I had the pleasure of participating in my first-ever Pitcher List mock draft a few weeks ago, a 30-round, 16-team dynasty draft.
My general rule when I participate in dynasty drafts is this: I’m not afraid to change course if I see the draft is going a certain way. I think that for the most part, dynasty drafts start heavy on young players and top prospects, and depending on where I fall in the draft order, I might land several of those top prospects, or I might not. This draft was no different, as some of the top prospects in baseball came off the board quickly. Lucky for me, I can adapt easily (or so I think). When I start to notice that a dynasty draft is prospect-heavy, that leaves some of the veteran MLB players to slide down the draft board. I found that to be the case here, as I was pleased with my value picks early on. I felt that as the draft progressed, I did well in accumulating enough well-regarded prospects that my draft was successful.
Round 1 (Pick 7): Francisco Lindor, SS
I played it safe with my first pick, taking one of the most consistent players in baseball in Lindor. I had the option of going younger here, with Tatis, Vlad Jr., and several others still on the board, but I don’t like to pass up opportunities to get shares of Lindor. He could be the cornerstone of this roster.
Round 2 (Pick 26): George Springer, OF, HOU
I continued my trend of what I felt were safe picks at the time, but as I look back on my draft, I’m not so sure I feel that way now. I thought I was going with another consistent performer in Springer, but all the news about the Astros, combined with his injury history, makes me question whether this was the right pick or not. Several of the top prospects such as Franco, Alvarez, along with top younger players such as Alonso were already off the board at this point. I did not want to reach for a prospect when I felt I could still get a consistent hitter such as Springer. I know he has some injury history, having played 162 games once in his career, but he has produced consistent power numbers over the past few seasons, and as the second bat I took in this draft, I liked the potential for a potent lineup. I still think Springer can provide power and continue to produce.
Round 3 (Pick 39): Max Scherzer, SP, WASH
I know that in dynasty drafts, older players tend to fall down the draft board, but I did not expect Max to fall as far as he did. In my mind, I could not pass up the opportunity to draft one of the top starting pitchers in baseball. I know that Scherzer is 35 years old, so taking him in the third round of a dynasty draft might seem risky to some, but this gives me an ace to anchor my rotation for at least a few more years. The risk here with Scherzer is his recent injury history, which, combined with his age, may seem like a foolish pick in a dynasty league. I’m one who likes to buck trends when it comes to drafts, though, so I was willing to jump on the chance to get some years of ace performance, despite the risk.
Round 4 (Pick 58): Justin Verlander, SP, HOU
It was at this point in the draft that I knew I was zigging when everyone else was zagging. Taking another aging pitcher in a dynasty league is certainly a different type of strategy. These are win-now picks because a 36-year-old pitcher only has so many years left in him. I considered taking Verlander with my third-round pick, so I was happy that he was on the board when I came up again in round 4. I am more than comfortable with that approach, though, because having Max and Justin at the top of my rotation puts me in a spot where I can now address other parts of my roster the rest of the draft. I also felt I could draft pitching prospects later on who still I could wait on for a few years, since I have top-of-the-rotation guys in my lineup already.
Round 5 (Pick 71): Eddie Rosario, OF, MIN
Coming in the fifth round at 71st overall, this pick of Rosario is another one where a consistent hitter can help solidify my lineup. I’m perfectly happy to draft a guy in the fifth round who has hit 27, 24, and 32 home runs in the past three seasons. His strikeout rates have decreased every year since 2016, and his ISO has been above average to great in each of the past three seasons. Also, factor in that he is part of a loaded Twins lineup — he has enough talent around him where he should be able to maintain those numbers going forward.
Round 6 (Pick 90): David Dahl, OF, COL
Dahl is a player I liked in this spot of the draft, and it was another opportunity to add to my bats. He hasn’t played a full season yet, but he is coming off a season where he played the most games of his career in the majors. I’m a little concerned with the 26.6% K rate from last year, but 15 home runs in 413 PA is encouraging. I think if Dahl can go through an entire season, his power numbers will begin to show through, as he had a .222 ISO last year and a .524 slugging percentage.
