Sixteen of the finest Pitcher List writers participated in a 30-round dynasty mock draft, which had the basic rules:
- Head-to-Head League
- Hitting Categories: R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/OPS
- Pitching Categories: ERA/WHIP/K/SV/QS/HR Allowed
- Weekly Pitching Minimum: 35
In addition, we had three additional rules for roster construction:
- Only players/prospects signed by an MLB team available (no college/amateurs)
- This league would be a dynasty league (everybody is kept from year to year)
- No Contracts. You keep all your players until you drop/trade them
The full draft can be found here. Over the next two and a half weeks, our writers will evaluate and explain their picks. Let’s get started:
Round 1 (Pick 5) Christian Yelich, OF, MIL
I can’t fault anyone for not picking Christian Yelich in the four picks before mine, but at the same time, it’s hard not to be ecstatic about getting a guy who has basically been Mike Trout in 2018 and 2019 with pick five. Yes, he just turned 28, which means he’s right in the middle of his prime. Ideally, it’d be nice to get a younger player, but Yelich’s production can only be matched by two of the guys picked before him. There is no reason to think Yelich won’t go .320/.400/.600 with 35 homers and 20 stolen bases for the next couple of seasons. That’s all you can hope for from any pick in the 1st round.
2 (28) Austin Meadows, OF, TB
I was sniped when Joe Lea picked Jose Ramirez right before me, but I’m happy combining Austin Meadows with Yelich for a very good start to my outfield. It took five years in the minors with varying success before the top-10 pick finally realized his potential. In fact, the minors might not have had anything to do with it — it might have just been getting out of the Pirates’ system. There has been a history of Pirates picks who “figure it out” right after getting traded. Whether it’s fair or not to judge Pittsburgh’s development team, Meadows blasted 33 home runs and stole 12 bases in 2019. He wasn’t close to putting up previously. I would say his power potential is about tapped, but improving on his 12 stolen bases is likely given his speed. A 25/15 season with a solid average is a pretty safe bet for years to come.
3 (37) Keston Hiura, 2B, MIL
I am a big Keston Hiura fan. I would have to be in order to pick him before Ozzie Albies, right? Having followed this guy in college, I can imagine a situation where he is the best second baseman in your fantasy league starting in 2020. His K-rate was very high in 2019 (30.75) but that doesn’t match his entire minor league career. I bet those numbers rebound in 2020 and beyond, even if it’s a slow progression.
4 (60) Tyler Glasnow, SP, TB
Another former Pittsburgh prospect who made good once he left. At this point, all the young pitchers with more than one year of success were gone (and some with just one year: Chris Paddack, Shane Bieber). Tyler Glasnow was the logical pick. I am aware he only pitched 60 innings in 2019, but his stuff (triple-digit velocity, good curveball, decent change) combined with Tampa Bay’s development team and coaching staff turned this 26-year-old into a strikeout machine. A 2.08 walk rate in 2019 will not be the norm. It was never below three at any level in the minors or majors, so there could be some regression, but Glasnow has the potential to be a future ace.
5 (69) Ramon Laureano, OF, OAK
There was some talk about taking Ramon Laureano with the 69th pick being a reach. Let’s examine the outfielders who were picked just before him and after him: Victor Robles (67), J.D. Martinez (70), Eddie Rosario (71), Andrew Benintendi (72), Julio Rodriguez (73), Max Kepler (74). Kyle Tucker (75). Eight outfielders taken in a nine-pick span. The only one I’d even consider taking in front of Laureano is Martinez, but I’m a little worried about his age. Laureano hit 24 homers in 123 games while stealing 13 bases. There is real 25/20 potential here. He’s basically like a more powerful version of Benintendi. He gets a bad rap because he plays in Oakland. Playing at the Coliseum can negatively affect players’ hitting, but no Laureano. So far, he’s hit remarkably better at home (.904 OPS) than away (.798). If Laureano were playing in the Bronx, they’d be talking about him like he’s an all-star.
6 (92) Forrest Whitley, SP, HOU
At this time last year, Forrest Whitley would have felt like a steal at 92. I’ll admit, I was hoping Jesus Luzardo or Stephen Strasburg would fall to me with this pick, but I’m not in any way disappointed. If you’ve read any of the posts where I’ve mentioned Whitley, then you know that I believe he is the best pitching prospect in the game. In the minors, his stuff has no equal. Whitley has five plus pitches (two of them plus-plus). He had some control issues in 2019, but his fall ball performance suggests he’s turning that around. Whitley will be playing in Houston before the all-star break, and he has a multi-Cy-Young ceiling.
