Three thoughts guided my process during our prospects only draft:
1. Hitters are the priority
2. Quality arms exist in the middle and back of the draft
3. Target potential over safety towards the end
For the most part, I stuck to these rules in the draft and ended up with what I think is a pretty strong group of prospects. Exercises like these are a great way to ensure you keep updated on the ever-changing prospect landscape in fantasy baseball. Whether you view prospects as precious items to hoard or as ultimate trade chips, keeping up with the market is the best way to know who to target, when to sell, and when to buy before your fellow owners beat you to it.
I offer my thoughts on 25 prospects you may want to remember as you prepare for the 2019 season, both at the dynasty and (to a lesser extent) redraft levels.
1.1: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B , Toronto Blue Jays – AAA)
This was the easiest pick I have ever made in a prospect draft. While I stand by my previous statements about prospect volatility, Vlad Jr. is about as sure of a thing as they come. Whether you consider his outlandish minor league performance last year (.402/.442/.679 in AA; .336/.414/.564 in AAA), his age (19) relative to level (Average age in AA: 23.8), pedigree, or the ravings of scouts across the industry (65/70 Hit, 65/70 GamePower, 80/80 RawPower), Vladito’s acclaim is well deserved. Just when the Jays will release him on the rest of the league remains to be seen, but when they do he should be special.
2.24: Peter Alonso (1B, New York Mets – AAA)
Landing two (basically) major league ready bats at the start of the draft feels good. Alonso offers immense power (36 home runs across AA/AAA in 2018) and solid patience at the dish (15.8% BB% in AA, 11.8% BB% in AAA), though he may struggle with strikeouts until he acclimates to MLB pitching (25.9% K% in AAA). I am less optimistic about his future batting averages than others (.250-.260 might be his ceiling) but think he will provide solid production when he takes over as the Mets first baseman.
3.25 Nolan Gorman (3B, St Louis Cardinals – A)
The 18-year-old had his way with opposing pitchers in Rookie ball, slamming 11 home runs and slashing .350/.443/.664 in 38 games. His .315 ISO ranked 6th overall domestically (at least 100 PA’s) and, more impressively, he was the youngest player among the top 20 in that category. His plate discipline was solid as well (14.4% BB%, 22.2% K%, 11.5% SwStr%) though it eroded drastically upon his promotion to A ball (9.3% BB%, 36.4% K%, 18.9% SwStr%). Gorman carries a good deal of risk due to defensive limitations and questions about his hit tool, but his potential is immense.
4.48 Kyle Wright (SP, Atlanta Braves – AAA/MLB)
After drafting three straight hitters, I needed an arm and Wright represented the best mix of talent and limited risk. Atlanta aggressively promoted Wright, allowing him to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues only one year after being drafted 5th overall. While his command needs to improve, Wright looks like a steady 200 IP arm with the potential to be elite.
5.49 Andres Gimenez (SS, New York Mets – AA)
I was hoping to land one of Vidal Brujan or Chris Paddack with this pick, but Gimenez is a fine consolation prize given his offensive improvements in A+ last season (.282/.348/.432 with six HR and 28 SB). While he will never provide much power, a strong hit tool coupled with above average speed makes for an interesting combination at shortstop. His glovework has never been questioned and is good enough to keep him there in the bigs, though his offense would play at either shortstop or second base.
6.72 Luis Patino (SP, San Diego Padres – A)
This may be the pick I am most excited about in the draft. Patino’s A level dominance as an 18-year-old (2.16 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 29.7% K%1.07 WHIP) caused his prospect status to surge in 2018 (#42 Fangraphs Top 100; #54 Prospects Live). His ETA is further out (2023) and young arms are always a risky bet, but Patino looks like an ace-in-waiting for the Friars.
7.73 Heliot Ramos (OF, San Francisco Giants – A)
Ramos is tooled up, boasting 30/60 GamePower and 60/60 Speed…along with a 20/40 Hit grade. That last grade gives many pause, especially given his struggles in A ball last season. While questions about his hit tool are real, I need to see more before making my mind up on his future projections. Ramos was young for the level and while aspects of his game certainly need work, I think it is too early to give up on the promise he showed in 2017.
