The absolute best part of spring (outside of Spring Training of course) is finally getting to jump into mock drafting again. Here’s how my first mock with the rest of the Pitcher List staff went.
Pick 1.04: Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL
Pretty easy pick to make here, definitely would have given Francisco Lindor strong consideration here if it weren’t for the injury. He’s close to a lock for .290/40/100/120, and the addition of Daniel Murphy batting in front of him can only mean good things for Arenado.
Pick 2.21: Chris Sale, SP, BOS
I wasn’t playing on grabbing a starter until a bit later, but seeing arguably the #2 starter fall to the end of the second round was far too good of a value for me to pass up. I was initially eyeing Freddie Freeman, who fell a bit before Colin Ward snatched him up two picks before me. Over the last five years, Sale has averaged a 2.85 ERA, 0.992 WHIP, 14 Wins and 252 K’s. Yes please.
Pick 3.28: Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS
Ordinarily I wouldn’t double up on an infield position in the first three picks, and maybe I should have opted for Andrew Benintendi here, but I couldn’t pass up one of my absolute favourite players for 2019. Looking at what he’s done the last two seasons, a .300+ 30/100/100 season is entirely achievable for Anthony Rendon, essentially making him Arenado with fewer home runs, a couple more steals and likely a higher batting average. His second half pace over a full season last year would have been .336/24/116/125/5. While we obviously can’t expect him to put up these kind of numbers over a full season, it gives an especially exciting glimpse at what peak performance Rendon could give us.
Pick 4.45: Joey Votto, 1B, CIN
Votto starts a running trend throughout my draft: aging players coming off disappointing seasons. Maybe not the superlative you want attached to your team, but I feel fine about it. What makes me feel so good about Votto is that despite the disappointing season (Where he still posted a 3.5 WAR) Votto saw no major changes in his batted ball metrics. This gives me major hope that he can rebound to the Votto we saw the previous three years, which was a .320/30/100/90/8 guy. That kind of production in the fourth round is huge, and outside of age, there’s no reason think Votto can’t do what he’s been doing for over a decade again.
Pick 5.52: Adalberto Mondesi, 2B/SS, KCR
This pick was a risky one, and one that could easily derail my season if it doesn’t pan out. Though after drafting a quartet of guys with very high floors, I felt a little better about going after a guy with a sky high ceiling like Mondesi. There’s no other players in the MLB right now outside of first rounder Trea Turner, and Jonathan Villar who have a realistic shot at 20/60 like Mondesi does, though Turner also comes with a much higher floor in the other three categories. The plate discipline issues definitely give me pause, but in my opinion the potential reward outweighs the risk.
Pick 6.69: Aaron Hicks, OF, NYY
This pick is heavily reliant on health. If Hicks can stay healthy (which he’s never shown an ability to do) 30/15 or even better is within the range of possible outcomes. Add in that he’ll be leading off for an excellent Yankees offense, and the upside here is immense. Admittedly though, I didn’t realize until after I made this pick that we were using .AVG instead of .OBP, where Hicks has much more value. Had I remembered that I might have gone a different direction with this pick, but as it stands I think Hicks is more than good enough to return sixth round value.
Pick 7.76: Zack Wheeler, SP, NYM
The question mark for Wheeler his entire career has been health, and given a full workload in 2018, Wheeler more than delivered. While his first half was a bit rocky, with just a 4.44 ERA and 3-6 record, Wheeler went full Jake Arrieta in the second half and won droves of leagues on the wings of a 1.68 ERA and 9-1 record. I see no reason why Wheeler wouldn’t be able to repeat a low 3’s ERA and around a strikeout per inning in 2019, and an improved Mets offense and bullpen should help him nail down wins with more consistency.
