It was a winter full of mock drafts for the Pitcher List staff. That included a prospects-only dynasty mock for 12 brave souls. Three-hundred 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 in redraft leagues.
We had a basic set of rules in which only players with rookie status were eligible and we had to try and fill out a real-life lineup. I decided I would try to snag as many high-upside arms as possible, as even if they don’t all hit, they tend to make decent relievers. I think a ton of good middle-infield prospects exist, while first base and catcher get thin quick, so I wanted to snag a couple of those early on if possible.
The sixth-overall pick is one of the harder picks in my eyes, as I do view the top 5 similarly as they went in this draft. While I tend to prefer a higher floor when it comes to early-round prospects in a draft like this, MacKenzie Gore has just so much upside I couldn’t pass. My No. 1 pitching prospect in the minors, the lefty Gore will turn 21 in February of next year and won Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019.
Gore reached AA in 2019, but threw most of his innings in A+ ball, where he had a 0.71 WHIP with a 38.2% strikeout rate (yes that’s legit). While he was a bit more challenged in AA, it was only one real start that blemished his numbers (three home runs given up of his seven total) and was shut down after throwing 101 innings. He features the potential for elite control, three above-average pitches, and a fastball that plays up thanks to the late-life on it. His uber-competitive nature will make him strive to be the best and I’m glad I was able to get him here.
I really went against my safe approach with my first two picks, but I think it’ll be worth it. I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to say Kristian Robinson is a fantasy star in the making, reaching full-season ball at the age of 18 and performing well. He was signed out of the Bahamas in 2017 and instantly had scouts’ attention, showcasing a ton of raw power already for his age. He stands at 6’3″ and weighs approximately 190-210 pounds depending on where you look, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility he adds more muscle and hopefully more power. He’s fast and agile for his size, stealing 17 bases total last year and playing primarily center-field thanks to this. He will more than likely end up in a corner outfield as he ages. Jason Pennini (of Prospects Live) had this to say about his swing last February:
An evaluator remarked Robinson looks a bit stationary and flat-footed in his base stance; I think it works for him. Small load, short stride, direct path to the ball. They are simple, clean mechanics that allow his immense strength to play up without the expense of contact.
This will allow him to make consistent hard-contact and will have an average-or-above hit tool. While he had some great exit-velocity numbers, he only hit 27.9% fly balls, so hopefully he can lift that off the ground a bit more to tap into his raw power. He also has a higher strikeout rate, but is willing to take a walk. With some growth and improvement, he should be able to place himself into the top 10 prospects in baseball and I adore the upside he has.
My first of four Toronto Blue Jay picks (I’m not biased I swear), this actually feels like a bit of a steal to me for Nate Pearson. A big boi standing at 6’6, 245 pounds, Pearson has the ceiling of a future workhorse with the safe floor as an elite closer. He was able to reach AAA last year after missing most of the 2018 season with a fractured elbow and showed why he’s the Blue Jays top prospect, throwing 101.2 innings with a 2.30 ERA.
He currently has two potential 70-grade pitches in a fastball that touches 104 MPH and a wipe-out slider that registers high 90’s. His curveball has nice downward movement thanks to the spin he can get on it and a changeup that will be the difference-maker between starting or closing. It’s currently a work-in-progress but flashes average at certain times, so I feel the likelihood he reaches his ceiling is better than most.
I actually think it’s closer than that on [Jarred] Kelenic vs. [Jordan] Groshans too, and I’m probably in the minority camp on this because of how much I like Groshans, but you could make a case for Groshans over Kelenic, and I wouldn’t be surprise that happens by the end of 2020.
That’s insane value to me right now in the 40s, as Kelenic was taken eighth overall (appropriate place to take him, of course). Groshans features plus-plus bat speed with a controlled, explosive swing. He has an advanced all-fields approach, consistently hitting the ball with authority. Last year when healthy, he slashed .337/.427/.482 in A-ball and more than likely will start there again. He probably doesn’t stick at shortstop, but his bat will play even if he moves over to third-base.
