Dynasty time! I did my best to build a squad that could grow into a true dynasty by going full rebuild from the very beginning. Bear with me here, this is the first time I’ve ever tackled a draft – mock or real — with this strategy, so there were a few bumps along the way, but I really like the way this team came together. While I did sneak in a few major leaguers early on, the rest of my roster is comprised of prospects and the few MLB players I did snag are quite young. In fact, the elder statesman on my roster is the infamous Alex Reyes who is a ripe… 25 years old. So, yeah, we’ve got some youth here.
Before we dive into the players and why I picked them, a warning of sorts for those who choose to go this route: It will be difficult. As tantalizing as a roster chock full of top prospects with limitless ceilings and unstoppable talent may be, you need to understand that the majority of them may not work out. Some will be stars, some will be regulars, some will be backups, and some won’t make it at all. Understand that not everyone is going to hit, but roll with the ones that do and be willing to replace the ones that don’t. Ready? Let’s do this.
Round 1 (Pick 11): Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, TOR
Vladito is my favorite player to kick off a rebuild because he projects to contribute to every category except steals. He has an enormous ceiling, a generational hit tool, good power, and and he’ll turn 21 just before entering his second MLB season. Assuming all goes right, Vlad will be the cornerstone of this roster for a decade. Vlad has already shown the power is there, recording the hardest-hit ball in MLB in 2019 (118.9 MPH), he just needs to refine his approach a bit in order to utilize that power.
Guerrero’s average exit velocity and launch angle, 89.4 and 6.7, left a little to be desired, but that’s simply a matter of adjusting the attack angle to get more loft and adjusting to major league pitching. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but there are far worse “problems” a hitter could have entering his 2nd season. Vlad’s already shown good control of the strike zone with a 17.7% K rate and an 8.9% walk rate, so I’m confident that we’ll see big strides from Vladito in the near future as he gets more comfortable at the game’s highest level.
Round 2 (Pick 22): Wander Franco, SS, TBR
Why not follow up one generational prospect with another, right? Like Vlad, Franco is projected to grow into an illustrious double-plus hit tool. Unlike Vlad, he profiles as a middle infielder rather than a corner infielder. Add plus power and plus speed tools to the mix and you can already see why Wander has captivated the hearts of prospect hounds around the globe. Did I mention he raked in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League at just 18 years old? Franco posted a .339/.408/.464 line with 3 HRs and 4 SBs in 223 plate appearances and may have punched his ticket for an invite to AA to start 2020 depending on how aggressive the Rays are feeling. Franco’s performance at such a young age is like a middle school kid making the high school team and then proceeding to throw down a 360 windmill dunk during a game. To give you a feel for just how advanced Wander is at the plate, he struck out less than 7% of the time in 2019 while walking nearly twice as often at 11.7% — all while switch-hitting. Most guys can’t even do that from one side of the plate, let alone both sides and against older competition.
Round 3 (Pick 43): Bo Bichette, SS, TOR
Bo Bichette felt like a great value here. First of all, players change positions all the time, so I rarely consider it when building a farm system. Second, similar to Vlad, Bichette is a high-ceiling prospect who’s already gotten a taste of major league action and he made the most of it. Bichette punished MLB pitching in his 212 plate appearance debut with a .311/.358/.571 line including 11 dingers and 4 swiped bags. He projects to get to a plus hit tool and above-average power while sticking up the middle, so while the average will probably settle closer to the .275 range, Bo could be a consistent 20/20 guy for years to come. Before you accuse me of projecting too much speed, Bichette had an 83rd percentile sprint speed in 2019 and stole 15 bags in AAA before coming up to the majors. I expect him to run more this year as he gets more comfortable.
Round 4 (Pick 54): Jo Adell, OF, LAA
I dove back into prospect land with Jo Adell here. He’s a high-upside prospect who will make his MLB debut this season and in my eyes, it doesn’t get better than that.
Adell looks like a future All-Star with double-plus power, above-average speed and a good enough hit tool to take advantage of them. He’s a true 5-tool player who will roam CF for at least the first half of his career and more than enough power to remain a stud if he shifts to a corner. Jo battled through an injury at the start of 2019 which limited him to 341 plate appearances, but he recovered in time to mash at AA (173 wRC+) for a while before earning a promotion to AAA, where he struggled a tad (67 wRC+). But remember, he was still only 20 years old. Adell appears to be a lock for big power numbers at the next level after posting a .245 ISO in AA this past year and a .256 at A+ in 2018. The biggest fantasy question for Adell is whether or not his speed will translate to steals in the majors since he’s “only” amassed 30 swipes in his 3 minor league seasons.
