It has been a winter full of mock drafts for the Pitcher List staff. This latest one is a prospects-only dynasty mock for 12 staff members in which 300 prospect-eligible players were selected. Each of the writers is here to tell you the reasoning behind their picks, why you should consider them in dynasty leagues, and for some of them, possibly even redraft leagues as well. Here is the link to the draft results. Other mock draft reviews can be found below:
Prospect-only drafts are rather unique, and therefore the strategy behind them is less defined. Some people like to go for a roster full of players close to the big leagues, while others tend to target younger players with higher upside who are further away from the majors and therefore are riskier investments. Early in the draft, I simply followed my Top 150 prospect list from October and grabbed value where I could. As we got deeper into the draft, I took some of my favorite sleeper prospects and sought to find value that way.
Here are the 25 players I selected, plus a small write-up of why they could hold value in dynasty formats and eventually in redraft leagues—some sooner than others.
Round 1 (Pick 6): Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU
I landed the No. 6 overall selection in this snake draft and was in a position to miss out on the top names of the prospect world, such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays and Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago White Sox. Interestingly, four of the top six players from my October Top 150 rankings fell to me, and I ended up selecting my No. 4 overall prospect, Kyle Tucker, ahead of my No. 3 overall prospect, Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals.
Tucker was the fifth overall selection in the 2015 draft and spent most of 2018 at Triple-A Fresno where he hit a dominant .332/.400/.590 with 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases in just 465 plate appearances. He supported that batting line with 10.3% walk rate and 18.1% strikeout rate while making tons of airborne contact (26.8% line-drive rate and 37.4% fly-ball rate) and using the whole field effectively to support a strong .364 BABIP. All told, it was worth a 155 wRC+, which ranked third-best in the Pacific Coast League. Notably, Tucker was especially impressive from June forward, hitting .388/.444/.718 for a truly ridiculous 198 wRC+. He may have struggled in his first taste of MLB action, but rest assured: Tucker is a top-flight hitting prospect who brings true five-category upside for fantasy baseball.
Round 2 (Pick 19): Jesus Luzardo, SP, OAK
This selection is a case of simply taking the top guy on my board, as I had Jesus Luzardo ranked 13th, and he fell to me at 19. In theory, he’s my ace and one who should be in the majors in 2019. Let’s take a look at his 2018 numbers across three levels of baseball:
As you can see, he dominated his peers at High-A and Double-A while being young for the levels. He notably showed both high-end swing-and-miss stuff and an ability to generate weak ground-ball contact, as you can see by the well-above-average swinging-strike and ground-ball rates. His short sample in Triple-A shouldn’t worry prospect evaluators—the bigger body of work is there to believe in, and the stuff is still dynamic.
Interesting to note, the top Steamer-projected pitcher in the Oakland A’s organization for 2019 is…Luzardo with a 1.2 WAR mark along with a 4.20 ERA and 106 strikeouts against 43 walks in 120 innings pitched. Knowing how conservative Steamer projections can be with prospects, that’s a pretty interesting projection. He should be up in 2019 and can help in your redraft leagues. If you want more info on Luzardo, I wrote this article on him in December.
