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January 28, 2014

BP Experts Prospect Mock Draft

Rounds 3-4

by Bret Sayre

In the first episode of the BP Mock Expert Draft, we went over the backstory and parameters of this draft, so there’s no need to rehash that here. Plus I know you’re all just going to skip past the intro anyway to see who else got picked and when. Sometimes you just have to give the people what they want.

So, without any further ado, here are the next two rounds (three and four) of the Baseball Prospectus Expert Mock Prospect Draft with analysis from the participants themselves:

Round Three

3.29) Mookie Betts, 2B, Boston Red Sox (Eno Sarris, FanGraphs)
“Mookie? Named after Blaylock, not Wilson, he's just the kind of player I can fall in love with. Last year he walked more than he struck out and showed power at two levels. He stole 38 bases against four caught stealings. It's athleticism, on the infield, paired with a great sense of the strike zone. Talking to him, I got the chance to see a hard-working, hard-thinking, mature, and humble young man, so I think the intangibles are off the charts. Others that saw him in Arizona agreed that he could play center, and maybe even short, so Dustin Pedroia doesn't bother me (if he even makes the bigs with Boston). And last, though it might feel like a reach at the top of the third, research that I did this year found that AFL All-Star position players have the same success rates as top-30 prospects, so he belongs here—and I wasn't going to pick again for a long time, so I had to take my shot. He hasn't tasted Double-A yet—I wish he had—but he'll most likely start there this year.”

3.30) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Chris Crawford, MLB Draft Insider)
“My plan was to take a pitcher and a hitter with these two picks, but at the end of the day, I couldn't let someone who sits in my top 15 prospects pass me by. I thought about Soler here, and also considered a couple of catchers, but I've always been a firm believer in taking the best player available. With two 60-grade secondary offerings and a 70-grade fastball, he should miss plenty of bats, and as Kansas City continues to get better in a less-than-spectacular division I think the win totals should come, too, if you're into that sort of thing. I'll have to wait a long time to get that next bat (assuming that's the best thing left on the board), but Byron Buxton is so good he should count for two hitters.”

3.31) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams)
“It wouldn't be a prospect draft without me selecting a Dodgers prospect. Pederson doesn't get the love that other prospects get, but he had an excellent season at the plate in AA in 2013, hitting .278/.381/.497 with 22 home runs and 31 stolen bases. He is close to being major league ready, but is blocked by four other outfielders in the Dodgers outfield right now. I think a few trades could open up center field for him in 2015. He is well liked in the Dodgers organization and is the Dodgers best defensive outfielder. Dodgers team president, and part owner, Stan Kasten has stated several times that the Dodgers are moving into the next phase of the Dodgers ‘rebuild’ and wants to get younger. Getting younger could involve Pederson. If not, he is a top trade target for a team like the Phillies or Rays who have the pitching the Dodgers need to go farther in the playoffs in 2014.”

3.32) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox (John Sickels, Minor League Ball)
“I should probably take a pitcher here, but Cecchini's exceptionally good on-base ability is too much for me to pass up. He has the instincts and polish to be a .300+ hitter, I think he'll show more power in time, and he may even swipe a few bases despite so-so running speed. I have been one of his biggest supporters and I will stick with the courage of my convictions.”

3.33) Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
“Screw it, I'll take the leap. There are certainly questions as to whether or not the hit tool will play at more than a fringe-average level (though I think it'll at least play average), but he can still hit 25-30 bombs and he'll be contributing this season. Not to mention, he'll be taking his mammoth swings at U.S. Cellular—one of the best places for a power hitter to call home.”

3.34) Travis d’Arnaud, C, New York Mets (J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter)
“D'Arnaud is a potential 20-home-run bat and solid contributor in batting average, runs, and RBI at the catcher position. Due to his strong defense, the Met is a lock to keep catcher eligibility for the large portion of his career, and his bat carries fantasy value at that position. While there are other catchers available with more upside (i.e. Alfaro, Sanchez), d'Arnaud's near-elite production isn't as speculative because he is on the precipice of being a major-league starter.

While many shy away from catchers due to their lighter workloads, we see the position as an opportunity because the league average catcher is so poor.”

