It was a winter full of mock drafts for the Pitcher List staff. That included a prospects-only dynasty mock for 12 brave souls. 300 prospect-eligible players were snatched up, and each of the writers is here to tell you the reasoning behind their picks, why you should consider them in dynasty leagues, and for some of them, possibly even redraft leagues.
Prospect-only drafts are rather unique, and therefore the strategy behind them is less defined. Some people like to go for a roster full of players close to the big leagues, while others target younger players with higher upside but more risk. I noticed many of my co-drafters going for the younger, upside plays, so my team tends to be filled with closer-to-the-big-league type guys, and even a handful who are already big leaguers but have yet to cross the prospect threshold. You’ll also notice that I went position-player heavy, which is in part because I trust hitters more, but also because I thought I could find some late-round pitching value.
Round 1 (Pick 5): Adley Rutschman, C, BAL
I’m a firm believer in TINSTAAPP—there is no such thing as a pitching prospect—the adage that because of injury risk and various other factors, pitchers tend to bust at a higher rate than position players.
While Casey Mize and MacKenzie Gore seem like sure things, I decided to go with Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman instead. Rutschman absolutely dominated at Oregon State last season, leading to him getting taken No. 1 overall.
He is an incredible athlete who can hit from both sides of the plate and projects to be an above-average defensive backstop. Players like this don’t come around all that often, and I like him anchoring my team in Round 1.
Round 2 (Pick 20): Cristian Pache, OF, ATL
Pache was not a player I expected to be waiting for me in the second round, so I was quite happy to gobble him up at No. 20 overall.
Known more for his defense than his offense, Pache still managed a respectable .278/.340/.474 with 11 home runs and eight steals as a 20-year-old at Double-A last season. He had 105 plate appearances at Triple-A as well with nearly an identical slash line, although his power output decreased dramatically.
Still, Pache has a high floor as a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder that will allow him to play regularly, and a ceiling as a 20/20 contributor from near the top of the order, which could garner him multiple All-Star nods and a consistent spot in fantasy baseball drafts.
Round 3 (Pick 29): Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL
A torn labrum is the only reason Brendan Rodgers is still prospect-eligible, as he managed to rack up 81 plate appearances in the big leagues before missing the rest of the season and the Arizona Fall League.
Rodgers is an elite hitting prospect who mashed .350/.413/.622 in Triple-A last year and has continued to improve his plate-discipline numbers while still displaying raw power and enough speed to make him a 10- to 15-stolen base threat.
While his first taste of the Show wasn’t great (.224/.272/.150), there’s little reason to believe Rodgers won’t develop into a star-caliber middle infielder, which could happen as soon as 2020.
Round 4 (Pick 44): Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT
Another prospect who’s already had a taste of the big leagues, which didn’t go all that great, Keller’s biggest risk is the fact that he’s on the Pirates. They did fire their pitching coach, however, so perhaps he’ll be able to reach his ace potential after all.
Keller features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a hammer curveball, and his developing changeup should be enough for him to succeed as a starter long term. His Triple-A numbers (3.56 ERA, 10.68 K/9) were solid last year, but his MLB numbers were not.
If he can refine his approach and get coached by someone not named Ray Searage, he could be a steal at No. 44 overall.
Round 5 (Pick 53): Jazz Chisholm, SS, AZ
Jazz Chisholm has been a prospect crush of mine for the last few seasons, and it’s not hard to see why. After blasting 25 home runs with 17 stolen bases in 2018, Chisholm hit 21 dingers with 16 steals in just 458 plate appearances last year, split between the Diamondbacks and the Marlins after getting traded straight up for Zac Gallen.
Chisholm has a tremendous combination of power and speed, and his raw power from the left side is some of the best in baseball. He’ll need to work on his plate discipline, like most prospects do, but he has the potential to be an elite shortstop in the big leagues.
