This was my first ever draft with the Pitcher List staff and it was a blast. My approach going in was to attempt to balance both current and future value of players. I didn’t want to buy in too heavily on MiLB talent and hinder my team in the short run, but not so much as to completely wipe out any chance of competing a few years down the road. While there were a few missteps, I’m very happy with the way my team turned out. Let’s get into it, pick-by-pick.
1.10 Nolan Arenado, 3B Colorado Rockies
From the outset I was projecting Alex Bregman was going to fall to me at this pick, but when he was sniped at #9 I put my backup plan into motion. There are far worse Plan B’s out there to have than Nolan Arenado. Nolan will play most of the 2020 season at 29 years old, so while he is not exactly the youngest gun around, he still has at least several prime years ahead of him. Not to mention, after a below average rookie 2013 season, Nolan has done nothing but hit at a high level. In regards to the “Coors Effect”™, Arenado’s home/road splits can’t be disregarded if he ends up getting traded, but for now I’m quite comfortable with this pick.
Also considering the aforementioned Bregman pick alongside the fact that both Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Anthony Rendon were picked immediately after Arenado, I’m happy I was able to break into the elite 3B market when I did. While I also strongly considered going down another path with fellow Rockie Trevor Story at this pick, I had a different plan in mind for SS with my next selection.
2.23 Gleyber Torres, SS/2B New York Yankees
62 homers from a 2B/SS over his first 2 seasons and he’s only
21! 22! 23!
At pick 23 I was more than happy to take Gleyber as the 6th SS off the board (7th if you include Bregman’s multiple eligibility). In 267 games played since getting the call in early 2018, Torres has been an excellent middle infield power bat, posting the 6th highest ISO (.235) among MLB shortstops in that time. He should retain the 2B eligibility for at least one more year, and although he is pencilled in as the starting SS for the Yankees going forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a few starts at the keystone here and there due to injuries. Or if Cashman swings a trade for a certain premier AL Central SS…
All told, Gleyber is one of the most talented young shortstops in the game hitting in the middle of one of the strongest lineups in a friendly park. He also gets to play the Orioles 19 times per year. Buy, buy, buy.
3.42 Shane Bieber, SP Cleveland Indians
As I watched more and more SP drop off the board, I decided it was time to stake my claim.
It was as recent as 2018 that Shane Bieber was effectively the #5 pitcher in a stacked Indians rotation. It wasn’t an especially pretty rookie season on the surface, but Bieber’s peripherals had piqued the interest of a lot of fantasy owners going into 2019, and he repaid them in kind. Looking at Bieber’s Statcast numbers (90.4 EV, 8.7 Barrel%, 43.1 Hard Hit%) from 2019 don’t exactly inspire optimism for continued success, but Bieber’s changed approach, highlighted wonderfully here by Pitcher List’s Michael Ajeto last July, explains how Bieber’s curveball usage and movement have helped him succeed despite batters hitting him hard.
In a quality starts league, I’m all over Bieber who sat in a 3-way tie with Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin for 2nd most overall in 2019 (24). Couple that with excellent strikeout (10.88 K/9) and walk (1.68 BB/9) and I am perfectly content taking Bieber at SP8.
4.55 Mike Soroka, SP Atlanta Braves
This may end up being the 1st pick I regret. After my Bieber selection, I was torn between adding another young gun atop my rotation or solidifying my lineup with another bat, specifically Josh Bell. However, after 5 more SP came off the board after Bieber, I took my chances on Bell falling back to me in the 5th (spoiler alert: he did not.) In a 6×5 league that favors hitter categories, I feel like I made my first misstep here.
The main knock on Soroka I’ve seen is his lack of strikeouts. While he won’t do me many favors in the K column, Soroka has a deep, effective pitch arsenal and will play the majority of 2020 at just 22 years old. In retrospect I still feel like I should have taken a bat here, but I have faith Soroka can build on his excellent 2019. The lesson here: don’t let how other managers are drafting completely influence your strategy. It’s only one piece of the puzzle.
