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 from the majors and therefore are riskier investments. I tried to shoot for a balance between those two extremes; there’s value in all kinds of prospects in a dynasty league. I found that my highest picks were mostly guys who are considered pretty close to the majors, although that wasn’t the case throughout the draft.
The results speak for themselves, so let’s dive right in.
Round 1 (Pick 5): Jo Adell, OF, LAA
I was very pleased to be able to pick Jo Adell with my first selection. He may not get as much attention as the big three—Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Eloy Jimenez—who are rightfully perched atop every prospect list entering 2019. He has nearly as much potential as they do, though, and has legitimate shot at the No. 1 overall prospect slot once they’ve graduated. Adell impacts the game with plus tools on both offense and defense. His combination of plus bat speed and in-game power and plus-or-better foot speed is unrivaled anywhere in the minor leagues.
The existence of one Mike Trout is the only reason he shouldn’t stick in center field. He has the aptitude and athleticism for the position. A rifle of an arm would make the transition to right field go very smoothly, where he could be a premium defender. The only risk tied up in this profile is that evaluators are unsure of whether he will hit high-level arms with regularity. The worst of the concerns have been put to rest. He didn’t exactly light the world on fire in his 17-game stretch in Double-A Mobile, but that is far from a conclusive sample size. Questioning whether an athletic slugger will hit is as old as prospect evaluation itself, though, and Adell’s vast array of usable skills will make him a serviceable bench option at the very worst.
Although his floor is that of a player who would be far more useful to a real team than an electronic one, Adell is still a good value at this high a pick. Even the most surefire prospect out there isn’t really a slam dunk (see Appel, Mark). If everything clicks for Adell, he’ll be an MVP candidate whose name is spoken in the same breath as Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich. That’s a keeper if I ever saw one.
Round 2 (Pick 20): Brendan Rodgers, SS, COL
It’s interesting how much small fluctuations in performance can impact the perceived value of a player. Brendan Rodgers would have been off the board within the first 10 picks had this draft taken place a year ago. A year of .275/.342/.493 ball in Double-A isn’t very impressive by his standards, but its certainly far from underwhelming. It’s true that his line in Triple-A would have been unacceptable over an extended amount of games, but he logged less than 100 plate appearances there.
Rodgers is still an outstanding prospect, and all the things that made him a top-five draft pick in 2015 are all still a part of the package. His excellent bat speed produces above-average power, and his natural poise at the plate and hand-eye coordination allow him to hit for plenty of average. As I wrote just over two years ago, he hits too many ground balls to really tap into his power, but that shouldn’t be a major stumbling block. A shortstop by trade, he’s not exactly a defensive whiz. Some people think he’ll be due for a move to the right side of the bag, where his glove will play just fine at second and his arm will be more than adequate.
Long story short, Rodgers will be a big league contributor sooner than later, and his bat will make him a worthwhile contributor at any of the four infield spots.
Round 3 (Pick 29): Adley Rutschman, C, NCAA
The current front-runner for the top selection in the upcoming amateur draft, the current Oregon State University enrollee is a good backstop and a better batter. He profiles similarly to Joey Bart did at the beginning of last year’s draft cycle, and he went No. 2 overall to the San Francisco Giants, with a plus hit tool thrown in the mix as well. Maturity is the hallmark of his plate presence; he’s willing to take walks and doesn’t try to do too much. There’s more power available to him than he taps into, trading in those home runs for doubles and more consistency of contact.
There’s little risk of a positional change coming down the pipe—Adley Rutschman has the skills to catch long term. He consistently draws rave reviews for his nimble actions and mental toughness behind the plate. His arm is just as good. His throws are both strong and accurate and good pop times indicate his reaction time is more than sufficient as well.
Barring something drastic, odds are he will look like a bit of a steal at this time next year. The omnipresent asterisk that prospects are a volatile kind of creature still applies here. We have no idea how his bat will play against pro pitching. That said, there is something to be said for how confident evaluators are in his future. Go ahead, drink the Kool-Aid.
Round 4 (Pick 44): Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT
It’s only human nature to be enamored by things new and exciting. In a world full of unthinkable technology and in a society bombarded by advertisement, it’s easy to get bored with something that doesn’t offer anything new. I suspect that the prospect crowd has gotten a bit bored of Mitch Keller and I’m at a loss as to why.
Do you like high fastball velocity? Keller can get you that. Do you like vicious, GIFable breaking balls? Keller can get you that. Are you a sociopath who’s more intrigued by plus command than big-time stuff? Lord knows I’m a card-carrying member of that club, and if you’re like me, then, by golly, Keller is that man for you as well. The only thing separating him from the label of “future ace” is his average-ish changeup. That’s still a recipe for a very good No. 2 if all goes well.
Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there’s something fishy here that made folks lose interest. Maybe I just got lucky—I think he’s a veritable steal in the fourth round. Nevertheless, as was pointed out by the remarkable Wendell Phillips, boredom is just another form of criticism.
And yeah, I did just look that up on BrainyQuote.
Round 5 (Pick 53): Bobby Witt Jr., SS, HS
Another lock for the first round this summer, Bobby Witt Jr. is a bit more of an unknown quantity than is Rutschman. There are questions surrounding his ability to make contact and, as a prep prospect, he’s going to have a longer road to the bigs than someone like Rutschman above. That shouldn’t deter less risk-averse owners from hopping on the bandwagon, because the rest of the tools make him a most interesting player. He has a premium power-speed combination. The glove and arm aren’t quite good enough to float the profile is the hit tool doesn’t show up at all, but he could still make it onto an MLB roster with a low level of offensive output as 25th-man type.
Round 6 (Pick 68): Ryan Weathers, LHP, SD
I’ll admit it, Ryan Weathers was one of the biggest overdrafts I made in this exercise. He’s a good minor leaguer, although placing him above the 75 mark is a bit bold. He was one of the best players I saw live last season, though, showing a solid and well-rounded arsenal, flashing 55s across the board with the occasional 60-grade changeup. He’s the type who will likely never top a prospects list, but he’s not likely to disappoint. With a mid-rotation ceiling and a good bet at a back-end spot one day, he could serve in a variety of bullpen roles if need be.
Round 7 (Pick 77): Dustin May, RHP, LAD
This may end up looking like the best pick of my entire draft class pretty soon. A spin-rate darling out of the Dodgers’ strong farm system, Dustin May offers up at least three plus pitches (fastball, curveball, cutter) and better command than you’d expect considering the power arsenal, not to mention a fantastic head of red hair. He’s already hit Double-A and played well there and he’ll be in Triple-A before the season ends if all goes according to plan. He’s got a lot of helium and probably wouldn’t make it to this pick if we redrafted in six months.
Round 8 (Pick 92): Evan White, 1B, SEA
Evan White is a longtime favorite of mine. He’s a most unusual prospect, one who plays at first with defensive skills that could rival the best in the major leagues the moment he’s promoted, and enough speed that some think he could handle center field. He’s a contact-over-power batter, which makes him a rarity at the position, but it’s a profile that Seattle thinks can work. There’s a nonzero chance he’s an outfielder when all is said and done; he could be a solid regular in left. It’s almost impossible to think of a big leaguer with a comparable skill set at his natural position, so here’s hoping it’s just crazy enough to work.
Round 9 (Pick 101): Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS
Michael Chavis can hit; that’s all there is to it. He doesn’t quite fit the Large Adult Son schematic, but he’s a masher who can play third base well but is in a bit of an organizational crunch. There’s not much playing time available at the hot corner on the big club thanks to Rafael Devers‘ hulking presence—and the Red Sox have a plentiful number of corner guys. Boston is trying him out at a few other positions, but his bat can withstand the pressures of any spot on the diamond. There’s a chance he’s a second baseman, where his bat would be above average and could compensate for defensive skills that are a touch below-average.
Round 10 (Pick 116): Matthew Liberatore, RHP, TBR
Matthew Liberatore was in the early mix for the first overall pick but quickly fell to the Nos. 3-6 range after a suboptimal outing. An unpredictable series of events that led to his fall to the 16th was precipitated by the A’s making a huge reach for Kyler Murray. That may have been a good thing for all parties involved. The Rays have a fantastic track record with players like Liberatore, who oozes natural talent and athleticism. When the dust settles, he may have as many as four above-average to plus pitches along with command that’s just as good. There’s no huge carrying skill in the package he offers, but there’s more than enough to get excited about when taken as a whole.
Round 11 (Pick 125): Jackson Kowar, RHP, KC
Jackson Kowar was the 1b to Brady Singer‘s 1a in the Florida Gators rotation, and they were both parts of the Royals’ massive haul in the 2018 draft. The big draw here is that he throws a plus pair of pitches in his mid- to upper-90s heater along with a big fading changeup. His health is a question mark, though, and he’s suffered multiple inexplicable collapsed lungs. He’s also going to need to polish up his breaking ball to be a consistent contributor near the middle of a starting rotation. He may end up getting lost in the shuffle as the Royals have quite a few quality arms all competing for spots, and his stuff would play very well in short spurts.
