Welcome to the sixth annual* Baseball Prospectus Fantasy Experts Mock Prospects Draft! You know the drill by now; we gather 15 dynasty experts from around the various corners of the interwebs. We give them 10 roster spots each. We hold a snake draft. You read our reactions. It’s that simple.
First, a reiteration of the ground rules. The “league” is a standard 15-team 5×5 rotisserie where you keep all players indefinitely with no contracts/salaries involved. The first rule is that any player you select must currently still have their prospect status intact. The second rule is that there are no other rules. You don’t have to fill any position requirements, it’s just about building the type of farm system you would want to start from scratch with.
You can peruse our 2018 edition of this draft here, and stay tuned for more installments throughout the next week or so. Enjoy!
*This is the seventh annual installment of this draft overall. Shout out to FakeTeams.
The projection systems love him—you guys seen this/heard about this? Anyway, it’s 80 hit, 70+ raw. The only thing to nitpick, unless you’re a “you need steals in the first round” truther, is how his body will age—maybe he won’t be a top-20 fantasy pick in a decade. First base is a wasteland these days, so I don’t care at all if he moves off third, just as long as he maintains some positional eligibility, which he should for the foreseeable future. I think he’ll have an Albert Pujols-esque MLB career, except he’ll be starting as a 20-year-old, while Pujols broke in as like a 25-year-old (allegedly).
2) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
This was an easy pick after Vladdy went #1. If we’re talking fantasy value, ceiling, and floor, Eloy isn’t that far off from what we expect from Vlad. Having spent a lot of time in Manchester in the first half of 2018, I was excited to get some looks at Eloy during his time in the International League. Over the course of the three-game series from July 27th to the 29th, I witnessed Eloy going 7-for-12 with three extra-base hits, and a load of hard contact. The plate approach, hands, plate coverage, and focus are every bit of Vlad’s with a little more power. I doubt Eloy ever challenges for .330 like Vlad will in his peak years, but a .290/.360/.550 slashline with 30 bombs should be the norm.
3) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres
Tatis Jr. just turned 20 years old in January and is one of the most exciting fantasy prospects in baseball. He plays a premium position and could be a 20-20 player. Moreover, he possesses all of the desired attributes to hit high in any batting order. Many dynasty-league rankings noted last winter that Tatis was the first 18-year-old to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in Midwest League history. The Padres responded by pushing him to Double-A, where he was on pace to once again post a 20-20 season before a thumb injury in mid-July cost him to miss the remainder of the season. Power, speed, premium position, and pedigree. The young man has everything to warrant being one of the first prospects taken in any dynasty draft.
The first three picks unfolded as I expected, and I definitely would have taken Guerrero No. 1 and Jimenez No. 2. I’m going to swing for the fences here with Franco, who has yet to play full-season ball and probably winds up moving off shortstop. But the bat and advanced approach are special—very, very special, maybe close to Vlad Jr. special.
I’ll take Robles and end his little slide. Major League-ready center fielder who should post a strong average and be a pest on the bases. He’s growing into that power too, and that homer he hit in Miami sticks with me. .280 15/25 is within the realm of possibility right now, and he is someone to target in 2019.
6) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
The sixth position is not ideal this year. Arguably, the next six picks are a matter of preference, with numerous prospects possessing similar levels of upside and risk. Of those prospects, Tucker provides the best blend of upside and proximity. At just 22 years old, he is a nearly fully-realized major league-ready talent. While Tucker destroyed Triple-A pitching for much of the year, including a torrid final 55 games (.383/.442/.725 with 19 home runs!), he significantly struggled in his debut. Likely as a result, the Astros appear unwilling to enter the season with him as a starting outfielder, recently adding Michael Brantley to a crowded outfield mix. Regardless, Tucker is a potential elite fantasy performer. With an unorthodox swing and excellent bat control, he regularly generates line drives and impressive, plus power to all fields. In addition, he is an aggressive base runner who should chip in double-digit stolen bases early in his career despite average speed. All told, Tucker should contribute in all five categories and make a substantial impact as soon as this year.
7) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Jo Adell, OF, Angels
With the best impact prospects for 2019 off the board, I’ll gamble on the guy who I think will top our prospect rankings a year from now. There’s pretty much nothing Adell can’t do on a baseball diamond. He’ll be a potential 20-homer, 30-steal guy as soon as he reaches the majors, and as he grows into his mid-20s, he could be a legit 30/30 threat. This isn’t a case of an uber-toolsy guy who just needs the hit tool to click, either; Adell makes consistent, loud contact, and he should hit for solid-to-strong averages in the majors. He’s the total package, and I’m thrilled that I was able to take him away from Craig.
8) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Royce Lewis, SS, Twins
I mostly did this pick because I knew it would anger Crawford. Mission accomplished. I actually went back and forth with Nick Senzel here, but I ultimately decided to go with the upside of Lewis. The 2017 No. 1 overall pick is making steady progress in the minors, climbing to High-A Fort Myers last year. He wasn’t as consistent after the promotion, but it’s important to remember how young he was for the level. He’s still just 19 years old. We’re looking at a player who provides power, speed, and a good approach, with a decent shot to stick at shortstop. With many of the names in front of him here expected to lose their prospect status in 2019, Lewis could feasibly one of the first picks in this exercise next year.
I was really hoping Lewis would fall to me, and the fact that my colleague stole him from me is an act of aggression. Senzel is an awful nice consolation prize, however, and the fact that he’s going to contribute in 2019—assuming he’s healthy—is a nice bonus. He should hit for a high average, get on base, and give you a decent amount of steals as well. He’s a high-floor player who has an underrated ceiling.
10) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
It’s tough to go wrong when you know you’ll have the ability to draft one of the top-10 dynasty prospects out there, but I was particularly glad Hiura dropped to my spot here. I have him ranked 7th among prospects heading into 2019 and I think his strong hit tool and relatively open spot ahead of him on the depth chart will allow him to see Milwaukee in the second half. The offensive talent is there to hit .300 with 25 homers and he’s shown he can stick at the keystone, despite questions out of the draft.
11) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds
The Florida State League does wonderful things to the perception of offensive development from afar. Take Trammell, for example, who put up a 124 DRC+ over a full season as one of the youngest regulars on the circuit, while his overall .277/.375/.406 topline only looked…eh. The hit tool grades already push plus, and the speed’s got a second one of those signs attached to it. That’s plenty reason enough to buy in already, but then he has exactly the type of frame to support well above-above average game power into maturity. If that ever comes, he’s a top-five overall monster. If it doesn’t, he’s still as good a bet as any to develop into a true OF1 who features all of the speed you need.
12) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ, — Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins
Kirilloff made up for a lost 2017 season (Tommy John surgery) by blasting through two levels of A-ball as a 20-year-old. His combined .348/.392/.578 line—which included 44 doubles and 20 HR in 512 AB—showcased a skill set far more advanced than one would expect from a cold-weather-state prep pick, even one who went in the first round in 2016. He features a short, compact LH swing geared towards contact, but has the quick wrists and lower-half strength to easily project a plus-BA, plus-power player at maturity. He likely won’t provide steals, but there’s more than enough bat here to compensate.
13) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies
it’s become common to read Rodgers’ fantasy and prospect write-ups that lead off with negative statements—how his pedigree hasn’t matched his production, 72 PA in Triple-A exposed his undisciplined approach, or his fantasy appeal is limited to the home park. That makes for a potential buying opportunity just as Rodgers is on the cusp of the Majors. I doubt anyone factors speed into his future, but Rodgers also swiped a career-best 12 bases on 15 attempts last year. The Rockies’ propensity to block prospects in recent years is strange, but they’ve yet to block anyone as good as Rodgers. Don’t lose faith!
14) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays
On a lazy Saturday when it was 38 and pouring outside and I probably should have been doing laundry or at least finishing the Atlanta prospect list, I instead watched Bo Bichette hit bomb after bomb in the barge, off a short pier, over a barge into the Atlantic Ocean. He then argued with the judge about how many home runs he had actually hit in a scant two minutes (the buoys that demarcated the foul lines weren’t always helpful). The approach is extremely aggressive, you wouldn’t teach his swing, and he might not be a shortstop long term. He might also hit .300 with 40 bombs one year. And if nothing else, the aesthetics of the whole thing will be wonderful.
15) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
Okay, this is probably a reach, especially for someone who has missed time as frequently as Robert, but what can I say? I like the potential five-tool types. He didn’t flash over-the-fence power in 2018, but there is some thunder in his bat. He has the raw physical ability to be a dominant force and he was never coming back to me. I’ll gamble on those tools actualizing in 2019.
16) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals
Not quite the physical specimen that Robert is, what Kieboom lacks in raw tools, he makes up for in polish. There was a bit of a stumble in Double-A, but he has consistently showcased a strong approach at the plate, while pairing contact ability with solid power. Kieboom won’t carry any single category but should be a solid across-the-board contributor, and in relatively short order. Brian Dozier just signed in DC but only for a year—Kieboom should be ready for a test run by the time that deal is up, if not sooner.
17) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros
I’m not thrilled with the pure hit tool guys that top my big board at the moment, so I’ll instead take the best pitching prospect in baseball. Whitley is almost major-league-ready, has four potential plus pitches, advanced command, a durable frame, and is in an organization that’s about perfect for his further development. Yeah, he’s a pitcher, but he’s one who could rack up a few seasons of the “merely demigod” version of Jacob deGrom.
18) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS, Rockies
With D.J. LeMahieu Bronx bound and Daniel Murphy generally expected to man first in Colorado, Hampson’s role as the Rockies’ everyday second baseman is looking increasingly secure. He reached the Majors in just three pro seasons where he flashed his ability to walk a bit, hit a bit and record some valuable stolen bases. Even if he were to lose playing time to Brendan Rodgers or Generic Prospect-Blocking Rockies Veteran (TM), the versatile Hampson has a chance to carve out a long career as fantasy’s most valuable super utility player since the good version of Ben Zobrist. Base stealers who are good enough to actually play every day don’t grow on trees… add in a dose of Coors and we should all be checking in on Garrett and asking ourselves if we can borrow “The Muscle Hamster” nickname from NFL running back, Doug Martin.
19) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ — Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
Not a huge fan of taking pitchers this early, but I’m making an exception for Luzardo. He moved through three levels in 2018, and though his season ended a bit early in Triple-A due to an innings limit, the A’s weren’t taking any chances after his 2016 Tommy John surgery had limited him to just 43.1 IP in 2017. With three advanced pitches from the left side, a repeatable delivery and good command, Luzardo has an SP2 upside and is likely to see some MLB action in 2019.
20) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets
Alonso’s gotten a lot more expensive since I popped him 129th overall in last year’s version of this draft, and rightfully so. He has translated the vast majority of his true 80-grade raw power into games at every stop along a rapid summit of the minor leagues, and stands poised to enter the year one he-plays-for-the-Mets away from deserved full-time reps for the big squad. Organizational context notwithstanding, this is far and away the best first-base prospect in baseball, and given the current state of the position, that’s a shockingly attractive title to lay claim. Yes, power is everywhere today. But given the chance to consolidate a whole bunch of it into one roster spot for the next half-dozen years or more, I will gladly do just that.
21) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
The signing of Josh Donaldson has seemingly soured some on Riley, who would likely have been ready to come up and mash by June. Of course, it IS Josh Donaldson after all, so he may yet have that opportunity. Still just 21 for another few months, he may always strike out too much to hit .280, but the 30-homer pop is real and SunTrust Park will only help it play up. Riley is a no-doubt top-15 dynasty prospect for me.
I took Mejia in the first-round last year, and while I acknowledge he’s lost a smidgen of the luster after an inconsistent season in 2018, I’m still happy to get him in this spot. He’s a switch-hitting backstop who should hit for average, and the power is starting to come as well. If he does make a move to the outfield, the value obviously drops some more, but as long as he’s behind the plate, there’s a ton of potential here.
23) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays
It felt like there was a drop-off in regard to hitters, so I decided to take a chance on someone who was selected two picks earlier in last year’s mock. Of course that was before Honeywell underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. If it wasn’t for that, he likely would already be thriving in the majors. I get why there might be some hesitation here since we haven’t seen Honeywell back in game action just yet, but he’s already throwing bullpen sessions and the success rate from Tommy John surgery is high. While the 23-year-old gets a lot of attention for his screwball, he was really putting it all together prior to the injury. It wouldn’t be a shock if it takes a little while for the command to come back, but I’m still banking on Honeywell being a steady contributor in fantasy leagues for years to come.
24) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, White Sox
It will be absolutely shocking to those of you who’ve followed this exercise for a few years that I’d take a fast, hit tool-oriented middle infielder high in this draft, but here we are. The best dynasty prospect from the 2018 draft, Madrigal will be ready soon, has a very high floor and has a better ceiling than you might think given the paucity of stolen bases in today’s game. If it all clicks, we’re looking at a .300 hitter with 30-plus steals and shortstop eligibility. But even a median outcome for Madrigal would see him serve as a top-10 fantasy second baseman who’s big in R and SB. I’ll take that combo of safety and upside at this point in the draft.
25) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Yordan Alvarez, OF/1B, Astros
While I considered a pitching prospect at this pick, I feel comfortable waiting a bit longer. The TINSTAAPP philosophy predominates over this group. As such, high-end hitting talent is already thinning. With that said, I am pleasantly surprised to find Alvarez still on the board. A large and imposing 6’5″ and 225 pounds, Alvarez has enormous raw power. Further, he is far from a power-only prospect. Alvarez makes consistent hard contact to all fields and utilizes a patient, disciplined approach, with reasonable swing-and-miss despite his size (8.9% swinging strikes). At just 21 years old, he breezed through Double-A (.325/.389/.615), and, while he struggled at first in Triple-A, he finished strong over his last 21 games (.317/.398/.500). As soon as mid-season, however, I expect either Tucker, my first pick, or Alvarez to earn regular playing time with the Astros.
Reyes looked the best he ever has last season before the lat injury got in the way. The TJ rehab got him in shape and his tour through the minor leagues may have been the Cardinals bright spot of 2018 (besides the Matheny firing of course). There’s some talk of him pitching in the bullpen in 2019 and in the rotation beyond that, but you need to just let him go out and pitch. He’s one of the best arms in the game.
I’m going to go more floor than ceiling here, though that’s more of a tribute to Verdugo’s high floor than a knock on his solid ceiling. He’s one of the best hitters in the Minors, so I know he’ll produce in terms of batting average and on-base percentage, and I think he’ll have average power.
28) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate.com — Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays
Sanchez gets the prospect-list love and has always compiled a shiny batting average. What makes the 21-year-old a potential fantasy stud, though, requires a bit of faith in his projectability. He’s never hit more than 15 homers in a single professional season, but he’s a potential 20-home-run outfielder thanks to his improving power. He’s never stolen double-digit bases, either, but he’s an above-average runner who should learn how to better use it as he matures. When Sanchez reaches his prime, he could be a five-category anchor.
29) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Kristian Robinson, OF, Diamondbacks
I figured Robinson wouldn’t see the other side of James’ picks so I jumped the gun a couple spots to grab the 2019 version of 2016 Eloy Jimenez. Does that make less sense than driving on parkways and parking on driveways? Regardless, I have been enamored with the power potential from the young Bahamian outfielder. At the tender age of 18, he’s already 6-foot-3, 195 lbs, with elite bat speed, hand eye coordination and a plus (possibly plus plus) power ceiling. In his first taste of pro-ball, Robinson hit .279/.363/.428 with seven homers and a 10.5% walk rate across two levels of rookie ball. I’m placing my bets on the next superstar prospect here.
I love his bat. I don’t know how many home runs he will hit, and it’s safe to say he will probably never even steal 15 bases in a season. But there are worse things than betting on a guy with a potentially 70-grade hit tool to figure out how to bang out 20 homers annually. He finally got his groundball rate under 50 percent last year, which is encouraging. At worst, I think he’s a premium contributor in AVG and runs.
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