Round 3 (Pick 30): Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, TB
Speaking of guys I wrote about this offseason, Nathaniel Lowe is another one, and read about him here! The short version of the article on Lowe is that short of Guerrero Jr., Lowe was arguably the second-best hitter in the minor leagues last year, and he’s on the cusp of reaching the major leagues. Take a look at the top five hitters in MiLB in terms of wRC+:
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr (TOR)||A+/AA/AAA||19||408||.381||.437||.636||9.1||9.3||9.9||194|
|Nathaniel Lowe (TB)||A+/AA/AAA||22||555||.330||.416||.568||12.3||16.2||8.0||178|
|Michael Reed (MIL)||AA/AAA||25||404||.342||.453||.520||15.3||24.3||11.3||178|
|Alex Kirilloff (MIN)||A/A+||20||561||.348||.392||.578||6.8||15.3||11||172|
|Eloy Jimenez (CHW)||AA/AAA||21||456||.337||.384||.577||7.0||15.1||12.5||168|
Lowe interestingly posted the best swinging-strike rate of the group, and that’s notable considering Guerrero Jr. is perhaps the best hitting prospect ever and has received 80-grade hit tool evaluations from scouts, which is unheard of, and Alex Kirilloff is generally considered a plus hitter, too, with a recent Prospects Live scouting report giving him a future 70 grade on the hit tool. This suggests that perhaps Lowe’s hit tool is being underrated. Now some may suggest Lowe’s success came while being older comparatively to the likes Guerrero Jr., Kirilloff, and Jimenez, and while that’s true, he was younger than league average at each level he played in 2018. He’s legit with plus contact skills, a terrific approach, and easy 65 raw power, and you should remember his name in redraft leagues and look to buy him in dynasty/keeper leagues.
Round 4 (Pick 43): Chris Paddack, RHP, SD
While the breaking ball for Chris Paddack continues to be a work in progress, it’s impossible to ignore his dominance at this point in the draft. Here are Paddack’s combined stats between High-A and Double-A in 2018:
|Stat||Rank in MiLB among pitchers with 90 or more IP|
|14.5% Swinging-strike rate||29th|
The fastball can hit the mid-90s. The changeup is thought to be the best in the entire minor leagues and a true 70-grade weapon—both of which he has terrific command of, and that’s been the key to his success. If his curveball takes a step forward, or he adds a different breaking ball to round out the arsenal, he could be an ace. As-is, he’s got quality mid-rotation upside, and I’m happy to take that at 43.
Round 5 (Pick 54): Keibert Ruiz, C, LAD
Not sure if people realize how special of a year Keibert Ruiz had as a 19-year-old in the Texas League. As the second-youngest player in the league, a full 4.9 years younger than average, Ruiz not only held his own with a 100 wRC+, but he also showed elite contact skills to project fantasy success on. He hit .268/.328/.401 with a 6.3% walk rate and an incredible 8% strikeout rate. That 8% strikeout rate led the Texas League, and he supported it with a 6.8% swinging-strike rate, which was the fourth-best mark in the league. That contact ability along with a single-season best 12 home runs hint at a high-floor catching prospect who should be playing at Triple-A this year at just 20, which is incredibly rare. New Milwaukee Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal may have left the Los Angeles Dodgers via free agency, but their catcher of the future isn’t far away from the majors and contributing to your fantasy team.
Round 6 (Pick 67): Colton Welker, 3B, COL
Colton Welker has a career minor league slash line of .337/.384/.492 and is likely destined to play his future MLB home games at the wonderful hitting environment that is Coors Field. Still, people aren’t giving him the credit he deserves within the prospect industry, and I do get it…he managed just a .152 ISO this past season while playing his home games at one of the minor leagues’ best hitting environments, Lancaster, and saw his strikeout rate jump 5.1 % year over year from Single-A to High-A. On the plus side, he continues to hit tons of line drives (crazy 26.4% in 2018) and use the whole field incredibly well (35.9 pull%, 25.5% center, 38.6% Oppo), which should help him support high BABIPs and therefore post high batting averages. There’s above-average raw power here for him to further tap into as he continues to mature into his 6’2″ frame, and that along with his well-rounded ability to hit gives him a high floor as a prospect and an above-average ceiling to dream on. Happy with this selection at 67!
