PL Dynasty Mock: Scott Chu’s Picks
I remember it like it was yesterday — I was watching my Detroit Tigers take on the Toronto Blue Jays back on April 9, 2009. I was a fresh-faced 20-year-old college sophomore, and was excitedly watching the debut of the 2007 first round pick, Frederick “Rick” Porcello on a sweet theater seating set up I built out of particle board and tw0-by-12 lumber. He was the youngest player in the AL in his debut, but until sometime in the third or fourth inning, it occurred to me that I might actually be OLDER than this guy. Sure enough, the ol’ Google machine confirmed that the boyish figure on the mound was six months younger than I am. I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered from that moment.
I’m 30 now, and have found ways to cope with the fact that I have nearly a decade of life experience on these young fellas. While I can do things they can’t, like rent a car and sit at the bar at an Applebee’s after 9 p.m., their potential and talent represents the future of baseball, and I suppose that’s pretty cool, too, I guess.
I’ll do my best to be direct on why I like some of these guys, and briefly identify possible holes they have in their game. Prospects are by far the most volatile commodity in fantasy baseball, and anything we have to say about these young men could quickly be made obsolete by the showing of a new skill, an injury, or simply an inability to grow as they progress through the minor leagues.
Pick 1.8 – Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals – MLB/AAA
I had him in my top four, so I was thrilled to pick him up all the way at No. 8. There are four, maybe five prospects with a 70 FV hit tool. I would like to own as many as possible. The fact that it comes with plus-plus speed is icing on the cake. Everyone else is excited about what this kid can bring to the table. If there’s anything negative about his game, it’s the power. His speed will help keep his total bases and slugging up, but the home runs may never come in bunches due to the limited lift he puts on the ball. That said, every other fantasy relevant tool is fantastic.
Pick 2.17 – Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins – A+
I considered quitting right here. Lewis was in my top 10, and I was furiously scouring the internet to figure out why he kept slipping . . . and found nothing. 2017’s No. 1 overall pick is advancing nicely through the Twins system, though he still has a ways to go before the big leagues. The 19-year-old has a improved his approach and has plus speed. He could be a 20/20 player with a strong AVG/OBP, which is exceedingly rare.
You saw what I saw in 2018. He’s ready for the show and will give us a chance to see what he’s made of after an absolutely electrifying (but short) 2018 campaign. Durability has been a concern, but last year’s season-ending injury wasn’t his elbow, so it’s not as scary as it could be.
Again, you saw what I saw in 2018. Evidence suggests that young players (under 28) have significantly lower risk of flaming out after Tommy John surgery, so I’ll chase the upside of the young fireballer who could be a top 30 SP as early as 2020. We have a tendency to pump guys WAY up or drop them WAY down too quickly in the prospects world. Don’t be a victim of the volatility.
Pick 5.56 – Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies – A-
A 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pound mountain of power. The early low-A returns were poor, but I expect big growth from the third overall pick in his first full season in 2019. There are too many potential explanations for his early struggles to draw many major conclusions, so I will bet on the power and bat speed.
Pick 6.65 – Cristian Pache, OF, Atlanta Braves – AA
Byron Buxton is a possible comp (which is potentially good, but also scary), albeit a lazy one. Just because Buxton hasn’t panned out doesn’t mean that he, or by extension, the 15 other prospects that are being compared to him this offseason, will never pan out. It just means that the hit tool is lagging while the other tools are shining brightly. Pache is an insane athlete who is learning how to hit. He needs to work on his swing and approach, but this kid will get plenty of chances to prove himself with the Braves thanks to his elite skills with the glove.
Pick 7.80 – Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Baltimore Orioles – AA
The young 3B will have a chance to break into the Majors at some point this year with the O’s, as the current 3B for them is Reynato Nunez. The good folks at Baseball Prospectus compared his fantasy skills to Nick Castellanos back in July, and I can certainly get excited about that potential for this pick. He’s an aggressive hitter, but due to his ability to find and catch up to most offerings, he hasn’t piled up the strikeouts. Patience will need to develop if he’s going to take full advantage of his bat skills, though, as he may struggle to always make decent contact against major league pitching.
