Eleven of our best dynasty writers—and Trevor Hooth—got together to do a little dynasty mock draft. Here are the results:
This would be the most fun offseason to start a dynasty draft in a while. The lack of minor league and amateur baseball in 2020 has made for a volatile prospect market. Combine that with the crazy pace at which teams brought up rookies in the short MLB 2020 season and uncertainty is permeating.
This only reinforces my general draft strategy when beginning a new dynasty league: ignore Year 1. I don’t mean tank, although if it comes to tanking, I’m not against it. It means put an emphasis on players who won’t be in their prime yet, and prospects who will be in the league by the middle of 2022.
I believe this is a good middle ground between teams who are trying to win now and win later. And by sacrificing the first season, it keeps me focused on the prospects I really want and not chasing the low floor/high ceiling guys I might be more inclined to draft otherwise.
Overall, I am happy with this draft. I made a few gambles, but not too many, and with the exception of two or three picks, I stayed to the original strategy. The result? As Nate Handy will point out in his write-up tomorrow, my team would have been the youngest in this league, and each of my first 18 picks would be playing in the majors by the end of 2022.
1.3 Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD
This pick is a no-brainer at this point. There are three youngsters who can produce just as much as the best vets and while Tatis is the youngest of the three, he’s also maybe the shakiest right now, fantasy-wise. He’s had ups and downs so far in his short career.
Fortunately for me, everyone seems to be fixating on his last month in 2020 when he had his worst full month as a Padre. Before that, however, Tatis was straight up raking. All of his numbers seem to be improving, he’s making more contact — and an obscene amount of hard contact. His exit velocity topped 95 MPH (best in the league) and he had an incredible near 20% barrel %. He also improved his walk and strikeout ratios. I’m happy with this pick.
2.22 Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS
I’ll be honest. I didn’t quite know what to do with this pick. I was torn between Devers and Lucas Giolito. I went with Devers because when in doubt, I go with the hitter. In doing so, however, I’m completely ignoring his average showing in 2020. He got swing happy in the shortened season and it affected just about all his numbers but dingers.
His SwStr was a career-worst, his contact rate bottomed out and pitchers just plain stopped throwing him strikes because they knew they didn’t have to. It’s hard to tell what lies in Devers’ future. It’s not as if he won’t be a top-five 3B to own in dynasty’s for the next few years — if he remains at 3B. Still, he is capable of putting up MVP numbers any given year.
If you compare him to Manny Machado, for example, Devers has one fewer .900 OPS season. And that is just because Machado put one up in a 60-game season last year. To put that in perspective, Machado has played five more seasons.
3.27 Yordan Alvarez, DH, HOU
I admit that picking Alvarez here is a total gamble. It would have been safer to go with Kyle Tucker or Jack Flaherty. On top of his injury issues (double knee surgeries), Alvarez is just a DH, and likely to remain one. I can’t see how the Astros will put a guy with problems in both knees in the outfield.
Picking a DH pigeon holes me early, but the upside on Alvarez’s bat here makes the juice worth the squeeze. We’re talking .300/.550/1.000 upside here with 35-40 homers. His OBP and hitting in the middle of Houston’s lineup will keep him near the top of counting stats. Hitting-wise, these first three picks are not a bad start. Any of them could be the best hitter on my team on any given year.
4.46 Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK
I stayed young here and went with Jesus Luzardo. I was actually hoping for Brandon Woodruff and then grabbing Luzardo when he came back around in the 5th, but I was sniped. Oh well. Luzardo is a great consolation prize. I believe he’s being undervalued right now because he essentially performed how anyone rationally would expect a good rookie pitcher to perform in a normal year, let alone a crazy COVID year.
Luzardo finally shrugged off some injury concerns and managed a reasonable 4.12 ERA at 22 years old. If you watched him during 2020 too, you saw that he got stronger as the year progressed. He stopped walking guys and had more of the control that was expected from him, he just got a little unlucky with homers at the same time. I expect a very good season from the Oakland lefty in 2021 and for quite a few years after that.
