’t be upheld come March in most leagues. If he is a universal 2B, there’s absolutely no excuse for him to go this late to me at the 21st overall pick.
Round 3: Dee Gordon (2B, Miami Marlins) – Alright, I can’t say I expected myself to make this pick and I completely expect to get some backlash here. At the same time, I wanted to try another strategy out in this mock draft and Gordon is a major piece of it. By making this pick (and Arenado and Rizzo, to an extent), Gordon provides a major advantage in both steals and average – remember, only two players (three if you want to count a prorated Trea Turner) stole over 40 bases last season with Gordon a near lock for 60 swipes again in 2018. Instead of needing to chase “solid across the board guys” that will provide in AVG/HR/SB, I can elect to draft elite power focused bats instead that can give me the upper hand, which you’ll see in my future picks. It might not work in the long run and requires those picks to fall to me, though I wanted to give it a shot here.
Round 4: Zack Greinke (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks) – I’m not one to normally target a starter in the first four rounds, though I felt Greinke is part of the second tier of starters that ends at the #10 SP and here I drafted him as the 12th SP off the board. It’s good value in my book and I starting to think Greinke may be a target in the fourth/fifth for drafts this year. It’s pretty safe to eradicate his horrid 2016 season after producing a 3.20 ERA (2.87 before his last two starts!), 9.56 K/9, 2.00 BB/9, and 1.07 WHIP across 202.1 IP. And then there’s whatever weight you want to put on the humidor getting added to his home ballpark in Chase Field. You can thank better Slider locations, improved mix with his Changeup, and a nearly doubled whiff rate on his Curveball (8.8% to 14.4%) for his climb back to the top.
Round 5: Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH, Cleveland Indians) – As discussed, the next three picks are all for one thing: massive HR/RBI production and it starts with Edwin. I was shocked to see him fall this far at #58 overall – it may have been a product of owners afraid to draft a 35-year-old – as he’s crushed 38+ bombs in three straight seasons while providing 90+ Runs and 100+ RBI. Given his injury risk dwindling as he handles the DH exclusively save for interleague games, he’s a safe bet to make up a hefty amount of the HR/RBI sacrifice I made by drafting Gordon.
Round 6: Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics) – See what I just said about Encarnacion? The same applies to Davis. I’ll take a hit with his average – I guess we should assume he holds a .247 clip after holding the same mark for three straight years – and reap the benefits of 40+ HR, 80-95 Runs and hint at another 100 RBI season. Meanwhile, I’m still very competitive in Average and Steals by drafting Gordon.
Round 7: Matt Olson (OF/1B, Oakland Athletics) – Sure, why not one more? Rhys Hoskins is getting more love than Olson – understandable so given his better K/BB numbers – but a 30+ HR, 170+ Runs & RBI season could easily be in the cards for Olson and I’m all for it. The seventh round may have been slightly too high for Olson, though I wanted to move to starters beginning in the 8th and I preferred his power upside more than the other options left.
Round 8: Zack Godley (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks) – With my first six picks, I felt pretty confident in my offense and wanted to shift my focus to solidifying my rotation and bullpen. I’m a huge fan of Godley for next season as he showcases the ability not only to miss plenty of bats – 13.3% overall whiff rate and 26.3% K rate – but also induce a ton of weak contact via his heavy sinker. There is a little to be desired with his walk rate, though even with an 8%+ mark last season, he still held a 3.37 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, which can both take a step forward with a full season in the rotation.
Round 9: Luis Castillo (SP, Cincinnati Reds) – Then there is Luis Castillo, who many know as one of my favorite pitchers to talk about. If you’re unfamiliar with the Cincinnati flamethrower, I suggest taking a look at this article where I highlight five at-bats that show my love for the youngin’. I’ll probably have him ranked close to me 20th SP off the board for this season as he sports a Fastball in the upper 90s with above average command, a Changeup that is as deadly as they come, and a Slider he comfortable features as his third option. There’s even room to grow and given that he threw 169.1 IP in 2017, there’s little reason to believe he can’t throw over 190 frames in the season ahead. He’ll be a popular name through the year and I want to snag him in all leagues.
Round 10: Roberto Osuna (RP, Toronto Blue Jays) – I understand that I’ll most likely be able to snag a closer or two during the season, but it’s imperative for me to target a sturdy closer or two each season around the 10th round. I would have selected Britton, but with him getting picked right before me by Max Posner, I went with Osuna instead, as he’s featured elite K/BB numbers (29.7% K-BB!) while saving 35+ games in each of the last two seasons. Not my favorite pick, but he was the safest closer out there and he’ll do.
Round 11: Felipe Rivero (RP, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Okay, here I am saying that Osuna was the safest closer and I could buy an argument that Rivero should have gotten that tag. It is surprising to anyone else that Rivero isn’t a Top 5 closer in mocks thus far? Rivero took the closer role halfway in the season and was one of the more dominant relievers in the game, holding a 10.51 K/9, 2.39 BB/9, and 1.67 ERA across 75.1 IP for the year. Slate him for 35+ saves and stud relief stats as he features some of the nastiest stuff you’ll see in the league. I actually considered drafting him over Osuna, but I imagined he would fall to 11th while Osuna wouldn’t, which worked out in the end.
Round 12: Aaron Altherr (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – Now we’re back to chasing hitters and I elected to have a little fun with my next two picks. First is Altherr, who had limited time in 2017 due to injury, but took full advantage of 107 games in uniform, with 19 HRs, 58 Runs, 65 RBI, and slashing .272/.340/.516. I’m not in love with his plate discipline – 25.2% K rate and 7.8% BB rate – but his power is real. His 10.7% VH rate on xStats puts him in conversation with Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman, and it’s possible his best season is yet to come.