Pick 8.93: Michael Brantley, OF, HOU
I’m starting to pick up a trend with my picks. Say it with me, “Health has been a concern”. His 143 games played last year were his most since 2014, and he’s played 150+ just twice in his ten year career. However, assuming health, there’s not many better places Brantey could have landed. Batting in the heart of a stacked Astros lineup will provide plenty of opportunities for RBI’s, and there’s 20 home run upside here, albeit unlikely. Even assuming a conservative .290/15/80/90/10 performance this year, that’s great value near the bottom of the top 100 picks.
Pick 9.100: Wil Myers, 3B/OF, SDP
Another pick, another injury risk. A pair of healthy seasons in ’16 and ’17 showed the upside here though. There’s not a lot of potential .260/30/100/100/30 guys in the draft period, let alone in the 9th round. Add in an improved Padres offense with Manny Machado in tow, and there’s huge upside here with Myers.
Pick 10.117: Madison Bumgarner, SP, SFG
At this point, you can pretty much copy and paste the same general argument I’ve used for several players already, but that would be boring. Bumgarner hasn’t looked quite the same since a freak ATV accident in 2017, though “not looking the same” for Bum means a 3.29 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, well worth it in the 10th round either way. However, before a series of freak injuries plagued him, Bumgarner was one of the absolute best pitchers in baseball, with a 2.86 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 9.4 K/9 from 2013 to 2016. The only way I see this pick backfiring is if
A. Bumgarner sustains another freak injury
B. He goes full King Felix on us and melts down entirely.
I don’t think either result is very likely, so Bumgarner here was an easy pick for me. Top 10 SP upside in the 10th round? Sign me up.
Pick 11.124: Kirby Yates, RP, SDP
This is probably the pick I regret most from the draft, largely because I was an idiot later. In theory, getting the elite rates and saves I think Yates can provide here in the 11th sounds great, but when you realize I completely forgot to draft any other relievers, the saves become largely worthless as I won’t be able to compete with any team carrying two relievers in any given week. Waste of a pick here based on how the rest of my draft went, though if I could remake any one pick, I would snag a second closer to pair with Yates.
Pick 12.141: Buster Posey, C, SFG
This pick largely came down to not seeing an option I wanted more, so locking down an elite catcher. Though his MVP days are behind him, Posey is still a safe bet for around a .290 .AVG when he’s healthy, and we’ve seen him go above .300 as recently as 2017. A Giants offense that’s become increasingly awful isn’t doing him any favours, but ten HR and a .290 .AVG alone from a catcher is good enough for me. The 15 steals he’s posted over the last three seasons are just icing on the cake.
Pick 13.148: Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET
I could write a detailed blurb about why I opted for Miguel Cabrera here, but I couldn’t come close to the level of quality of our own Ben Pernick’s Going Deep piece on Miggy from earlier this year. While perhaps not a league winning pick, this is about as good of a 13th round choice as I could have asked for.
Pick 14.165: Yoan Moncada, 2B, CWS
I don’t love Yoan Moncada, but the upside here was tough to pass up on. He hasn’t flourished so far in his major league career, but the elite combination of speed and power that made him the game’s top prospect, as well as the #2 spot in a respectable Chicago lineup gives me hope that Moncada can put it all together this year.
Pick 15.172: Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, LAD
A 3.20 ERA since 2013 mostly speaks for itself. As has become par for the course with my team health has been a problem for Ryu (He averages just over 111 IP per season) but a full season of health from Ryu, as much of a pipe dream as it may be, could be a Top 25 starter. Going off his career 162 game average, such a season would yield a 3.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 14 wins and 8.1 K/9. The upside is so tantalizing, though the utter lack of any track record of health is admittedly very concerning.
Pick 16.189: Reynaldo Lopez, SP, CWS
This is a pick I’m not thrilled about in hindsight. He looked very good for stretches in 2018, and he has a nice prospect pedigree, but thrugh three major league seasons Lopez is sporting a 4.21 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and paltry 7.2 K/9. What exactly is here to indicate that he’ll take a step forward in 2019? A 1.78 ERA in March/April and a 1.09 ERA in September is encouraging I guess, but when the months in between bounced between 3.60 and 7.39 ERA’s, it’s a bit less inspiring. I don’t hate Reynaldo Lopez this season, but the player going right after my pick, Ross Stripling, would have been a far better pick, or even grabbing a second closer like Alvarado or Hicks.