Round 5 (Pick 75): Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU
Drafting a 23-year old MLB-ready 5-tool player 75 picks into a dynasty startup feels like a steal. Yes, there are some concerns with Tucker. Houston did choose Yordan Alvarez over him in 2019. Why did they choose Reddick over him? Those are valid concerns, but we’re not playing for 2019, this is for 2020 and beyond and what’s to come for Tucker looks very promising. His surface stats in AAA have been incredible. In 1,001 PAs, he’s hit 58 HRs, stolen 50 bases with a .297 average, 10.7 BB%, and 20 K%. His MLB numbers have been paltry at best so far, but it should be noted that he hasn’t exactly been given consistent playing time. His MLB tenure so far has been a bunch of scattered starts and pinch-hitting appearances — not exactly a recipe for success for a player adapting to the hardest level of baseball in the world. The upside of plus hit and plus power with good base-stealing ability is enough for me to “gamble” on here.
Round 6 (Pick 86): Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS
Rounding out my last pick in the top 100, I dove back into the prospect pool for a 2019 draftee. Vaughn isn’t an imposing figure at 6’ tall and 200-something pounds, but he packs a punch in that frame, projecting to top out with good power to go along with a 65 hit tool. The surface stats weren’t anything to write home about in his pro debut, but he did manage impressive walk and strikeout rates in his small sample at each level, finishing with a 21:16 K:BB ratio at A+. Simply put, he brings an advanced approach to the plate to go along with a quick, powerful stroke that allows him to tap into most of his power and he’s likely to see the majors in 2020.
If you haven’t noticed a trend here, I clearly have a thing for guys with an advanced approach.
Round 7 (Pick 107): Kristian Robinson, OF, ARI
All right, after I built a decent base of guys in or near the majors, I couldn’t help but take K-Rob in round 7. If you were to create the ultimate prospect in MLB the Show, he would probably look a lot like Robinson. 6’3”, 190 pounds and built like a wide receiver. He’s wiry, with long limbs and plenty of room to add muscle as he matures, but the ball already explodes off his bat. He’s one of those guys where it just sounds different. Combine that with what he’s already accomplished statistically, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the top prospects in the game already. Robinson had a robust pro debut at 17 years old in 2018 with above average showings in both the AZL (131 wRC+) and Pioneer league (114 wRC+). Then, he followed it up with an absurd line in Low-A to start 2019: .319/.407/.558 with 9 HRs, 14 SBs a 12% BB rate and 24.9% K rate and he did it as an 18-year old in a league littered with college guys. He finished the year with 5 more dingers in 102 PAs in full-season A-ball with only a modest decline in the walk rate and K rates. I’m very excited to see where the Diamondbacks start him in 2020.
Round 8 (Pick 118): Dylan Carlson, OF, STL
As a Cardinals fan, I took plenty of joy in selecting 2019’s hottest riser in the 8th round. Carlson is a former 1st round pick, so it’s not like he came out of nowhere, but the Cardinals challenged him early and often with advanced levels for his age and while he held his own (never posted a wRC+ below 101), the numbers didn’t jump off the page.
Until now. In 2019, Carlson took the Texas League by storm and vaulted himself into top prospect conversations. Everything seemed to coalesce as he hit .281/.364/.518 with a .237 ISO and a 2:1 K:BB ratio as a 20-year old in AA. Oh, he also tossed in 21 HRs and 18 steals. Following that run, he somehow took it up another notch in AAA and ran up a 161 wRC+ in 79 PAs. Seems like he really enjoyed hitting that juiced MLB ball. Carlson doesn’t project to have the super high ceiling that some of the players above him on this list do, but he looks like a very good bet to be at least a solid fantasy contributor as soon as this summer.
Round 9 (Pick 139): Royce Lewis, SS, MIN
Royce Lewis is my boy. I have him wherever I can get him in dynasty leagues and this mock is no exception. His down year in 2019 poured some cold water on his prospect stock, but the scouting reports said that nothing has changed and the Twins liked enough of what they saw in A+ to promote him to AA at the end of July to finish out the year. Frankly, he didn’t light the world on fire and posted below-average wRC+’s at both stops (97 A+, 88 AA).