Round 7 (Pick 78): Corbin Burnes, RHP, MIL
We used the 130 plate appearances and 50 innings pitched or fewer criteria for determining who is eligible, and with Corbin Burnes throwing just 38 innings last year in the majors out of the bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers, that means he was eligible. He’s a steal at this point, as he’s already shown a formula for success at the major league level and yet maintains an upside thanks to a well-rounded repertoire of above-average pitches and command. He did some great things last year, posting a 49% ground-ball rate along with a terrific 15.2% swinging-strike rate. His four-seam fastball had very good 10.5% swinging-strike mark and had the eighth-best spin rate, and his slider had an elite 24.6% swinging-strike clip with the 29th-best spin rate in baseball. He has some dynamic stuff that both misses bats and generates ground-ball contact, and that’s a pretty ideal skill set and one to invest in.
Round 8 (Pick 91): Deivi Garcia, RHP, NYY
One of my favorite pitchers in the minor leagues, Deivi Garcia was straight dominant last year across three levels of the minor leagues. While just 19 and young for each level, Garcia climbed his way up the minor league ladder to Double-A while posting a 2.55 ERA with 105 strikeouts against just 20 walks over 74 innings for the season. He notably finished with the fifth-best K% in all of MiLB, the fourth-best K-BB%, the 25th-best FIP, and the 13th-best xFIP. While those stats and rankings are great, Garcia has been overlooked frequently due to diminutive size, as he’s listed at just 5’10”, 163 pounds. That lack of size has many in the scouting industry unsure of how he will hold up to a consistent starter’s workload. Still, the stuff is there with an elite spin-rate fastball and curveball combo along with a changeup that flashes above-average and should become more consistent with reps. Also…this curveball tho!
Round 10 (Pick 102): Nolan Jones, 3B, CLE
The epitome of a three-true-outcomes hitter, Nolan Jones hit .283/.405/.466 this past season across two levels of the minors (Single-A and High-A) with 19 HRs and 2 SBs in 519 PAs. He walked a ton with a 17.1% walk rate in 2018, but that patience led to a lot of strikeouts, as he posted a 25.2% strikeout rate. Now his swinging-strike rate at Single-A and High-A sat at an average 10.0% and 10.3%, respectively, so we can attribute much of the elevated strikeout rate to his patient approach at the plate rather than true contact issues. Overall, he finished the season with an impressive 151 wRC+. A 48.2% ground-ball rate at Single-A improved to 42% at High-A, and he will need to continue learning how to elevate more to get to his 70-grade raw power into games more consistently. If he does, he could be a dominant OBP player in dynasty leagues in time. I believe Jones to be an easy Top 100 prospect and a good value at this point in the draft!
Round 10 (Pick 115): Monte Harrison, CF, MIA
This might be the pick I’m most disappointed with, as I’m not a big believer that Monte Harrison can improve his contact skills enough to be a big asset in most leagues. He posted a rough 36.9% strikeout rate last year at Double-A and supported it with an equally rough 17.8% swinging-strike rate. For reference, among qualified hitters, no one in MLB last year posted worse than a 36.8% strikeout rate and only three players posted a swinging-strike rate worse than 17.8%. Generally, players don’t improve their contact skills in their transition to the majors, so it’s tough to project Harrison to not be a big batting average/OBP liability. Still, if Harrison does improve and can hit enough, he could be a star, as he has a truly dynamic power/speed combo that resulted in 19 home runs and 28 stolen bases last year at Double-A.
Round 11 (Pick 126): Corbin Martin, RHP, HOU
Another of favorite of mine in the minor leagues! I had Corbin Martin at No. 61 in my October Top 150 prospects list because he’s got a good chance for three above-average pitches in his fastball, slider, and changeup, plus average command. He missed plenty of bats with above-average swinging-strike rates at every level including a 12.7% mark at Double-A this past year, and his two-seam fastball has helped him generate ground balls at a high level. Guys who miss bats and keep the ball on the ground are always highly valuable, especially when they have solid command, too, and Martin does! He’s got the repertoire to be a quality mid-round starting pitcher, but also has bullpen experience from his college days where his fastball has played up to the upper 90s. I was happy to add Martin at this juncture of the draft!