3.35) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Mike Newman, RotoScouting)
“Back in 2010, I wrote Jonathan Singleton was a cross between James Loney and David Ortiz after scouting him as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws. His bat was impressive, but I came away concerned he'd struggle with fastballs up in the zone at the upper levels due to a sweeping swing plane. Three years later and Singleton has struggled with strikeouts as expected, crossing 30 percent in a suspension-shortened 2013.

In spite of his poor 2013, Singleton enters his age-22 season with a clear path to Houston. Should he surface in 2014, it will be at an age when most star level players are promoted. Plus, the first base position is prospect thin—exemplified by Singleton being the cream of the crop for as long as I can remember. In last year's mock draft, while other owners were giddy off of craft beer and inhaling too much prospect helium, I selected multiple free fallers including Francisco Lindor (3rd), Julio Teheran (5th), and Nick Franklin (8th). Starting with Singleton, I'll be happy if history repeats itself.”

3.36) Kolten Wong, 2B, St Louis Cardinals (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
“I had a really tough time with this one since there are some high-upside outfielders and starters I like, but in the end I'm going to play it safe here and go with Wong, who's guaranteed a good chunk of playing time in 2014 and who could be a top-15 2B as soon as this season. I know he has no standout tools, but a player who hits .280 with 15-20 steals and 10 homers is valuable at 2B, especially with the potential for runs scored Wong should see in the Cards' lineup.

I'm going to need to draft some pitchers eventually, and I do think several pitchers remaining are better prospects than Wong, but given the way the board is falling I think the arms will be there next time. Getting another starting MI this late is just too good to pass up.“

3.37) Corey Seager, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Nick Shlain, Rotowire)
“Only some Buxton kid had a higher OPS than Seager (.309/.389/.529 in 74 games) in the Midwest League last year. He's a big kid at 6-foot-4 and 19 years old. Seager sprays the ball to all fields and projects to hit for more power as he matures. Even if he's not a shortstop by the time he reaches the majors, he has enough arm to handle third base. From what I've seen in person, he's a solid shortstop and a gamer, but he may outgrow the position. He's just 19, still working on his night moves.”

3.38) Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (Mike Rosenbaum, Bleacher Report)
“I was all set to grab Seager... but that obviously didn't work out. So, in his place I'm going with Chris Owings. In his age-21 season, Owings was named the Pacific Coast League's RoY and MVP (.330/.359/.482, 104 R, 51 XBH) and held his own with a 105 OPS+ in 61 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks. Owings has a strong track record against older competition and understands his strengths as a hitter, plus his ongoing development of a more consistent approach makes me believe the batting average will be there. He won't be a top contributor in any one category, save for maybe runs if he's batting at the top of the lineup, but I'm happy to have his well-rounded production at either middle infield spot.”

3.39) Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Craig Glaser, Bloomberg Sports)
“After starting out with a pair of older prospects, Meadows is our first guy on the other end of the spectrum. Just 18 years old, Meadows had a strong debut, putting up a 170 wRC+ in just under 200 PA while hitting five HR and swiping three bases. He also walked 24 times in this limited experience, showing off his advanced-for-his-age plate discipline. Meadows is already a big guy (listed at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds) and has room to grow and add a significant amount of power to his game. There were a number of pitchers I considered here, but I figured there was a better chance of one of them dropping to my next pick than Meadows and none of the stood out enough to beat him out for the pick here.”

3.40) Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Jim Callis, MLB.com)
“There are some high-ceiling position players still on the board, but they also come with more than a little risk and I already have two bats I really like anyway. I'm going to take a guy I wouldn't have imagined taking this high a year ago in Butler. His stuff was good to begin with but has jumped since he signed as a supplemental first-round pick in 2012. His fastball, slider, and changeup all will be plus pitches or better, he throws strikes, and he already has dominated in Double-A.”

3.41) Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers (Nick Faleris, Baseball Prospectus)
“Alfaro is full of risk, but the upside is the best fantasy catcher in the game. If it all clicks, he's a 30-home-run bat capable of swiping 20-plus bases while racking-up runs and RBI in the middle of the Rangers lineup. Drafting towards the bottom of the snake has pushed me to take on some risk in the second and third round, but that doesn't concern me. Both Frazier and Alfaro have elite upside and there is plenty of high-floor talent to sift through over the next three or four rounds.”