5.54 – Oneil Cruz – SS/3B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Although he’s currently playing shortstop, there’s a good chance Oneil Cruz moves to third-base or the outfield thanks to the fact he’s 6’7″. He currently is lanky and has good range and speed, but the track record for tall shortstops is non-existent. What we know for sure with Cruz is that he has MASSIVE raw power (FanGraphs placed an 80-grade on it).
Cruz was able to reach AA at the age of 20 and hold his own, slashing .269/.346/.412 in 35 games. He only hit one home-run in AA, but in A+ hit seven in the same number of games. What was most impressive about his AA stint was his walk-rate at 11%, a possible sign his game elevated with the better competition. While he’s currently got some speed, the concern is once he puts on some weight he should slow down, but he still should be able to play a decent center-field. The upside with Cruz is sky-high and I don’t think another team has as much potential as the one I constructed.
This pick was made because of a small run on catchers (Sean Murphy and Dalton Varsho both taken same round before me), but I do really love what Keibert Ruiz brings to the table. One of the few bats in the minors with a legit 70-grade hit tool, I adore that it comes from one of the positions that normally is a killer for batting average. While Will Smith seems like the catcher of the future for the Dodgers, I do think Ruiz will be used as trade-bait and get a chance somewhere else.
Along with his hit tool comes elite plate discipline, as he had a 1.36 BB:K ratio last year between AA and AAA. While power wasn’t a huge part of his game in 2019 (just a .347 SLG), he does have average raw power, so along with his ability to hunt good pitches he could become a 10-15 home run hitter. He should get an extended run in AAA this year with a chance to get to the majors if anything were to happen to Smith.
Another small run (first-base this time) helped push me to pick Evan White. White isn’t the typical build for a first-base prospect, as he doesn’t feature plus-plus power, but he does feature a 55/60-grade hit tool. He also is one of the best defenders at his natural position and it has been theorized he could slot into the outfield if needed, as he also features decent speed. He was in AA all of last year, slashing .293/.350/.488 with a wRC+ of 132.
One of my favourite things about White was the fact he was very close to the majors at the time of this mock draft, and lo and behold a couple of weeks later the Seattle Mariners signed him to a six-year, 24-million dollar extension with three team options. This should allow him a better chance to stick with the Mariners after Spring Training and that is very appealing to me. Eric Hosmer is a comp that makes sense to me and while that may be boring, it’s a proven option that had some good peak years.
My first player taken from the most recent MLB draft (a common trend you will see), Hunter Bishop was drafted 10th overall by the San Francisco Giants. Standing at a strong 6’5″ and weighing 210 pounds, Bishop has massive raw power stemming from his bat speed, strength, and his lofty swing. While he was inconsistent in his collegiate career, he broke out in 2019, slashing .342/.479/.748 with 22 home runs.
Part of the issue with Bishop is that he can get swing happy, swinging over breaking balls in the dirt and flailing more than you would like. He combats that with great plate discipline (24.8% walk-rate in his short A-ball season) which will help him succeed in the future, even if the hit tool is capped at 45-grade. He’s got wheels, evidenced by his stolen eight bases last year, and it should be a part of his fantasy toolkit for the future. He will more than likely work in center field, as he did play the corner-outfield positions for his first two college seasons. I love the upside with Bishop as a 30/20 candidate and that will play in the eighth round.
One of my favourite risers of the 2019 season, Shane McClanahan turned a corner with his control. Coming out of college, the lefty McClanahan had 40-grade control, missing spots consistently with his fastball and had a reliever comp placed on him (albeit an elite one). He was routinely able to throw his fastball 100 MPH, but even this year showed control issues, posting a 13.9% walk-rate in A-ball.
Once he was promoted, something clicked. In A-ball he was throwing strikes only 61% of the time and the league-average was 64%. In A+ he started throwing strikes at a 67% rate and it allowed him to reduce his walk rate to 4.2%. While it’ll never be that low in the majors, if he can even have average control he should become an ace. His curveball and changeup both flash plus, and with a fastball as good as his, I’m excited to see what he does in 2020.
10.115 – Jordyn Adams – CF, Los Angeles Angels
My first true speed asset, Jordyn Adams is still fairly raw but showed a lot of promise in 2019. One of the few minor-leagues with true 80-grade speed, Adams never really focused strictly on baseball until last year after he was drafted as he was a two-sport athlete in High School. He also had his pro-debut last year cut short by a broken-jaw, so to see him jump to A-ball almost immediately in 2019 was encouraging.