5.74 Max Kepler, OF Minnesota Twins
The 5th round rolled up and someone who was busy pining for Josh Bell realized he had 4 OF spots to fill. Let’s make some bad decisions together!
I danced around this pick for so long trying to decide between Kepler and Michael Conforto. If you don’t look far past the surface, Kepler and Conforto have had pretty similar careers so far. Looking further into plate discipline, batted ball profiles, statcast numbers, the mental pros and cons list grew for each player. The worst part was that I knew the end result no matter what would be me wishing I took the other guy. While Conforto has established himself as an above average hitter for longer than Kepler has, I decided to throw my lot in with the guy who will most likely hit atop a stronger lineup and play weaker divisional competition more frequently. I’m marking down Kepler vs. Conforto as my story to watch this year. Mentally, there would be no winning for me with this pick, so I went with my gut.
6.87 Giancarlo Stanton, OF New York Yankees
I don’t think I CTRL+F’d “Stanton” fewer than 15 times to confirm he was still available at pick 87 and boy was I happy to nab this one. Stanton’s ADP is a bit deflated right now following a 2019 season completely marred by injury after cryptic injury. He swung at a pitch during the 3rd game of the season, strained his bicep and was out until mid-June. He returned only to be placed back on the IL less than 10 days later with a knee sprain. In a word, suboptimal.
Typically this kind of lost season would scream red flag for me. But as someone who missed out on elite OF looking to get some high upside guys in these middle rounds, Stanton was a perfect candidate. The narrative that I see out there a lot is that Stanton hasn’t produced as a Yankee. While it may be true he’s not putting up bonkers 2017 MVP numbers so far, his debut 2018 in New York was far from disappointing (.262 AVG, .852 OPS, .243 ISO, 38 HR). Roster Resource currently projects Stanton to hit cleanup in the NYY lineup and that may be one of the nicest places to be in 2020 and going forward. I’m all in on this pick.
7.106 Mitch Haniger, OF Seattle Mariners
Hey look, another OF who was hurt for the majority of 2019.
I think a lot of people are sleeping on Haniger following his bone-chilling injury in 2019. Haniger’s breakout 2018 sported a .285 AVG, .859 OPS, 26 HR, and 8 SB. While the rate stats weren’t as pretty in the shortened 2019 season, he was well on his way with the counting stats- compiling 15 HR and 4 SB in 63 games. Haniger just turned 29 and when healthy can be a top 30 bat if everything breaks right. Sign me up.
8.119 Sonny Gray, SP Cincinnati Reds
Whatever the Yankees and Gray were doing wrong all disappeared in Cincy. Gray posted a career high 10.52 K/9 in 2019 all while keeping the ground balls up and the fly balls down. The 2.87 ERA is a nice touch as well. While some of the predictive stats suggest some regression (3.65 xFIP, 3.97 SIERA), Gray has pretty consistently outperformed these dating back to his elite days in Oakland. Gray is now 30 with just under 1100 IP on his arm, but with the results he turned in for 2019, I’m completely fine going forward with Gray as my SP3.
9.138 Mike Moustakas, 2B Cincinnati Reds
After addressing my outfield and SP situation, I returned to the infield and nabbed my second Red in a row. Moose is already entering his 10th season in the league at 31 years old, so I don’t expect him to have a ton of longevity at the keystone, but over the last 3 years Moustakas has averaged an .818 OPS with just under 34 HR each season. As the 17th 2B off the board, you could do a lot worse than those numbers. The AVG or speed won’t ever be a plus, but I’ll take those power numbers at 2B.
10.151 Sixto Sanchez, SP Miami Marlins
Realizing that this is, in fact, a dynasty league, I decided it would be best to draft some prospects. By my count, Sixto was the 20th MiLB designated player off the board, so I got to the game a bit late. Sanchez has a wonderful outlook though, offering a 4 pitch arsenal and a smooth delivery. The Marlins have no reason to rush the 21-year-old, but I expect to see him at some point in the 2nd half. His strikeout numbers aren’t elite, but he keeps the ball on the ground and in the park. Consider me excited for his debut and subsequent trade to a contender.