Pick 17.196: Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK
I might have been able to wait another round for Luzardo, but I don’t think he would have made it back to me. Luzardo was electric in 2018, and his first outing of Spring Training was encouraging as well, highlighted by a gorgeous three pitch strikeout. Luzardo is unlikely to start the season in Oakland for service time reasons, but a strong showing in Spring Training could earn him a spot on the big league squad as early as May, giving me a good five months of Baseball America’s #9 prospect.
Pick 18.213: Max Kepler, OF, MIN
One of five German-born active MLBer’s, Kepler has flashed immense upside at the Major League level, and is just 26 years old. An ugly .236 BABIP knackered his batting average in 2018, but he still pounded a career high in home runs. Projected to bat 5th in a Minnesota offense that (Hot Take Alert) could push for Top 5 in the MLB in 2019, RBI’s and R’s should abound for Kepler, and some positive BABIP regression should make the batting average more palatable. And in 25+ home run upside, and that’s a lottery ticket I’m wiling to buy this late in drafts.
Edit: Two home runs already in Spring Training for Kepler? All aboard the hype train.
Pick 19.220: Alex Wood, SP, CIN
Similarly to the previously discussed Hyun-Jin Ryu, the only thing Alex Wood has lacked in his career is opportunity. While his numbers as a Dodger were great (3.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.3 K/9) he managed just 434 2/3 IP in three and a half seasons in the organizations. Now, on a Cincinnati squad that lacks the pitching depth that allow the Dodgers to be so stingy with his workload, Alex Wood should have all the leash he likes. And while Great American Ball Park is far from a friendly park for pitchers, at this point in the draft I’ll gladly take 180-200 innings of 3.6 ERA ball with around a strikeout per inning, with upside for even better numbers.
Pick 20.237: Ketel Marte, 2B/SS, ARI
Ketel Marte is a player who’s shown us some great flashes in the past, and who has generally let fantasy owners down relative to expectations. However, a .296 batting average and .377 OBP in the second half of last season shows us there’s life in his bat yet, as does a career high 14 home runs. Now leading off in Arizona, it’s not hard to project a .275/15/80/60 season, and with the speed that Marte has shown in the past, I don’t think 10+ stolen bases is out of the question either, despite a career high of just 11 in 2016. The outfield eligibility Marte will be receiving early in the season is just the cherry on top. Versatility and upside is a sweet package here in the 20th round.
Pick 21.244: Rick Porcello, SP, BOS
50 wins over the last three seasons. A 1.19 WHIP in that same period of time. 170+ IP in every season since 2010. Those are the only reasons I went after Porcello here. There’s little to no upside, but with so many of my pitchers being on teams where wins may be hard to reliably bank on, Porcello is a reasonably reliable source who won’t kill me in any other category.
Pick 22.261: Lucas Giolito, SP, CWS
Why wouldn’t I take Drew Steckenrider here? That’s an excellent question that I have no answer for. While there’s theoretically upside here with the promise Giolito has shown in the minors, I needed another reliever, and even if I wanted a dart throw starter, there were FAR better lottery tickets to bank on. Bad pick through and through.
Pick 23.268: Ichiro, OF, SEA
After all the years of entertainment Ichiro has provided me as a Mariners fan, I felt that it was worth burning my last draft pick to pay my respects. It’s doubtful Ichiro plays at all beyond the two-game series the Mariners play to start the season, so he’ll be an easy drop after those two games are done. He’s looked solid in Spring Training thus far, and if I’m lucky I can get some production from him in those two games. If not, I’ll at least feel good paying tribute to the Hit King as he rides off into the sunset.