I’m noticing a trend of injury risk early on. I know that’s not something that many owners try to do, but as I looked back on my entire draft, I liked the depth I added later on and hoped that can help to alleviate some that risk.
Round 7 (Pick 103): Jorge Soler, OF, KC
Another bat taken here, as I love to stock up on outfielders. I’m banking on Soler’s breakout 2019 campaign being legitimate. He hit 48 HRs, had a .304 ISO, and slugged .569, but also struck out 26.2% of the time. He’s about to head into his age 28 season, so he should be hitting his prime. If last season was any indication, he’s there. I don’t expect him to slug 48 home runs again, but I think it’s reasonable to expect between 35-40 a season for the next few seasons.
Round 8 (Pick 122): Luke Voit, 1B, NYY
After drafting several outfielders, I went with a player I seem to grab shares of in most of my leagues: Luke Voit. I realize I took another guy with some injury concerns, but, at this point, I might as well run with it because Voit’s potential and power are too enticing to pass up. He had 21 home runs last year, with a .200 ISO and 126 wRC+, in 118 games, yet expected stats indicate he could be performing even better. He ranks in the 86th percentile of xwOBA, and a guy with his power potential, in that lineup, in that stadium, is a solid pick for first base. I like that I got him at pick 122, as well.
Round 9 (Pick 135): Cavan Biggio, 2B, TOR
This is the closest I have come to drafting a prospect, and he barely missed the cut of still being considered one. Biggio appeared in 100 games last year and showed an impressive ability to get on base as a rookie, with a 16.5% walk rate and a .364 OBP. He does strike out more than you might like at 28.6%, but he also doesn’t swing a lot, recording a 35.9% Swing% and an impressive 15.8% O-Swing%. He hasn’t shown a ton of power, but I’m hoping that his plate discipline creates more opportunities for him. If he can generate more contact (75.9% Contact%) while still showing that type of plate discipline, he could turn into an on-base machine who can also drive in some runs. I don’t expect the power to get there, but I think I have enough power in this lineup that I can afford to look elsewhere.
Round 10 (Pick 154): Cristian Pache, OF, ATL
I made it to the 10th round before finally taking a true prospect, going with Pache, who is generally considered the Braves’ top prospect. Much like Biggio, Pache doesn’t bring a lot in terms of power, but he profiles as a high-contact and speed player who could be in the majors in 2020. What impressed me about Pache is that his strikeout rates and walk rates improved as he climbed the minors. Also, his 14.8% swinging strike rate across both levels last year is a promising sign that he has some patience at the plate to go along with that increasing walk rate. I like to look for players who have the plate discipline as they move up levels in the minor leagues. That’s something that can benefit them as they reach the majors. Also, with his speed, Pache could be a stolen-base producer with the demonstrated ability to get on base.
Round 11 (Pick 167): Taylor Trammell, OF, SD
I figured at this point in the draft that I should start adding to my prospect depth. I don’t have any problem overloading on one particular position in any draft, and I find that is especially the case in my dynasty drafts. Trammell’s prospect stock seemed to have dropped a bit this past year, during which he debuted in Double-A and was also traded from the Reds to the Padres before the trade deadline. He is another guy who has never shown much in the way of power potential but showed an ability to get on base early on in his minor league career. I think the Reds saw him as expendable with the current crop of outfielders that they had, but then he is now in an organization that seems always to have an overabundance of outfielders as well. His numbers looked a lot worse last year after the trade, as his walk rates, strikeout rates, and on-base percentage all took a hit. He only spent about a month with the Padres’ Double-A team, so that’s not large enough of a sample size to read into. It’s possible that he starts 2020 in Double-A again, but it’s more than likely that he goes to Triple-A El Paso, which would be more in line with his development path and his age. I was impressed with what I saw in person in the 2018 Arizona Fall League, and I think he could develop into a solid on-base and contact outfielder once he makes it to the majors.