Round 13: Ryan Zimmerman (1B, Washington Nationals) – Then there’s Zimmerman who had a career year as he made clear changes to his hitting approach. His injury history is still in question, but with a shift to 1B, his season-long health clearly benefited and gave owners 144 games of 36 longballs an a .303 average. There are legitimate concerns given his second-half dropoff, though a VH rate of 11.4% in September hints that it was more of a slump than a return to the norm. In the 13th round, I’m willing to take the gamble as even a small regression from Zimmerman is still a very productive UTIL option.
Round 14: Garrett Richards (SP, Los Angeles Angels) – Yes, there is a ton of risk here. Richards is a clear injury risk after electing not to undergo Tommy John Surgery and return for the final weeks of 2017. Even if he provides 25 starts, though, it’s possible he returns Top 20 upside with electric stuff, including a pair of Fastballs – his Cutter and Two-Seamer that dart in opposite directions above 95mph. A deadly Slider and a Curveball that buckles knees mix in to create a pitcher with high strikeout potential and plenty of weak contact that will make all owners happy.
Round 15: Evan Gattis (C, Houston Astros) – I was planning on punting Catcher more than this, but seeing Gattis fall to the 15th round with his upside for 25+ HRs in a barren Catcher landscape was too good to pass up, especially when I wanted to continue bolstering the power production with the Dee Gordon gambit. After Gattis, the options are underwhelming, to say the least, and I felt fortunate to feel secure with the C spot in the 15th round.
Round 16: Jordan Montgomery (SP, New York Yankees) – It’s no secret I’m a fan of The Bear for 2018 as he held a fantastic 12.2% whiff rate across all his pitches in 2017. Now with a rotation spot locked for next season, I can see Monty going 180-190 innings after his 163.1 IP campaign, and I want all of it. His deceptive delivery mixed with a deep repertoire can take a step further as he adds polish across the board, resulting in a pitcher that can hint at Top 30 value for a much cheaper price.
Round 17: Jose Martinez (OF/1B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Here’s a pick that I’ll be shocked to be able to make come March and you can expect plenty of sleeper articles as the off-season crawls through the winter. There’s one stat that encompasses my love for Jose Martinez – xBACON. Those not familiar with xStats and BACON, essentially the stat tells you the probability a ball off the bat will be a hit or an out. It’s identical to BABIP except that BABIP does not include HRs, while BACON (Batting Average on CONtact) includes HRs. The “x” of xBACON stands for “expected” as it takes into account the player’s Statcast data to detail what should have been the correct number given their hitting prowess. Phew, alright, the qualifying player with the best xBACON across 2017 was Aaron Judge – to the surprise of few – with an xBACON of .430. The elites all have a .400+ xBACON. Jose Martinez’s mark was .412. He deserved the power production he provided (14 HR, .210 ISO, .309 Average, .897 OPS in 307 PAs), made a ton of great contact and minimized his weak contact while a 10%+ BB rate and sub 20% strikeout mark. There are questions about his playing time in St. Louis – especially if Giancarlo Stanton does land there – but his upside is tremendous and we’re talking Top 50 potential and a fourth of the cost.
Round 18: Reynaldo Lopez (SP, Chicago White Sox) – I’m not in love with this pick, though there’s no denying that Lopez has the ability to climb the ranks of the SP ladder. He’ll need to use his Slider more as a wipeout pitch and use his Changeup/Fastball combination as a proper setup tool, though he’s in the perfect environment in Chicago to have little stress as he works out his kinks. There is a little concern given his questionable close to the 2017 season, but with a pick well past 200, I’m willing to bring him along for the ride.
Round 19: Gleybar Torres (SS/3B, New York Yankees) – I clearly punted SS in this draft as I feel that if you miss out on the top seven options – Machado Correa, Turner, Lindor, Seager, Andrus, Segura – you’re better off chasing upside from guys like Torres, Anderson, Beckham, and play the waiver wire for the first month to see what sticks. Maybe Ahmed Rosario or Franklin Barreto just need a little seasoning? Maybe Aledmys Diaz rebounds in Toronto? There are plenty of options with upside and considering there are few players left that I felt I needed this deep in the draft, I wanted to have fun by selecting Torres. There’s a chance he wins the 3B gig out of Spring Training, after all.
Round 20: Chris Davis (1B, Baltimore Orioles) – Yes I have too many 1B options. Still, I disliked the majority of what was left and there is little denying Davis’ upside given he hit 47 HRs, 100 Runs, and 117 RBI with a .262 average as recently as 2015. I’ll roll the dice here.
Round 21: Luiz Gohara (SP, Atlanta Braves) – I’ve written a bit about Luiz Gohara – check out my GIF Breakdown of his MLB Debut here – and there’s plenty of room for the southpaw to grow in 2018. He sports a mid 90s Fastball with a solid Slider and a Changeup that can turn into a respectable third option to complete his repertoire. His command is still in question and he could find himself on the waiver wire early in the year, but for my final SP spot, I love chasing an arm that could be a Top 40 SP for 2019.
Round 22: Joe Jimenez (RP, Detroit Tigers) – Who will be the closer for the Tigers in 2018? Shane Greene did get the call in the latter half of the season, though there’s plenty up in the air for 2018. Jimenez has been touted as the club’s future closer and there’s a chance he takes it out of Spring Training, turning him into a possible Top 15 closer for the season – he definitely has the stuff for it with a high 90s Fastball and a wipeout Slider.
Round 23: Lewis Brinson (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – It’s my final pick and once again, it’s all about upside. Brinson was far from impressive during his brief 21 game stint last season, but he has massive SB/HR/AVG potential and it doesn’t hurt to chase a 23-year-old with that much potential with a lottery pick.