That said, he still managed to swipe 22 bags while driving 12 balls over the fence — and it should be noted that the Florida State League, where he spent the majority of his season, is a notoriously difficult league for hitters. A 20-year old holding his own at the plate in that league should not be seen as a disappointment. Clearly, things don’t look quite as rosy for Lewis as they did a year ago, but this is a pick where I’m putting my faith in the scouting reports and taking a “risk” despite a down year. I still think he’s going to be an impact fantasy bat at an up the middle position in the long run.
Round 10 (Pick 150): Drew Waters, OF, ATL
Rounding out my top 10 is another athletic switch hitter with power and speed. Waters projects plus tools across the offensive board (hit, power, speed) and has backed it up so far with some ridiculous performances: 145 wRC+ in A ball at 19 years old and a 144 at AA this past season. His brief stint in AAA showed some weakness in his aggressive approach as the K rate rocketed up to 36% while the SwStr% moving up to an untenable 18%. Yeesh.
The good news is that it was merely a 119 PA sample size and Waters was only 20 years old. It’s expected that 20-year olds would have a hiccup or two against AAA pitching. He should return to AAA to kick off 2020 and could be challenging for an MLB role by the end of the season, but don’t be surprised if the Braves want him to get extra seasoning to level out his swing and miss tendencies before letting him tackle the major leagues. The power/speed potential here is easily worth the batting average/strikeout risk for me.
Round 11 (Pick 171): Marco Luciano, SS, SFG
Similar to Robinson, Luciano is far from the majors but has sky-high upside. He’s long and lean with some athleticism but what really stands out is the bat speed and the sound the ball makes when it comes off his bat. It’s already showing up in the numbers. Despite being just 17 years old, Luciano OBLITERATED the AZL to the tune of a 177 wRC+ and a .295 ISO in 178 PAs. He launched 10 HRs with a slash line of .322/.438/.616 with 8 steals and a gaudy 15% walk rate. Oh, and he only struck out 21.9% of the time.
To be able to create that kind of power against older competition while maintaining a high contact rate and control of the strike zone is borderline mind-boggling and speaks Luciano’s potential to quickly ascend both the minor league ranks and top prospect lists. With other teams starting to take prospects, I didn’t want to wait any longer and risk not getting him.
Round 12 (Pick 182): Vidal Brujan, 2B, TBR
Speed, speed, speed. Vidal Brujan is a second baseman in the Rays system who has hit and run well at every level of the minor league ladder through AA in 2019.
Knowing how the Rays like to slow cook their prospects and knowing the logjam they currently have at the MLB level – for just about every position – it’s hard to see Brujan making the trip to Tampa until 2021, but when he does, he should hit the ground running… quite literally. He’s been an effective thief of bases the last two seasons, piling up 103 steals in 135 attempts for a 76% success rate. While power is not likely to be a part of his game, Brujan projects to be a plus with the bat and has shown good contact skills in the minors so far, never posting a K% over 15% with good walk rates (8-13%). With speed dwindling at the major league level recently, adding Brujan to the fold was a must for me given his on-base skills and stolen base potential.
Round 13 (Pick 208): CJ Abrams, SS, SDP
CJ Abrams had one of the most impressive pro debuts in recent memory. He was the 6th overall pick in the 2019 draft and immediately made the Padres look smart by putting the AZL on notice with a 189 wRC+. As a prep bat fresh out of high school. Holy bananas. In 156 PAs, he hit .401/.442/.662 with 3 homers and 14 steals. Talk about putting the whole package on display. Even though the 3 HRs don’t look that impressive, Abrams’ combined power and 80-grade speed manifested in the form of a .261 ISO with 12 doubles and 8 triples. He was so impressive that San Diego gave him a sip of coffee (yes, a sip and not a cup) with 9 PAs in full-season A-ball to close out the year.
Just to throw a little cold water on his incredible season, Abrams did swing and miss a brutal 17.7% of the time even though his strikeout rate was only 9% — that’s something to keep an eye on when he sees more advanced pitching. Until then, it’s full steam ahead. Stacking this kind of upside 200 picks into a startup feels really good.
