Mock Draft #3: Rich Holman’s Picks
On Feb. 18, I had the pleasure of taking part in Mock Draft No. 2 with other members of the Pitcher List staff. Here’s a quick recap of the format: 12-team head-to-head, 3 OF, 2 UTIL, 4 bench spots, and 9 pitchers. A total of 23 rounds at 60 seconds per pick. Let’s dive in!
Pick 1.2 – Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox)
Not much to discuss here. Mookie Betts is a true five-category player. Stacks on stacks on stacks! Starting a draft with a potential 30-30 player with plus batting average is such a luxury. It’s nice to know when you start a draft with Betts, you’re not starting with a deficit. I won’t have to chase steals or power. My plan moving forward is to simply have a balanced draft.
Pick 2.23 – Javier Baez (2B, SS, 3B, Chicago Cubs)
The theme of this draft was: What happens when you get sniped? For me the blood pressure rises, panic sets in, and I draft players I didn’t think I would end up with. Here, Erik Smith sniped me on Giancarlo Stanton. Throughout the draft prep season I’ve come full circle on Javier Baez. I went from, “Look at his plate discipline; I’ll never own a player like that,” to “Maybe his aggressiveness at the dish is an asset and not a liability.” The projection systems have Baez’s BABIP regressing to .323 on average, which would be his lowest in 1,603 plate appearances, but even if it does regress to that level, and his average dips to .260, it’ll still come with a power-speed combo that will complement Betts well.
After establishing a strong five-category base in hitting, it was time to turn to pitching. For this choice I was between Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Aaron Nola, and I went with the safest of the three in Verlander. Who’s got two thumbs and had the best fastball per pVal in 2018? This guy! Errrr that guy? I’ve never tried this when I wasn’t referring to someone other than myself. Verlander’s like a fine wine—just getting better with age. He had his best K% (34.8%) and BB% (4.4%) in his age-35 season.
Pick 4.47 – Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox)
So here I was, all set to take Noah Syndergaard, when something just seemed to jump up and bite me.
Freaking Erik, but OK, I’ve been here before and actually had a plan. There were still four starting pitchers I wanted as my SP2 in Clayton Kershaw, Luis Severino, Carlos Carrasco, and Patrick Corbin. Since there were only two picks in between this one and my fifth-round pick, I switched it up and took Xander Bogaerts. Javier Baez having 2B/SS/3B eligibility gave me the ability to take any of the three positions, and so I took Bogaerts. He upped his Value Hit% to a career best 13.1%, and I just love having two of the big bats in the Boston lineup.
Plan executed successfully. Five rounds in and I have two Top 12 starting pitchers. I feel like we’re getting a discount on Luis Severino, and I’ll happily take it. Remember the storylines of “What’s wrong with Severino?” Well, he still finished with a 3.39 ERA, which was backed up by a 3.26 SIERA. Check out No. 11 in Nick Pollack’s Top 20 Starting Pitchers article for a great writeup.
Pick 6.71 – Jean Segura (SS, Philadelphia Phillies)
Having two aces this early gives me the luxury to focus on bats, and I love adding Jean Segura. He should hit atop a potent Phillies lineup, batting first or second, which should lead to a boatload of runs to go along with a high batting average.
Pick 7.74 – Matt Olson (1B, Oakland Athletics)
Here, I wanted to make up for the lower pop of Segura and added Matt Olson. Olson only had 29 homers last year, but I really think there is a next level of power to come, which xStats confirms with 32.3 xHR, and he was in the top 10 last year in hard-hit rate.
Pick 8.95 – Roberto Osuna (RP, Houston Astros)
I unfortunately made this pick before Alex Fast’s excellent piece on drafting saves wrong. Maybe in the future I would switch on this selection and take another bat, but alas, on this day I took Roberto Osuna. I don’t really, really regret the pick that much. Osuna should pile up saves playing for the Astros, but overall, I hate paying for saves.
Pick 9.98 – Yasiel Puig (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
Currently, Roster Resource projects Yasiel Puig to bat in the five spot, in what should be a potent Reds lineup. I love the switch to Great American Ball Park, and a fresh start should do Puig well. He should also be a nice addition to my power-speed combo guys.
Pick 10.119 – Sean Doolittle (RP, Washington Nationals)
Maybe in my do-over, I’d take Sean Doolittle as my first closer. I’m happy with this value. I just need him to miss the injury bug this year. Pretty please? Doolittle hasn’t exceeded 60 innings pitched since 2014. OK, fine; maybe I regret this pick some. Maybe I keep the Osuna pick and change this to a bat or another starting pitcher instead.