Round 6 (Pick 68): Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, BAL
Ryan Mountcastle is a big, strong slugger from the right side who finally tapped into his power last season as a 22-year-old, blasting 25 home runs with 83 RBI at Triple-A. Sure the balls were juiced, but Mountcastle has been revered for his 30-home run pop ever since Baltimore took him in the first round in 2015.
He’s switched positions since then, going from shortstop to third base to first base, but he has the potential to hit .280 with 30 home runs on the regular, particularly if he can improve his below-average plate-discipline numbers.
Round 7 (Pick 77): Seth Beer, 1B/OF, AZ
Seth Beer can hit. Beer can’t really run, or field, but the dude can mash. He slipped a little in the draft thanks to those other concerns, but Houston got a player who mashed his way up to Double-A, enough that it used him to acquire Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks.
Beer hit 26 home runs with 103 RBI and a .289/.388/.516 slash line across three teams last year, none above Double-A. With the juiced ball, Beer has the potential to blast 35+ home runs annually, and a batting average/OBP combo in the .270/.350 range seems like a reasonable goal.
Dynasty formats don’t care about defense, and while Beer won’t give you any steals, his hitting ability makes him a highly sought-after dynasty target, and for good reason.
Round 8 (Pick 92): Triston McKenzie, RHP, CLE
Triston McKenzie missed the entire 2019 season with a back issue, which is cause for concern regarding his long-term outlook.
However, when healthy, the lanky right-hander has a mid-90s fastball with excellent command and a high spin rate, along with a plus curveball and a changeup that grades as average.
Cleveland, perhaps more than any other team, knows how to get the most out of its pitching prospects. McKenzie’s tools, command, feel and general pitchability mixed with Cleveland’s coaching staff could be a recipe for a future ace—if he can stay healthy.
Round 9 (Pick 101): Justin Dunn, RHP, SEA
I couldn’t decide between McKenzie and Justin Dunn for my Round 8 pick, so I’m very glad to see Dunn still on the board in Round 9. Many of my fellow draftees had similar thoughts, as a handful of people told me he was going to be their next pick.
Dunn struggled in his MLB cameo last year, although his numbers are inflated by his debut, which saw him walk five batters in 0.2 innings. He was much more productive at Double-A, throwing 131.2 innings of 3.55 ERA ball with a 158/38 K/BB ratio and a 1.19 WHIP.
Dunn has the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation stud, although command issues could limit his upside and even make him a potential bullpen piece. Still, his upside makes him worth a look here.
Round 10 (Pick 116): Bobby Dalbec, 3B, BOS
I already have Mountcastle and Beer, so figured I’d go with one of the other mashing corner infielders still on the market. Bobby Dalbec is a 24-year-old third baseman who blasted 27 home runs with 73 RBI, six stolen bases and 69 runs scored last year, split between Double-A and Triple-A.
Regardless, he’s a true power threat who has worked really hard to cut down his strikeout numbers, something he succeeded at last year. He’ll still have strikeout issues in the Show, but he’s primed to be a regular 30 home run contributor at the corner infield spots and is certainly a dynasty asset worth monitoring.
Round 11 (Pick 125): Leody Tavares, OF, TEX
Leody Tavares is fast. Really, really fast. He’s also a switch-hitter who has displayed better hitting from the left side but who should be able to do both in the Show. His actual stats have yet to show up in a super meaningful way in the minors, but he’s always been given aggressive assignments, including a stint at Double-A last year as a 20-year-old.
He only managed five combined home runs last year, but he did swipe 32 bases and should be an above-average to elite base stealer in the big leagues in due time. The power probably won’t show up in a big way, but something like 12-15 home runs and 30+ steals would make him immensely valuable, and I’m willing to gamble on that in Round 11.
Round 12 (Pick 140): Estevan Florial, OF, NYY
Nobody wants to touch prospects who seem to be trending in the wrong direction, which is why consensus Top 100 prospect Estevan Florial fell all the way to No. 140 overall. His 2019 numbers were pedestrian, slashing just .237/.297/.383 in 301 plate appearances at High-A, along with eight home runs and nine stolen bases.
