Feb. 18, 2019. It was a cold, brisk day. The Los Angeles smog mixed with a dash of precipitation really did wonders to clear up my sinuses just in time for my second mock draft of the offseason. My first mock draft didn’t go so well as I drafted almost exclusively injury-prone guys (James Paxton, George Springer, the corpse of Nomar Garciaparra) to the point where Nick Pollack (live on Periscope) called my team “risky.”
So I came back for another go. A more serious go. A mock I’d hope would look close enough to what I want out of a real draft, as my home league’s draft is scheduled for early next month, so I need the preparation. Also, I got the first pick. Hard to screw that one up, right.
Or is it?
Pick 1.01: Mike Trout (OF, Anaheim Angels)
It’s not. I drafted Mike Trout. He’s the best!
Pick 2.24: Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies)
Pick 3.25: Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Chicago Cubs)
Really glad I got the first pick. I always like to see how a mock goes when you get back-to-back draft picks. Do you grab the value players whom others have left behind, or do you reach for those sleepers you know won’t last until your next go?
Luckily, it’s the 2/3 turn, so not a ton can go wrong. My outfield was already close to set with impossibly elite production coming from Trout, but I really love Charlie Blackmon late in the second. Coming off a year filled with unlucky slumps, bumps, and grumps, I’m looking for him to bounce back in a big way, contributing a combo of average, power, and speed with counting stats to round it out.
Another bounce-back candidate I’ve been targeting is Kris Bryant, who after a down year (by his standards) mixed with injury is looking to get back to his star production at the corner. Steamer projects him for a .275/.382/.504 split with power and near double-digit steals. I’ll take that third baseman in the third round any day.
Pick 4.48: Clayton Kershaw (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Pick 5.49: Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
With elite production from three positions players filled up, I really wanted to land an ace to anchor my pitching here in the fourth. I was looking at Thor to be there, but unfortunately, he got snagged a few picks earlier (GAH!). So like the problem solver I am, I went with Clayton Kershaw. At the crisp age of 31 when the season starts, with injury concerns and diminishing velocity all added into his draft price, I know what I’m risking by drafting Kershaw. But I also know I’m getting the man, the myth, the legend who hasn’t had an ERA over 2.75 in almost a decade and spends his offseason supporting his charities in the Dominican Republic (GOAT in my fantasy charity league). Add onto that he’s a player I believe can adapt with age and start using his secondary pitches more effectively than in the past. I believe he will be of great value for the 2019 season.
An L.A. native with an L.A. heart. First base looks scary this year as you get deeper in the draft. I felt this was the right time to shore it up by adding Cody Bellinger. He won’t help you in the average department, but as far as power hitters go, he won’t hurt you too much either. Throw in a potential 30-15 slugger who can maybe drive in 100 runs.
Funny enough, really wanted to snag Corey Seager here instead, but he somehow got stolen right before my pick.
Pick 6.72: Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
Pick 7.73: Josh Donaldson (3B, Atlanta Braves)
With my ace now drafted to lead my pitching staff and no valuable middle infielders left at this point, I figured it was time to go the way of best player(s) available.
I LOVE Marcell Ozuna this year. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. An extra year as a Cardinal, with newly acquired Paul Goldschmidt projected to be hitting ahead of him, I see Ozuna going back to a similar line to his career season with the Marlins back in 2017, when he hit .320 with 37 homers and 120-plus RBI. OK, maybe the 37 homers are too optimistic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he truly finds his top form this season.
I’m just loving my bounce back players as I grabbed Josh Donaldson at the top of the seventh round. JD was bothered by a calf issue almost the entirety of his 2018 campaign. Assuming health, I think Donaldson is locked in as a top-seven to -10 third baseman.
Pick 8.96: Miles Mikolas (SP, St. Louis Cardinals)
Pick 9.97: Carlos Martinez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals)
It’s the end of the eighth round, I’ve taken Kershaw and grabbed what I feel to be seven top hitters. Now is the time where I select back-to-back solid pitchers who could creep into the top 15 if they break out to really anchor my staff.
Miles Mikolas is one of those guys who already had a really nice breakout year this past year. But I think there’s still room for him to hit a ceiling. Sure, he might give up a few more hits and maybe some more runs as his peripherals point to a bit of a lucky 2.83 ERA from this past season, but I also see him striking out a lot more guys backed up by his siiick slider and maybe lifting his K/9 closer to the nines than sevens.
Oof. Well, the mock came a mere 12 hours (give or take) before the news of Carlos Martinez‘s injury woes (shocking). With that news, I probably would’ve gone with someone such as Jose Berrios or David Price. Or maybe even reached for Yu Darvish. Someone who has their woes but should give me a solid No. 2 to 3 pitcher throughout the season. What’s done is done though. Maybe Martinez gets healthy in time for Opening Day.
Pick 10.120: Raisel Iglesias (RP, Cincinnati Reds)
Pick 11.121: Jose Peraza (SS/2B, Cincinnati Reds)
The end of Round 10 and the start of Round 11. Zero middle infielders or closers on my team. Yep, this is where panic sets in.
Let me preface this by stating I absolutely HATE drafting closers. I hate drafting them early, and I almost always wait until most teams have drafted two before I even think about drafting one. Closers are rarely guaranteed saves these days, and most don’t even pitch if they’ve gone back to back days. That being said, with my pitching a little weak at this point, I thought it might be a nice position to shore up.
