Drafting is always fun, and a mock draft is one of the best ways to start up your off-season prep. Luckily, 12 staff members (myself included) took part in a super early mock draft during the doldrums of October. An early mock draft aims to get a head start on accessing players, looking at recency bias, and trying not to get overly swayed by ADP.
As a bonus, each staff member will review their draft on our On The Corner Podcast. You’ll get to know each staff member’s strategy leading up to the draft, thoughts as the draft progressed, and other tidbits. Before that, let’s talk about the draft.
A quick overview:
- 5×5 standard scoring
- Head-to-Head w/ daily moves
- 1 C, 3 OF, 2 UTIL (no MI/CI)
- 9 P slots (3 SP, 3 RP, 3 P)
- Yahoo position eligibility (5 games at a position)
- Shohei Ohtani = Two Players
Here are the Pitcher List staffers and their draft order:
- Chris Weber (@schwebsi)
- Rick Graham (@IAmRickGraham)
- Dave Swan (@davithius)
- Ben Palmer (@benjpalmer)
- Pete Ball (@PeteBBaseball)
- Nick Pollack (@PitcherList)
- Scott Chu (@ifthechufits)
- Anthony Tucker (@AnthonyTucker81)
- Jonathan Metzelaar (@JonMetzelaar)
- Steve Gesuele (@stav8818)
- Van Burnett (@Van_verified)
- Adam Howe (@EightyGrade)
Without further adieu, here is the draft board (Link to the actual ClickyDraft Board), completed on October 23rd:
On top of the board, I will offer round-by-round thoughts/insights and a final thought. The focus will not be grading a team or casting shade on any particular pick. Instead, the primary goal will be to find notable standouts and surprises. Should you be interested in someone’s choice, listen to the upcoming podcast or shoot them a DM.
- Standout – Two fresh faces (Julio Rodríguez and Bobby Witt Jr.) bumped their way into the first round. Indeed, this isn’t a total shock after the great rookie campaigns put up by the pair. Still, get used to drafting them very early.
- Surprise – No first-round SPs? Quite wild! This makes you wonder if it’ll be a trend that sticks around in March…my guess is they’ll push up to the end of the first round or the beginning of the second.
- Standout – Four 1B taken in the second round, with three big-time power hitters to begin the round. Additionally, three power bats from the other side of the infield were snagged as well. Again, all are heavily reliant on the long ball.
- Surprise – What jumps out to me is the lack of speed taken. Was speed pushed up too heavy in the first round, or did everyone secure early power after 2022’s shortage? This dilemma might be an interesting point of focus for your roster construction.
- Standout – Apparently, this was the “get your ace” round. Eight of the 12 teams took an SP, with six of them locking in their first. However, you don’t want to be the one left missing out on your guy.
- Surprise – Fernando Tatis Jr. will get drafted early and late, depending on your league. Furthermore, seeing him get no discount at the 36th overall pick felt like quite a shock. The talent is there, no doubt, but is the risk worth the pick? There might be too many question marks surrounding San Diego’s superstar.
- Standout – Atlanta gets four players selected in this round. Furthermore, Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider will get no discounts as they are both taken inside the top 40, and that’s crazy when you consider both were likely waiver wire pickups only a few months ago.
- Surprise – J.T. Realmuto goes off the board with the last pick in the round. In a one-catcher league, this feels a tad early but a potential 20/20 season from the catcher spot is quite an advantage over the competition. Either way, JTR will go early in most drafts.
- Standout – Based on his production, it’s not surprising to see Adolis García taken here. With Scott Chu taking two SPs with his previous two picks, a toolsy OF makes sense. Some people still might not buy into his skills based on the sub-optimal approach, but if he cuts the K-rate again-LOOKOUT!
- Surprise – We got our first RP taken, Emmanuel Clase. Given the state of the position, anyone at the end of a draft will likely be the first to grab one. If you’ve forgotten how good Clase was, go check out his player page. Yeah, he deserves to be one of, if not the, first RPs took.