Round 12 (Pick 186): Oscar Mercado, OF, CLE
In sticking with my philosophy of not being afraid to overload on one particular position. Mercado is a high-contact, speed guy who looks to have found a home in the Indians outfield. Mercado’s zone contact and contact rates were among the leaders of AL rookies last year, and his sprint speed ranks in the 97th percentile. He should be able to leg out several extra bases with that type of approach and speed. Also, I like that he batted second in Cleveland’s lineup for most of last year and is slated to do so again. This should lead to more opportunities for him with the type of protection that comes in a lineup such as Cleveland’s.
Round 13 (Pick 199): Miguel Andujar, 3B, NYY
Coming off a season in which he only appeared in 12 games before being lost to injury, I’m hoping for a return to 2018 form with Andujar. I liked the value at pick 199 based on what he did in his rookie season, and I think we can expect a solid future for the Yankees third baseman. In his rookie season, Andujar had a 130 wRC+ and .361 wOBA to go along with 27 home runs. I’ve read that he might not start the season with the Yankees due to his available options (whereas his competition at third, Gio Urshela, has none left), but, from a long-term standpoint, I like what Andujar has to offer. Plus, he’s four years younger than Urshela.
Round 14 (Pick 218): Tommy Edman, 2B/3B, STL
My next pick came out of nowhere in 2019 to produce a .304/.350/.500 triple-slash line, to go along with 11 home runs and a 123 wRC+. Edman wasn’t a name you saw on any top prospect lists and wasn’t even considered one of the Cardinals’ top prospects heading into 2019. Despite all that, he all but secured a spot near the top of the Cardinals batting order in September with a red-hot final month in which he mashed six home runs, with a .311 ISO and a .443 wOBA. He is another speedster, who ranks in the 97th percentile in sprint speed, and capitalized on that to add 15 stolen bases to his stat line. Add in the fact that he makes solid contact (only 15.5% soft contact rate) and I think this could be another one of those no-name Cardinal prospects who turn into a surprising fantasy asset.
Round 15 (Pick 231): Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, TOR
When I made this pick, Ryu was still a free agent. How that I look back on this pick, I like the spot that I took him in, but I’m not sure what to expect from him now that he’s in Toronto. Ryu is my SP3 on this dynasty roster, which, from a depth standpoint, I’ fine with, but, based on his injury history and his new location, there are some unknowns here. Ryu pitched a career-high 182.2 innings last year, in what was the best season of his career. He’s going to a park — and a division — that gives up a lot of home runs, which likely will impact his HR/9 of 0.84. I’m hoping he can continue to rely on that excellent changeup (21.5 pVAL, .213 wOBA) to great success in Toronto.
Round 16 (Pick 250): Matthew Liberatore, SP, STL
This is another pick that was made prior to the player changing teams, has Liberatore has since been traded to the Cardinals. Regardless, I was excited to land the former Mountain Ridge High School product in the 16th round. This is the youngest I have gone at this point in the draft, as Liberatore is only 20 years old heading into the 2020 season and just completed his first full professional season in 2019. He comes with a plus curveball, but, as with most pitchers who are drafted out of high school, he needs a few years to develop before making an impact. He is my first step in building my future rotation.
Round 17 (Pick 263): Andrew Heaney, SP, LAA
I don’t know what it is, but Heaney is one of those players I always seem to gravitate toward in the hopes that he will finally have a breakout season. He only threw 95 innings last year after throwing a career-high 180 the season prior. If Heaney can stay healthy for a full season, I don’t see any reason to not expect something around a 4 ERA, which, while unexciting, is perfectly fine as my fourth starter.
