It’s Stephen Honovich’s turn to detail his round-by-round thoughts as we continue our coverage of the Pitcher List 2018 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: Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs) – When I draft, in my first 2-3 picks, I am almost always looking to lock down corner infield sluggers. I think these types are the building block of any fantasy squad – you need guys you can pencil in for 30/100 that won’t hurt your average and Bryant certainly fits the bill. Bryant lost 10 homers from 2016 to 2017, likely due to an increase in GB%. But he cut his strikeouts, bumped up his walks, and still has some upside at 25. He’s a great anchor, and if he can get a little more lift under the ball he could threaten forty homers again.
Round 2: Manny Machado (3B, Baltimore Orioles) – Some people don’t like to “clog” up their UTIL spots with redundant positions or DH-only types, but when I see value, I pounce. My UTIL spot is almost always taken up early on by a slugging 3b and 1b – I see this as a way to cheat more potent bats into my lineup. Machado had a very disappointing 1st half but turned it on after the ASB and wound up posting stats similar to his career norm. I love him in the second round as I am expecting a return to first round production.
Round 3: Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox) – Tripling down on my CI strategy, I grabbed Jose Abreu. I feel confident now that I have locked up 100+ homers and 350+ RBIs with my first three picks. Part of me was hoping for George Springer to fall to me here, but with the WS MVP off the board, I was happy to grab Jose. He has been really consistent since coming over from Cuba and could wind up in a much more favorable offensive set-up (HOU and BOS have been floated as possible trade destinations) with the White Sox engaged in a full tear-down.
Round 4: Carlos Martinez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals) – With my CI locked up, I usually look to snag an ace next. Carlos Martinez fit the bill, and I viewed him as one of the few remaining high-end no-doubt studs. I think he still has another level to reach – his 9.53 K/9 was his highest since he posted marks in the 11s back in rookie and A ball. His ERA jumped over a half a run due to homers. This may have been due to the league-wide jump in gopher balls, but if he could find a way to keep the ball in the park we could be looking at an absolute monster.
Round 5: Domingo Santana (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Santana is a personal favorite of mine, blending decent patience with solid batted ball skills and some SB juice as well. He crushes the ball and has the potential to take another step forward this season. Take a look at Alex Chamberlain’s excellent article detailing Santana’s untapped potential over at Fangraphs.
Round 6: Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees) – My Yankees homer pick, as I need at least one bomber to pull for! Why not Didi, who has improved offensively and defensively every year. Gregorius cranked a career-best 25 bombs in only 136 games after opening 2017 on the DL following an injury in the WBC. With a full complement of games he could easily challenge 30 in the middle of a young, potent Yankee lineup.
Round 7: Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – I am a huge proponent of the “last years bum” theory of drafting – targeting talented players whose ADP has fallen due to coming off a disappointing season. Polanco has an excellent pedigree and was a darling of many drafts last year coming off an impressive 2016. With a little luck in the health department (which is admittedly no guarantee) Polanco has a chance to turn a big profit in the 7th round. I think this is the kind of guy you want to let fall to you while other owners are chasing the “next big thing.”
Round 8: Lance McCullers Jr. (SP, Houston Astros) – I still have nightmares of McCullers coming into the ALCS and snapping off curveball. After curveball. After curveball. After curveball. After curveball. I remember at this point wanting to grab another starter and choosing between McCullers and Gerritt Cole, another long-term favorite of mine. I opted to go for the likely low inning, high production option in McCullers over the arguably more reliable but less spectacular Cole, thinking that Cole-like options are more likely to emerge on the WW over the course of the season. McCullers may only give me 120 so innings but they’ll probably all be excellent.
Round 9: Adam Eaton (OF, Washington Nationals) – Don’t sleep on Eaton, who was off to a nice start in an incredibly deep lineup before a freak collision at 1B ended his season. He is the perfect swiss army knife type player, contributing solidly in all standard 5×5 offensives. If he can secure a spot at the top of Washington’s lineup, he could challenge 120 runs in front of Zimmerman, Harper, and Rendon.
Round 10: Sonny Gray (SP, New York Yankees) – SP was really starting to thin out at this point, and I kind of found myself in a scramble to grab another high-end arm. I would’ve liked someone a bit more durable to pair with McCullers, but Gray was in my estimation the best hurler left so I grabbed him. He curiously didn’t get a lot of run support when he came over to NYY, but that is incredibly fluky and should take care of itself. He should pile on wins in the Bronx as long as he stays off the DL.
Round 11: Mike Moustakas (3B, FA) – I had another UTIL spot open so I was practically frothing at the mouth to grab another slugging third baseman. The Moose got loose for a career high 38 homers last year by embracing the fly ball revolution, getting the ball up in the air 45% of the time and slashing his GB/FB ratio. Some of his other indicators went in the wrong direction (pop-ups and strikeouts up, walks down) but I’m willing to gamble on a potential high production bat at this point in the draft. Plus, the guy just looks like he is entirely fueled by bacon-wrapped turkey legs.
