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June 6, 2014

Day One Draft Recap

Fantasy Outlook

by Bret Sayre

If you’ve been hanging around Baseball Prospectus over the past few weeks, you’ve certainly noticed the heavy draft content that we’ve had, driven by our draft guru Nick Faleris. Just about all of that information has been from a real-life baseball perspective, so now that these players have teams (and contracts hopefully soon), we can finally start digging into them from a fantasy perspective. Next week, I’m going to be releasing a top 50 list of 2014 draftees from a dynasty league perspective, but for now, we’re going to do something a little more high-level and fun.

With the first round now in the books (and analyzed by Faleris), it’s time to take a fun look at the players who are most likely to make a fantasy impact in each of the ten standard categories. We’re obviously a long way from knowing what these players are going to be (especially the ones at the prep ranks), but based on what we know now, here’s a quick run through out where some of the standout categorical contributions could come from this very deep draft class:

Batting Average: Nick Gordon, SS, Twins (no. 5 overall pick)
The truth is that this was not a particularly strong draft at the top as far as bats were concerned. But even with that being the case, Gordon is a guy who can stick at shortstop with a chance to hit .300 at the major league level. Despite the last name, he’s not a burner and despite adding strength over the last 12 months, he’s not a slugger. At his peak, he has the potential to be a hitter who barrels up a ton of balls from the left-hand side and has enough strength to send many of them to the gaps and enough of them over the fence to please fantasy owners.
Risk Level: High.
Honorable Mention: Michael Chavis

Home Runs: Alex Jackson, OF, Mariners (no. 6 overall pick)
It was the story of the first round—players being drafted to play in stadiums that will hinder their skill sets. Of course, this is merely a fantasy concern, but even with Jackson likely destined for Safeco, he still has the potential for the biggest power display from the draft class. Jackson may not be a potential 40-homer bat in the mold of a Miguel Sano or Kris Bryant, but unless you really, really, really dream on Jacob Gatewood, that player doesn’t exist this year. He’ll never be a .300 hitter, but the hit tool projects to be strong enough to allow the in-game power to play at a plus level. And while the Mariners announcing him as a catcher does hurt him slightly from an eligibility standpoint, he’ll make up for it in additional playing time and shorter ETA.
Risk Level: High.
Honorable Mention: Jacob Gatewood

RBI: Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Cubs (no. 4 overall pick)
While it may have been a surprise to see Schwarber get picked this early on Thursday night, it’s not because he lacks offensive potential. The power is great, and it’s a good part of what makes Schwarber attractive from a scouting perspective, but the hit tool will not only buoy his fantasy value, but it will allow even more of the power to play out. As a relatively fast mover, it’s not difficult to imagine him hitting behind some of the more well known names in the Cubs system and racking up counting stats like crazy. The potential is there for him to be a .280 hitter with 30 homers at peak, and even at first base, that’s a high-end fantasy performer.
Risk Level: Low.
Honorable Mention: Casey Gillaspie

Stolen Bases: Trea Turner, SS, Padres (no. 13 overall pick)
It’s been a few years since there was a first round without a player who graded out with elite speed. However, that doesn’t mean that Turner can’t impact fantasy teams with his legs. The surrounding skills are a question mark, as he may not be a good enough hitter to profile as a top-of-the-lineup option and he’s unlikely to have enough power to be a potential power/speed guy. However, what Turner does have is the potential to steal 40 bases in the right organization—and even with nothing else attached to it, that’s a valuable proposition at a middle infield spot.
Risk Level: Moderate.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Wilson

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