It’s Nic Gardiner’s turn to detail his round-by-round thoughts as we continue our coverage of the Pitcher List 2018 Mock Draft. He is our Prospect Writer and you can find his writing here. Let’s get to it.
To read the analysis of other teams in the draft, head to our Mock Draft hub page here.
Round 1: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
This is a bit of a no-brainer for me. I debated Mookie Betts here briefly, but I am a sucker for Z-scores and Clayton Kershaw is so much better than the average pitcher that the value at 12 is too much to pass on. Many experts on pitcherlist.com wait on pitching because they believe they will find the value later, but I am the opposite. Give me top tier pitching and I will find the bats. If you look at the youth surge in MLB it’s almost entirely of hitters. With a number of juicy hitting prospects coming up in 2018, I will take my pitching and find my bats later.
Round 2: Freddie Freeman, 1B/3B, Atlanta Braves
I debated Chris Sale here to double dip and really go all in on the pitching strength, but Freddie Freeman has been a monster the past two seasons. He had 65 XBH in a season limited to 117 games because of injuries. That’s a pace of 90 XBH per 162 games. That’s phenomenal. I know I am getting a very good 4 category bat.
Round 3: Luis Severino, SP, New York Yankees
I am not 100% sold on Severino, but taking Kershaw and adding a high K/9 guy in Severino seems like a good building block for having top tier pitching. Severino finished 4th in the AL in strikeouts with 230, Add in Kershaw and I am around 500 strikeouts with two pitchers.
Round 4: Justin Upton, OF, Los Angles Angels
I debated Anthony Rendon here, but I saw several 3B available that I coveted. I took Justin Upton here after a career year in 2017. With Freddie Freeman, I know I can sacrifice some average to get some more pop and Justin Upton’s 35 HRs and 79 XBH in 2017 seemed to fit the stats I needed. He will be on a better offensive team in 2018 and should hit in the middle of the lineup. I expect 30+ HRs, 100 Runs, RBIs and an average of .265-.270. If he matches his steals, 14, from 2017, I think I found excellent value.
Round 5: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Free Agent
If I could go back and retake this pick I’d probably take AJ Pollock because a few corner infielders fell. I don’t mind Hosmer, and taking him at 64 isn’t a reach as he finished the #3 first baseman in the Pitcher List Staff leagues 5×5 and 18th bat overall. He was carried in large part to his average which was the 4th best in fantasy last year only behind Jose Altuve, Charlie Blackmon and Avisail Garcia. With Freddie Freeman and Eric Hosmer, I know I will have a decent average with some solid contribution to runs. Homeruns are the Question with Hosmer but at 64, I get substantial value.
Round 6: Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner had his first all-star appearance in 2017 and hit .322 with 21 HRs, 72 Runs, 71 RBIs and 7 SB through 130 games. Injuries derailed his cumulative stats a bit as he missed 32 games, but I think he bring top 5 upside for his position and I took him 8th.
Round 7: Yeonis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets
2015 Yeonis played in 159 games, in 2016 it was 132 and 2017 he saw action in only 81 games. A trend that doesn’t inspire confidence which is why he fell to me at the 90th pick in the draft. He did well in the 81 games hitting 17 HRs with a .292/.352/.540/.892 slash line. Yeonis brings above average contribution to 4 of the 5 hitting categories and I liked his potential far more than the next couple batters that were taken in Wil Myers, Trevor Story, Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor. I think he is a steal at the 90th pick.
Round 8: Marcus Stroman, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
I took pitching early with two of my first three picks but then a run of four batters ensued. This pick is about inning eating, with Severino and Kershaw in tow, I needed 200 Innings with a solid ERA. Stroman finished 2017 with his 2nd 200 inning campaigns while finishing 4th in the American League in ERA. His K/9 and Whip aren’t great, but Severino and Kershaw have me covered there. I needed Innings and solid contribution and the I felt more confident with him than Rich “Mr. Blister” Hill, Luis Castillo, or Jon Lester who came off the board in the following round. I am worried about his FIP and the lack of excellence in his other categories, but he is consistent with his innings and that’s important for building a rotation, even in fantasy.
Round 9: Travis Shaw, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
If I planned better I would have taken David Price here, but I rushed the pick after Adam Eaton was taken and didn’t notice the 3B falling. Travis Shaw at 116th is excellent value as he finished 39th overall for bats and 5th for 3B. He was the 14th Third Base man off the board and he filled my 2nd UTIL Spot. If he gets anywhere near his .273/84 R/31 HR/101 RBI/10 SB line, then I have a steal here.
Round 10: Wade Davis, RP, Free Agent
He hasn’t signed yet, but he will likely close for whomever does ink him. I love me some elite relief pitching, I took Chapman and Jansen back to back in the 2017 Pitcher List Staff League. Taking Davis at 119 is a no brainer for me.
Round 11: Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners
Background on this pick, this draft went for a week or two and when I logged in to make this pick, I noticed an open 3B spot, so I took Seager here. What I didn’t realize until later was the team being showed on the side wasn’t mine but Andrew Todd-Smith. So, with the 142 pick in round 11, I took a bench bat. I like Kyle Seager at 142 overall but I should have gone Raisel Iglesias or Greg Holland.