7 (101) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC
Anthony Rizzo is getting old, but he’s not old yet. It’s very possible his best seasons are behind him. It’s also possible that he could slash .290/.520/.920 once or twice more now that he’s turned 30. His K and BB rates are both elite and he gets on base so frequently that he’ll approach 90-100 runs while driving in more. First base is still a shallow position, and Rizzo may not put up eye-popping numbers, but he does enough everywhere to keep me from losing to anybody at this position.
8 (124) Scott Kingery, 2B/SS/3B/OF, PHI
I made this pick over a month ago and I still don’t know how I feel about it. Matt Manning, Brendan McKay, and Julio Urias were all on my queue (each of whom went in the subsequent round), but I ended up going Scott Kingery because of speed and versatility. I also feel like this was a wasted opportunity because Kingery could have been picked later, and there is no way he matches his XBH rate of nearly 50% last year. Even with that ridiculously high mark, he didn’t reach a .800 OPS, which boggles my mind! His strikeout rate was high and his walk rate was low, but he started stealing more bases toward the end of the season and he was good more often than he wasn’t. It’s hard to tell which way he’ll go in 2020 and beyond, but I’m going to bet playing Citizens Bank Park will help him.
9 (133) Luis Patino, SP, SD
At this point in the draft, I realized I wasn’t going to have many current starting pitchers, so I decided to grab as many as I could who I thought might be fast-tracked. Enter Luis Patino. I would be surprised if Patino was in the Padres rotation this season, but I wouldn’t be shocked. San Diego has aggressively promoted the now 20-year-old. Having already pitched in Double-A, there is a scenario where the Padres believe they need him to give them a boost after the all-star break, should they be in contention for the playoffs. Why wouldn’t they think that? The guy has been right around a 2.50 ERA at every stop in the minors 10+ K/9.
10 (156) Spencer Howard, SP, PHI
Another young, fast-tracked arm is Spencer Howard. I’m actually expecting that he will be called up sometime after the all-star break. We know the Phillies are desperately trying to win. Howard drastically improved his command last year. So much so that it begs the question of its authenticity. If you can’t tell by where I picked him, I’m betting his progression is genuine. Howard has the potential to be a No. 2.
11 (165) Aaron Civale, SP, CLE
I just want to say that I’m a big Aaron Civale fan. This 24-year-old is going to be a very solid No. 3 for Cleveland in the years to come. Basically Civale is like a more talented Kyle Hendricks. He’s got roughly the same control but with more velocity and more pitches. He can give you five different looks at the plate and still sits low 90s, which he uses judiciously. Both his slider and curveball are plus pitches and he can mix in a very good cutter. It’s too bad he’s already in his mid-20s because if he was younger, there might be a chance for a velocity bump, which would put him near the top of many prospect lists. For now, he’ll be under valued.
12 (188) Luis Arraez, 2B/3B/OF, MIN
Speaking of an undervalued piece: say hello to my…little…Luis Arreaz! The (patient) little man with a precise swing. What is Arraez good at? Getting on base — any way possible. How else do you explain a .331 average throughout the minor leagues and a .334 MLB debut through 92 games? On top of that Arraez walked more than he struck out — as a rookie! These are things you just don’t see from a 22-year-old. The only reason Arraez isn’t picked in the first five rounds is that he has very limited power and his speed is dismal as well. I don’t care. In the 12th round, name me another guy who could get 200 hits and walk 100 times in 162 games. We’re talking that good of an OBP potential. And when you get on base that much, you’re going to score 100 runs.
13 (197) Tarik Skubal, SP, DET
Let’s get another fast-tracked arm on the board! Chances are you probably hadn’t heard of Tarik Skubal. Hailing from the not-so-powerhouse Seattle University, Skubal was a ninth-round selection by the Tigers in 2018. On top of that, he had Tommy John in 2017, causing him to be much older than most of his draft-day peers. He’s made up for that, however, by going straight through the minor leagues. We’re talking five levels of the minors in 145 innings. He’s routinely putting up sub-3.oo ERAs, 1.00 WHIPs and K/9 rates above 11. He doesn’t blow you away in terms of velocity but his control is solid and he has good feel for each of his breaking pitches.