5.51 Gavin Lux, 2B, LAD
Aside from catcher, second base is the weakest position in baseball. I decided before picking Lux that I was going to go with a 2B here. The question was either Keston Hiura or Lux. I know that Lux might not wind up at 2nd in a couple of years, but I also know that if the choice is between Lux’s offense and Hiura’s offense, I’m taking Lux.
They are pretty similar, with both having swing-and-miss issues but Lux offers a little more speed. Also, from an organizational perspective, I trust the Dodgers to help Lux more than the Brewers to help Hiura. I don’t know what happened to the Brewers in 2020, but it seems like everyone took a step back but Devin Williams.
6.70 Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS
You were expecting someone else? What about my first five rounds makes you think that I’m shying away from guys who lack experience? Enter Andrew Vaughn, a bat-first, right-handed first baseman. The White Sox are desperate to field a winner, so much so that they will bring up anyone who can help them. And this guy can help.
Even though he’s played less than 60 minor league games, he’s posted very good walk, strikeout, and OBP rates at all levels so far. There is a scenario where Vaughn breaks camp with the team, although it’s unlikely. It would take an insane spring by Vaughn and probably an injury to either Jose Abreu or whoever is serving as their primary DH.
It’s much more likely that the Sox will want to see him hit in Triple-A after spending the entire 2020 in the alternate site. Still, the former Golden Spikes Award winner will contribute in 2021. As I mentioned at the beginning of my article, my most common dynasty strategy is to throw away Year 1 for gains in Years 2-10. This fits that strategy.
7.75 Spencer Torkelson, 1B, DET
This is where my drafting strategy kicked in a little. Now, Torkelson doesn’t exactly fit my “plan for Year 2” strategy. He’s more on the Year 3 or 4 track as he likely won’t be called up until 2022. I kind of thought that Tork would be picked by the time my pick came around again after picking Vaughn. A lot of times when you call attention to a certain type of prospect, people jump at something similar.
That said, Shelly Verougstraete picked prospects Marco Luciano and Matt Manning almost right after. I’d rather have Tork than either of those two, so at this point I thought if there was any other prospect more valuable to me than the 2020 1.1 pick.
Alec Bohm came to mind but no. Sure, he’d be a more immediate solution at first base, but that only matters if I care about Year 1. I also thought about Dylan Carlson before realizing I was making this too difficult on myself. Just pick the guy you want. So I went with the guy who hit 55 homers in just 129 NCAA games, along with a near .340 average. I don’t see him as a third baseman. If he is, I’m OK with that, as this league had a CI spot.
8.96 Mike Soroka, SP, ATL
At this point, I’m pot-committed to the future. Not the distant future, the 2022 or at the latest 2023 future. Can’t I just say that Mike Soroka has a career 2.86 ERA and he’s just 23? I get it, his K numbers aren’t great and even his WHIP is merely good and not great.
He’s got a bad wrap for being injury-prone and I don’t know why. He’s three years younger than Walker Buehler and they’ve each thrown 170+ innings once. I’ll agree that he’s had some hard luck injuries and some concerning injuries, but he’s come back each time as the same pitcher, or even better, in some circumstances.
In today’s landscape, it’s fairly easy to pick up extra strikeouts. It’s not easy to pick up good pitchers. Soroka is already good pitcher, and he’s the same age as Ian Anderson, Matt Manning, Josiah Gray, Casey Mize, Logan Gilbert, and younger than Nate Pearson, Tarik Skubal, Spencer Howard, and Michael Koepech. Don’t overthink this.
9.99 Adley Rutschman, C, BAL
As soon as J.T. Realmuto left, that signaled Adley Rutschman’s selection for me. He’s the only catcher I’d like on this roster. Like I said, I’m drafting for 2022 and beyond. With that said, this seems like a no-brainer. Rutschman likely won’t come up in 2021 like his draftmate Vaughn.
It’s not because the catcher is the most difficult position to field. It’s because the Orioles have no incentive to bring him up until 2022.
He is the best college catcher prospect since Buster Posey. He followed up his monstrous junior season at Oregon State (.411/.751/1.326) with a good showing in Low-A and a mixed showing in Single-A. After spending 2020 in the alternate site, Rutschman probably begins 2021 in Double-A and will play a half-season there and a half in Triple-A, provided his bat is as good as we all know his fielding is.