Round 12 (Pick 139): Brandon Lowe, 2B/OF, TB
The second Lowe in the Tampa Bay Rays system I drafted in this mock, Brandon Lowe reached the majors last year in August after an impressive season split between Double-A and Triple-A in which he slashed .297/.391/.558 with 22 HRs and 8 SBs in just 445 PAs. He supported that slash line with a 12.8% walk rate and 22.9% strikeout rate, and overall his season was worth a 166 wRC+. His below-average 12.4% and 13.2% swinging-strike rates at Double-A and Triple-A, respectively, do show some slight contact issues, but Lowe is able to overcome that thanks to a number of high-BABIP traits, including an above-average line-drive rate and an all-fields approach. The result should be a player who can post a solid batting average, have 25-homer upside, and chip in with a couple of steals. That sort of player seems like a value at this point in the draft.
Round 13 (Pick 150): Jeisson Rosario, OF, SD
This selection is an example of my continuing to follow my October top prospects list, as I had Jeisson Rosario ranked at 108, and he was the top guy on the board. The recently turned 19-year-old outfielder had a strong season in the Single-A Midwest League, showing contact skills and an approach well beyond his years. A 20.7% strikeout rate was supported by a well-above-average 8.5% swinging-strike rate, and he walked at an impressive 12.7%, all of which is even more notable when you consider that Rosario was 3.4 years younger than league average. His overall slash line finished at .271/.368/.353 with 3 HRs and 18 SBs in 521 PAs. The 18 steals were a result of plus speed, and while there’s average raw power, it’s limited in-game due to a low launch angle that resulted in a 48.6% ground-ball rate. The potential is there for a true breakout if he can learn how to elevate more, but even if he doesn’t, the bat and speed give him a solid floor with 15 HRs/15 SBs as a realistic possibility.
Round 14 (Pick 163): Luis Garcia, SS, PHI
Most may know the Washington Nationals prospect, but the Phillies’ Luis Garcia is also an intriguing shortstop prospect with a lot going for him! This Garcia posted a .369/.433/.488 batting line as a 17-year-old in the Gulf Coast Rookie League with 1 HR and 12 SBs in 187 PAs. Similar to Rosario’s above, Garcia’s approach and contact skills were on display in 2018 with an 8% walk rate and an 11.2% strikeout rate supported by a very good 7% swinging-strike rate. Given that he was 17 for the entirety of the 2018 season, it’s fair to project further growth in Garcia’s game—particularly in the power department where he shouldn’t struggle too much to get to his power, as his 43.7% ground-ball rate isn’t terrible by any means. Contact skills, approach and plus defense make the profile, and that may make him a better real-life prospect, but he’s still interesting enough to value at this point in the draft.
Round 15 (Pick 174): DL Hall, LHP, BAL
Yes, I know he’s a Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect, and that is essentially the kiss of death for a lot of people, but DL Hall has a chance to be a break that trend of disappointing O’s pitching prospects, and I was excited to add him at this juncture of the draft. He has two plus pitches in a fastball that touches the mid-90s, and his high-spin rate curveball is a legit out-pitch. His changeup is still the clear third option due to firmness, but it does flash above-average potential at times. Hall posted a 2.10 ERA in 2018 with a 25.6 K% and 10.7 BB%, but he was notably dominant down the stretch: After the All-Star break, the 20-year-old pitched to a ridiculous 0.84 ERA with 64 strikeouts against 20 walks over 53.2 innings. He clearly is ready for a new test in 2019, and with further success, he could really climb prospect rankings.