- Standout – Leaping into the top three catchers is Adley Rutschman. In his 470 plate appearances, he struck out less than 20% and demonstrated a keen batter’s eye by walking a ton. Additionally, he put 13 balls into the bleachers and stole a few bases. If you’re a manager that doesn’t want to play games at catcher, Adley has the makings of something special.
- Surprise – Willy Adames? In the 6th round? And then you dig into his recent season(31 HR, 8 SB, and nearly 100 RBI). Boy, SS is deep is that’s the level of production your grabbing with the ninth SS selected.
- Standout – Youth on the rise. The crop of potentially high-upside youngsters (Gunnar Henderson, Wander Franco, and Oneil Cruz) go. In the 7th round, you’re banking on potential and hoping the breakout is coming as the trio is taken well inside the top 100. I would expect these names to go inside the top 100 often.
- Surprise – ALERT! Closers finally start showing up on the board. Now, I’m aware this is a mock, but typically closers go much earlier. Do I think they’ll go this late in drafts later toward Spring Training? Not. A. Chance.
- Standout – Rather than a lone standout, the round featured several players (Corbin Carroll, Vinnie Pasquantino, Alejandro Kirk, Cristian Javier, and Kyle Wright) showing exceptional skills but with a smaller track record. Could all of them take a leap forward? Surely, any regression will severely hinder their value.
- Surprise –Tyler Glasnow finished his campaign on the mound, but he only tossed 6.2 innings during the regular season and another five in the postseason. That draft price seems a bit steep, and you’ll need to make sure a foundation of innings around him.
- Standout – Nick Lodolo went the pick before Hunter Greene. The pair of Reds’ arms are likely going to go near each other in drafts. Lodolo has the bigger arsenal and could take a big leap forward, while Greene’s K-upside is immense.
- Surprise – Cal Raleigh gets taken as the sixth catcher. His 27 HRs make him a tremendous option for power in a position of scarcity. However, what makes Raleigh a true surprise pick is Willson Contreras was available.
- Standout – Logan Webb! After breaking out in 2021 with an 11-3 record and 3.03 ERA, he doubles down with a 15-9 record and 2.90(!!!) ERA. Yes, the K% took a step back, but what an outstanding SP4. He’s quite a solid arm to be going this late.
- Surprise – It’s the 10th round, and Josh Hader and Raisel Iglesias finally get scooped up. The pair had a disastrous campaign in 2022 but could easily return significantly more value should they regain form. Both very well could end up as the closer for two top-notch teams and could finish as the #1 RP in 2023.
- Standout – It has been nearly four rounds since a shortstop was taken. But Pete Ball snagged Carlos Correa, who filled in as his primary SS. He falls due to the lack of speed. However, the 20-plus bombs with a reliable batting average are a nice bonus. Oddly, another three rounds passed before another SS was selected.
- Surprise – Brandon Lowe’s season was an utter wash. After putting together an impressive 39 HR/7 SB season in 2022, the magic vanished, and he was hurt most of the year. With 2B being such a dumpster fire, an upside play like Lowe this late is quite surprising.
- Standout – Our in-house RP guru(Rick Graham) waited til the 12th round to select his first RP, Félix Bautista. He looked unhittable and should slide right into the closer role for an up-and-coming squad. If Bautista is a lock for Rick, he’s a lock RP for me too.
- Surprise – Chris Sale. Yes, the upside is immense, but the risk is intense. In round 12, you can gamble a bit but is this too much?
- Standout – Jeffrey Springs has become a thing, hasn’t he? The southpaw tossed 135 IP with a 2.46 ERA that’s backed up by a 3.32 SIERA. I won’t lie; I’m a little worried about a 30-year-old first-time starter, but he’ll be Schwebsi’s SP5-very nice!
- Surprise – One year removed from a 33 HR/11 SB season, Jorge Polanco’s injury-riddled year still left him with 16 HR and three SBs. Unfortunately, he’s lost shortstop eligibility, but power at 2B is a unicorn. If you’re constructing speed from other areas, Polanco is a sneaky valuable hitter.