10.118 Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH, NYY
OK. Picking Stanton here sticks out like a sore thumb — which actually sounds like the injury that will keep Stanton out of the lineup for all of 2021.
By far the oldest player I’ve taken in the draft to this point, Stanton felt undervalued here. I know I’m not planning 2021, but I did have a significant hole at outfield at this point. I was hoping Alex Kirilloff would have been around, but he was picked at the end of the ninth round, leaving me with the oft-injured Yankee.
Look at the caliber of bats that were picked before and after this: Luis Urias, Brandon Buxton, Anthony Rizzo, Alex Verdugo. I’m not saying these are terrible picks. I’m saying when healthy, Stanton doesn’t belong in this class. He’s two steps above this. That is the gamble I’m making with this pick. I know..it’s a bad gamble for me, the one who tweets before every season a reminder that Stanton has only hit 40 homers in a season once in his career.
11.123 Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP, LAA
Slightly less old, but another gamble: Shohei Ohtani. To get Ohtani in a dynasty this late seems crazy to me. Just a year ago, the rights to both pitcher and hitter Ohtani in one pick was at Round 5. Yes, 2020 was a disaster for him, but the talent is still there.
He’s already throwing and Joe Madden said he has no restrictions. Even if the Angels demand Ohtani chooses to be a hitter or a pitcher, this is good value. If he’s a hitter, he’s probably headed to the OF and no longer a DH.
If he’s a pitcher, he’s got the stuff to be a top starter in this league, barring injury. Just remember: in 2018 this guy posted a 3.31 ERA, a 10.97 K/9, a .295 batting average and a .925 OPS to go along with his 20 homers and 10 stolen bases.
12.142 Riley Greene, OF, DET
Once thought by many to be the best pure prep bat of the 2019 draft, Greene has lost a little of that patina. Why? Because although he was great in Rookie-A and Low-A, he didn’t hit well in Single-A — at 18 years old — for 24 games.
At this point in the draft, Greene might be the best overall bat available. I’ll happily scoop him up, even if it means that I won’t be able to play him until mid-2022 at the earliest. I was hoping to grab one of Casey Mize or Nate Pearson at this pick, but they went along with Skubal and Kopech all in a row.
13.147 Trey Mancini, OF, BAL
I needed another good outfielder and Trey Mancini was really the best one left. The obvious reason why he’s still available this late is due to recovering from colon cancer. Managers are still a little wearily to flock to the one-time 35-home run hitter but I don’t know why. He is now fully recovered and plans to play in 2021. Like Stanton, Mancini is a lottery ticket. If he hits as he did before his diagnosis (.276/.485/.820 with an average of 28 homers, 80 RBIs, and 80 R) this is the steal of the draft.
14.166 Trevor Larnach, OF, MIN
It’s possible Trevor Larnach is starting for the Twins in 2021. It’s possible he’s starting for them in March. After all, all this guy has done is hit at every level, college and the minors. Some things to know about Larnach: he never hit below .295 in the minors at any level, and never posted an OPS lower than .841. He also walks in 10% of his plate appearances and strikes out around 20% like clockwork. After spending a year at the alternate site, this guy is as ready as anyone to be a major leaguer.
15.171 Noah Syndergaard, SP, NYM
My pitching version of Stanton and Mancini. Noah Syndergaard is a gamble that fits into my plan to compete in 2022. Recovering from Tommy John might be just what this hard-throwing pitcher needs to finally make adjustments. To this point, Syndergaard’s career can be characterized as results not meeting talent. His remedy for this has been to continually try to throw harder, and strike more people out. This is obviously not working. I’m not saying he should become a contact-oriented pitcher, but trying to blow everyone away has its limits.
16.190 Logan Gilbert, SP, SEA
Here’s another top prospect who will likely be up in 2021. Logan Gilbert has been stellar in the minors thus far. He’s not an overpowering pitcher, but Gilbert’s combination of stuff and command makes him a good bet to succeed in short order once he makes the M’s rotation.