14 (220) Josh James, RP, HOU
This is definitely a hopeful assessment of Josh James. We all know the story about his sleep apnea diagnosis and his subsequent improvement in the minor leagues. That was 2018. When 2019 rolled around, injuries and control issues plagued James for two-plus months, pretty much wearing off the shine on his future prospects in the eyes of many. Not me. I see a 14.67 K/9 and the potential for 70 innings as a long reliever in 2020 and beyond. I’m hoping he stays as a reliever. Less wear-and-tear and more K’s. Also, I’m not sure he can be an effective starter.
15 (229) Daulton Varsho, C, ARI
My real catcher. I had to go with Daulton Varsho. His profile is too good and he’s too close to the majors to not pick by the 15th round. What other catcher is there a chance for a 20/20 season? Varsho also appears to be getting more selective as he progresses through the minors, with lowering K rates and increasing BB rates. It’s also possible he hits .280 in the show. Having played a full season in Double-A in 2018, it’s feasible we see Varsho in a Diamondbacks uni after the all-star break, if everything goes right. I really hope it does.
16 (252) George Valera, OF, CLE
One year ago George Valera would have been picked seven or eight rounds higher than this. There were rave reviews about his perfect swing, his level-headed approach, and his tremendous power. It seems that only one of those characteristics survived in 2019. Valera showed significant power at the lower levels, despite striking out too much and being a victim of batted balls. I’m not giving up on this 19-year-old because of one bad year. There is still time for him to turn it around.
17 (261) Grayson Rodriguez, SP, BAL
This one still makes me scratch my head: how could a pitcher with as high of potential as Grayson Rodriguez still be available after 260 picks? He just doesn’t belong here. His stuff is way too good to be picked around the same time as Devi Garcia, Brusdar Graterol, and Michael Fulmer. As a 19-year-old in Single-A, Rodriguez was electric:
To put it another way, this kid was ready for High-A in 2019. He’s already got four plus pitches and slightly better than average command. Chances are he’s in the rotation by opening day in 2021. Mark my words: this kid is the next big pitching prospect.
18 (284) Jake Ordorizzi, SP, MIN
I needed to take another pitcher who’s stats actually count, so I went with Jake Odorizzi. Since 2016 I’ve been waiting for him to put it all together. Last season looks to be the start of that: low walk rate, career-high K rate. Odorizzi was also able to limit his baserunners for the first time in three years, holding close to a 1.20 WHIP. Anything higher than that and I believe it is very difficult to be successful. He’s good for 150-160 innings. I like his strikeout capability and he’s probably got another two or three years left in the tank.
19 (293) Gio Urshela, 3B, NYY
This pick was all made on hope. In order to buy into Gio Urshela you have to be convinced that 2019 wasn’t a fluke. In order to be convinced that 2019 wasn’t a fluke, you have to discount his entire career leading up to 2019. Urshela has been fairly unremarkable for nearly 10 seasons in the minors before suddenly becoming a decent hitter. He’s also been given the starting job to lose this spring, as he’s the best fielding option the Yankees have.
20 (316) Austin Hays, OF, BAL
I kept watching Austin Hays on my queue, waiting to see how long I could go before I had to pick him. I had to bite in Round 20. The benefit is too high. Once a top prospect, Hays was fast-tracked through Baltimore’s system, performing at each level, before tanking in his debut. That was 2017. It looks like it took him a year and a half to get over his performance because he went right back to triple slashing .300+/.500+/.900+ in September. It’s only a month, but there is a history of this kind of bat with Hays. At this point, we’re looking at acceptable risk for a guy who could end up being a steady-to-good everyday outfielder.
21 (325) Robert Puason, INF, OAK
Once thought to be the best J2 prospect of 2019, concern’s about Robert Puason tapping out on his physical potential at 16 years old and the emergence of Jasson Dominguez put an end to that. Still, Puason has tremendous power potential and plus speed to go along with the tools to be an above-average shortstop in the field. There is a chance, however, that he outgrows the position, which makes his value tenuous as he’s been a bit of a free swinger in the past. Either way, this is a good spot to get the No. 2 J2 prospect, considering the No. 1 (Dominguez) went in the seventh round.