Florial is still extremely raw, and the power that had scouts drooling over him has yet to appear in games. Heck, his speed hasn’t quite translated into games either, making him a prospect with a high ceiling but a very low floor. He could be a 25/25 guy with the tools he has, but his strikeout issues could easily make him the next Keon Broxton. Tread carefully, but as a 12th-rounder in a prospect-only draft, the upside is worth the risk.
Round 13 (Pick 149): Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK
Jorge Mateo has been a top prospect for years, even topping out at No. 1 in the Yankees system in 2016. He’s fallen since then thanks to inconsistencies, prolonged slumps, and serious questions about his ability to hit for power, or even hit at all, in the Show.
He quelled some of those concerns with a monstrous season at Triple-A last year, blasting 19 home runs and swiping 24 bases with a .289/.330/.504 slash line. The 19 home runs came somewhat out of nowhere, as his previous career high was just 12 in 2017.
Mateo still has plate-discipline concerns, and he’s had strong seasons followed by clunkers in the past, but the tools are there, and if he can routinely tap into that power, paired with his legitimate 80-grade speed, he’s a potential fantasy darling.
Round 14 (Pick 164): Mauricio Dubon, 2B/SS, SFG
There were a lot of pitchers I considered at this spot, as my team is now ridiculously uneven, but I couldn’t resist tabbing Giants middle infielder Mauricio Dubon at No. 164 overall, as I think he’s a fringe Top 100 prospect.
Dubon has always had a high-contact, limited-power approach, but last year he blasted 24 home runs with 13 steals between three combined levels, including four homers and three steals in the big leagues across 111 plate appearances.
He has a high floor as a contact-oriented utility infielder with speed to burn, but more likely ends up as a regular starter who can add 15 or so stolen bases and hit in the high-.200s or better. If that power sticks, which it could, suddenly he’s a late breakout candidate.
Round 15 (Pick 173): Hans Crouse, RHP, TEX
Through 14 rounds I had 11 hitters and three pitchers, and while I am a TINSTAAPP guy, it was starting to get ridiculous. I noticed Rangers right-hander Hans Crouse was still available and jumped at the opportunity.
Crouse is actually ranked ahead of both McKenzie and Dunn by MLB Pipeline, and while I do see some obvious bullpen risk (he’s skinny with a violent motion and only two plus pitches), I see a guy who could develop into a legit ace if he can get a more consistent changeup.
His fastball is already elite, and his curveball gets a 60 grade from FanGraphs, so the worst case is probably an above-average closer. His numbers weren’t great last year (4.41 ERA in A-ball) but he dropped his walk rate down to 1.95 BB/9 and seems to have found command of his entire arsenal, a great sign that he will reach that potential and give me a steal of a pick in Round 15.
Round 16 (Pick 188): Justus Sheffield, LHP, SEA
Mariners left-hander Justus Sheffield has always been more of a high-floor prospect than a high-ceiling one, with a likely outcome as a mid-rotation starter thanks to his frame, powerful fastball and wipeout slider—along with his fringe changeup and command issues.
However, his ceiling and his floor have been about the same the majority of his time as a prospect, until last year when he crumbled in both the major leagues (5.50 ERA, 4.50 BB/9 in 36 IP) and in Triple-A (6.87 ERA, 6.71 (!) BB/9 in 55 IP), which has lowered his floor and pushed him off virtually all Top 1oo prospect lists.
Sheffield did end up pitching really well in Double-A last year, and while it feels like he’s been around forever because he’s already been traded twice (prospect fatigue is very real here), he is just 23 years old. A 23-year-old struggling in a small big league sample, while still posting a 22 percent strikeout rate, doesn’t make me sound the alarm as much as it might for others.