- Standout – It’s hard not to love what Taylor Ward did in 2022(23 HR, 5 SB, with a .281 BA). Furthermore, his approach comes with a solid contact rate in the zone and a 10.6% walk rate. He doesn’t appear to be a fluke, and instead, I’d suggest making him a target for your OF3.
- Surprise – There were a few I’d love to pick from, but we’ll limit it to two. First, Whit Merrifield’s fall from graces. Still, he’ll be eligible at 2B and OF, and power+speed combo players aren’t the easiest resource to find. I could see him moving up boards in March. Next, someone always takes Jarred Kelenic a bit early for me, at least. He’s still a flawed batter that requires you to draft with the hope he’ll progress. Round 14 might be too early for that.
- Standout – Triston Casas going to Pete Ball is no surprise. Casas has an outstanding batter’s eye and walked at a 20% clip while showcasing some power(.211 ISO). Still, I wonder if he’ll be more viable in OBP leagues rather than BA.
- Surprise – This was quite an easy choice. Adalberto Mondesi has shown flashes of greatness, but the skills still haven’t come together in the same season. Certainly, I would have guessed the price tag isn’t this high.
- Standout – For all the flaws that Gregory Soto has, you can’t take away that he racks up saves. Finding a closer this late in the game is definitely nice. Let’s hope he can get the K-rate back up since he didn’t limit the free passes in 2022.
- Surprise – Kenta Maeda felt like an odd pick at this point since he didn’t pitch last year. From my perspective, I prefer to see a pitcher finish on the mound, at least. I get it; he could be an upside play, but with his previous SP staff, including so many injury-prone players, something safer seemed like the better play.
- Standout – The only catcher taken his round was William Contreras. However, it was before Travis d’Arnaud and Yasmani Grandal, who’ve perennially been C1 options. If Cpnteras can find enough ABs, he’s got plenty of thump in his bat to outperform the pair.
- Surprise -Well, the secret is out! EVERYBODY LOVES NOOT! I was hoping he’d slip a little further, but nope, he’s gaining steam rather than slipping through the cracks. If you buy into Lars Nootbar‘s upside, draft him as your OF4 soon as you get the chance.
- Standout – Trevor Rogers came into last year as a potentially new ace and then crashed hard. Toward the end of the season, he came back and flashed some brilliance. If he comes back looking like his 2021 version, you’ve got a player that should be going ten rounds earlier. If he keeps falling to this point, he will be a terrific candidate to buy back on.
- Surprise – I snagged Jake McCarthy, who I assumed was already taken when I search his name. If the playing time sticks, 25-30 SBs feel like a lock from my bench OF. Hope he falls this late in your drafts, but most likely; he won’t.
- Standout – In the previous three seasons, Anthony Rendon hasn’t even had 600 AB. But if he can regain any resemblance of his early days, it’ll be a big-time draft pick this late. Some things to love about Rendon are his plate discipline still remains impeccable, and he’ll rarely fall victim to the strikeout.
- Surprise – This was the round of last-minute upshot plays. Many teams had secured most of the starters, and we saw some tantalizing picks like Riley Greene, Miguel Vargas, and CJ Abrams. This feels like the spot you’ll have to make sure you get your guys.
Round 20-23 (Mostly bench spots)
- Standout – With his last pick, Jonathan Metzelaar scoops up Javier Báez. Even with some of his peripheral numbers on the decline, Baez put up a 17 HR/9 SB season with his new ball club in Detroit. Furthermore, his K-rate dropped to its lowest point(24.9%) since 2016. This could be a steal if returns to form.
- Surprise – RP dart throws are all over the final few rounds. Unfortunately, those miss so many more times than they hit. Make sure you’ve covered yourself closer before it gets too late. But if you didn’t draft an RP with elite skills, and hope they win the closer job.
Even with 276 players drafted, there is still plenty of potential difference-makers available. Below is a list of several players, one at each position, that could become more relevant as the calendar flips to March:
- Christian Vázquez (C) – The power was all but gone in 2022. However, Vazquez still does something that many catchers don’t do-hit for a decent batting average(.261 career BA). Depending on his landing spot in the offseason, we could see him jump significantly if a team like St. Louis comes calling.