Round 16 (Pick 187): Jose Suarez, RHP, LAA
One of the breakout stories of the minor leagues early in 2018, Jose Suarez dominated and pitched his way from High-A to Double-A, and then to Triple-A before he finally found a challenge. Over seven starts at Double-A, the then-20-year-old starter posted a 3.03 ERA and 0.84 FIP with a 39.8 K% (15.47 K/9) and 6.3 BB% (2.43 BB/9). His time at Triple-A wasn’t as successful, but he flashed well at times despite pitching in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League environment—and he was notably 6.6 years younger than league average. The case for optimism is that the stuff ticked up this past year, including the fastball, which now reaches 94 mph as well as the curveball, which some scouts put true plus grades upon. Add in his plus changeup and above-average command, and there’s mid-rotation upside here. I feel good about potentially finding that at pick 187.
Round 17 (Pick 198): Tirso Ornelas, OF, SD
Love me some Tirso Ornelas, and I think he’s one of those ideal guys to project upon. He’s listed at 6’3″, 200 pounds at 18 years old and has plus raw power already. Ornelas showed plus contact skills in the Midwest League last year with a 19.2% strikeout rate supported by a great 7.9% swinging-strike rate. He also showed a strong approach at the plate, as he posted an 11.3% walk rate. He uses the whole field and hits enough fly balls already to anticipate the power to come. He could be a future 60-hit/60-power hitter who gets on base a lot, and that’s highly valuable no matter the format. Happy to land him here!
Round 18 (Pick 211): Elehuris Montero, 3B, STL
One of the big breakout stories of the lower levels of the minor leagues last year, then-19-year-old Elehuris Montero hit .322/.381/.529 at Single-A Peoria in the Midwest League with 15 HRs and 2 SBs in 425 PAs. The .322 led the Midwest League, as did the .529 slugging percentage, and his 157 wRC+ ranked second. He supported those numbers with a 7.8% walk rate and 19.1% strikeout rate, which are both solid. He’s got plus raw power and gets to it in games pretty well thanks to a 39.1% fly-ball rate at Single-A. The Cardinals rewarded Montero with a late-season audition at High-A, and he held his own with a 110 wRC+ over 106 plate appearances. I had Montero ranked at No. 125 in my October prospects list, and so I was pleased to grab him 86 picks after where I ranked him.
Round 19 (Pick 222): Luis Rengifo, 2B/SS, LAA
Another breakout story in 2018, Luis Rengifo played at three levels, reaching Triple-A while hitting a combined .299/.399/.452 with 7 HRs and 41 SBs in 590 PAs. He posted an even 75 walks against 75 strikeouts in 2018 (12.7% for both) which highlights his strong approach and contact skills. An elevated 50.5% ground-ball rate limits his in-game power, but his game is more slash and dash anyway, as his 35% opposite-field contact rate shows. He may not be the highest-ceiling player in the minor leagues, but his ability to hit and get on base along with plus speed gives him a high floor that isn’t particularly common this late in the draft.
Round 20 (Pick 235): Josh Jung, 3B, NCAA
The Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung is one of the top draft-eligible hitters in the upcoming 2019 class. He’s coming off a sophomore season in which he hit a cool .392/491/.636 with 12 HRs and 4 SBs in 263 PAs. He walked more than he struck out with 12.43% and 10.13% marks, respectively. His .392 batting average and .491 on-base percentage led the Big 12, and I can’t wait to see what he does for an encore! With above-average grades on both his hit tool and power, Jung looks like a high-profile and high-floor college bat with a chance to move through the minors quickly.
Round 21 (Pick 246): Geraldo Perdomo, SS, ARI
Not sure how well known Geraldo Perdomo is, but he should be on all radars if you play in a medium-sized dynasty league and above after an impressive 2018 in which he showed a lot of strong peripherals that project success as he moves further up the organizational ladder. The recently turned 19-year-old shortstop started the year in the Arizona Rookie League where he slashed .314/.416/.442 with 1 HR and 14 SBs in just 21 games. The Diamondbacks rewarded him midseason with a promotion to Low-A Hillsboro in the Northwest League where Perdomo was competing in a league mostly made up of recently drafted college players. Despite being 3.1 years younger than league average, Perdomo hit .301/.421/.456 with 3 HRs and 9 SBs in 127 PAs while walking at a 14.2% rate and striking out at an 18.1% rate. A 7.6% swinging-strike rate at Low-A was highly impressive and would have ranked sixth-best if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. While he’s not projected to produce big power, he is a projectable 6’2″ and posted a quality 38% fly-ball rate at Low-A, which suggests that he should get to most of his raw power in games. I really like Perdomo’s underlying skills and think he could be a nice breakout bat in 2019.