Adams has a surprising amount of raw power and with some more work should be able to start tapping into it in games. His 12% walk-rate last year was very encouraging as well, showing some ability to recognize pitches. The downside with Adams is that he may stall out in the minors, but the upside is a top outfielder with five-tool potential. The outfield situation with the Los Angeles Angels is getting murky, but don’t be surprised if Adams breaks through in a couple of years.
Another one of my favourite risers from the past year, Geraldo Perdomo seems like a high-floor fantasy prospect with a surprisingly high ceiling. Perdomo started his professional career in rookie ball and walked 21.6% of the time (yes that’s right, not a typo). This just had to be from rookie level pitchers having little control, right?
Perdomo would prove his plate recognition was no fluke, as he would go on to post elite walk and strikeout rates the next two years in A/A+, walking more than he struck out in 2019. While the power has yet to emerge, he’s increased his exit-velocity at each stop he’s made, so it’s improving slowly. He has some speed to his game as well, chipping in 26 total steals in 2019 and could become a top of the order bat that gets on-base, steals bases, and scores a ton of runs. He should start 2020 in A+ or maybe AA and it wouldn’t be out of the question that he’s in the majors late in the year or early 2021 if he hits. For me, Perdomo is a backup middle-infielder who feels safer than other options taken this late.
12.139 – Eric Pardinho – SP, Toronto Blue Jays
A bit of a reach I think, but I didn’t want another infield prospect (Ryan Vilade I liked a lot) and really like Eric Pardinho. A top-100 prospect in some places coming into the year, Pardinho unfortunately battled injuries for most of it, only pitching 33.2 innings. When healthy, he shows advanced mechanics and control for his age, something rare for an 18-year-old pitcher.
When healthy, he shows four pitches that are average or above, with his fastball that averages 92-94 MPH but can touch 96. While his strikeout numbers weren’t amazing last year, I’m going to believe it was partially due to injuries, but with that being said some scouts believe his potential isn’t much higher than his current state. I’m willing to wait a couple of years and see with him, even if his debut isn’t till 2023.
The opposite of Eric Pardinho, Anthony Kay is a fairly safe bet to succeed in the majors. Now, with that being said, he will more than likely never become an ace, but he’s got an intriguing set of skills that help him reach his ceiling.
A decent three-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, changeup) along with average control, Kay showed elite spin-rates on the fastball and curveball. I was happy to take Kay here as I wanted some safe innings to count on in 2020. Looking back, I probably should have taken George Kirby, Tony Gonsolin or Joe Ryan, especially Gonsolin, as he more than likely will be a part of the Dodgers rotation next year and has more strikeout upside.
Taken as more of a reliever than a starter in my mind, Luis Medina does have front-of-the-rotation upside. His downside is a reliever that never walks less than 12% and possibly stalls out in AAA (but ignore that)! I’m going to predict he hits his median outcome, which is he’s a big-strikeout closer who will sometimes have control issues. Last year it seems like something clicked with him as well, as during the first half he was having an awful season with an 18% walk-rate and 7.59 ERA. After that, he showed improved control with a 35% strikeout-rate, 8.4% walk-rate and 1.77 ERA.
Medina will show two elite pitches in his fastball (reaching 102 MPH) and a wipeout curveball that will have hitters flailing. His changeup is nothing to sneeze at either, flashing plus at times and possibly giving him a good third option for the future. The New York Yankees are obviously good at getting the most of their prospects and I do have a sneaky feeling Medina will shoot up prospect lists, so this is a good spot to get him.
Speaking of teams who know how to get the best out of their prospects, Kody Hoese seems like a stereotypical Los Angeles Dodgers prospect. Taken in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft, Hoese is able to control the strike zone well and show above-average raw power.
He showed his patience to be an asset as well, striking out just 13.6% of the time in A-ball while spraying the ball to all fields. The power wasn’t exactly there in his short stint, which was a concern being drafted, as he hadn’t shown much other than his last year of college, but I’m going to chalk it up to him being tired. While speed isn’t a part of his game, he’s quick enough that he should stay at third base and not have to worry about a move to first base. I like Hoese a lot, as he’s closer to the majors than people realize and could be up as soon as 2021.