- Matt Mervis (1B) – The talk of the Arizona Fall Leagues has been the Chicago Cubs‘ prospect. He’s been crushing baseballs, and that’s coming after putting 29 HRs up between Double-A and Triple-A. No doubt, he’s going to end up on someone’s roster when March arrives.
- Kolten Wong (2B) – Milwaukee’s 2B put up another sub-20% K-rate while chipping in 15 HR and 17 SB. Furthermore, he’s a solid enough middle infield to grab playing time every day. If he could just stay on the field, a 20/20 season is not out of the realm of possibilities.
- Alec Bohm (3B) – Bohm broke into the big at an early age and fell off quickly. But he flexes an impressive hit tool that helped fuel his .280 batting average. Should we see any added power in Spring Training, Philly’s former first-round pick could be a draft day riser-big time!
- Ha-Seong Kim (SS) – One thing we do know is Fernando Tatis Jr. won’t be the Padres’ Opening Day shortstop. Additionally, Kim handled the position pretty well and made strides at the dish. His outstanding contact skills will help bolster the batting average, and a little pop with the occasional stolen base could make him a useful bench bat.
- Trent Grisham (OF) – Another Padre? You betcha! Grisham’s K-rate went up, and his BABIP dropped. That’s a recipe for a low batting average, but both are uncharacteristic for the Gold Glove outfielder. Even in a step-back season, he finished with 17 HR and seven stolen bases.
- Mike Clevinger (SP) – At times, Clevinger looked lost on the mound. His 4.98 FIP and 4.49 SIERA add assurance that his 4.33 ERA was earned. Even worse, his K-BB% was a putrid 11.8%. Although, he spent a great portion of the season with a fastball down two ticks. And the breakers paid the price. If the fastball velocity returns, we should see him get drafted in 12-teamers.
- Blake Treinen (RP) – Many managers came into 2022 with the hopes of Treinen assuming the closer role in LA. Then, Craig Kimbrel came to town, and Treinen spent most of the year injured. Unfortunately, there are a number of solid options in LA, and RPs are incredibly tough to predict. So, proceed with caution.
Not so fast. There are a few other notions we need to think about. For instance, did any particular position dry up faster? Or What draft position seems more comfortable than others? Maybe even, was there a certain strategy that might work the best?
For starters, there always seemed to be plenty of SPs in my queue. Even when glancing back at the draft board, seeing names like Aaron Nola and Zac Gallen going after the 5th round felt like waiting on arms wasn’t a bad plan. If you’re looking to secure an ace, there seems like several options are always there.
The position that felt like it went the quickest was 2B. There isn’t an abundance of options, and it falls off VERY quickly. Going into your draft, you must plan out who you feel comfortable with. I would not advise waiting til the end and grabbing the last starter available, it could be scary by then.
Another position worth focusing on is 1B. The upper-echelon ones go early, and if you want to solidify power early, I’d suggest grabbing one early. Otherwise, you’ll find later 1B with power but batting average flaws or poor offenses, leading to depleted counting stats. My suggestion, try to lock that spot up early and don’t worry about it later.
From a draft standpoint, try to stay away from the ends (slots #1 and #12). Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on position runs, and oftentimes, you’ll have to push up certain players to ensure you draft them. Instead, the sweet spot seems to be either the middle (#6) or right in front of the middle (#5). There appears to be a consensus top five hitters and then a slight dropoff. Furthermore, the way things look, you’d be starting with a very talented hitter and then having your choice of elite 1B/SP.
Lastly, from an overall strategy standpoint, you need to build your base early. My rule of thumb is four pitchers by round 10, no matter what. Preferably, four SPs and one RP by round 10. Streaming is not easy and can sink you really quickly if you’re making the wrong call, so get a solid foundation for pitching. On the hitting side, make sure you’ve got players that can do more than just steal bases. Typically, these players go early, and if they also hit HRs, you’ll pay up. The easiest viable asset to find later in a power. After any draft, that is usually several power-only players that go undrafted. If you have to wait on one, wait on power.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)