Round 22 (Pick 259): Chavez Young, CF, TOR
Chavez Young has received some hype for a 2018 season in which he was the only minor leaguer to knock 50 or more extra-base hits while also stealing 40 or more bases. In addition, he’s an elite athlete who ranks as one of the best defensive center fielders in the minor leagues, according to Baseball Prospectus‘ Fielding Runs Above Average stat. Young slashed .285/.363/.445 last year while supporting that line with a 10% walk rate and an 18.6% strikeout rate. A 49% ground-ball rate highlights a need to elevate more if he wants to get to more out of his average raw power, but he’s still just 21 and has time to improve upon that. The rest of the skills are interesting, though, and he’s a nice power/speed upside pick at this point of the draft.
Round 23 (Pick 270): Alexander Canario, RF, SFG
At this point in any draft, you’re looking for upside. That is particularly true in a prospects-only draft, where all the surefire players are long gone. I took a chance on a guy known for plus-plus bat speed in 18-year-old San Francisco Giants outfield prospect Alexander Canario.
He was a top performer in the Dominican Summer League in 2017 and made his U.S. professional debut in 2018 to mixed results. He hit a solid but unspectacular .250/.357/.403 with 6 HRs and 8 SBs in 203 PAs in 2018 at the Arizona Rookie League while walking at a 13% rate and striking out at a 24.5% rate. Scouts rave about his bat speed and batting displays, but he’s still working on finding that success in games consistently. A 39.3% fly-ball rate ensures that if/when things do click for Canario, that he should get to most if not all of his plus raw power, which gives him a very high upside.
Round 24 (Pick 283): Mason Denaburg, SP, WSH
Mason Denaburg had a biceps issue flare up in the spring before the 2018 MLB draft, which prevented him from pitching and caused the mid-first-round talent to fall to the back of the first round, where the Nationals were happy to scoop him up. The Nationals have done this a few times in recent years, including with Lucas Giolito, now of the Chicago White Sox, and Luzardo, now of the Oakland Athletics organization. Denaburg did not pitch professionally in 2018, but he should be ready for 2019.
He has a fastball that’s been up to 97 mph along with a power curveball with depth that is used as his main out pitch. His changeup is still in the development phase, but with his background of not only being a two-way player in high school but also a two-sport star, there’s the belief that Denaburg can really make gains quickly with a more focused approach to pitching. At this point in the draft, I viewed Denaburg as a worthwhile lottery ticket.
Round 25 (Pick 294): Antonio Cabello, CF, NYY
Antonio Cabello was a $1.35 million international free agent signing in 2017 by the New York Yankees after they failed to sign SP/DH Shohei Ohtani, who went to the Los Angeles Angels. Cabello signed as a catcher, but the Yankees quickly moved him to the outfield to better push his bat aggressively and better utilize his athletic gifts, as Cabello has true 65-grade speed. This plus speed gives him a good chance to be a center fielder for a while, and his bat could be pretty special at the position. Cabello hit .321/.426/.555 in the Gulf Coast Rookie League in 2018 with 5 HRs and 5 SBs in 162 PAs, which was worth a dominant 174 wRC+. That mark led the league, as did the .555 slugging percentage, which shows how ahead of the curve Cabello is as a hitter as just a recently turned 18-year-old. He should be picked up in all mid-size dynasty leagues and above, and he’s a terrific value pick with my last pick in this draft.
(Graphic by Justin Paradis)