Round 18 (Pick 282): DL Hall, SP, BAL
I decided to target another pitching prospect, going with Baltimore’s DL Hall in the 18th round. He’s another guy who is still a few years away from being in the majors, as his highest level last season was High-A. He has a plus fastball that has hit 98 mph and sits in the upper 90s. He has had some command issues, as his 6.02 BB/9 last year would indicate, but that command did improve over the last half of his season. He had a 5.27 BB/9 from June 20 on, but that was inflated a bit because of one start where he walked 6 (he didn’t issue more than four free passes in any of his remaining starts). He also finished the season with an oblique injury, so the hope is that he can continue to work on his command with more innings in 2020.
Round 19 (Pick 295): Daniel Lynch, SP, KC
I must have an affinity for left-handed pitching prospects because Lynch is the third such player that I took within four picks. The Royals drafted Lynch in 2018 as a first-round compensation pick, and in his second full pro season, advanced to High-A where he finished the season with a 3.10 ERA, 8.85 K/9, and 2.64 BB/9. He presents a fastball that averages in the mid-90s but has plus offerings with his slider and changeup. I like to stockpile pitching prospects as I never know which one of them is going to pan out. Plus, when I looked back at my earlier selections of veteran pitchers, I felt fortunate to land several high-upside pitching prospects at this point in the draft.
Round 20 (Pick 314): Justin Dunn, P, SEA
Hey, look, I took another pitching prospect, but, surprise, he’s a righty! Justin Dunn debuted in Seattle last year with a September call-up and served as the opener in four games. There were mixed results, as he had a nice 2.70 ERA, but he also had a 30% walk rate with only a 16.7% strikeout rate. That is difficult to read too much into, though, since he still has yet to pitch in Triple-A and he showed much better command during his time with both the Mets’ and Mariners’ Double-A affiliates. I would hope that he can settle in at Triple-A before being called up at some point in 2020.
Round 21 (Pick 327): Josiah Gray, P, LAD
I’m just going to keep taking pitching prospects, aren’t I? I don’t know if I see Gray as a future starter, but the reports on him indicate that he has a solid ability to pound the strike zone with his heater and projects more as a reliever. He’s still working on a changeup, as right now, he uses a mix of fastball and curveball. I’ll be interested to see if he can develop into a starter, but I still thought it was worth adding to my pitching depth. As I said earlier, I’d rather stock up on guys like these because, more than likely, only a few of them will pan out.
Round 22 (Pick 346): Alex Colomé, RP, CWS
Now that I went with pitching prospects in five out of six rounds, I thought it might be time to take a reliever. I love nothing more than waiting as long as possible to draft my closer, and the 22nd round seems about right to me. Colomé has been in the league for seven years now and, heading into his age 31 season, he’s not getting any younger, but he has produced solid results over the past several seasons. 2019 was his best season in terms of ERA and K/9 since his brilliant 2016 season with the Rays. I also think the White Sox are poised to win more games, which should lead to more save opportunities for him.
Round 23 (Pick 359): Will Smith, RP, ATL
I love that Will Smith landed in Atlanta, and I love that he fell to me in the 23rd round because I think I just nabbed two closers in consecutive rounds. I know Smith isn’t locked in as the Braves closer, but I think he’ll be given the opportunity to grab some saves early on. Plus, I don’t think there is any question that he’s the best reliever on the Braves, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he takes over as closer. He also could be well served in a Josh Hader-type role, which would also provide him opportunities for innings and maybe even some wins.
Round 24 (Pick 378): Carson Kelly, C, ARI
Another position that I love to wait on (even more than relievers) is catcher, and I love the guy I landed here. Kelly had a nice first season in the desert, with 18 home runs, a .348 OBP and a 13.2% walk rate. His 108 wRC+ tied J.T. Realmuto for third among National League catchers with at least 300 plate appearances. Also, his hard contact of 48.7% was best among that same group of catchers, and this all went with an xwOBAcon of .390. All this was in 365 plate appearances, which likely will increase now that the Diamondbacks will no longer have their three-man rotation behind the plate. I expect great things from Carson going forward.