11.170 Eduardo Rodriguez, SP Boston Red Sox
Constant breakout candidate Eduardo Rodriguez may have actually kinda sorta done it in 2018, posting a 3.82 ERA and a 10.13 K/9. In 2019 he was yet again a popular sleeper and kept the results in line with the previous season to a degree, putting up a 3.81 ERA while the K/9 went down a tick and the BB/9 went up. Not wonderful, but it’s encouraging that “.EDU” can put up back to back seasons with both a sub-4.00 ERA and a K.9 over 9.00. He’ll play the majority of 2020 at 27 years old, so still has some youth on his side. I think he’ll flourish as the #2 in Boston. As my SP4, I’ll take it.
12.183 Hunter Dozier, 1B/3B/OF Kansas City Royals
Dozier had a very interesting 2019. In his 2nd big league season at age 27/28 (not counting his 8 games in 2016) Dozier absolutely shined. He cranked 26 homers in 139 games while keeping the AVG (.279) palatable and the OPS (.870) more than attractive. Dozier is a late bloomer, so don’t expect him to stick on a dynasty roster for 5-10 years, but the multiple eligibility and power combo is very tempting just inside the top 200. With Maikel Franco now on board in KC, expect Dozier to only retain 1B/OF after 2020 barring an injury to or poor performance from Franco. That will hurt his value, but for now I’m fine slotting Dozier in at 1B and seeing what happens.
13.202 Didi Gregorius, SS Philadelphia Phillies
Have you figured out that I’m a Yankee fan yet? Obvious bias aside, Gregorius is entering his age 30 season after a somewhat disappointing and injury-shortened 2019. The walks dropped, the strikeouts jumped up, and only managed a meager .718 OPS. For a guy who was breaking into the upper echelon of SS in 2017-2018, this was alarming to say the least. Didi returned from UCL surgery in June and just never looked right at the plate. Was this a player not fully healed rushing to get back to reinforce his injury plagued team? Or was it simply a player regressing to what he had been for years, a less-than-stellar middle infield bat? Now that he is hopefully fully healed, Didi will slot in as the everyday SS in Philly and is projected to hit 5th in a strong lineup. With his Pull%, his profile should play well at Citizens Bank Park. I’m content with Didi as my UTIL/backup SS.
14.215 Mitch Garver, C Minnesota Twins
I was very happy with this pick. With the elite C’s and better prospects in Sanchez, Realmuto, Smith, Rustchman, Grandal, Contreras, and Bart all off the board, I figured it was time to pounce on a backstop. While Garver is already 29 and may not stick at C long term, he is currently the best option on the Twins roster with Avila being primarily a backup and Astudillo getting playing time elsewhere. Also, the .273 AVG, .995 OPS, and 31 HR in 93 games is something I’d sign up for at catcher any day. I’m very excited to see what Garver can do with a full season in one of the best AL lineups.
15.234 Masahiro Tanaka, SP New York Yankees
The SP pool has basically dried up at this point, and while Tanaka is starting to show his decline, he still managed 15 QS in 2019. While I’d like to see his K/9 jump back up to the 2017/2018 levels, I think Tanaka is basically a known quantity as this point: A mid 4’s ERA with peripherals that are met with a resounding “meh.” In retrospect I could have rounded out my starting 5 with a higher upside guy in Andrew Heaney or Jose Urquidy, but Tanaka it is. I feel incredibly neutral about this pick, but if Tanaka can find a new home in 2021 in a spacious NL park, I think he can hang on into his mid to late 30s as an effective innings eater.
16.247 Seth Beer, 1B/OF Arizona Diamondbacks
With my starting roster basically filled, I jumped back into the prospect pool and came up with Seth Beer. Beer has hit quite well in the minors, posting a .299 AVG, .950 OPS with 16HR in 63 games in AA before being shipped over to Arizona. His numbers dipped after being traded, but that doesn’t concern me a whole lot. Beer could be up as early as 2020 and the 23-year-old could play out as a nice Hunter Dozier insurance policy for me.