Round 14 (Pick 214): Alex Reyes, RHP, STL
Waiting a while before taking my first pitcher was planned since pitching prospects are a little riskier than hitting prospects (hashtag TINSTAAPP – Nick might fight me for saying that), but taking Alex Reyes as my first pitcher was not planned. Might as well shoot for the moon, right? With more than 200 players off the board and some of the premier pitching prospects already selected, Reyes felt like the pitcher on the board with the most upside, even if the downside is equally substantial at this point in his career.
Despite debuting as a 21-year old in 2016 with 46.0 dominant innings (1.57 ERA, 52 Ks), injuries have limited him to just 7 MLB innings since then. He simply cannot stay healthy. However, with all of that said, we’re still talking about a guy who was once touted with ace potential and is still only 25 coming into this season. The bullpen and health risks are higher than ever, but I’m not sure if there’s anyone left on the draft board at this point with his upside.
Round 15 (Pick 235): Corbin Carroll, OF, ARI
I went back to the 2019 draft class in round 15 with Corbin Carroll. He was the 16th overall pick and had a good debut, earning 49 PAs in Low-A by the end of the year. His calling card is plus-plus speed that helped him swipe 18 bags in 19 attempts, but there’s potential for some power to come along too if he can learn to lift the ball more (48% GB rate). Carroll’s noted polish as a hitter showed through as he earned walk rates in the teens with strikeout rates in the low 20s. If those hold up, he has the potential to be a top of the order hitter who provides at least double-digit home runs and steals. His polish, combined with plus defense at a premium position (CF) should help him climb the ranks quickly even if the power never materializes. These are the kinds of traits I love in a prep bat — advanced plate approach and good defense help carry kids like Carroll through the minors and give them a much better shot at making the majors. Obviously, you trade a little upside for that, but it helps balance out your roster and lets you take some bigger risks on other more raw prospects.
Half point check-in: I have 14 hitters and 1 pitcher and my hitters are almost entirely comprised of shortstops and outfielders. Fear not, friends, this is on purpose. When constructing a farm system, position doesn’t mean much because so many guys will eventually move to a different spot once they fill out and hit the majors. So, I’m simply looking to draft the best players and athletes and I’ll address positional needs when it comes time to compete.
In the second half of the draft, I went very pitching heavy to fill out my staff with some high-risk, high-reward arms. The few hitters I took were to fill out needs in my starting lineup and nab someone who was a great value.
Round 16 (Pick 246): Brailyn Marquez, LHP, CHC
A teenage lefty who touches triple digits. Intrigued? Me too. Marquez is exactly the type of pitching prospect I like to take a chance on. Rather than spending up for the top guys like Gore, Whitley, Mize, etc., I prefer to wait and grab high-upside guys who could vault themselves to the top of lists should everything go their way… or go out in a ball of flames and never make it to the big leagues.
Since pitching prospects are all pretty risky anyway, I don’t feel like this strategy puts me at much of a disadvantage. I’m looking to nab the Tarik Skubals of the world rather than the Casey Mizes. Marquez was signed in the 2015 J2 class and began really turning heads in 2018 with good numbers as a 19-year old in Low-A (3.21 ERA, 26% K, 7% BB in 47+ IP). In 2019, he picked up where he left off and really put his name on the map during his full-season debut with a 3.12 ERA in 103.2 innings (and even better FIP and xFIP) and a high-20s K%.
A 13% walk rate in A-ball isn’t ideal, but it hasn’t been typical of him. Marquez’s biggest concern is whether or not he can develop effective secondary pithes to get advanced hitters out. As good as the fastball is, that alone won’t get him to the big leagues. We should get a good idea in 2020.
Round 17 (Pick 267): Deivi Garcia, RHP, NYY
Deivi, Deivi, Deivi, ooooh! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I was happy to see the diminutive right-hander make it back to me in round 17 after hemming and hawing over him and Marquez in round 16. Luckily, I got both. Mr. Garcia got plenty of buzz last summer after dominating High-A early and eventually pitching at 3 different levels by the end of the summer — that in itself is of note. The bulk of his work was at AA and AAA (eye-opening for a 20-year old) and the results were mostly good. He was very effective at AA with a 3.86/2.20/2.45 ERA/FIP/xFIP line and 37% K rate in 53.2 innings. At AAA, he ran into a bit more trouble, as you might expect, 5.40/5.77/5.18 in 40 innings with a 25% K rate. The numbers aren’t pretty, but when you account for what a mess AAA has been for pitching and this being the longest season of Garcia’s pro career (111.1 IP), it’s really not bad. The main knock on Garcia is that his small frame (5’9”, 165lbs) may not hold up under a starter’s workload, elevating his risk of moving to the pen. Stuff-wise, he looks like a starter with 4 average or above pitches, per FanGraphs, including a plus curve. That’s a profile I don’t mind taking a chance in the back half of a startup.