Round 12 (Pick 140): Kevin Alcantara, OF, NYY
Kevin Alcantara is a superlative example of the athletes who sometimes spring up in the international market. There’s not a whole lot that he can’t do, and he’d likely be in the conversation as a first-round draft prospect if he were born stateside. It’s easy to envision him as a top prospect once he ages into full-season ball. He is more advanced than a typical 16-year-old, and he hits for a lot of loud contact, leveraging it from a frame that looks like it was built to run. Alcantara can chase down balls in center field with the best of ’em, flashing double plus run times, which could help him be a plus defender with more reps and training. It’ll be ages before we see him play a single inning stateside, but he’ll be worth the wait.
Round 13 (Pick 149): MJ Melendez, C, KC
A member of the second tier of catching prospects, MJ Melendez is a post-draft bloomer who hasn’t quite gotten into the spotlight yet. The Royals pushed him hard after signing him to a bonus that went way over slot, and he rose to the occasion. He batted .251/.322/.492 in his pro debut, a 111-game stretch in Single-A ball. His respectable raw power and well-rounded, potentially plus tools create a good place to start, but he has a lot of work to do to become a contributor in the major leagues. The track record with high school catchers isn’t great, and this might end up looking like a reach next March, but I didn’t want to let Melendez slip through my fingers. If everything turns out right for him, he could be one of the best backstops in the league.
Round 14 (Pick 164): Dakota Hudson, RHP, STL
As Dakota Hudson‘s already a major leaguer with a fastball-slider combination that approaches double-plus, I was astounded that he was still on the board over 160 picks into our mock draft. He’s been the odd man out of a 2016 draft class that was loaded with power pitchers like Oakland’s AJ Puk, Detroit’s Matt Manning, and Houston’s Forrest Whitley. Hudson will be a good pickup in deeper fantasy leagues—he’s ready to face MLB hitters as soon as Opening Day and will be given a chance to do so in St. Louis. His most likely outcome is that of a third or fourth starter who strikes guys out in bunches but goes through frustrating patches of painful inefficiency.
Round 15 (Pick 173): Carter Stewart, RHP, JUCO
Carter Stewart‘s story is a fantastic example of why the MLB draft is regarded as one of the most volatile aspects of America’s big four sports. He started out his senior season as an intriguing name to keep an eye on—one who could really spin a curveball. Reports of his velocity spiking up to 97 and 98 miles per hour even put his name in consideration for the first overall pick for a short while. The Braves ended up being the ones to select him in the top 10, but they failed to sign him due to health concerns. That immediately made him one of the top college arms in the nation, one who should be in high demand come draft day this time around. His lively fastball and outstanding curve both feature elite spin rates and he could be the next Statcast darling.
Round 16 (Pick 188): Buddy Reed, OF, SD
Aside from being an utterly likable guy, Buddy Reed has a growing fan club among the scouting community as he smoked High-A in 2018 and made it to Double-A for a short, unsuccessful stint. He’s a four-tool player with above-average-or-better raw power, run times, fielding, and throws. There’s a lot to work with here. The only thing holding him back is a poor hit tool. Even if he never puts it together at the plate, he could serve in a bench role as a Jacoby Jones-ish player who can’t hit his weight but plays excellent defense, provides a lot of energy, and murders the ball when he does make contact. The delta between his likely and possible outcomes is huge, but that’s to be expected at this point in the draft. There’s a big green arrow next to his name going into this season, and he would be among the top 10 prospects in most organizations.
Round 17 (Pick 197): Daniel Espino, RHP, HS
It’s easy to get excited about Daniel Espino, who features some of the best stuff in the upcoming draft class. If you haven’t heard of him yet, remember the name. The headlines written about him are sure to include phrases like “ace-level stuff” and question whether he “will he be the first prep righty to go 1.1?” Almost assuredly, the first is an exaggeration and the second will fail to come to fruition. Nonetheless, it’s still more than enough to make him one of the best options available this deep into our mock draft. There’s little purpose in snagging him this early in your fantasy leagues unless they are fully realistic and extremely deep. He’s eons from the majors and isn’t in a great demographic. The outcomes here range from what we thought Colorado’s Riley Pint was when he signed to what he is today, so buyer beware.