17.266 David Peralta, OF Arizona Diamondbacks
Peralta has really come into his own over the last three years, and despite an injury-plagued 2019 he still managed a very respectable .275 AVG, .804 OPS and 12 HR in 99 games. At age 32, he should start to be entering a decline, but if health remains on his side I think Peralta will be able to contribute decent power numbers and run potential hitting near the top of the Snakes’ lineup. For a 17th round bat, I’ll gladly take a guy like him.
18.279 Brad Hand, RP Cleveland Indians
With the elite RPs starting to trickle off the board, I felt I waited as long as I could to grab a closer. Hand ended his 2019 with arm trouble, which concerns me, but when is on he is on. Over the last 4 seasons, Hand has been a lock down reliever for the Padres and the Tribe, posting elite strikeout rates and compiling 87 saves since 2017. The Indians pen certainly has some intriguing young relievers like Clase and Wittgren that could steal the job away from Hand, but for now it appears Hand is entrenched in the 9th inning.
19.298 Aaron Hicks, OF New York Yankees
Hicks underwent Tommy John surgery this past Fall and will miss most the 2020 season. For me, that’s fine, as I already have five or six players who can all get OF looks this season and beyond. Hicks is already 30, but since heading to New York he has shown a ton of promise and reason to believe his former top prospect pedigree wasn’t undeserved. 2017 and 2018 in particular have shown he has the ability to hit 20+ HR and steal 10-15 bags. Stash him on the IL and wait for his eventual return. If he returns broken down, then cut bait. It’s the 19th round, taking a risk on established MLB talent isn’t going to ruin your team…right?
20.311 Raisel Iglesias, RP Cincinnati Reds
At this point I had the option of either bolstering my relief corps or collecting more FV talent. I decided to go with Iglesias mainly because I think he has a clear path to saves in the Reds bullpen. He’s compiled 92 saves over the last 3 seasons, failing to top 30 only once, and while his peripherals aren’t eye popping and he seems to be a bit homer-prone, I’m willing to look past that. Iglesias will lock right in as my RP2. Set it and forget it.
21.330 Archie Bradley, RP Arizona Diamondbacks
I was surprised to learn that Archie Bradley is still only 27. Much like Iglesias, Bradley won’t wow you with his peripherals but has some semblance of a grasp on the closer role. Setup man Kevin Ginkel might pose a threat if Bradley continues his volatility, but I’m comfortable plugging in Bradley and his projections of ~30SV and a K/9 hovering around 10.00. In a 16 team league, having 3 RPs projected to close out 30+ games will put me in an excellent position to either lock down SV each week or swing a trade later on.
22.343 Anthony Kay, P Toronto Blue Jays
With my MLB roster basically filled out, it was time to shore up my farm. Kay had an…interesting 2019, getting swapped from the Mets to the Jays at the deadline in the Marcus Stroman deal. Kay started off strong for the Mets AA Rumble Ponies before getting absolutely torched once he was promoted to AAA. He seemed to find his footing again once he was traded, spiking his K rate back up but also posting a hideous 5.5 BB/9. Unsurprisingly, he was also ineffective in his late season call up. With the Jays adding some SP depth this year, Kay should start in AAA to get more innings. Still only 24, I think Kay has the potential to eventually develop into a mid-to-back end rotation starter or an effective reliever.
23.362 Cal Raleigh, C Seattle Mariners
Raleigh doesn’t have the pedigree of Joey Bart or Adley Rutschman, but at 23 years old and an impressive power stroke, I’m interested in following Raleigh’s development. Raleigh cranked 29 homers in 121 games across 2 levels last year, but it’s hard to ignore the drastic spike in K% of nearly 10 percentage points. Still, I expect the Mariners to keep trying their Tom Murphy experiment behind the plate, so Raleigh will have some time to season in the minors and hopefully stabilize those strikeout numbers.
