Pitcher List Mock Draft No. 1: Shelly Verougstraete’s Picks
You know you are obsessed with baseball when you start mock drafting about five months before the draft season begins. Mock drafting this early is fun and exciting, though. There are no ADPs for people to follow, so you can get a good taste of who might be potential steals and who might be overpriced.
The league settings are pretty standard; 12-team, 5×5, head-to-head with four outfielders and two utility spots.
1.04 – Mookie Betts, OF
I was pretty excited to get one of the first four picks in this draft. For me, the first picks of a draft are pretty straight forward: Mike Trout, Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts, and Christian Yelich. When I saw that Trevor took Yelich with the third selection, I knew my pick was going to be Betts. Even in a “down” season, Betts hit 29 home runs with 80 RBI and 135 runs. You cannot win your league with a first-round pick, but you can sure lose it. Taking Betts here will give me steady production.
2.16 – J.D. Martinez, OF
If we are being honest, I was hoping Jacob deGrom would be available with this pick. Unfortunately, Max snagged him at No. 15 overall. Max Scherzer was still available, but his back injury has me a bit scared. I decided to go with another stat-filler in J.D. Martinez. He was not as good as his 2018 season, but it was still impressive. He smacked 36 home runs with 105 RBI and 98 runs. The one-two punch of Betts and Martinez is an excellent floor to begin this draft.
3.28 – Jonathan Villar, 2B
Coming into my third pick, I knew I was not going to take a starter. I need to build an offensive stat machine to offset the lack of that “ace.” With my first two picks, I was behind in steals. When I saw Trevor take Fernando Tatis Jr., I really wanted to thank him. I knew I was going that route. I love Tatis Jr. He is so much fun to watch. However, some of that excitement has me scared from a fantasy standpoint. He goes all-out when he plays and has me concerned he will miss time every year. So I went with Jonathan Villar. He had an amazing season in the Charm City, swiping 40 bags to go along with his 24 taters and 111 runs. Also, there is really no one in the Orioles system who should move him off the position. If he stays in Baltimore, he should give me all the steals.
4.40 – Eugenio Suarez, 3B
I felt with Jack Flaherty, Blake Snell, and Stephen Strasburg still on the board, one of those guys would fall back to me with my next pick, so I decided to boost my lineup with Eugenio Suarez. It is amazing what Suarez has done in his career. He was never walked much or hit for power in the minors. In 2019, he posted his third straight season of double-digit walk rates with a career-high in 49 home runs. Even if the ball changes, I feel confident that Suarez will still produce for my squad.
5.52 – Stephen Strasburg, SP
After seeing Flaherty and Snell quickly come off the board, I was not feeling great with my Suarez pick. By the time my next selection came up, Strasburg was still available. Phew! For the second time in his career, he pitched over 200 innings this past season. Even though he struggled a bit in the second half, he dominated the playoffs, all the way to a World Series MVP. Strasburg is an excellent choice as anyone’s first starter. He opted out of his contract with the Nationals, so it is a bit risky not knowing where he will end up, but I have a feeling he will return to Washington. His curveball is filthy, and some might call it a Money Pitch. It is amazing how good of a season a pitcher can have when he starts throwing his best pitch more. He also started to throw more first-pitch strikes, and his swinging-strike percentage increased to 13.4%, the highest in his career.
6.64 – Bo Bichette, SS
After I took Strasburg, starters started to fly off of the board. I knew it would be a bit too early to dip back into pitching, so I decided to lock up my starting shortstop. Shortstop is an incredibly deep position, and with the 64th overall pick, I jumped in with pool with Bo Bichette. It is incredible someone with Bichette’s talent was still available here. After coming up midseason, Bichette hit leadoff for the Baby Jays. In 46 games, he smacked 11 home runs with an impressive 18 doubles. I hope he runs a bit more, as he only stole four bases while being caught four times. It might be a bit early to pick Bichette, but the players available at shortstop I am not really interested in. Carlos Correa, Tim Anderson, and Corey Seager were available but they have their worts. I’ll take the ceiling Bichette brings.
7.76 – Chris Paddack, SP
After my Bichette pick, the only pitcher taken was Tyler Glasnow, so I decided to grab my second starter, Chris Paddack. The Sherriff had an amazing rookie campaign in San Diego, and to the Padres’ credit, they handled his workload perfectly. He did struggle toward the end of the season, but in his last four starts, he went 23.1 innings with a 0.77 ERA. He led the majors in two-strike foul balls, but I’m not overly concerned. He just gets the ball and throws strikes. I am a bit concerned with his tendency to throw fastballs as strikes with the first pitch, but hopefully, he can find consistency with the curveball.