What’s that? Another 2019 MLB draft prospect? I may have a problem. Jackson Rutledge is really good though! He’s got ace upside! He’s a big 6’8″ boy! After having one of the best collegiate seasons in 2019, Rutledge was drafted 17th overall by the Washington Nationals and proceeded to make 10 starts in pro-ball, showcasing elite strikeout stuff.
He’s got four pitches he works with (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup), with the fastball showing late life and averaging 95 MPH. The slider has great horizontal movement and the 12-6 curveball has nasty bite. Unfortunately, his changeup is less developed than you would like for a college pitcher and his control is sub-par, so reliever risk does exist here, but his stuff will play up hugely in a relief role. A multi-inning relief role would be a great outcome for him if that is where he ends up or possibly a five-and-dive guy that racks up the strikeouts.
A premium bat taken in the 2019 draft, Michael Busch only lasted that long because many question where he ends up defensively. He played exclusively left-field and first base during college but the Los Angeles Dodgers challenged him at second base during his pro-debut. Despite these defensive limitations, Busch in my eyes has one of the highest floors in the minors.
Busch’s biggest asset is his immaculate eye, as he showed during his brief A-ball stint (.125 AVG, .374 OBP) and is able to hit the ball to all-fields thanks to this patient approach of his. He’s got lightning-quick bat speed and is able to punish bad pitches quite easily. The power, while not massive, is present and should be good enough for 20 home runs average a year. Like Kody Hoese, I expect Busch to be a quick riser and challenge for playing time in 2021.
Despite his namesake, Ethan Small is a decently tall pitcher (6’3″), which allows him to create plane with his fastball. While he didn’t have the same velocity he did before having Tommy John in college, his fastball sits at 89-92 MPH and is able to get a ton of swings-and-misses thanks to the deception behind it. He also controls it decently and can place the pitch fairly well where he wants it. He also throws a changeup that shows great separation between itself and the fastball (it’s usually mid 70’s) and a curveball he didn’t throw often enough as he didn’t need to.
In 21 innings in 2019 he was able to strike out 36 batters, showcasing the potential he has. While he more than likely fits the No. 4 starter profile, if he ever saw his fastball velocity tick up he could become much more than that.
After tearing up the Arizona Fall League this year and being an AFL All-Star, Kyle Isbel felt like a good choice here for me. He was having as good a 2019 season as you can have, having an OPS of 1.053 before succumbing to a Hamate fracture (notorious for effecting hitters). Afterwards, he just wasn’t the same player, having a .643 OPS and struggling.
When healthy he features an all-around skillset, not excelling at anything in particular but having all the tools to succeed. He’s shown an ability to hit so far during his pro-career and brings some speed to boot, having the upside to 10-15 steals a year. He probably doesn’t become a star in the majors, but a nice complementary piece that can really hit, a-la Kole Calhoun.
A surprise first-round pick (because the Atlanta Braves felt he would be gone by his next pick), Braden Shewmake has proven that he deserved to be taken where he did. Making it all the way to AA in his first taste of pro-ball, the tall-and-lanky shortstop seems like he is on the fast-track to the majors.
While not having a real standout tool, Shewmake has a super-high floor, helping ensure he will make it to the majors on his defense alone. His hit-tool is more than likely the best, as he makes plenty of line-drive contact and can spray the ball around. He doesn’t strike out often (unlike his AA stint, which more than likely was him running on fumes) and with some added weight (only weighs 190 pounds, standing at 6’1″) he could have 15 home run upside. He could be used in a super-utility role, which would be handy for his fantasy upside.
After seeming like another first-round bust by the Miami Marlins, Trevor Rogers flipped the script in 2019, throwing a 2.53 in 110.1 innings in A+ ball. While the brief move up to AA showed some cracks, it was still a 4.50 ERA in just his second year in pro-ball after only throwing 72.2 innings in his first year.
