Mock Draft #2: Erik Smith’s Picks
On February 11, I joined fellow Pitcher List staff members in Mock Draft No. 2 for the 2019 season. I’ll focus on draft strategy as opposed to player evaluations, as you can find plenty of player analysis across the rest of the site.
Here’s a quick recap of the format: 12-team H2H, 3 OF, 2 UTIL, 4 bench spots, and 9 pitchers. A total of 23 rounds at 60 seconds per pick. I drew the 10th pick.
1.10 J.D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox)
My first-round pick ended up being my easiest decision of the entire draft, as J.D. Martinez was still available at pick 10. Most projection systems have Martinez in the ballpark of a .300 AVG and 40 home runs, which fits well with my early-round strategy of locking in elite production, regardless of position. Martinez has an ADP of six on most sites, but if fantasy owners skip over him due to his lack of stolen bases or injury concerns, you should jump at the chance to lock in his rare combination of power and average.
2.15 Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros)
I had a clear top three that I was considering with this pick between Jose Altuve, Jacob deGrom, and Alex Bregman, and ended up going with Altuve. Give me this pick three times, and I might pick differently each time. Ultimately I went with Altuve because of my preference for players with long histories of success at the top of drafts. And while Altuve had a “down” year last year, he still produced a .316 AVG with 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 137 games. Altuve still hasn’t turned 29 and produces across the board, with a significant advantage over Bregman in the stolen base and batting average categories. deGrom would have been a nice value, but I typically favor hitters early due to their dependability.
Aaron Nola has been the sixth starting pitcher off the board this year in NFBC drafts with an ADP of 25. I suspect that I got a Pitcher List discount due to Nick Pollack’s placement of Nola in his top 20 starting pitchers article, and I agree with Nick’s arguments. But I’ll take Nola at this spot in drafts all day, and while you could argue between picking Nola, Noah Syndergaard, or Luis Severino here, this is good value for all three. A big reason why I passed on deGrom in the second round was that I thought I could get one of this group in the third round, and my plan worked out in the end. In a league with so many starting pitcher experts, I was reluctant to wait much longer to lock in an ace.
4.39 Carlos Correa (SS, Houston Astros)
My first reach of the draft comes with Carlos Correa, as he has been going around pick 49 in NFBC drafts in 2019. However, I try not to put too much stock into ADP this early, and with such a long wait for my next pick, he likely would not have been available for me in the fifth round anyway. Correa has fallen out of favor with two injury-plagued years and a disappointing 2018, but I’m willing to bet on the pedigree. I’m not ready to call a 24-year-old elite athlete injury-prone either, and there’s still the possibility of a monster breakout year. Correa’s lack of stolen bases is disappointing, as he has only stolen five total over the past two years, but that’s baked into his draft price already. Most projections are giving him a .265-.280 AVG and 23-27 home runs, which sounds just fine from my shortstop position.
5.58 Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves)
I could tell you a story about how I thought Ozzie Albies was a steal, and regardless of positional needs I took the best player available. But the truth is, I got auto-picked Albies. This was my first time drafting on this particular site, and after my queue got emptied I was left scrambling, trying to find a pitcher that as it turned out had already been drafted. This brings me to an important lesson for drafters: make sure you are familiar with the site where your draft takes place. Do a mock draft first to get familiar, and pre-rank your players to make it easier to navigate. Since this was a mock draft, I’ll give myself a break. If this was a real draft, I would be shopping Albies or Altuve shortly after the draft ended in an attempt to shore up one of my weaker positions.
Reeling from an auto pick, I didn’t have much time to regroup until I was on the clock again. Given some more time to think it out, I might have landed on Zack Wheeler, but Stephen Strasburg was my pick and I stand by it. It’s easy to be down on Strasburg, but he’s still a top 20 starting pitcher according to most fantasy rankings, and it felt like the end of a tier where grabbing a starting pitcher made the most sense.
7.82 Yasiel Puig (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
I didn’t plan on getting Yasiel Puig in drafts this year, as I thought the hype of moving to such a great home run park would inflate his value. I pride myself on remaining unbiased, but maybe my Cincinnati roots colored my pick. But I think this is a very reasonable spot for Puig, and there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Even if he doesn’t have his breakout year some have been hoping for, he should be a solid contributor across all categories.