I was hoping Brad Hand or Sean Doolittle would fall to me, but once they were gone, I felt Raisel Iglesias is good enough to get me 30 saves and make it so I wouldn’t have to worry about grabbing another closer until far later in the draft.
Next, I wanted to solidify one of my middle infield spots while reinforcing my steals potential. Could have gone Dee Gordon, Amed Rosario, or even Jurickson Profar. But, I feel like with the new addition of sluggers in the Cincy lineup, along with his second half of 2018 that showed a more power-heavy approach, Jose Peraza should be set for double-digit homers with 20-plus steals.
Pick 12.144: Nick Pivetta (SP, Philadelphia Phillies)
Pick 13.145: Brian Dozier (2B, Washington Nationals)
Nick Pivetta had so much promise this past year, only to break all our hearts. If there’s one guy due for a breakout, I’m calling it for him. He’ll already get the strikeouts, here’s hoping he figures out how to suppress homers and maybe get a little luck on the way.
I grabbed the versatile Peraza last turn; this time around, I’ll go for the perennial bad first-half, excellent second-half Brian Dozier, who now will hit in the core of the Nats lineup. If he can get back to his days of 30 homers with 10-15 steals, he’s my golden goose at second base.
Pick 14.168: Josh James (SP/RP, Houston Astros)
Pick 15.169: Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers)
I don’t know what to make of Josh James. As of right now, he’s projected to be in the back end of the Astros rotation, but who really knows? I’ll take the flyer though because at worst he’s still gonna give me solid innings with a ton of strikeouts. At best, he’ll give me so much more for a 14th-rounder.
Nomar Mazara completes my outfield depth. Some think he’ll never be more than what he is. But still only 23 years old, I think there’s some time left for him to be the heavy hitter we all thought he could be when he first got promoted. He’s yet to surpass 20 taters. I’m banking this is the year.
Pick 16.192: Joey Lucchesi (SP, San Diego Padres)
Pick 17.193: Adam Eaton (OF, Washington Nationals)
I lost out on Ross Stripling right before my pick, but I’m fine going after another dude I think has a chance to break out this year in Joey Lucchesi. The dude looked as good as any phenom this past year before injury took its toll. With the Padres looking to win some more games this season, they’re going to have to rely on the young stud throwing some quality innings if they’re going to improve to their liking.
Well, I know I said Mazara rounds out my OF depth, but at this point, I realize I’ve basically been grabbing a ton of proven guys off bad years. Let me give it another go with Adam Eaton, who most will forget was utterly crushing it at the beginning of this past season coming off a major knee injury. Eventually, the knee flared up midway through the season, and much like Donaldson, he could never get right. Coming into 2019 as the leadoff hitter in front of Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon, I think he’s a steal this late in the draft.
Pick 18.216: Julio Urias (SP/RP, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Pick 19.217: Brandon Morrow (RP, Chicago Cubs)
As a Dodger fan, seeing Julio Urias out of baseball for almost two years was tough. But he looks to be fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that threw a curveball (maybe a slider, actually) to his career. Can’t wait to see what he does once he gets his chance with the only Dodgers standing in his way to significant innings being the aging Rich Hill, the volatile Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is made of glass.
Round 19 seemed as good a spot as any to grab a second closer. Looking back, I probably should have gone with someone else now that Brandon Morrow will be out for at least the first month of the season. But even with that, I expect Morrow to do a great job on my
DL IL until he’s ready to come back and grab me 20-plus saves as the real Cubs closer.
Pick 20.240: Mike Zunino (C, Tampa Bay Rays)
Pick 21.241: DJ LeMahieu (2B, New York Yankees)
As someone who has used the catcher position as an extra flyer spot, early in the season many times prior, I usually don’t draft a catcher. But much like lawyers, nobody wants one but eventually everyone needs one. My average should be able to withhold the wrath that is Mike Zunino‘s plate discipline. If he slugs 20 to 25 homers, I’m ecstatic. If he slumps out the gate, he’ll most likely see the wire (not HBO) faster than you can say Willians Astudillo.
No? Is it? Another valuable hitter coming off a bad year? Yes, yes it is. Say hello to my roster, DJ Lemahieu, because I’m very excited to see what you can do in that Yankees lineup. One year removed from three straight seasons hitting better than .300, the former Rockies second baseman has joined a Yankees team that just broke the record for home runs. I don’t know how he’s falling this far. I planned on grabbing a middle infielder in case Dozier or Peraza flame out. I’m fine grabbing Lemahieu for the bench.
Pick 22.264: Touki Toussaint (SP, Atlanta Braves)
Pick 23.265: Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees)
The final turn. Where flyers are believed to be taken. And waiver wire fodder is more likely had.
I like Touki Toussaint enough. He’s likely to break into the season as the Braves’ No. 5 starter, but I see a scenario where he outperforms the rest of the rotation. Could it be this season? Maybe. I’ll take it. Plus, he has a cool name. Like a French version of the Fruit Loops mascot.
Clint Frazier. Another one of my guys. That Yankees lineup is so dangerous that I want any piece I can get. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are immovable at this point, taking up two of the three outfield positions plus designated hitter (thanks to Stanton’s awful fielding). So with the last spots split between Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Frazier, and with Gardy being way past his prime and Hicks almost assuredly battling injuries once again, I’m putting my money on the boy named Clint outperforming his projections and proving why he’s been such a highly touted prospect for so long. With the right amount of playing time and a nice start to the season, here’s hoping I can find lightning in a bottle, with Frazier forcing the Yankees hand.