8.88 – Trevor Bauer, SP
With the 88th overall pick, I just could not let Trevor Bauer fall further. This time last year, there were some analysts drafting him among the top starters, and I am getting him as my third starter. Bauer’s 2019 season was not great, Bob. His 2018 season might be an outlier as his hard hit%, barrel%, BB%, and ERA were in line with all of his previous seasons. His velocity was down on all his pitches, but he said he was pitching injured throughout the season. Even if he doesn’t return to 2018 Bauer, the 200 innings and 215+ strikeouts are amazing value for my third starter.
9.100 – Nick Senzel, OF
In the minors, Nick Senzel always produced when on the field. However, consistently staying on the field is not Senzel’s strength, and this year was no exception. He was expected to start the season in the majors, but an ankle injury in spring delayed his debut. When he finally got the call, he initially produced but started to falter a bit as the season went on. His season was cut short due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder that required surgery. This is a pretty risky pick due to that shoulder injury and his history of vertigo. I’ll take a gamble on the talent and hit tool.
10.112 – Hunter Dozier, 3B
Hunter Dozier was a great pickup off the waiver wire in 2019. After a season that saw him hit only .229, he started making more contact, which raised his average to .279. He hits the ball extremely hard, so if he is able to keep the same contact rate I expect the regression monster to not hit him as hard as some other players. It was a great sign to see him be a little more selective at the plate. We saw his O-swing drop from 35.6% to 30.1%, while his contact percentage stayed around the same as last year’s, at 74.3%. The pick is a pure power play. Even with his 10 triples and sprint speed in the 80th percentile, he only stole two bags, while also being caught twice.
11.124 – Oscar Mercado, OF
I’m been an Oscar Mercado fan since he was in the Cardinals system. Once he was traded to the Indians, I thought with their lack of outfield options, he would start the season in Cleveland. That was not the case, and he didn’t make his debut until mid-May. Toward the end of the season, he was constantly hitting No. 2 for the Indians, which shows they trust that bat. He went 15/15, but I can see a 20-steal season in his future. Also, if he is still hitting No. 2 next year, there is a great opportunity for him to score a bunch of runs.
12.136 – Luke Weaver, SP
After going with three hitters in a row, I needed to jump back into the pitcher market. I was hoping that my fellow draftees would forget about Frankie Montas, but that was not the case. Jim took him at the wheel pick. I should have known that would not have been the case with fellow Pitcher List staff. So, I went with another breakout from the 2019 season, Luke Weaver. Before an arm injury, Weaver was dealing in Arizona. With him and Carson Kelly playing well, it made the trade of Paul Goldschmidt a bit easier for Diamondbacks fans. Since arriving, he has started to throw his cutter more, which has increased his K%. His changeup is almost a Money Pitch with a 43% O-swing, 32.8 zone%, and 18.3 SwStk%. Hopefully, his arm injury does not creep up again and he kills it as my fourth starting pitcher
13.148 – Scott Kingery, OF/3B
I was really planning on taking Gavin Lux here, but Trevor selected him right before this pick. I decided to go with Scott Kingery. He plays all around the diamond and put together a 19-home run, 15-steal season with the Phillies. If the Phillies do not sign a third baseman this season, like Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson, Kingery should get everyday at-bats at third. It will be interesting to see where the new Phillies manager bats him in the lineup. There were stretches where he was batting leadoff but also times where he was batting fifth or sixth.
14.160 – Sandy Alcantara, SP
This next pick got a bunch of people talking in the draft room. I decided to go with Sandy Alcantara here. I’ve also picked him in some other mock drafts, and it seems like I am the high woman on him. I loved how he finished the season. His sinker is really good, especially when he can sling it low in the zone at about 95 mph. He has a pretty decent four-seamer, and that changeup has shown some potential. It is a Money Pitch (44% O-swing, 41.1 zone%, 16.6 SwStk%), but he has not thrown it consistently. While I’m not expecting an ace here, with Alcantara as my fifth starter, I could do worse.
15.172 – A.J. Puk, SP
I missed out on a bunch of closer runs, so I decided to take a gamble with my next pick, A.J. Puk. I’m pretty sure he will be starting in Oakland next year, but on the off chance the A’s decided to Josh Hader him, I think he could be a great reliever and Liam Hendricks insurance. He is only a two-pitch pitcher, and if Oakland is smart, it will keep him in the pen. Could we see the new Hader? I think so.