Round 25 (Pick 391): Jared Oliva, OF, PIT
I’m not going to lie to you, I was excited about this pick. I know Oliva is probably not at the top of many people’s dynasty draft boards, but he’s quietly been making his way up the ranks in the Pirates organization since being drafted in the seventh round in 2017. He has solid speed and has maintained his production at each level upon that he’s been promoted. He already spent the entire 2019 season in Double-A, and he may start this season in Triple-A. I’d be surprised if he winds up in Pittsburgh this year, but, then again, the Pirates don’t exactly have anyone blocking him in the outfield at the moment. Bryan Reynolds is the only outfielder the Pirates have who I would expect to be starting there in 2021, and Oliva plays solid enough defense in center that he could start there once Starling Marte is gone. In terms of the depth on my roster, I have so many outfielders that I felt taking one more projectable guy was worth it.
Round 26 (Pick 410): Hans Crouse, P, TEX
Well, it’s been so long since I drafted a pitching prospect I couldn’t help myself. Hans Crouse hasn’t risen above Single-A yet, and 2019 was his first in full-season professional ball, but there is a lot to like. He has a dominant fastball and has the making of a frontline starter if he can continue to develop. As far as the strategy here, I wanted to take another pitcher with the high upside that Crouse brings to the table. At this point in the draft, I love the opportunity to take a chance on a guy like this.
Round 27 (Pick 423): Miguel Amaya, C, CHC
I started looking at catching prospects a few rounds before this, but, among those available, none of them brought much to the table in terms of offensive potential that appealed to me except Amaya. He doesn’t project too highly in any one particular area of his game, but he reportedly has the type of power potential that could lead to around 15-20 homers a season. He spent last season High-A and knocked 11 home runs with a strikeout rate of 16.8% (a rate that has decreased each year since 2017). Since I already had what I felt was a young enough catcher that hold down that starting spot for a few years, I was comfortable taking a guy with the type of offensive profile as his.
Round 28 (Pick 442): Jackson Kowar, P, KC
The Royals drafted Kowar in 2018, one pick ahead of his fellow Royals farmhand Daniel Lynch (who I took back in the 19th round). The two are the same age (both 23, although Kowar is a month older than Lynch), yet Kowar spent all of last season in Double-A while Lynch has yet to advance past High-A. That is mostly due to Lynch missing time due to a shoulder injury, but, of the two, Kowar is closer to the majors, and we might see him there in 2020. Lynch, along with fellow Royals prospect (and former college teammate of Kowar) Brady Singer, are the more heralded of the Royals’ pitching prospects, but I think that Kowar could find a place in their future rotation.
Round 29 (Pick 455): Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE
Bradley was still one of the top first base prospects as of last season, and he comes with a lot of power potential. He spent some time in Cleveland last summer, which resulted in a 40.8% strikeout rate. He’s had high strikeout rates throughout his minor league career, but he also hit 33 home runs in Triple-A last season and has had walk rates hovering around 10% over the past few years. If he can continue to show some patience at the plate, while bringing the power he’s demonstrated up through this point, he can end up as a 30-homer 1B/DH with the Indians.
Round 30 (Pick 474): Ryan Rolison, P, COL
After 30 rounds, I have made it to the final pick, and I took a flier on Colorado’s Ryan Rolison to round out my prospect haul. I’m always nervous taking any pitcher from the Rockies organization, and one that pitches to contact, like Rolison, could be dangerous. Still, he’s already graduated from High-A after starting in Single-A last season. He doesn’t generate a ton of strikeouts but has decent groundball rates. At this point in the draft, I was hoping to grab someone with any potential, and Rolison has been a well-regarded left-handed pitching prospect in an organization that could use all the pitching it can get.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)