8.87 Aroldis Chapman (RP, New York Yankees)
I typically don’t spend much draft capital across the draft on closers, but I’m not against taking one of the early ones if I like the value. Closer is a scary position this year with injuries and committees across the landscape, and Aroldis Chapman is as reliable as you’ll find this year.
While Luis Castillo showed some warts last year, he survived his full taste of the majors throwing 169 innings before being shut down due to an innings restriction. At 26 years old he has massive upside that could be tapped into through natural improvements, a new coaching staff, and better fortune with home runs. His elite changeup makes him worth a gamble as my third starter.
10.111 Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins)
He won’t be mentioned as a sexy pick, but Eddie Rosario‘s projection of 26 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and a .275 batting average sounds just perfect as my third outfielder. Similar to Puig, he should help my team across the board. With an ADP of 87 this year in the NFBC, Rosario felt like a steal.
11.130 Sean Doolittle (RP, Washington Nationals)
This early in the offseason, bullpens are much more unpredictable, causing me to target them earlier than I would closer to the season. With closers falling off a bit of a cliff after this pick, I was happy to take Sean Doolittle 26 picks later than his 2019 NFBC ADP.
12.135 Salvador Perez (C, Kansas City Royals)
I was all set to punt catcher like I typically do, but Salvador Perez just felt right at this spot. Going around pick 124 in NFBC drafts this year, I liked the value, and it felt like I might miss out on the catcher run if I didn’t take Perez here. Sure enough, four more catchers went before I picked again after only two went in the first 11 rounds. You could poke holes in Perez’s profile all day, but I can pretty confidently expect 20+ home runs out of him, which makes him an asset at catcher.
13.154 Ian Desmond (1B/OF, Colorado Rockies)
I don’t like having Ian Desmond as my starting first baseman. This is where the ripple effect of auto-drafting Albies despite already having a second baseman begins to show itself. At least Desmond provides some needed stolen bases.
14.159 Eduardo Escobar (3B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
I missed on Justin Turner by one pick in the ninth round, and Mike Moustakas by two picks in the thirteenth round, leading me to take Eduardo Escobar in the fourteenth round. Far from ideal for my starting third baseman, at least Escobar could provide 20 home runs with a solid batting average.
I was really hoping for Cole Hamels here but missed him by four picks. With Castillo and Strasburg on my team already, I felt like I needed a dependable pitcher here. However, I likely ended up with a Toby.
16.183 Carlos Santana (1B, Cleveland Indians)
Drafting Carlos Santana is the side effect of having Desmond as your starting first baseman.
This was a draft full of smart fantasy owners, especially when it comes to pitching. Finding starting pitching late was a challenge, but Alex Wood and Joey Lucchesi are at least young and have shown flashes.
19.226 Yulieski Gurriel (1B/2B/3B, Houston Astros)
With less than ideal situations at first base and third base, Yulieski Gurriel at least gives me a backup at both positions who I could plug in and expect a positive batting average from. To recap, I have Desmond/Santana/Gurriel at first, and Escobar/Gurriel at third.
20.231 Brandon Morrow (RP, Chicago Cubs)
Two veteran pitchers that are full of question marks. Brandon Morrow is a bench stash coming back from injury, and if Pedro Strop falters maybe Morrow regains the closer role for the Cubs. Jeff Samardzija struck out 200 batters as recently as 2017, and if he starts out poorly will be dropped quickly.
22.255 Harrison Bader (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
The Pitcher List staff must have forgotten about Harrison Bader, as he has been going as pick 173 this year in NFBC drafts. Likely to be a starter as the Cardinals best defensive center fielder, Bader produced 12 homers and 15 stolen bases across 138 games last year and is still only 24 years old.
I’ll be honest, I blatantly stole this one from Nick Pollack’s rankings. In the twenty-third round, I’m more than happy taking Nick’s 66th ranked starter. He may be waiver wire material if he doesn’t earn a spot, but he’s worth the 274th pick of the draft.
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)