Pick 11.122 – Dee Gordon (2B/OF, Seattle Mariners)
After ending up with Dee Gordon in back-to-back drafts, apparently I like Gordon? There’s definitely a premium on high-end speed, and would it surprise you if Gordon goes .270 with 40 steals? However, this is back-to-back picks where there’s decent risk involved, and an argument could be made that Billy Hamilton, who went at 19.227, carries a safer stolen base floor at a significantly cheaper price.
Pick 12.143 – Yusei Kikuchi (SP, Seattle Mariners)
Ay DJ, queue up “Obsession” by Animotion. If you haven’t seen Yusei Kikuchi pitch yet, just check this out; it’s filthy. Sure, I wish there were more data out there, but early in the offseason, Adam Garland wrote a great piece on the potential international imports, including Kikuchi.
Pick 13.146 – Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers)
A hamstring injury derailed the start of Rougned Odor’s 2018, but once he got on track, Odor balled out. He upped his average to .253 from .204 in 2017. A full season should be a very productive 30/20 with a .250-ish average, and we can’t forget he has a solid right hook.
This pick is definitely one of those “the evil you know.” I know Rich Hill’s blisters are just waiting under the surface to pop up and derail the season, but while he’s healthy, he’ll provide positive to elite ratios and had an excellent 19.9% K-BB%. I’ll pencil him in for 120 elite innings as an SP4.
Pick 15.170 – Willson Contreras (C, Chicago Cubs)
In the last mock draft, I took Willson Contreras in the 13th round and had some regrets; however, in the 15th round, I have fewer regrets. Contreras provides the upside to pop 20-25 home runs in an awesome lineup. Overall, having stability and upside at catcher is just a luxury.
Pick 16.191 – Jose Alvarado (RP, Tampa Bay Rays)
Jose Alvarado makes my third closer on this team, and while I’ll admit the volatility of the position, you still need to accumulate saves at some point. I feel like Alvarado is really flying under the radar, and as of now, there doesn’t appear to be anyone in the Rays bullpen with past closer experience.
I’m really excited about Collin McHugh’s transition back to the rotation this year. McHugh’s returning to the rotation with a new slider that Charlie Morton taught him last year, which earned a 9.8 pVal. Adding the slider increased his K% to a career-high 33.2%.
Check out No. 53 to see what our fearless leader wrote about Michael Fulmer. I’m definitely keeping an eye on Fulmer during spring training. I want to see him throwing his changeup effectively and check his velocity, but at this point, Fulmer carries some serious upside.
I wrote it before, and I’ll write it again: Derek Holland was a beast in the second half last year and will be returning to San Francisco. Nick Pollack wrote in his Top 60 starting pitchers article, “I’m not kidding: The southpaw held a 2.94 ERA, 25.5% strikeout rate (11.5% swinging-strike rate!), and 1.27 WHIP in his final 19 starts, rooted in a shift on the rubber to the first base side.” I love when an improvement like this can be rooted in a change that was made and not just luck.
Pick 20.239 – Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia Phillies)
Erik Smith once again sniped me—this time on Matt Boyd, and overall, I think taking Cesar Hernandez was a mistake on multiple levels. First off, at this point in the draft, I didn’t need any more speed. Secondly, Hernandez is projected to bat at the bottom of the Phillies lineup, which essentially kills most of his value. I should’ve taken my next pick here and then taken a different bat. Looking at who’s available still, I could’ve taken Jorge Polanco.
Pick 21.242 – Paul DeJong (SS, St. Louis Cardinals)
The more I dig into Paul DeJong, the more I like him. He missed some of 2018 after being hit by a pitch in the hand and breaking a bone, requiring surgery. He managed to improve his K% and BB% during the year and offers that 30-35 home run ceiling that I’m looking for. He’s also projected to bat second in a potent Cardinals lineup, directly ahead of Paul Goldschmidt.
Anibal Sanchez was one of only two pitchers with two top-five pitches per pVal in his cutter and his changeup, which Ben Palmer covered here (the other pitcher was Jacob deGrom). At this point in the draft, I’m willing to take a shot that last year was legit. Sanchez is my SP8, so if he gets off to a rough start, I have no issue cutting bait.
Pick 23.266 – Jake Bauers (1B, Cleveland Indians)
This is the second mock draft in a row that I ended up with Jake Bauers. Daniel Port wrote an incredible piece on Bauers, and I really like his power/speed profile. With some BABIP regression, I could easily see Bauers as a Top 125 player in 2019.
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)