Round 12: Mike Clevinger, SP, Cleveland Indians
Clevinger finished the 38th Starting pitcher in a 5×5 league in 2017 despite only making 21 starts. His 3.11 ERA was 74 points lower than his 3.85 FIP so it’s likely he will regress some in 2018. However, the division he is in, AL Central, seems to be looking worse off in 2018 than 2017 with the Tigers White Sox, and Royals rebuilding. His 10.1 K/9 is in elite territory and being on the Indians, he could win 15 or more games in 2018.
Round 13: Jay Bruce, OF, Free Agent
At this point I am punting the stolen base category. It wasn’t my plan going into the draft but I’m in too deep to recover that stat and, so I took Jay Bruce. He was the 39th Outfielder in 2017 and finished 10th in Homeruns and RBIs for the position. With a number of high average guys, Hosmer, Freeman, Cespedes, Turner, etc. I can look past his batting average and go for the power and RBIs.
Round 14: Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets
I am not sure what I am going to get in Familia. He lead the league in saves in 2016 and then missed most of 2017 after having an operation to remove a blood clot in his shoulder. I needed a second relief pitcher and probably should have played it safe here but there aren’t any safe closers anymore.
Round 15: Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
I punted the middle infield. Mainly because I felt like guys were dropping in other positions and the value was too much to let pass. However, I don’t believe middle infield is scarce. It used to be scarce but tier 2 isn’t much better than tier 3 and the gap gets smaller as you compare the rest of the tiers. I took Paul DeJong because I didn’t care for stolen bases and he had a good average, .285, and hit 21 HRs in 108 games. That’s a 162-game pace of 38 homeruns. I don’t know what to expect from him but at pick 194, I have little invested into him. With a crop of Gleyber Torres, Brendan Rodgers, Willy Adames, Franklin Barreto and Nick Gordon likely all up in 2018, I can make the switch easy should DeJong fail.
Round 16: Jacob Faria, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Ian Post should have taken him much earlier than this. He did not, what a sucker. Faria had a good WHIP, 1.177, a great K/9 in 8.7 and had a decent ERA at 3.43. I think he can reach 170+ innings in 2018 and could end the year as one of the top pitchers on the Rays.
Round 17: Lance Lynn, SP, Free Agent
Lance Lynn is my 6th starting pitcher off the board and that has me feeling pretty good about my pitching rotation. Lance Lynn is another innings eater pitching in 33 games in 2017 after missing all of 2016. He has hit 175+ Innings in 5 of the last 6 seasons now and has a career 3.38 ERA and an 8.5 K/9. His WHIP isn’t very good at 1.288 and his K/9 dropped from 8.6 in 2015 to 7.4 in 2017. His K/9 tailed off toward the end of the year with a 6.4 K/9 in the 2nd half vs an 8.2 in the 1st half. Perhaps he was being over worked a bit after his tommy john surgery. Lynn should be a solid contributor in 2018 and if his K/9 is north of 8, I will be very happy.
Round 18: Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
I finally took a second baseman and was the last team to do so. Jason Kipnis had an injury plagued season in 2017 and only saw action in 90 games. He hit .232 and looked awful. That has his name coming up in some trade chatter, but he could be a solid bounce back candidate in fantasy as he is only one year from hitting .275 with 91 runs, 23 Homeruns, 82 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. Like short stop there are several second basemen I have my eye on, led by Scott Kingery of the Phillies.
Round 19: Dellin Betances, RP, New York Yankees
Despite making his 4th consecutive all-star team, Dellin Betances struggled some in 2017. His Whip jumped to 1.223 mainly because of his 6.6 B/9. He did have a good ERA, 2.87, and a K/9 of 15.1. If he can get back to pitching 80+ innings, he is a top 10 RP I took with the 246th pick.
Round 20: Jonathan Villar, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
This pick is about adding a stolen base threat. He is a year removed from a 62-stolen base campaign and he is insurance if Jason Kipnis is awful. He is a solid bench option and if he sees more of CF in 2018 then I have a bit more roster flexibility.
Round 21: Jake Odorizzi, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
I feel like I know what I am getting with Jake Odorizzi, a 3.70+ ERA with an average WHIP and an 8.0 K/9. He’s a decent guy to have as your 7th best starting pitcher. Odorizzi has come up in trade talks and that could only help his value. He has a career 4.17 ERA vs the AL East, a 3.57 ERA vs the rest of the American League and an ERA of 3.33 vs the National League. If he is dealt, I like his chances of improving.
Round 22: Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
At this point, I am just taking potential. Ian Post has already taken his revenge pick of Max Kepler, aka Ze German, and so I am left looking for value. At pick 275 I take Tyler Glasnow. Taking him this late means I have so little invested in him that he can sit on my bench the first couple weeks of 2018 to see what I got. If I don’t like it, I will cut bait and move on. His stuff is filthy, he just can’t get it over the plate. he had a 7.69 ERA in 2017 in 62 innings pitched in MLB, but his AAA numbers are a thing of beauty. He had a 1.93 ERA in 15 starts with 140 strikeouts in 93.1 Innings. If he learns to command his stuff better, he has the potential to be a top 30 Starting pitcher in 2018.
Round 23 Matt Weiters, C, Washington Nationals
I wanted Yadier Molina in round 17 but Ben took him before my pick and, so I waited. Everyone else had a catcher at that point and there wasn’t much use taking a catcher earlier than I needed so I waited for my last pick. Matt Weiters is the guy I took but I would likely stream the position throughout the year depending on who’s hot. I like Austin Barnes here, but I liked the power Matt Weiters gives me, so I took him.