Already having Luzardo, Syndergaard, Ohtani and Soroka, I can start to focus on adding to a base. I said earlier that you can pick up strikeout pitchers later in a dynasty draft. While Gilbert has shown an ability to get punchouts (over 10 K/9 at every level), I expect this to head back down to around a K per inning against the toughest hitters in the league. So I wouldn’t gain Ks here but I certainly wouldn’t lose them.
17.195 Luis Arraez, 2B/3B/OF, MIN
Sometimes it’s worth taking a player who you know what you’re getting. Sometimes it’s worth taking a player who is one of the best at a pivotal skill. Rarely do you get both so late in the draft. Luis Arraez is underrated. Everywhere he goes, he hits. Arraez has 124 games under his belt now, and his batting average is a sparkling .321. That’s what you’re going to get.
Why he’s underrated is because he provides little in the way of power or speed. I get it. He’s limited if he can’t contribute to either of these areas. What makes him special is his potential for a .400 OBP, which would likely make him a No. 2 hitter in one of the better offensive teams in the league. Suddenly if he has the potential to score 100 runs he’s worth a lot more.
That’s what I see when I see Arraez—a potential batting champion who will touch the plate a lot. It’s not just his zone recognition. Arraez has one of the best overall contact rates in the league already. At 93%, he approaches Dustin Pedroia territory. If you can make contact almost every time you swing, you will be worth owning.
18.214 Edward Cabrera, SP, MIA
Many scouts prefer Edward Cabrera to Sixto Sanchez. I am in this group. It’s not just because of height, even though at 6-5, Cabrera is more projectable than Sanchez. He’s also more likely to last. The development of Cabrera’s offspeed stuff over the past two years has been remarkable. It has taken his ceiling from reliever to potential frontline starter.
He already had the velocity, topping out just shy of triple digits, but now his changeup sits firmly in the plus category, with the slider falling in that category as well. He’s likely to be more effective than Sanchez because of that plus third pitch. Even if Cabrera is just as effective as Sanchez, that would be a boon for the value of this pick. Sanchez was picked 13 rounds ago.
19.219 Hunter Greene, SP, CIN
It’s hard to know what to expect from Hunter Greene right now. He’s basically been MIA for two full seasons due to Tommy John and COVID. What we do know is that he hasn’t lost any zip on his 80-grade fastball. Greene has been throwing and hitting the triple digits.
There is talk of new mechanics and new pitches but I haven’t seen any footage of either yet. We’re basically where we started when he was drafted, but he’s now three years older. He’s still an athletic freak with a rocket for an arm. Out of all the prospects I picked in this draft, Greene is the one I’ll be watching the closest.
20.238 Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU
I decided to double down on high-risk, high-reward pitchers with Greene and then Forrest Whitley. Unlike Greene, who is still trying to figure out his pitches, Whitley might have too many. Before the pandemic, he featured a plus fastball, changeup, slider, cutter and curve. The problem was while the movement of his pitches was very good, the ability to control them was virtually non-existent. On top of that, he’s had an array of injuries that could be viewed as a precursor to issues down the road. There is a variety of outcomes from here on out. He could win a Cy Young. He could be a closer. He could be out of the league in five years. I’ll still bet on the stuff and the Astros to figure out how to get it over the plate.
21.243 Jesse Winker, OF, CIN
I wanted Edwin Diaz here, but he was taken 10 or so picks before me. Jesse Winker was Plan B. On the one hand, you could say that Winker finally figured it out in 2020. He hit for a little more power while maintaining his incredible walk rate (15.30 BB%). Is it for real? Maybe. If it is, Winker is a pretty good No. 3 outfielder behind Stanton and Mancini. If it isn’t, this is a swing-and-a-miss, but I can afford to do that with the prospect depth I’ve built in the first 20 rounds — and because I picked another lottery ticket in the 22nd round.
22.262 Austin Hays, OF, BAL
Like I said about Winker, Austin Hays is a lottery ticket. Not the kind of lottery ticket that will change your life, more like a scratch ticket, where if you win, you’ll be living a little bit more comfortably. There is power potential, on-base potential, and the K-rate is totally reasonable. It’s come in fits-and-starts for the last few years, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together. Nick Senzel was my first choice. He went five picks beforehand.