Pick 8.89 – Leody Taveras, OF, Texas Rangers – A+
Perhaps due to the very aggressive way he was promoted through the minors, the Rangers’ No. 1 prospect is still a few years away. The recent plate discipline gains are promising and the speed is already present, which does bode well for his future. He’ll never be a masher, but there are plenty of other ways to generate value.
Pick 9.104 – Anderson Espinoza, SP, San Diego Padres – A
He was once ranked as high as No. 21 on prospect lists, but Tommy John struck and he missed almost all of 2018. He’s still very young and has electric stuff. Even if he can’t master his command and become a starter, that elite velocity and plus breaking stuff make him a closing candidate for a team that looks like it will have plenty of save opportunities in the future.
Pick 10.113 – Triston Casas, 3B, Boston Red Sox – R
At this point, every player is on the table as a potential pick. You’re looking for a shred of something that could be special. With the 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Casas, it’s his power. It is generally regarded as 70+ to 80 grade, and he does walk here and there. His first season was cut short due to injury, but he could fly up rankings after he gets a full season under his belt. An elite tool is hard to find, and as you’ll see with the rest of my picks, I am not shy about taking someone who could be special, even if there’s bust potential.
Pick 11.128 – Franklin Perez, SP, Detroit Tigers – A+
Injuries don’t scare me when it comes to prospects. Perez has dealt with injuries throughout his career, including a lat injury and shoulder inflammation (no structural damage, whew) in 2018, but the No. 2/3 starter upside remains, especially if he can work on that breaking ball when he returns.
Pick 12.137– Nick Pratto, 1B, Kansas City Royals – A
The 14th overall pick in 2017 performed admirably in his first full season. His strikeout rate is a bit high, but the hit and power are plus tools. He started slowly but from July 1 on he slashed .319/.386/.516. That’s a good sign from a young kid.
Pick 13.152 – Alex Faedo, SP, Detroit Tigers – AA
The fastball-slider combo is intriguing, especially if he can harness the changeup, which hasn’t been a great weapon for him yet. Dingers plagued him in Double-A, so hopefully he can find a way to bring those down in 2019. In retrospect, this might have been a bit of a homer pick, as a few more exciting pitchers were on the board. This pick also highlights one of the difficulties of these kinds of drafts — there’s no built in player pool or rankings, so at times you’ll find yourself scrambling for a name. There’s no such thing as being too prepared.
Pick 14.161 – Zack Collins, C, Chicago White Sox – AA
He has plus-plus power and led the minors in OBP, which more than makes up for strikeouts. The White Sox see him as their catcher of the future, but even if he can’t stick behind the dish, the bat should find a home at 1B. Ignore the five steals in 2018 — this is not a runner. I bet he’d go much higher in an OBP league, and I expect him to maintain a 15%+ walk rate in the bigs.
Pick 15.176 – Kolby Allard, SP, Atlanta Braves – MLB/AAA
He has plummeted down the prospect rankings over the last year or two as his strikeout numbers have fallen to very average levels. While the K is king in our game, I still feel that his ability to suppress hard contact can provide a lot of fantasy value in the same vein as Kyle Hendricks or the younger, healthier Dallas Keuchel (without all the grounders). He still feels like a fringe top 125 prospect to me, and if not for the cluster of young SPs in Atlanta, he’d be a candidate to open on the 25-man roster.
Pick 16.185 – Zack Burdi, RP, Chicago White Sox – AAA
Yet another guy coming off Tommy John, but in this stage of the game, I’m chasing guys with potentially elite tools. He had an 80-grade fastball prior to the injury and was still in the mid-90s in the AFL to go along with two plus off-speed pitches (slider and changeup). He was shut down there, but not because of a setback, according to the ChiSox brass. Alex Colome and the other old guys signed to the bullpen this offseason aren’t longterm obligations in the closer role and Burdi should find the majors at some point in 2019 or 2020.
Pick 17.200 – Isan Diaz, 2B, Miami Marlins – AAA
The patience helps offset the whiffs that come with his uppercut swing, and the swing is what makes him so intriguing. It creates a nice power profile that should help him become an everyday big leaguer debuting sometime in 2019. He was a top 100 prospect in 2018 before a slump and some injuries ended his season, and I’m happy to find this kind of potential late in the draft.