Rogers features four pitches (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup) with his fastball reaching 96 MPH with movement—somewhat rare for a lefty. While he doesn’t have a true strikeout pitch, his changeup is his best secondary with tumbling action and he utilizes his curveball to decent results. Sometimes it can morph into his slider and with continued growth should hopefully be able to iron out those issues, along with spotty control.
22.259 – Michael Baumann – SP, Baltimore Orioles
It feels like just yesterday everyone would look at the Baltimore Orioles farm system and laugh (sorry Ben Palmer), but now it’s starting to look respectable. Part of that is thanks to Michael Baumann who popped up this year after not really having much fanfare before. One of the reasons for his jump is thanks to a new cutter he added this year, showing hard-bite (sits 79-89 MPH) and being able to get strikeouts and groundballs.
Baumann also has a fastball that will touch 97 MPH, but sits 94-95 with late-life. He also features a currently-mediocre curveball and a changeup that flashes at-least average. In order to reach his ceiling, he needs one of his other secondaries to tick up and could stand to have his control improve as well. Camden Yards could be a tough place for him to pitch, but with his current groundball prowess, he could just succeed.
While it pains me to roster even two New York Yankee prospects, they certainly know how to find and develop them. Case in point, Ezequiel Duran. Signed during the J2 period in 2016, Duran burst onto the scene in 2017, but struggled in 2018. While he had posted exit velocities over 110 MPH, he struggled with contact and had poor pitch recognition.
This year he seemingly changed, posting a 9% walk-rate (almost double his minor-league best) and was able to tap into his raw power more, hitting 13 home runs in just 66 games in the tough New York-Penn League. Power is his biggest asset, as he could have 60-grade raw power and should have an average hit tool allowing him to continue to hit home runs. The 11 steals in 2019 are more than likely an anomaly for the future, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he stole 7-9 each year.
Still only 19 years of age, Antoni Flores had a pretty disappointing 2019 season. The move into full-season ball increased his strikeout rate from 12.3% to 28.4%, as he was challenged by the tougher pitching and it shows. The skills he showed in the AFL last year seemed to back-up and not be as impactful this year.
He still shows the potential for an above-average bat, being able to have a 50-grade hit tool and a 55-grade power tool. His swing is currently made for loft, hopefully allowing him to hit for power in the future when he adds some muscle and should start back in the New York-Penn League to repeat.
25.294 – Blake Walston – SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Walston was one of the youngest of the draft class, he had an impressive pro debut, striking out 17 batters in 11 innings. With Walston, you’re getting the potential for three above-average pitches with his curveball showing two different variations—one a harder slurve that the FanGraphs guys said flashes 70. The fastball has movement that helps it get swing and misses despite it being below-average velocity, and he’s shown control of his changeup. You’re going to be waiting a while for Walston, but the payoff could be high.
So my final lineup is as follows:
|C||Keibert Ruiz"}”>Keibert Ruiz|
|1B||Evan White"}”>Evan White|
|2B||Michael Busch"}”>Michael Busch|
|OF||Kristian Robinson "}”>|
|OF||Hunter Bishop"}”>Hunter Bishop|
|SP||MacKenzie Gore"}”>MacKenzie Gore|
|SP||Nate Pearson"}”>Nate Pearson|
|SP||Anthony Kay"}”>Anthony Kay|
|SP/RP||Luis Medina"}”>Luis Medina|
|SP/RP||Trevor Rogers "}”>Trevor Rogers|
|Bench||Ethan Small"}”>Ethan Small|
|Bench||Kody Hoese"}”>Kody Hoese|
|Bench||Kyle Isbel"}”>Kyle Isbel|
|Bench||Ezequiel Duran "}”>Ezequiel Duran|
|Bench||Antoni Flores"}”>Antoni Flores|
Looking back over my selections, I really liked this year’s draft class for their potential value and clearly have an affection for lefties. Overall my team has a ton of upside with some floor sprinkled in and I think my team has the chance to produce a ton of major-league talent. A couple of years down the line, I predict some superstars (Gore, Pearson, McClanahan, Robinson, Cruz), some fantasy-stud players (Groshans, Adams, Bishop, Rutledge, Small), and some safe plays (Ruiz, White, Busch, Kay, Hoese). You need all three to succeed in fantasy, so I think I have the best mock team.
Graphic by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)