Previous entries in this series
31. Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Jorge Mateo, SS, Athletics
Could I interest you in a player who hit .296 with 8 HR and 24 SB in just 60 games in Double-A last year? Mateo certainly comes with baggage—he’s a little older than you’d like to see a player who has only spent half a year in the upper minors, and his High-A struggles were well-documented. The upside is there for a 50-plus steal threat who will not kill you in average and pop 10-15 homers or so a year, and he should have multiple paths to playing time in Oakland for 2018 and beyond.
32. J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Monte Harrison, OF, Brewers (now Marlins)
Not too many elite athletes with a 20-20 season on their resume remain in this draft. Harrison is one them. The 22-year-old outfielder has a potential five-tool skill set and is finally starting to see positive results on the field. He hit 21 homers and stole 27 bases between High-A and Double-A a year ago, and the eye-test only reinforces his power/speed reputation. The former prep wide receiver remains relatively raw and has questions surrounding his hit tool; however, if you’re beyond the first 25-30 picks and are searching for a potential perennial All-Star position player who’s not down in rookie ball, Monte Harrison is your man. He could be a .260-.280 hitter, collecting 30 homers and 20-30 stolen bases per year. All in all, if he repeats his 2017 performance this upcoming year, he won’t be available outside the first 10 picks in 2019’s mock prospects draft.
33. Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus — Jo Adell, OF, Angels
Me taking Adell is basically sacrosanct at this point. I’ve been one of his biggest boosters since the draft, and while there are a few other toolsy outfielders I considered (and I was heavily eyeing Monte), I really like the five-tool upside that Adell offers. I know the risk that’s inherent in the profile with the swing and miss, but I like Adell’s raw power and ability to generate extremely hard contact. I expect some bumps and bruises along the way in terms of development, but eventually I see someone who contributes in every category across the board with the potential for impact in home runs, stolen bases and counting stats without hurting in average.
How many hitting prospects can say they skipped Low-A and Triple-A in the same season? Hays did just that in 2017, beginning the year in the Carolina League and finishing the campaign as the Orioles’ leadoff hitter. His muscular forearms produce high-end bat speed, which results in plus right-handed power. He currently operates with a see-ball, hit-ball approach, but there has been no reason for him to utilize patience, as he never faced adversity in the minors. His eye-popping production in 64 games at High-A (167 wRC+, .263 ISO, 16 HR) and 64 games at Double-A (161 wRC+, .264 ISO, 16 HR) was eerily consistent. He runs well enough to handle center field, but has not yet learned how to utilize his above-average speed on the bases, limiting him to four-category production for now. While I believe his future is very bright, his aggressive promotion schedule could lead to growing pains in the majors in 2018.
35. Ben Diamond, The Dynasty Guru — Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers
36. Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Franklin Barreto, SS, Athletics
Here’s what I just wrote for Barreto in my Get to Know Shortstop Prospects column: “People are looking at his 2017 season as a big negative, and I don’t really get it. He struggled in a meaningless sample size in the majors, but he was 21 and he raked in Triple-A. You can point to the strikeouts as a concern, but I still see a .280 hitter with 15 homers and steals, and if there’s one organization that’s going to leave him in the infield, it’s the A’s.” I get that he might struggle at first, but he has many different paths to value and his legs give him a higher fantasy floor than many realize, I think.
37. Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ — Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies
This really would be a better story if it was planned, but for the third time in three rounds, a teenager who excelled in his first shot at full-season A-ball was at the top if my list. Sanchez did more than just excel statistically; his stuff got raving reports from just about every corner of the prospect universe. The ability to maintain his easy high-90s velocity is the most obvious, but his strike-throwing ability, outstanding athleticism, feel for pitch sequencing and composure—again, all as an 18-year-old—fuels the top-of-the-rotation chatter. The secondaries need to be sharper, his physical build is more slight than intimidating, and he did hit a bit of speed bump in five High-A August starts. But the package at his age is something to dream on, something fantasy owners—even those adverse to loading up on pitching prospects—should be willing to do. The payoff could be huge.
Despite finishing second in all the minor leagues in strikeouts, there’s still a crazy amount of projection here. He’s been nicknamed, “Sticks” or “Gumby” due to his 6’5″ 165-pound build. He sits in the low-90s with the heater and his curveball is a true put away pitch. His changeup will flash plus at times but isn’t there yet. The command gets future plus grades as well. He needs to add strength and pack some muscle onto his lean frame. Some good weight could push that fastball up into the mid-90s regularly, giving him number one starter potential. Love this kid.
39. Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants
I emphasized quality bats with proximity for my first two picks, so now it’s time to get a little theoretical. Ramos is fun because “Heliot” sort of sounds like “helium,” which is a helpful reminder of what this kid is going to generate in spades after he destroys full-season ball this year. One of the youngest players in last summer’s draft class, he showed up in Arizona displaying precocious leadership and well-advanced barrel skills. Sure there’s a lead time here, but the final picture could very well include plus game power, plus speed, and a solidly average hit tool to bind it all together. Giddyup.
40. Christopher Crawford, Rotoworld — Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
Ahh, now here’s my volatility. Ignore those stinky numbers he had in his first professional time, they mean bupkis. Greene is a right-hander with a legit 80 fastball, and his slider — while inconsistent — flashes plus. He also throws all three of his pitches for strikes, and boy oh boy is he ever athletic. The risk of a starting pitcher that isn’t going to turn 19 is palpable, but he has as much upside as any pitcher in baseball. I like him a lot and I think you should, too.
41. Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays
I think Sanchez gets underrated by prospect writers (myself included). He’s likely a left fielder—much less of an issue here—and he doesn’t look the physical part yet like some of the toolsier outfielders above. What he can do is hit, and he added power in a tough league to do so as a 19-year-old. He’s unlikely to add much in steals, but the profile is very well-rounded otherwise with potential plus hit and power tools. So I didn’t have to spend too much time talking myself into Sanchez over Alford or Jones (although I do have a bit of buyer’s remorse on Reyes over Soto now). I also forgot I was in a draft with one of the very few people on the planet who likes Sixto more than I do.
42. D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Anthony Alford, OF, Blue Jays
This one comes with obvious risk given how little Alford has actually played, but it’s hard to overlook his fantasy potential at this point in the draft. The 23-year-old showed great plate discipline in Double-A last year and saw his strikeouts fall significantly. He should be a valuable contributor annually with stolen bases. How much power we’ll see from Alford is a legitimate question, but he projects to be a top-of-the-order hitter for years to come. Fingers crossed from a health perspective.
43. Ralph Lifshitz, Razzball — Jahmai Jones, OF, Angels
I’ve done my best to stick to my strategy. See good players, draft good players. With the pool of athletic multi-category types dwindling, Jahmai is an easy pick. An exciting former Georgia prep product with a mix of speed, contact, and power, Jones has one of the highest ceilings left on the board. A compact swing generates great bat speed, hinting to more game power than he’s flashed thus far. He made his full season debut in 2017 as a 19 year old, and more than held his own across two levels of A ball, slashing .282/.348/.446, with 14 taters, and 27 steals. Over time I could see his homer and steals totals from 2017 flip flop, as he grows into more power and out of some speed. My hope here is the end product is a .280/25/15 type, a nice building block alongside Robert and Kopech.
44. Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Willy Adames, SS, Rays
I’m very pleased, though perhaps not surprised, that Willy made it back to me for my third pick. I’m not surprised because Adames is not the flashiest of fantasy assets – he doesn’t have big time raw power or game breaking speed. That said, I am of the opinion that fantasy upside doesn’t necessarily need to come in the form of untapped tools waiting to be converted into skills. In the case of Adames, I am betting that the many years of displaying across-the-board, above average skills at a young age portend future upside as he catches up to the age of his competition. The raw stats don’t jump out at you, but Adames has had five years of steady production in the minors. He’s as proven as minor leaguers get and he’s ready to contribute as soon as the Rays decide to start his service clock. I’m not ruling out 30 bombs at maturity, granted it may come with just a hand full of steals and at third base. I like Adames even more for OBP leagues where his double-digit minor league walk rates will make him even more valuable.
45. Jim Callis, MLB Pipeline (MLB.com) — Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Rays
I’m drafting him first and foremost as a hitter who’s capable of hitting for a high average with 20-plus homers a year. I believe the Rays prefer him as a hitter and I believe he’ll wind up as a first baseman in the long run. Pitching can be an added bonus or a fallback. As an aside, with both Ohtani and McKay, if I were in charge of determining how to deploy them, I would have them focus on maximizing their potential in one pursuit (pitching for Ohtani, hitting for McKay) rather than dividing their attention trying to be two-way players. I do realize, of course, that it would have been impossible to sign Ohtani without allowing him to both pitch and hit.
46. Jim Callis, MLB Pipeline (MLB.com) — Luis Urias, 2B/SS, Padres
He’s on the short list of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, and he might be the best. He also plays a premium position, likely settling in at second base in the long run though he’s capable of handling shortstop. There’s some sneaky power in there, too, and I think he’ll provide 10-15 homers per year while contending for batting titles.
47. Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Jesse Winker, OF, Reds
In the Statcast era only Coors Field is known to inflate expected productivity more than Great American Ballpark, where Winker shall call home for the foreseeable future. Some of those park effects were on display for Winker in 2017, as his expected wOBA (.350) was far less than his actual wOBA of .384. (.350 is still well above-average.) We’ve been trained, with merit, to steer clear of hitters who do not offer contributions in steals without prodigious power. Winker, however, is a really good hitter. In my experience, competitive dynasty leagues have cycles where many teams are rebuilding, in which case the smaller pool of contenders are often separated only by the quality of their rate stats. He should be an asset in rate stats for any format and be on base enough to rack up plenty of runs. His .231 ISO last year in the Majors, coupled with flashes of power in the minors, allows us to dream on 30 homer seasons in a favorable park and a regular job, though he may need to wait for things to clear out to get the latter.
48. Ralph Lifshitz, Razzball — Austin Meadows, OF, Pirates
I’m going down with the ship at this point. The H.S.S. Meadows ran aground in 2017, as he slashed a paltry .250/.311/.359 at AAA Indianapolis. The only thing that’s been predictable about Meadows’ career thus far are hamstring injuries. In fact his highest total games played in any one season is 121, with 82 games in 2016, and 81 in 2017 ranking second, and third. Despite all this, he saw promotion to AAA in his age 20 season, whilst a 24 game hitting streak, that came to a halt three games into his AAA tenure. In 2017 he returned to Indianapolis, and once again struggled with injuries. He came back with a reworked swing, ditching much of what led him to be successful earlier in his career. His season snowballed, as he went the opposite way an exaggerated amount. The huge gains in his ISO from the year prior all but vanished. However, I’m willing to take a gamble on the player I saw in Altoona in 2016. That Meadows was at his best, capable of spraying line drive singles and doubles to all fields, while knocking a homer here and there to his pullside. I still believe there’s a .280/20/20 player here. Lucky for us, his stock dropped right as a pathway to MLB playing time opened up. I’m buying low on the rebound, and have built my Voltron of upside outfielders.
49. D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox
I was debating between multiple third basemen here before ultimately deciding on Chavis. Of course, with Rafael Devers around, Chavis could end up at first base or in the outfield if he stays with Boston. It’s worth noting that he saw time at first base in the Arizona Fall League. Either way, I’m excited by his progress on the power front last year. I still have some concerns about the approach, but he at least made some progress on the strikeout front in 2018. Similar to the Kyle Tucker pick earlier, context of the potential situation at the major league level is very appealing in fantasy leagues.
50. Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Orioles
This is a bit of a bet that Mountcastle can stay on the dirt somewhere other than first base. But I don’t really even mind him as a left fielder, given the current slate of OF on the board. He’s a big, strong kid with a similar plus hit/power projection to Sanchez, and he’s actualized it more so far. As long as he avoids first base, he should be a valuable offensive contributor. And hey, if the Orioles want to stick with him at third base, I am certainly not going to complain.
51. Christopher Crawford, Rotoworld — Alex Verdugo, OF, Dodgers
My only concern with Verdugo at this point doesn’t come from the power — although I would have liked to have seen a few more homers, to be certain — but rather just how many outfielders the Dodgers have right now. Still, it’s tough to ignore the talent, and his competent defense along with the ability to make consistent hard contact to all fields makes him solid value here, in my humble estimation. Be it in the middle of 2018 or more than likely 2019, he should be a regular in the outfield, and he should be a good one.
52. Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Michel Baez, RHP, Padres
I am not a man generally known to trifle with A-ball arms in dynasty leagues, but every now and again one will capture the imagination. Baez checks an awful lot of the boxes you look for in a potential frontline fantasy starter: he’s a physical monster, standing 6-foot-8 and working downhill from a three-quarter slot. The gas will sit mid-90’s and touch higher, and he shows above-average projection with two swing-and-miss secondaries. Perhaps most appealing of all, he actually manages to keep that humongous frame of his moving consistently on time and in rhythm. Repeatability is not the mark of the average XXL hurler, so when you find a guy with those traits and stuff to match the frame, you jump on board that train.
If only I could figure out a way to take some of the extra pounds away from Gohara and apply them to my previous pick. I’m a sucker for left-handed starters, and especially ones with premium velocity and a wipeout slider. Gohara averaged 96.5 MPH with the heater during his Major League stint which makes him the hardest throwing left-handed starter in the game. Lefties have no chance against the fastball and slider combination, but right-handed bats pounded Gohara to a .313/.360/.532 clip last season. Walks and the lack of a dependable third pitch (especially against righties) are a problem, but the upside here is too good to pass up.
54. Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ — J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies
Crawford is a floor-over-ceiling pick here, one with a solid base of skills if not one overwhelming tool. The patient approach and feel for hitting stand out, but at this point he’s unlikely to provide either the big HR or SB totals to enter fantasy stud-ville. But the resilience necessary to overcome an awful first half in Triple-A in 2017 that pushed him back down prospect lists should not be forgotten. He pushed through, made adjustments and hit everything on the screws in July/August in earning his first call up late in the season. Expect doubles power, a pinch of speed and ability to control the plate early in his career, which could serve as a foundation as he reaches his prime age. And with Freddy Galvis now a Padre, shortstop in Philly is Crawford’s job come 2018.
55. Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Jorge Alfaro, C, Phillies
I’m basically the Rapidly Aging Matt Damon gif from Saving Private Ryan when I write about Alfaro at this point, because it feels like I’ve been talking about him since The New Deal. But he’s only 25, and he was good in a small sample in the majors last season, and I still really believe in the power. Alfaro can hit 20 homers a season with a tolerable average, and in that park and in a young and improving lineup, he could post decent RBI totals for a backstop, too. I’ve harped on the concept of “post-hype prospects” for years now, so here I am putting my money where my mouth is.
56. Ben Diamond, The Dynasty Guru — Miguel Andujar, 3B, Yankees
It is pretty obvious at this point in the Braves’ rebuild that Riley is the third baseman of the future. He held his own (109 wRC+) as one of the second youngest position players in the Florida State League, prompting an aggressive July promotion to Double-A. That’s when he really made his mark. Were it not for teammate and baseball prodigy Ronald Acuna, Riley would have easily been the youngest player to get 200 plate appearances in the Southern League, yet he still proceeded to be 62 percent better than league average while posting his best BB/K (0.40) since rookie ball. He has prototypical size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) for the hot corner and enough power to challenge for 30-homer campaigns in his peak years, especially in that park. He does not project to hit .300 in the big leagues, but he could be a .270 hitter who walks a decent amount and hits in an advantageous spot in the lineup. If he handles Triple-A the way he handled Double-A, we could see him in Atlanta this summer.
58. Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus — Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
There’s a bit of risk involved with this pick. Risk that Kieboom isn’t a shortstop. Risk in the lead time (he’s only at Low-A). Injury risk (he only played in ~60 games this season). Still, when he did play, he was damn good. He hit for average, showed an idea of an approach at the plate, and hit for power in full-season ball at age 19. It’s not hard to see him on the Ryan Mountcastle track, ending 2018 in Double-A at age 20, though it’s also not hard to see him on the Ryan Mountcastle track, in that he might be moved off short. He’s got a better shot to stick there than Mountcastle did, though, and if he can, even for a few years, the bat will be worth it. It’s good enough to be valuable at other positions too, though the hit wouldn’t be insignificant. He didn’t run much (a pulled hamstring in May made him miss two months), a theme in my picks so far, but ultimately I’m looking for the best prospects and can target speed at the major-league level rather than waiting on it via the minors.
59. J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Yusniel Diaz, OF, Dodgers
My picks thus far have focused on ceiling; however, there’s something to be said for a guy who can just f—ing hit. Enjoying the fruits of some reported swing alterations, Diaz raked over the summer. He hit .333 upon his promotion to Double-A and then again hit .303 in the Arizona Fall League. So why has the 21-year-old has fallen this far in the draft? He neither hits for impressive power (just 11 homers) nor steals bases particularly well. Batting average, though, can be criminally undervalued in fantasy leagues. For example, Ender Inciarte hit .304 with 11 homers and 22 stolen bases for Atlanta in 2017. He was the 15th-ranked fantasy outfielder in ESPN leagues. If Diaz can learn to utilize his speed better on the basepaths and swipe 15-20 bases annually, he can also be a top-25 fantasy outfielder.
60. Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers
On one hand, I’m not a huge fan of catching prospects for dynasty leagues. They have weird non-linear developmental paths and on top of that, they take circuitous routes to fantasy value. On the other hand, I am very much here for 18-year-olds who hit like Ruiz did in full-season ball. The tools are there for a Francisco Mejia like skill set at catcher (which is definitely a strange thing to say since we haven’t actually seen Mejia do it yet), as he looks capable of hitting .300 with low double-digit homers—an extremely rare feat for a catcher these days.