8.96 Isaac Paredes (SS, Detroit Tigers – AA)
No one who read my December article on Paredes should be surprised to see him land with me in this mock. Despite concerns about his positional future and lack of physical projection, I think Paredes hits enough to survive a shift from shortstop and I love how his production matches up to his peers and current big leaguers at the same age and level.
9.97 Kristian Robinson (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks – R)
Like the last two players I selected before him, Robinson is young (18), built like an NFL wideout, and dripping with potential (20/50 Hit, 30/60 GamePower, 60/55 Speed). He needs to work on his approach, but the 6’3″ Bahamian has the makings of an impact outfield bat despite his youth. His maturity is also evident in this insightful interview Ray Butler at Prospects 365 posted in January.
10.120 Adonis Medina (SP, Philadelphia Phillies – A+)
My assumption that quality arms would last later into the draft was correct. There is no way Medina should have been available here. He has the pedigree (#44 Fangraphs Top 100, #69 Prospects Live, #80 Pitcher List Top 150), the stuff (55/60 FB, 50/60 SL, 50/60 CH), and the size (6’1″, 185 lbs) to be a solid starter moving forward, though he does need to improve his command.
11.121 George Valera (OF, Cleveland Indians – R)
Whenever I hear George Valera’s name my mind immediately sings it to the tune of 1970’s earworm “My Sharona” by The Knack. G-g-g-george Valera! If you are familiar with that song, then you may see why that occurs. If not, you are welcome. Good luck getting that out of your head. Valera is barely 18 but already generating strong accolades despite having only 22 Rookie-ball games under his belt. The tools are there (25/60 Hit, 35/55 GamePower, 50/45 Speed) for Valera to become a star, though he is several years from patrolling Cleveland’s outfield.
12.144 Bubba Thompson (OF, Texas Rangers – A)
Had to draft a man from my home state. Thompson had multiple offers to play both college baseball and football coming out of high school but ended up signing with the Texas Rangers in the 2017 draft. While Thompson struggled a bit with strikeouts (28.7% K%) during his 84 game run in A ball, he put up strong numbers (.289/.344/.446, eight HR, 32 SB) and laid a solid foundation for 2019. Thompson’s athleticism is off the charts and should give him a good chance at contributing in Arlington provided he can clean up his approach.
13.145 Dennis Santana (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers – AAA/MLB)
A strained rotator cuff limited Santana to only 3.2 MLB IP after his call-up in June and denied us the opportunity to see how his stuff would play in an extended big league look. Before that start with the Dodgers, Santana chewed up minor league hitters, fanning 65 of them in 49.2 IP between AA and AAA. He has a plus fastball and slider to go along with a solid change, giving him the chance to become a solid contributor at the MLB level. Unfortunately, the Dodgers are loaded with arms so there is a good chance Santana spends a good portion of the season in AAA. Definitely an arm to watch given his proximity to the show.
14.168 Akil Baddoo (OF, Minnesota Twins – A)
I love Akil Baddoo. He truly is one of my favorite prospects. I love the name (amazing marketing and nickname opportunities), the skills (above average Hit and Speed tools), and what we saw from him as a 19-year-old in A ball this season (11 HR, 24 SB, 14.3% BB%, .176 ISO). That propensity to take a walk is really exciting to see in such a young player and will serve him well as he continues through the Twins system. Buy shares now.
15.169 Tristen Lutz (OF, Milwaukie Brewers – A)
Looking back at my choices in this mock draft makes me realize how much my subconscious must love power potential in prospects. Lutz definitely fits the bill there as an absolute masher of baseballs with 70/70 grades on his RawPower. This swing for the fences approach has the expected result of limiting his hit tool and plate discipline, though not enough to cause too many issues. Love the offensive potential at this point in the draft.
16.192 Cole Winn (SP, Texas Rangers – R)
Winn was selected 15th overall by the Rangers in the 2018 draft but did not play for the club, instead entering their high school pitcher first-year program after signing his deal. Having no professional innings to his name has not stopped Winn from appearing on a couple industry top prospect lists (#89 MLB Pipeline, #136 Pitcher List Top 150), however. Obviously, drafting Winn sight unseen is a bit of a risk, but he carries enough buzz to for me to pull the trigger towards the end of the draft.