Round 18 (Pick 198): Kody Clemens, 2B, DET
I tried not to take any Tigers prospects in this draft; I’m a Detroit fan, and anyone I considered felt like a homer pick. I really like Kody Clemens, though, and I feel pretty good about this pick at this point. He was a driving force in the Longhorns’ playoff run and continued to mash in pro ball. His line with the Low-A Whitecaps was a hearty .302/.387/.477, breathing life into what had been a rather limp offense. The tools here are nothing flashy, and he’ll never be a big-time prospect, but he sports a decent floor. He shows poise at the plate and looks comfortable on the field, making up for mediocre range and glove skills with a high-effort hard-nosed playing style that made him an instant fan favorite.
If he can make it work in the infield, a career second-division regular isn’t out of reach. If the organization decides he needs to move off the position, his bat could support a transition to left field. He would profile as more of a bench option than a full-time performer, but he’d still have a shot at the bigs. Either way, there’s every reason to believe there’s substance behind the (admittedly extremely localized) hype.
Round 19 (Pick 221): Nick Schnell, OF, TBR
The Rays added a lot of exciting talent to their pipeline last season. Nick Schnell didn’t receive nearly as much attention as some of the others, but he’s still worth paying attention to in 2019. He’s more potential than anything, but there’s plenty of potential to see. It’s impossible to tell what he’ll become without a lot more playing time, but the outcomes range from speedy slap hitter with a premium defensive skill set to an athletic right fielder with 20-20 potential. Alternatively, he could end up being that one guy who can never quite stick because his bat just doesn’t cut the mustard and he can’t quite fake it in center field. He’s got a prototypical outfielder’s build, some bat speed, and 19 games in rookie ball. We’ll let him simmer for a while.
Round 20 (Pick 222): Will Banfield, C, MIA
About a month before Will Banfield was drafted by the Marlins, I received a tip from a scout who said he was the best high school catcher he’d ever seen. That came with a caveat—he’d never seen Austin Hedges live as a prep player. Regardless of that mildly humorous asterisk, that’s pretty high praise for a backstop with a reputation as being glove-first. His skills behind the plate include the ability to smother stray pitchers, solid framing skills, and he is purportedly a clubhouse and on-field leader. His arm is the loudest tool in the batch. It grades out as double-plus and will be more than enough to keep the running game under control. There’s also some promise at the plate. He strikes out too much but shows raw power. If he can get that power onto the field with regularity, it might be enough for a Jarrod Saltalamacchia-esque backup role even if he never cuts down on the strikeouts.
Round 21 (Pick 245): Jose Albertos, RHP, CHC
At this point, these blurbs include a lot of the word “if.” It seems to be the favorite word of the scouting community. Outside of the Top 20 prospects, minor leaguers are made up mostly of spit, spite, and ifs. If Jose Albertos can throw strikes again, he could be a spot starter. If he can throw a mid-90s fastball with more regularity, he could be a back-end starter. If he can harness his mercurial curveball that swings from below-average to plus, he can be a real weapon. Albertos is not a pick I feel so great about; his ifs could prevent him from ever seeing Double-A. If things break his way, he could easily become a blue-chip prospect in the Cubs’ pipeline. His issues seem to be mental, and he’s still got that wicked changeup, so we’ll see if he can overcome his evidently debilitating yips in 2019.
Round 22 (Pick 260): Osiris Johnson, SS, MIA
Lightning-round time! Osiris Johnson, which is at least a 65-grade name, has athleticism on his side and can really crush a baseball. Rumor has it that his exit velocities crested triple digits in his pro debut. The question will be whether he can stick at shortstop or if a move to a less challenging defensive home is in his future.
Round 23 (Pick 269): Alejandro Pie, SS, TBR
Alejandro Pie is another of my many picks who we know very little about, but FanGraphs said he looked a lot like Oneil Cruz did when he signed, which was enough to sell me. The biggest question about him is whether he’ll hit enough to make his big raw power play. It’s also unclear where his defensive home will be. There’s a chance he’ll stick at short, but the outfield is also a possibility.
Round 24 (Pick 284): Aaron Hernandez, RHP, LAA
Aaron Hernandez lags behind his peers developmentally thanks to the fact that he had a college career shortened by academic ineligibility. There’s plenty that could change about the way he pitches as the Angels try to refine his skill, but he does have a big fastball and feel for spin. The range of outcomes here is huge, but that’s to be expected nearly 300 picks in.
Round 25 (Pick 293): Jerrion Ealy, OF, HS
I threw caution to the wind with my final pick and had some fun. Jerrion Ealy is still a high schooler and is a top prospect in both baseball and football. His small frame provides a surprising amount of power, and he runs like the wind, tracking down balls in the outfield. He comes with a tremendous amount of risk, and there were probably a hundred players on the board who could be argued as better picks, but darn if he isn’t fun.
(Graphic by Justin Paradis)