Pick 18.209 – Freudis Nova, 2B/3B, Houston Astros – R
This young man has plenty of tools and was a hot commodity as an international free agent. Should he continue to progress, he’ll find his way to the bigs by 2022, just in time for some spots on the infield to hopefully open up. 2019 will be his full-season debut, and I’m betting that it will also bring a huge jump in the rankings as more get to see what this kid can bring to the table.
Pick 19.224 – Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Boston Red Sox – AA
Stop me if you’ve heard this profile before – tons of power, strikes out a lot, takes a walk. That profile can be scary, but it can also lead to significant fantasy value. Despite the undisciplined 29-game debut in Double-A, I think he’ll regain his double-digit walk rate with another year (that’s a tough transition) to go along with that .500+ SLG. Any player with a double-plus power grade who can take a walk is worth taking, especially in OBP dynasty leagues. Sure, he’s blocked by Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis for now, but once he gets his patience back, he’ll find a way to play. Besides, at this price point, all we care about is potential.
Pick 20.233 – Francisco Morales, SP, Philadelphia Phillies– A+
There’s a wide range out outcomes for the 19-year-old, and much of it depends on how well he develops his command and his changeup. If he finds both of those, he’s a potential No. 2-3 starter with plenty of strikeouts thanks to his low-to-mid 90s fastball, his strong slider, and the way he uses his 6-foot-4-inch frame and long arms. If he doesn’t, he’s either a wild-but-electric bullpen piece or a No. 5 starter who walks too many guys to be useful.
Pick 21.248 – Kyle Funkhouser, SP, Detroit Tigers – AAA
He’s got a mid-90s fastball and was a strong college prospect, but we haven’t seen it translate well into the minor leagues. He lost some time to injury, and time will tell if he can find his old form. He’s likely going to find time in the majors due to the Tigers’ woeful pitching situation, but if he can’t develop his secondary pitches, he may be relegated to the bullpen (not necessarily a bad thing).
Pick 22.257 – Tahnaj Thomas, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates – R
This kid only recently started pitching, but has made huge strides. He’s obviously not a refined talent, but the 6-foot-4-inch Bahamian has shown a knack for using that long frame to get pitches down in the zone, inducing both strikeouts and ground balls. If he can continue to hone his mechanics and find some command, he could be a nice piece for the Pirates. And who knows, maybe by the time he’s ready, they might actually be into promoting their pitchers prior to age 30.
Pick 23.272 – Edwin Rios, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers – AAA
He fought an oblique injury last year, which may have contributed to the nearly 10-point jump in his strikeout rate in AAA in 2018. He’s an older prospect without an obvious way to break into the Dodgers’ 25-man roster, but he has some serious power in that bat, even if it does come with limited patience. A rebound to the 20-25% mark in strikeout rate would be a strong sign that he has a future in the major leagues.
Pick 24.281 – Jhailyn Ortiz, OF, Philadelphia Phillies – A
ONE OF THESE POWER BATS WILL WORK OUT, RIGHT? The 19-year-old is a massive kid, conservatively measured at 6 feet 3 inches tall weighing 230 pounds. At this stage, I’m not all that worried about risk – many of these guys are unlikely to contribute. Ortiz has 70 or 80 grade power, depending on who you ask, and has been known to take a walk. He’s not super athletic, or really even sort of athletic, but that doesn’t matter when you can mash dingers. He signed with Philly when he was 15 and has been on and off the prospect radar ever since, and right now his value is down because of some concerns about bat speed, which leaves him vulnerable to strikeouts. This lottery ticket could pay off if he can get quicker to the ball and continue to develop his patience at the plate.
Pick 25.296 – Daniel Brito, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies – A+
He’s got a nice left-handed swing and could still grow into his 6-foot-1-inch frame. He’s still very inconsistent, but he’s also still young and could turn a corner with the hit tool, which is probably the heart of his fantasy value if it develops.
And with that, I can conclude my draft recap, which was loads of fun to draft and write up. I guess now I’m going to go find a pillow to sit on. At my age, my hips hurt if I sit in my computer chair too long.
…Maybe that’s why I’m still undrafted.
Graphic by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)