24.375 Jordan Montgomery, SP New York Yankees
I just can’t get enough Yankees recovering from Tommy John. Coming onto the scene in 2017 at 24 years old, Montgomery was able to hold his own as a league average-ish starter before losing out on most of 2018 and making a brief cameo at the end of last season. With Domingo German currently suspended, J-Mo is penciled in as the Yankees 6th SP and it’s easy to imagine a world where Montgomery makes 5-10 starts in 2020. If he can make the most of those, he could easily entrench himself in the rotation if the Yankees decide to not bring back Paxton and/or Tanaka in 2021. “Gumby” will never have an ace ceiling, but he could easily become a solid innings eater if things break his way.
25.394 Travis Swaggerty, OF Pittsburgh Pirates
The 22-year-old and 80-name tool Swaggerty was selected in the 1st round back in 2018. While he stole double digit bases two of his three college years, his success rate at doing so was a bit worrisome. In the two professional seasons since being drafted, we’ve seen mixed results from the outfielder. His 50 or so games across Short Season and Low-A produced 5 HR and 9 SB, and while his rate stats dipped a ton after moving to Low A I’m not terribly worried about a 16 game sample size. In 121 games at High A, Swaggerty seemed to balance out, producing a .265 AVG, .728 OPS, 9 HR and 23 SB. Swaggerty is panned for being a bit old for his level, but a strong 2020 at AA would be very encouraging. Swaggerty is very toolsy, and a 15/25 projection could become a regular occurrence if his development continues to flourish.
26.407 Brett Gardner, OF New York Yankees
I am an unabashed Brett Gardner fan. Despite his advanced age, Gardner put up one of his best seasons in 2019. His days at the top of the lineup are probably over, but Gardner has yet to turn in a full season in which he turned in fewer than double digit steals. 28 HR and an .829 OPS last year was a pleasant surprise as well. At age 36, Gardner’s days are numbered, but for now I’ll roll the dice on Gardy continuing his late-career renaissance.
27.426 Brett Baty, 3B New York Mets
More Bretts! The Mets selected Baty in the 1st round back in June and his pro debut had mixed results across 3 different levels. With only 188 pro at-bats under his belt, it’s tough to really evaluate what we’ve seen so far from the 20-year-old, but with an encouraging scouting report talking about Baty’s good eye and powerful swing, I think he’s a decent bet to stick in the Mets lineup within a couple of years.
28.439 Dominic Smith, 1B/OF New York Mets
A bit overshadowed by the excellent rookie campaign of Pete Alonso, Smith quietly turned in a productive 2019. He both cut back on strikeouts and increased his walks, and ended the year with a .282 AVG, .881 OPS, and 11 HR in 89 games. He also increased his hard hit % by about 5 percentage points from 2018. He’s not without concerns though, as a spike in BABIP and a .228 xBA could mean this is a mirage. Finding playing time will also be tough for Smith on the Mets, but as a constantly talked about trade candidate, the 24-year-old could find himself on a brand new roster sooner than later.
29.458 Ross Stripling, P Los Angeles Dodgers
Although he’s projected to play a swingman role in the Dodgers’ pen, I think Stripling will inevitably make a minimum of 10 starts once Dodgeritis strikes the current starting 5. In the last three seasons, Stripling has posted above average walk, strikeout, and ground ball rates. While his value will be quite diminished while he remains in the pen, it’s only a matter of time before he’s passing Alex Wood and Julio Urias in starts. I think Stripling is an under-the-radar SP to target in late late rounds.
30.471 Griffin Conine, OF Toronto Blue Jays
I was admittedly running pretty low on prospects I was familiar with by these late rounds, but Conine intrigues me. The 22-year-old isn’t the most polished or disciplined hitter, he’s posted excellent power numbers at Single A Lansing. Conine will really have to cut back on the punchouts if he wants to stick in the big leagues, but in the final round I’ll see what I can get out of Conine if and when he gets the call.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)