I clearly don’t value him in the Top 100 anymore, but as a mid-round dynasty asset, he’s a great find. He won’t be an ace, but the fear that he’ll be relegated to the bullpen seems unfounded. I still see a No. 3/4 starter with above-average strikeout stuff as his likely outcome, and I’ll take that just inside the Top 200.
Round 17 (Pick 197): Colton Welker, 3B, COL
Colton Welker was a fourth-round pick by the Rockies in 2016, and he has flashed above-average plate discipline and burgeoning power from the right side. He’s a third baseman by trade, a position that will probably need to change unless Colorado surprisingly trades Nolan Arenado, but he can play first if needed.
Welker’s numbers dropped with a promotion to Double-A last year, but he still posted a solid 8.1 percent walk rate and a 17.3 percent strikeout rate, while hitting 10 home runs in 98 games played. I see a big league corner infielder who should hit 20+ home runs annually as his power continues to develop, and will probably get closer to 30 if he stays in Colorado.
His plate discipline helps as well, and .300/25/80 type seasons are certainly not out of the question here for the 22-year-old.
Round 18 (Pick 212): Daz Cameron, OF, DET
I didn’t set out with this strategy in mind, but it’s clear that older prospects who have either plateaued or have just been around long enough to endure “prospect fatigue” slipped in this draft, and I am happy to zig while everyone else zags and pick these guys up.
I get the concern on Daz Cameron; his strikeout totals are always going to be bad (28.2 rate at Triple-A), and while we’ve always heard about his elite power/speed combination, the power has not really shown up in games quite yet.
He did hit 13 round-trippers in 120 games at Triple-A last year, however, along with 17 steals and a really nice 11.7 percent walk rate, but he also only hit .214.
If he can get that average up at least in the .240-.250 range in the Show, his plus walk rate will make him a nice asset in OBP leagues and his 20/20 potential makes him an asset even in BA leagues. The strikeouts aren’t going anywhere, but the rest of the tools are prominent enough to take a chance on him this late in the draft.
Round 19 (Pick 221): Cal Raleigh, C, SEA
In normal redraft leagues, I never take two catchers. However, prospect-only mock drafts are a different breed, and even though Rutschman is one of—if not the safest—catching prospects in all of baseball, I figured I should hedge my bet with another one of the best catching prospects in the game.
Cal Raleigh had a power explosion last year, hitting 29 home runs with 84 RBI. He did most of his damage at High-A, but still managed to hit seven homers in Double-A—not bad for a 22-year-old who was drafted in the third round in 2018.
Raleigh is a plus defender, meaning he should stick behind the plate long term, and while strikeout issues are likely going to limit him to a low-average, high-power backstop, he has the tools to be a big league regular and could easily top 20 home runs annually in the Show. Happy to take that as my No. 2 catcher here in the 19th round.
Round 20 (Pick 236): Kevin Cron, 1B/3B, AZ
Did you guys see Kevin Cron‘s numbers at Triple-A last year? They are—quite literally—ridiculous. In 377 plate appearances, Cron blasted 38 home runs with 105 RBI and a .331/.449/.777(!) slash line. I mean seriously. Thirty-eight dingers and 105 RBI in just over half a season.
Cron got called up to the big leagues and wasn’t nearly as good, hitting .211 with six home runs in 39 games played. He’s always had ridiculous raw power, hitting 25+ home runs each season between 2015 and 2017, and 22 in 2018.
I doubt he hits 44 home runs ever again, and that .331 average is probably not sustainable, but his 16.2 percent walk rate and 20.4 percent strikeout rate are really promising—even if he had strikeout issues in the Show.
In Round 20, getting a guy who has easy 35-home run power and who improved his strikeout numbers is definitely worth the other risks.
Round 21 (Pick 245): Cole Winn, RHP, TEX
Cole Winn was the Gatorade state pitcher of the year in Colorado as a junior and in California as a senior, leading Texas to use the 15th overall pick to nab him 2018 and sign him for a hair over $3 million.