Round 12: DJ Lemahieu (2B, Colorado Rockies) – OK now that I have all the third basemen, it is time to start legitimately filling out the roster slots I have been ignoring (SP, RP, OF, 2B – you know, the puny positions.) Lemahieu is just a solid batting average anchor with a little bit of category juice. Getting a piece of Coors Field is always great for your fantasy squad, too.
Round 13: Jameson Taillon (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Taillon made an incredibly quick mid-season return from testicular cancer and pitched pretty well, proving that he has more balls than anyone. His end of season stats weren’t overwhelming, but he had an xFIP more than a half a run lower than his ERA so he may have been a bit unfairly bitten by the Homer Dragons. We haven’t even really seen him pitch all that much at the ML level. Taillon was once a mega-elite prospect so he might have another gear if his health ever cooperates long enough for him to get an extended run at the MLB level.
Round 14: Sean Doolittle (RP, Washington Nationals) – Oh yeah, saves are a thing. I generally am a big-time don’t pay for saves guy, but I think I waited a little too long to grab my first reliever. Doolittle looks entrenched as the closer on a playoff team, and in my estimation was the last “safe” closer on the board so I felt almost contractually obligated to make him my 14th round pick.
Round 15: Jeff Samardzija (SP, San Francisco Giants) – Disclaimer: I love Jeff Samardzija. Like, full-on man crush levels. It hurt my heart to see him slip down this low. I needed to end his suffering. From an objective standpoint, this is a really interesting pitcher. Here is what every final pitching line looked like from the 2017 season: 7IP, 0BB, 35H, 72 ER, 5MILLION K. His 8.88 K/9 was his best mark since his days as a Cub (seemingly a lifetime ago) and he shaved his walks to a career best 1.39/9. His Soft contact percentage was his best as a starter. Like so many pitchers, he was really hurt by the homer with his 1.30/9 mark easily his worst as a starter, even pitching in an environment that should suppress gopher balls. If he can retain his K/9 and BB/9 gains, this could be a bargain. Unfortunately, I do admit that Samardzija just might be one of those guys who is always less than the sum of his parts.
Round 16: Wilson Ramos (C, Tampa Bay Rays) – If you aren’t going to grab Gary Sanchez, wait on catcher. Ramos is a year removed from a .307/.354/.496 line, which, when you adjust for position, translates to A BILLION/ A BILLION/ A BILLION. He may never reach those lofty heights again, but I’m happy to have him as my backstop a year+ out from his ACL injury.
Round 17: Michael Wacha (SP, St. Louis Cardinals) – Just another solid arm to round out my staff. I don’t have much to say here, but I think at this point in the draft you just want to start taking some calculated risks. I preferred the theoretical upside of Wacha to the similarly skilled but lower-ceiling types that went after him (Lance Lynn, Zach Davies.)
Round 18: Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies) – At this point I had broken out in a cold sweat after realizing it had been a few minutes since I drafted a 3rd baseman. When I selected Franco, relief washed over me in an awesome wave. Franco has been kind of disappointing so far but I think there is still the chance he is a late-blooming power/patience EE type. These are the darts you throw in the 18th round.
Round 19: Brent Honeywell (SP, Tampa Bay Rays) – The earlier in the offseason you draft, you want to target skills over roles. Honeywell’s status is kind of up in the air – he didn’t get a call-up at the end of last season and hasn’t seen any action at the major league level. But he is a very highly touted pitching prospect on an organization that churns out great pitching. If he cracks the rotation out of spring (likely following the departure of Alex Cobb) he could be 150 great innings right out of the gate. He could also be Blake Snell but lets just ignore that for now.
Round 20: David Dahl (OF, Coors Field) – David Dahl’s 2017 was completely de-railed by a lingering oblique/rib/core/back injury that basically held him out of MLB action for the entire year. He likely could have made a return in the second half but the Rockies erred on the side of caution, keeping him on rehab assignments and in the minors. They were in the middle of a pennant race and likely couldn’t afford Dahl the chance to find his footing at the MLB level. But, when Dahl debuted in 2016, all he did was slash .315/.359/.500 with seven homers, five steals, and gobs of XBHs hitting in the gangster’s paradise that is Coors. Don’t forget about him, he could turn a massive, massive profit.
Round 21: Tim Beckham (SS, Baltimore Orioles) – Meh. Didn’t love this pick, as I was targeting Orlando Arcia who went two picks before me. Beckham was a decent consolation prize. He really turned it on after being traded mid-season to Baltimore.
Round 22: Brad Brach (RP, Baltimore Orioles) – I had a few third basemen all queued up but I was completely crestfallen when I realized that I only had RP slots left on my roster. I took Brach. I have completely punted saves at this point-I like to scour the wire for them during the season rather than draft them due to the completely volatile nature of the position. Brach got the first chance to close when Zach Britton went down last year and could slide into the role if Britton is moved in the offseason.
Round 23: Carter Capps (RP, San Diego Padres) – This was admittedly kind of a throwaway pick that I probably wouldn’t have made in a “real” draft. You may remember Capps as the reliever who basically pole-vaults towards the batter as part of his standard delivery, releasing the ball when his hand is already behind home plate. I was trying to find someone who might fall into a few saves throughout the year, and Capps seemed to fit the bill. I then found out that he is about to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Let’s forget I ever made this pick.