22 (348) Kenta Maeda, SP, LAD
With a 35-inning minimum and only three current MLB starters on my roster, I took Kenta Maeda. Good for 130ish innings, Maeda is capable of brilliant stretches. Unfortunately, he can also just get hammered in consecutive starts. This is why he was still available at this point. I chose him because of a potential for a decent WHIP and ERA so I could execute my pitching plan starting with my next pick.
23 (357) James Karinchak, RP, CLE
How appropriate that with pick 357 I take a guy who fires bullets? If anybody in your league is going to take a flyer on this guy, it should be you. What kind of upside are we talking about? James Karinchak’s plus fastball and plus curve resulted in 74 striketouts in 30 innings. Yes, that’s right, he’s striking out two guys an inning (21.96 K rate)! He’s also doing it with a WHIP (1.09) and ERA (2.67). It’s not all roses though, he does have control issues. So far, however, in his first trip to the MLB, he allowed one run in five innings while striking out eight and walking just one.
24 (380) Nick Anderson, RP, TB
You’ve heard of Nick Anderson? You know, the guy who struck out 110 batters in 65 innings pitched… 110 Ks in 65 innings… 110 Ks in 65 innings!!! You do know who I’m talking about, right? I had to ask. Because I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only one who sees it combined with a respectable 3.32 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Pay attention: this is how you compensate for picking starters with sub-par K rates.
25 (389) Greg Jones, SS, TB
At this point in the draft, it’s fine to make a couple of long-shot bets. That said, I’m a big Greg Jones fan, I just recognize that the kind of skill set he possesses rarely ends up being what you hoped once it gets to the majors. Jones’ power/speed combo reminds me of Jacoby Ellsbury, which is to say that he’s capable of 20/50 seasons. Jones’ hit tool needs work, but is on the right track. I believe he was undervalued on draft day (picked 22 overall in 2019) because he didn’t play college ball in a power conference. Being someone who usually believes in the importance of power conferences, prospects like Jones make me question that from time to time. At pick 389, what’s the worst that could happen?
26 (412) Colin Poche, RP, TB
Significantly less talented than some of the other relievers I picked just a few rounds ago, Colin Poche’s success is contingent mostly on deception in his delivery. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to be successful. In his debut season, he posted a 5.40 ERA with a near 13 K rate, but he had just one disastrous month that ruined the rest. I see a particularly bright future for him in Tampa, where they aren’t shy to use relievers as openers and use relievers for multiple innings.
27 (421) Carlos Rodon, SP, CWS
This one is just a shot in the dark, plain and simple. I’m convinced Carlos Rodon still has the talent to be a useful fantasy starter. He just walks way too many batters (3.88 career BB per 9). That number needs to drop a whole point if we’re going to see any real improvement. Also, the lack of a true third pitch has limited his success. I’m skeptical, but still hopeful.
28 (444) Ryan Pressly, RP, HOU
He’s the most consistent non-closing reliever in the league. Ryan Pressly turned a corner after getting traded away from Minnesota in 2018. What makes Pressly so good is not his three-pitch mix — although it is very good — it’s how he uses it. He uses all three of his pitches almost the exact same amount, and he’s willing to throw each of them in any count. Unpredictability is not a strategy used much in today’s MLB when it comes to pitching. So long as Pressly’s stuff doesn’t fall off a cliff one day, he should have a fairly gentle decline now that he’s turned 31.
29 (453) Bryce Ball, 1B, ATL
One of my favorite picks, Bryce Ball is a lesser-known quantity, but that might not last for long. Simply put, this kid rakes. The junior college product drafted in the 24th round by the Braves was sensational in his pro debut, smashing 17 homers in 62 games between Rookie and A ball. It ain’t all power, either, the 6’6″ lefty slashed .329/.395/.628. Out of all the prospects I picked in this draft, I am most excited to see what this one does in 2020. Numbers like this could demand attention. In the 29th round? It’s hard to get that in the 20th round.
30 (476) Austin Allen, C, OAK
Is Austin Allen a catcher? Probably not. He’s probably a 1B-only guy. Who cares? This guy hits all the time. He’s on the older side at 25, but he posts very good walk rates, K rates and power numbers. His bat will make him an everyday major leaguer, but maybe probably not as a catcher, especially with Sean Murphy ahead of him in Oakland.
Illustration by Justin Paradis