Winn’s first professional season was only OK, with a 4.46 ERA thanks to a 13.1 percent walk rate, but his fastball/curveball combination is already big league ready, and many scouts believe his slider has a chance to be his best pitch.
At best, Winn learns how to command the strike zone and effectively mix his pitches well, earning himself a No. 2 title. At worst, the fastball—which gets up to 97 mph with arm-side run—and curveball combo makes him a late-inning weapon out of the bullpen.
I’ll take a high-ceiling, relatively high-floor arm in Round 21 any day of the week.
Round 22 (Pick 260): Antoine Kelly, LHP, MIL
Pitching prospects are so, so volatile. For me when looking at pitchers later in prospect-only drafts, I want to find someone who at least has a floor that makes them potentially valuable. There are a lot of starting pitching prospects who look destined to be No. 4/5 starters but could just as easily never even make it to the big leagues.
Antoine Kelly is my pick here because I think, even if he doesn’t make it as a starter, he has the tools to become a lights out late-inning reliever—and that kind of floor makes him an intriguing pick this late in the draft.
Kelly was Milwaukee’s second-round pick in 2019, and the 6’6″ flame-throwing left-hander has provd he can work at 94-97 mph for multiple innings at a time, and has reached 98 as a 19-year-old.
His secondaries are lacking, with a below-average slider and a virtually nonexistent changeup, but the arm action is solid, and scouts believe they’ll develop in time.
If not, he still projects as a late-inning arm. And if they do, he has a nice potential as a mid-rotation starter.
Round 23 (Pick 269): Freudis Nova, SS, HOU
My team already has a ton of middle infielders, but most of them have already made their big league debuts or are close to it, which is why Freudis Nova felt like a good fit.
Nova is just 19 and finally made it up to A-ball last year after spending his first two professional seasons in rookie ball. He struggled at his new level, hitting just .259 with three home runs and 10 steals in 75 games, but the tools still project really well.
Having drawn comparisons to Edgar Renteria and Hanley Ramirez, Nova has the defensive chops to stick at shortstop and an offensive profile that could reach the 20-20 plateau, although those tools haven’t shown up in game situations quite yet.
There’s a bit of a risk here, but in Round 23, that can be said for anybody. The Astros have proved very adept at helping prospects reach their potential, and I’m banking on that happening again here with Nova.
Round 24 (Pick 284): Griffin Conine, OF, TOR
Griffin Conine has some serious swing-and-miss to his game (35.1 percent K rate in A ball), but the raw power from the left side is very evident from the 2018 second-round pick—as he now has 29 professional home runs in 578 plate appearances.
Conine has a big uppercut swing from the left side and shouldn’t have any issues translating his power to MLB, but unless the strikeouts come down a bit, he will struggle to be an everyday hitter.
However, Conine has made those adjustments in the past, and I’m banking on him finding a way to do so again. He’s still just 22, and while he may never become his dad (two-time All-Star Jeff Conine), a gamble that he’ll come close is certainly worth it in the 24th round.
Round 25 (Pick 299): Joey Wentz, LHP, DET
Last year, my final pick was Crouse, a young pitching prospect who I felt could leap onto Top 100 lists within the year. That proved to be true, as I took him in the 15th round here, and I’m hoping a similar thing will happen with my 25th round pick this season: 22-year-old Tigers left-hander Joey Wentz.
Wentz came over to Detroit in the Shane Greene trade this summer and immediately gave the Tigers a nice boost at Double-A Erie. Wentz made five starts with a tidy 37/4 K/BB ratio and a 2.10 ERA.
He has battled injury issues, which is always a bit concerning, but he’s had success at every stop of the minor leagues otherwise, and his solid three-pitch mix and advanced feel should make him a decently safe bet to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter. He’s not flashy, but getting a pitcher who looks like a solid bet to crack a rotation in the next year or so in the 25th round is always a nice way to round out a prospects mock draft.
Graphic by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)