17.193 Shane Baz (SP, Tampa Bay Rays – R)
Of the three straight arms I selected in rounds 16-18, Baz is the most volatile and has the greatest chance of becoming a reliever. Control has been a big issue thus far in his pro career and is exacerbated by an odd delivery. Baz does have great stuff though (Fangraphs listed Marcus Stroman as a comp), so even if he is unable to stick in the rotation long term he may still be useful given the importance high octane arms have in MLB pens. I am interested to see how he does once he leaves Rookie ball, however.
18.216 Cal Quantrill (SP, San Diego Padres – AAA)
In a system heavy on talented arms (Patino, Gore, and Paddack) Quantrill has become a forgotten man. The righty reached AAA in 2018, showcasing solid control but disappointing strikeout numbers in the PCL. Quantrill has the look of a back end rotation piece unless he can improve his secondary offerings, though pitching at Petco would give him a bit of a boost.
19.217 Alek Thomas (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks – R)
Thomas hit the ground running in Rookie ball after signing with Arizona, slashing .333/.395/.463 with 12 steals and 82 hits in 56 games. He looks like a great fit at the top of a lineup and showed a lot of poise for being so young. I like Thomas above every OF in Arizona’s system other than Kristian Robinson and cannot wait to see how he handles year two of professional baseball.
20.240 Parker Meadows (OF, Detroit Tigers – A-)
Meadows passed up a football scholarship to Clemson to sign with the Detroit Tigers when they selected him 43rd overall this past June. Baseball runs in the family (Rays OF Austin Meadows is his brother) and Parker brings a mix of power and speed to the Tigers system. Baseball America rated his arm, raw power, and speed as plus features, though they noted some concerns with his hit and contact tools.
21.241 Richard Gallardo (SP, Chicago Cubs – N/A)
Upside is the way to go in the later rounds of a prospect draft and man does Richard Gallardo offer that. In their ranking of the Cubs system, Fangraphs listed Gallardo tenth and considered him the “…most well-rounded pitcher in his IFA class.” His frame offers room for projection that could allow him to reach top tier starter status in the best case scenario. 17-year-old pitching prospects are volatile commodities, however, making Gallardo a lottery ticket to dream, not rely on, at this stage of his development.
22.265 Garrett Whitley (OF, Tampa Bay Rays – A)
Whitley missed all of 2018 while recovering from labrum surgery, taking the shine off of the improvements he showed in A ball the previous season (.249/.362/.430 with 13 HR and 21 SB, .364 wOBA). That burgeoning power, speed, and patience (13.4% BB% in 2017) make him an interesting player to watch in deeper leagues, though the lost year of development hurts.
23.266 Jameson Hannah (OF, Oakland Athletics – A-)
Before injuries ended his season, the DBU product impressed in his brief taste of minor league action, showing off the wheels that led Oakland to call his name in the second round last July. Those wheels (60/55 Speed) make up somewhat for his limited pop (25/40 GamePower), giving him an interesting offensive profile moving forward. If he can stay in CF that should play, though lower defensive grades (45/50 Field, 40/40 Arm) make that a questionable outcome.
24.288 Osiel Rodriguez (SP, New York Yankees – N/A)
While the Yankees were already thrilled with how their trade for Luke Voit turned out, the additional $1 million in International Slot Money they received in the deal makes it even sweeter. The Bronx Bombers were able to land Rodriguez for $600K, giving them the seventh best prospect in the period per Fangraphs. Youth and risk abound with Rodriguez, though his physical traits (6’3″, 205 lbs) and current velocity (clocked up to 97 MPH) make his potential hard to ignore.
25.289 Gabriel Rodriguez (SS, Cleveland Indians – N/A)
Rodriguez is another example of Cleveland’s international prospect focus over the past couple of seasons. Signed for $2,100,000 last July, the very young (16-years-old) shortstop from Venezuela rated as one of the better hitters and all-around players in the class. Fangraphs rated him as the eight best talent available for that signing period and Cleveland hopes he can generate the same amount of acclaim that George Valera and Brayan Rocchio have created to start their careers.
(Graphic by Justin Paradis, @freshmeatcomm on Twitter)