23.267 Josiah Gray, SP, LAD
Gray has become a hot prospect the last couple of years. He converted from a shortstop into a starter with good control, three plus pitches, and a knack for keeping runners off bases. The rub here is that he’s on the Dodgers, who have enough starting pitchers to not need Gray for the next two years. It’s possible he forces his way into the rotation in 2022, but I don’t see it happening in 2020. Even if David Price opts out, the Dodgers have Tony Gonsolin waiting in the wings—and other options.
24.286 Brent Honeywell, SP, TB
When it comes to injury issues, Brent Honeywell is in a tier all his own. Before a Tommy John surgery in 2018 and a fractured throwing elbow in 2019, he was one of the best pitching prospects out there. He had three plus pitches in a fastball, changeup and screwball. His curveball was pretty good too, but after two surgeries basically remade his arm, it’s difficult to say what he will be in 2021. He could be on the Rays roster this season. This is a lottery ticket in every way imaginable.
25.291 Nick Gonzales, 2B, PIT
Given where Nick Gonzales played college ball, it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt him. New Mexico State is notorious for being the Coors Field of the NCAA—maybe even more impactful of an environment.
Then again, nobody has put up numbers quite like Gonzales who before COVID had 12 homers in 16 college games while slashing .448/1.155/1.765. The optimistic side of his evaluation suggests that he will be a potential all-star. The pessimistic side is that he’s Adam Frazier all over again. Not that Frazier is a bad player. He’s a quality major league infielder, but Gonzales is a top draft pick and the hope is that he’ll be more.
26.310 Austin Nola, C, SD
What does a 31-year-old catcher have in common with…everyone else I picked so far? Nothing. I probably should have stayed to form and went with a younger player here. Shane McClanahan would have been good.
Instead, I felt a sense of needing to field a team for this season and since Rutschman won’t be ready for a year, Nola would be a good placeholder. I know he struggled after getting traded to the Padres but I’m still buying that he’s more of a .800 OPS guy than a .700 OPS guy. This pick makes little sense, I know it. If he weren’t on this roster, however, I would say it fits in round 26.
27.315 Max Meyer, SP, MIA
Even if Max Meyer doesn’t develop his changeup, he’s got a great chance of being a high-leverage reliever. Probably the best fastball-slider combo in the 2020 draft, Meyer has a better skillset than Garrett Crochet, who went straight to the majors with success as a reliever.
The Marlins should give him time to develop, despite being a college arm because the upside is high. Given all of the young pitchers and minor leaguers I’ve already drafted, I can afford to wait and see here.
28.334 Nate Lowe, 1B, TEX
I know, I know. Tampa Bay has a good track record of getting rid of once-promising talents before the league proves out their true worth. A 25-year-old starting first baseman capable of hitting 35 homers is the upside here.
What’s the downside? He’s a backup by this time in 2022. Either way, I won’t need him by then because of Vaughn and Torkelson. I don’t pick guys in any draft to trade them later. That’s a good way to be stuck with a useless player. Instead, I like to pick guys like Lowe who we’ll know what he is in a year and I can cut ties if he’s bad or either shop or hold onto if he’s good. If he’s somewhere in the middle? Depends on how good the rest of my roster is.
29.339 Mick Abel, SP, PHI
Prep pitchers are always risky, but prep pitchers who didn’t get to play a full year are plain impossible to quantify. Who knows what Mick Abel will be? I don’t. I do know that he has two plus pitches and one decent one. That’s a good start. And I can wait to see if he pops in the next 12 months, or if he’s more of a project than originally thought.
30.358 Wil Myers, OF, SD
It was actually kind of a joke that Wil Myers lasted this long. I picked him just because there is value here, at round 30. There’s real potential of a 30 homer season. And being on the Padres means the counting stats will be better than most. He is 30 and makes little sense for this roster, but I have enough prospects to wait on. I still could use some lottery tickets starting on major league rosters. Myers fits that bill perfectly.
Photos by Cody Glenn & Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)