3.42) Raul Mondesi Jr., SS, Kansas City Royals (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
“There's a chance some might see the Mondesi selection as a cardinal sin in a fantasy draft. Taking a player that is high on rankings at least in part because of his defense/position. I think the value is right though, at this spot. Ultimately, I think we could be underrating the bat. He's playing against competition much older than him and he's surviving. The overall stat line won't cause much elation, but Mondesi showed what his bat could do in stretches, and I think consistency will come as he matures. Add in that he has the defensive chops to stay at SS and that helps mitigate any concerns one might have on the bat. My only qualm was his distance from the majors, but I think he's worth it even factoring that in.”

Round Four

4.43) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
“Martinez's availability forces my hand. I took him in the fourth round of this exercise last year, and while I'd like a second bat, I can't pass up this value. None of the bats I was considering were the right combination of close to contributing and impact, so I'll take an arm that checks off both categories. Martinez has shown what he can do in short stints and while I believe that he can be a starter who can rack up strikeouts, his fallback as a dynamic closer plays well for fantasy, too.”

4.44) Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Nick Faleris, Baseball Prospectus)
“With a run on pitching likely looming, I'm popping one of my favorite high floor/high ceiling arms in Marcus Stroman. He'll miss bats and maintains his power stuff deep into games, giving him ample opportunity to rack up strikeouts and Ws. The depth and quality of his arsenal makes him a potential front-end producer, and the worst-case scenario (outside of injury) places him as a prime candidate to operate as a shutdown closer. He'll be ready for the bigs this year, so there's also added value in a short time horizon on investment.”

4.45) Delino DeShields Jr., OF, Housto Astros (Jim Callis, MLB.com)
“There's some boom-or-bust potential with DeShields, but I do think that by the time we're done with all 10 rounds of this draft, he'll have the highest stolen-base ceiling of anyone except for Billy Hamilton. And I do think he's a better bet to hit in the big leagues than Hamilton, and he could have double-figure home-run production as well. He'd have more value if he were staying at second base, but he still has plenty as an outfielder who could contribute in all five categories and offer a lot of steals.”

4.46) Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs (Craig Glaser, Bloomberg Sports)
“Signed by the Cubs to a nine-year, $30 million contract, Soler is a very raw prospect but one who has tremendous upside. He's got a strong arm and good speed but the premiere tool here is his power, which should play at corner outfield in the majors. While only got about 325 PA in 2013 his numbers from high A were enticing as he hit eight HR and stole five bases in 236 PA while walking almost nine percent of the time and striking out only 16 percent of the time.) This pick was more about the future than what he's currently doing, as, with some polish (and development), many scouts feel that he could end up as an all-star.”

4.47) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Mike Rosenbaum, Bleacher Report)
“Well, I was pumped about getting Soler here and adding some high-upside power, but now I'll just have to find it in later rounds. With most of the impact arms already off the board, I'm pleasantly surprised to find Meyer in the fourth round. I saw the 6-foot-9 right-hander about a handful of times last season and believe he'll enjoy success as a starter in the major leagues. His fastball-slider combination is among the best in the minors, and the changeup can flash plus when his release point is consistent. Plus, he pitches with big balls. I assume the reason he fell this far is due to last year's shoulder injury and general concern about his long-term durability, which is understandable. However, even if he's forced into a late-inning role, I still think Meyer has the ceiling of a top-tier closer.”

4.48) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Nick Shlain, Rotowire)
“I was also ready to pounce on Soler if he made it here, but that didn't work out and I'll take a shot on another pitcher with major upside and some durability concerns. I was definitely more excited about this pick when I took him last year. Sanchez hasn't been a workhorse in the minors and he hasn't even reached Double-A yet, but when healthy his stuff is still plenty good and he showed that in the AFL. His changeup is outstanding and he has some of the easiest gas in the minors. Sometimes it just looks like he's playing catch.”

4.49) David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
“I had figured that one of Martinez, Stroman, or Meyer would make it back here, so thanks for nothing, you jerks.