Round 18 (Pick 278): Jose Urquidy, RHP, HOU
First and foremost, I was surprised to see Jose Urquidy still on the board at this point. Frankly, I assumed he was already gone and didn’t intentionally seek him out. While he may not have the top prospect sheen of Gore or Kopech, he does profile as a mid-rotation starter for an org known for getting the most out of their pitchers. Urquidy is 24, has 4 pitches, already made his big league debut, and is penciled in as the 4th starter for Houston to start 2020. Without going into the details, that’s an intriguing dynasty profile in itself. In his 41 inning big league sample, the 4-seam sat 93-94 which is pretty average these days, but the change and slider are more appealing. The change sat 84-85 with average drop but good arm-side run and got whiffs at 27.5%. The slider, used predominantly against righties, sat 82-83 with a fairly wide array of horizontal sweep and dominated hitters. It got a whiff rate of 47% and allowed a wOBA of .195. If he reduces the fastball a little and bumps up slider usage…well, I’d pay to see what happens.
Round 19 (Pick 299): Hunter Greene, RHP, CIN
Back to the high risk, high reward power arms. Greene was the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 draft and has a flamethrower for a right arm. FanGraphs graded it as a current 70 future 80 and he’s already touched 103 MPH. Absolute gas. On top of that, Greene’s a terrific athlete who may have still been a 1st round pick as a shortstop. That athleticism with his projectable 6’4” frame allows you to dream on Greene developing into an ace who will anchor the Reds’ and your fantasy staff for years to come. Now when you’ve come back down from the clouds, you’ll realize that Greene is currently rehabbing his way back from TJ and really lacked any sort of secondary offering prior to going down with the injury. So, it’s probably going to be a long, slow burn with Greene as he works his way back and develops his arsenal, but that’s a great fit for my “rebuilding” roster. I can wait it out, especially when I only need to use a 19th round pick to get him.
Round 20 (Pick 310): Clarke Schmidt, RHP, NYY
Rounding out the middle portion of my draft, I grabbed a 2017 1st-round college arm with a mid-rotation projection. Hey, not every pick can be pie in the sky upside. You’ve got to have some guys with lower ceilings but higher probabilities to make the bigs. Enter Clarke Schmidt: 6’1” righty that had TJ just before getting drafted, missing all of 2017 and most of 2018. Last summer, he put himself back on the map. Schmidt rebounded with 90.2 innings across Rookie Ball, High-A, and AA — another 3 level guy — and had a FIP and xFIP under 3.00 at each stop with K%s of 25% and up. It’s hard not to get excited about that kind of performance in Schmidt’s first full season following TJ. The repertoire doesn’t project to be anything special, but there’s nothing wrong with 4 average to above-average pitches, either. Schmidt is one of those guys who should log innings with solid ratios and Ks that will be a good part of your staff but won’t be leading it.
Round 21 (Pick 331): Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
I got the itch to take another hitter and couldn’t pass on Nolan Jones any longer. He has all the makings of a middle of the order masher for years to come. His bat packs a prodigious punch with plus-plus raw power and his patience at the plate makes Joey Votto look aggressive. He won’t win you any batting titles, but he’s almost certain to be a counting stats cornerstone. Jones launched 15 HRs in 2019 between A+ and AA with an absurd walk rate in the high teens. The upper 20s K% obviously isn’t ideal, but it’s not a dealbreaker for a 21-year old’s first foray into the upper minors, either. Nolan has raked at each and every level of the minors so far as indicated by his insane wRC+ numbers: 118, 171, 147, 162, 157, & 147. Advanced plate approach, tons of power, close to the majors… Sign me up.