16.184 – Nate Lowe, 1B
After taking two pitchers back to back, I decided to add to my CI/bench spot and selected Nate Lowe. I am pretty sure he will get most of the playing time in Tampa Bay at first base, and dude straight-up destroys baseballs. I then realized that Dozier was only eligible at third. So getting Lowe here was critical. First base dries up quickly, folks. Lowe has an excellent eye, as he as posted double-digit walk rates for the majority of his time as a pro.
17.196 – Garrett Richards, SP
Looking back on this draft, I should have gone Raisel Iglesias or Emilio Pagan, but relievers are just not as much fun as starters. Garrett Richards made his return to the mound this September and brought his high spin rate and velocity. I have always been a fan, so this was definitely a fangirl pick. If the Padres perform better, he could be in line for a decent amount of wins, and we all know the strikeouts will be plentiful.
18.208 – Carter Kieboom, 2B
I’m betting on getting Carter Kieboom in a bunch of drafts next year. He has one of the smoothest, sweetest swings in the minors. He should also have full-time playing time next year at the keystone in Washington. If the Nationals sign Rendon (Please pay the man, Washington!), their lineup will still be lethal, and Kieboom should give me plenty of counting stats.
19.220 – Jose Urquidy, SP
In drafts, I like to load up on starting pitchers. I feel starters are where you can totally win a draft. Jose Urquidy kind of came out of nowhere this year and should have a starting spot in Houston to begin the season. I feel more confident in his skill set more than last year’s Astros breakout pitcher, Josh James. The team has already come out and said he will have a starting spot, and we did not hear that with James last year. Looking back, I doubt Urquidy lasts until after pick 200, especially with his playoff performance.
20.232 – Brian Anderson, OF
I’ve always been a Brian Anderson fan, especially as a CI. Anderson’s season was very hot-and-cold. He hit .219 and .208 in May and July but .301 in June. He started to lift the ball more toward the second half and was having an excellent August before a season-ending finger fracture. Overall, Anderson’s sophomore season was much like his rookie campaign—just a bit less batting average and more home runs with a wRC+ of 113. I’m a little concerned with the bit of regression from a plate-discipline standpoint. His O-swing increased to 34.8%, and his O-contact decreased to 58.7%. But for a No. 232 pick, you cannot complain.
21.244 – Josh Rojas, 3B/OF/UTL
Josh Rojas came over from the Astros in the Zack Greinke deal, and he struggled in his initial call to the bigs. However, Rojas is the perfect bench player, and there is the upside where he could hit.
22.256 – James Karinchak, RP
I’ve drafted Brad Hand the past couple of years. Not only was he great for saves, but he also wouldn’t kill the ratios. However, Hand struggled in the second half of last year. If you have never heard of James Karinchak, well take a look at this: Between 2018 and 2019, Karinchak had a K rate above 32%! He had a hamstring injury; otherwise he would have been in Cleveland sooner. I’m betting on Karinchak for an extremely high number of strikeouts and saves.
23.268 – Christian Vazquez, C
As a Red Sox fan, I never expected to see Christian Vazquez hit 15 home runs. Not only did he do that, but he also hit a career-high 23 home runs. Some might just laugh it off as a case No. 13,423 on how the bouncy ball helped batters. Sure, Vazquez was helped, but it was not just the ball. He was also hitting it farther. His average distance increased from 164 ft to 185 ft. He also increased his barrels per plate appearance about three percentage points, from 1.5% to 4.6%. He also hit the ball more consistently harder, as hard-hit percentage increased from 28.6% to 38.5%
Favorite Pick: Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg was the 13th overall pitcher off the board. Getting that level of production in the fifth round was key in this draft. With his consistent performance, I did not feel the need to jump back into the starter game so quickly.
Sleeper Pick: James Karinchak
Karinchak’s strikeout numbers are absurd, and he has closer stuff. With Hand on the last year of his deal and sporting late-season struggles, I might have picked up a Top 10 closer in the next-to-last round.
Potential Bust: Jonathan Villar
After his 2016 breakout season where Villar hit .285 with 19 home runs with 62 stolen bases, he moved up to the second/third round of drafts. He then hit .241 with only 11 home runs and 23 steals in 2017. He could also be traded away from Baltimore and lose the friendly confines of Camden Yards.
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)