Now that I have two safe players in Lindor and Wong, I feel comfortable enough reaching for a player many of us loved at this time last year in Dahl. There's certainly plenty of risk here, but I don't think the character concerns are legit and potential five-category contributors who call Coors home don't grow on trees. I'll need to be patient here, and another bad season could make this look silly, but Dahl went 39th overall in this draft last year and I don't think he deserves to fall any further now. I'll need to wait on the high-upside arms once again, but such is life.”

4.50) Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago White Sox (Mike Newman, RotoScouting)
“With the 50th pick, I'll select a player who was in my top-25 fantasy prospects for 2014. Having seen Davidson on multiple occasions between 2012-2013, I'm comfortable with his current three-outcome approach and ability to play a so-so third base. At 23, he'll have an opportunity to cement himself as a core piece of the White Sox future next season. A strong spring training and Davidson may even earn the opening day nod. Few prospects have such a clear path. Davidson is not a favorite of mine, but this draft is about value, not personal preference. As with Singleton, I'm happy to invest corner prospects who are close to major-league ready and have consistently produced against older competition.”

4.51) Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres (J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter)
“We loved the Jays tandem of Sanchez and Stroman but ultimately decided on the Padres' left-hander. Fried is one of the last (and perhaps the safest) of the full season arms left who projects to lead a rotation. There are higher ceiling arms to choose from, but most have strong chances of ending up in the pen. Without a Walker/Bradley-like fastball, Fried doesn't have comparable upside to pitchers selected earlier, but he's going to grow into the anchor of our fantasy staff. Fried only reached in Single-A, but that understates how polished he is for a prep draftee; he could move very quickly.”

4.52) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Chicago Cubs (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
“With Fried off the board (I had him in the queue with my finger on the button), it’s time to reverse course and go with a hitter who I continue to absolutely love from a value standpoint. The lack of standard “top-100” love for Vogelbach is depressing his fantasy value, but that shouldn’t be the case. He’s a great kid from a makeup standpoint and has a preternatural ability to barrel up balls. He could be a plus-hit, plus-plus power guy at his peak—eligibility be damned, that is an elite fantasy bat. And no, I was not wearing my Vogelbach shirsey when I made this pick.”

4.53) Erik Johnson, RHP, Chicago White Sox (John Sickels, Minor League Ball)
“I haven't taken a pitcher yet, I need one, so I'll take one. Erik Johnson is major-league ready, was very dominant in the minors, and held his own in Chicago. I'm not sure why he doesn't get more attention, but I bet he ends up having a better career than some guys who get more press. He's not some soft-tosser and looks like a workhorse to me, maybe more than that once he settles in.”

4.54) Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams)
“Urias was recently named the no. 1 prospect in the Dodgers system by Jason Parks, and you really can't argue that fact. I prefer one of the Dodgers hitting prospects at no. 1, but Urias has done enough to stake his claim, as he is now considered one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game after his performance in Low-A (mainly as a 16-year-old) in 2013. He made 18 starts, going about three innings per start, striking out 11 batters per nine, while limiting free passes to under three per nine. He held hitters to a .227 average last season. He should start the 2014 season in the hitter-friendly California League, so he should be challenged. There is talk he could see the big leagues before his 20th birthday, and if he continues to dominate hitters like he did in Low-A, it would not be a surprise.”

4.55) Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees (Chris Crawford, MLB Draft Insider)
“After taking pitchers with my last two picks, I came close to taking another pitcher with this selection, but decided that Sanchez offensive upside was the right call at this point. He's unlikely to hit for high averages because there's a lot of swing and miss in his game, but he's got legit 70-grade power and has the ability to hit the ball out to every part of the park. 25-homer, 100-RBI seasons are not out of the question for Sanchez, and that would make him one of the best catchers in all of baseball, at least offensively.”

4.56) Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox (Eno Sarris, FanGraphs)
“Owens is a tall lefty with some great max-velocity numbers and a lot of room to fill out. I think, as he fills out, he may repeat his delivery better and improve his command, which has been an issue. I like that he's starting out with velocity and a nice curveball that he can dial up for whiffs and down for strikes—as much as 30 mph slower than his fastball (!). Of course, the changeup needs to develop a bit more, but without it, he still has a chance at being a starter. This will be a big year for his development, even if he ends up in another organization eventually.”

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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