Round 22 (Pick 342): Luis Matos, OF, SFG
Another teenage hitter making big waves. The 17-year old Matos slashed .362/.430/.570 in 270 PAs in the DSL this summer, launched himself up prospect lists, and earned a taste of the AZL by season’s end. Given that Matos’ success came in the DSL rather than stateside, we have to temper expectations a touch, but his stat lines are still pretty impressive, as noted by the 171 wRC+. He finished his DSL season with 7 homers, 20 steals, an 11% K rate, and a 7% walk rate. The 22.4% swinging-strike rate is a little alarming and something to watch for this summer, but Matos is a legitimate power/speed threat who could hit for a solid average. At 340 picks deep into the draft, prospects are bound to have a few concerns.
Round 23 (Pick 363): Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA
And we’re back to pitching once more as I try and round out my staff. I’m a big fan of Cabrera because of his combination of talent and proximity to the majors. He’s a 21-year old with 3 pitches who’s had some success at AA and projects to make his MLB debut at some point in 2020. He’s also got a big starter’s frame at 6’4”, 175lbs. His stuff ticked up in 2019 and you can see it in the stat line as his K% suddenly jumped up 10 points to around 30% for the season. Combine that with his 8% walk rate, low 2s ERA, a WHIP right around 1.00 and I’m absolutely buying this profile late in a startup. I’m very excited to see what he can do in the majors should he get there this season.
Round 24 (Pick 374): Jordan Balazovic, RHP, MIN
Jordan Balazovic is another big right-hander who pumped up his stock in 2019. After putting himself on the map in 2018 with a very solid full-season debut, Balazovic kicked it up… another notch! Just like Emeril. He posted a K rate in the mid-30s with a walk rate close to 6% in 93.2 innings across A and A+.
Oh, and his ERA/FIP/xFIP line was pretty stellar, too, at 2.84/2.28/2.54 with a 1.00 WHIP in A+. Not too shabby, for a 20-year old. With 4 pitches, his big 6’5” frame, and his level of success in the low minors, Balazovic is looking more and more like a mid to back end rotation guy for Minnesota in the next couple of years.
Round 25 (Pick 395): Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, TOR
SWR, as I affectionately call him, felt like a steal 400 picks into the draft. Sure, he’s still very young and has a long way to go before getting to the bigs, but boy is he off to an excellent start to his pro career. He threw 106.2 innings at A and A+ this summer for the Mets and Blue Jays, maintaining a high-20s K% ~6% BB rate in his full-season debut. Minus the ERA in A ball, the ratios were great too, averaging a mid 2s FIP and xFIP across both levels. As I said, there’s still a long way for him to go, but SWR has potential for 3 above-average offerings and is already moving quickly and having success. You can’t ask for a lot more out of a pitching prospect at this spot.
Round 26 (Pick 406): Danny Jansen, C, TOR
Okay, so I had to take a catcher. With all the obvious catching prospects and young catchers off the board, earlier than I wanted to take them, I decided to wait until the final rounds to snag mine. Lo and behold, I was still able to get a young guy with MLB experience and a good prospect pedigree. Yes, Jansen struggled mightily in his rookie season, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been available this late. That said, his debut doesn’t deter me much because it’s commonly known that catchers typically take longer to develop at the plate because the defense and pitching staff take precedence.
Plus, there were some highlights to 2019. The 20.6% K rate and 8.8% SwStr% are probably better than you may have guessed given the .207 average and he walked at an 8% clip, too. So, he wasn’t entirely overmatched and even managed to get to 13 HRs. It’s not going to be sunshine and roses 400 picks deep into a draft, and especially not at catcher, but Jansen is someone I’m happy to take a shot on.
Round 27 (Pick 427): Jackson Rutledge, RHP, WAS
It appears that I have a type when it comes to pitching prospects… Big right-handers with velo and Jackson Rutledge just might be the epitome of that. He’s a hulking 6’8” tall and 260lbs with a fastball that touches 101. He’s so tall that he’s practically punching the hitter in the face by the time he finishes his extension and releases the ball. That seems pretty good for the perceived velocity. Rutledge has nasty, nasty stuff, as you might expect, with potential for a plus slider, above-average curve, and average changeup to go along with the double-plus heater. Not to mention, he was pretty good in his pro debut, too! The 2019 17th overall pick threw 27.1 of his 37.1 innings at full-season A-ball, striking out 29% of batters with a 2.30 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Rutledge has major league level stuff, but, as the 10% walk rate implies, whether he’s going to be able to command it well enough to have success in the upper levels or not is the real story here.
Round 28 (Pick 438): Luis Medina, RHP, NYY
I decided to channel my inner Tone Loc and keep it funky cold at pick 438. I’m sorry about that, but I regret nothing.
Luis Medina is a really exciting arm in the Yankees system who has some filthy stuff… but doesn’t appear to have any idea where it’s going right now. The fastball and curve both project as future 65s per FanGraphs, which is unreal, and the changeup should be above average to boot. The issue is the 30-grade current command, evidenced by some walk rates that will make your eyes bleed and make you incredibly, incredibly thankful for the command god, Greg Maddux. We’re talking anywhere from 15-25% across multiple levels in the last 3 years. It’s not pretty. So, why use a pick on someone like Medina? Well, the stuff is so good that he’s going to get a lot of guys out if he can ever learn to hit the broad side of a barn. And even if he doesn’t, it’s possible he could be an effective reliever. This late, there aren’t many arms with this kind of talent to take a shot on, so why not? I’ve already got a few higher floor guys on the roster.
Round 29 (Pick 459): Ethan Hankins, RHP, CLE
Hankins is a guy whose stock appeared to peak the summer prior to his draft year and he fell to the compensation rounds instead of being a top pick. He’s got a big, solid frame at 6’6” and 200lbs and projects to have 3 average or better pitches. He only threw three innings in 2018, but Cleveland challenged him in his true debut this summer by throwing him in Low-A and he responded with 38 and 2/3 great innings. The ERA was a sparkling 1.40 though the FIP and xFIP were mid-3s. He K’d 28% of hitters while walking nearly 12%, which is good but not great, but again he was pitching against older competition. The Indians challenged him even more by sending him to A-ball for 21 innings to finish the year, but things didn’t go quite so smoothly. Despite maintaining his walk and strikeout rates, he gave up home runs that drove his ERA and FIP into the mid-4s — though the xFIP was more palatable at 3.30. The early success is intriguing even if the stuff doesn’t look like it once did.
Round 30 (Pick 470): Josh Lowe, OF, TBR
Perhaps best known as Nate Lowe’s younger brother at this point, Josh is still an impressive prospect in his own right. He was the 13th overall pick in 2016 and blossomed when he transitioned to CF in 2017. Obviously, the defense doesn’t get you any points in fantasy, but let’s not forget that good defense gets players to the majors and keeps them in the lineup – especially at premium positions like center. Lowe’s bat broke out in a big way this past season at AA where he went .252/.341/.442 as a 21-year old while increasing his walk rate (11.4%) and decreasing his K rate (25.4%) a tick. He set major career highs with 18 blasts and 30 steals. The difference for Lowe appears to be an improvement in the ability to square up the ball: He swung and missed less (13.3 to 12.2) and posted his highest line drive rate to date (23.11%).
All in all, I’m very happy with how my roster looks. I made a few mistakes by not being aggressive enough on guys like Julio Rodriguez and Mackenzie Gore, but I feel confident that this roster will produce a core of great fantasy talent that can be built around and supplemented. I loved the high impact bats I was able to land at the top of the draft and feel that I was able to fill in my rotation well with good-but-not-great prospect arms in the later rounds. This is a team I’d be happy to march into battle with in any dynasty league.
Over-usage of “generational” alert. You did not draft a valid roster. It kind of messes up the entire exercise as you dug deeper into the prospect pool than would likely be permitted. You have less than 10 MLB players so you would probably have to cut 10 or so to be legal. Yes, you have a good farm but you don’t have a team.
Great stuff, Joe! I’m torn on whether or not to keep Wander in my 5 keepers (no restrictions) league since he won’t have a significant role until 2021. I’ve got Trout and Betts but would love your thoughts on the 3 players to keep from this group:
Torres, Flaherty, Albies, Meadows, Wander, Adell, Ohtani, Suarez
Hey Micah, thank you! Man, that is a tough list to choose from! Keep forever, without any other info, it’s hard to pass on Wander now that supposedly he could see MLB time this year. I think it all comes down to your willingness to stomach the “risk” projecting how a prospect will develop. I think I would choose Albies, Wander, and Ohtani (if daily lineups) or Meadows if it’s not daily.