Previous entries in this series:
He showed how nasty his three-pitch mix can be in his brief time in the big leagues. The timing of his Tommy John surgery is nice, as he should be ready for spring training in 2020 — 17 months removed from the procedure. His command can range from poor to awful, but it doesn’t have to be good for him to put up Robbie Ray numbers, and if he gradually improves that aspect of his game, he could be an SP1.
62) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres
Imagine plus athleticism, deception, a deep pitch mix, stuff, and fastball velocity. That’s Gore. After an off-season of hype heading into 2018, many have backed off, but why is a bit confusing. Are we really going to hold a blister issue and some other fluky bumps and bruises against a talent of this level? I’ll take the opposite approach; give me the uber-talented teenager with all the makings of an ace at the discount. Outside of the top 50, you’re not getting many players with Gore’s true talent level, which is why I’m comfortable gambling on a pitcher here. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gore takes on a larger workload this season and cements himself as the heir to Forrest Whitley as the top pitching prospect in the game. I know, here I am talking pitching prospects with the TINSTAAPP boys.
63) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Cristian Pache, OF, Braves
Pache is one of the best defensive prospects in baseball, but the 20-year-old still has a chance to be something useful offensively. Speed is becoming less available for fantasy owners in the modern game. Pache swiped 32 bags in 2017 before only stealing seven in 2018. The speed is still there, though, as evidenced by his plus-run grades. What’s more is that he has shown an ability to put the bat on the baseball throughout his time in the minors. It was also encouraging to see Pache hit nine homers last year, the first of his professional career. The defensive profile alone ensures that he’s at least a bench bat for fantasy owners who need cheap speed. However, if the entire package comes together, Pache is a fantasy monster — which is something I’ve said for every single position player I’ve drafted in this thing. What can I say, though? I’m a foolish millennial who can’t help but dream of fanciful things that will never come to be.
I was going to take Pache, the only position player remaining on my personal list of the 40 best prospects, if he had gotten back to me. Instead, I’ll go with some two-way intrigue and take McKay. I liked him more as a hitter as an amateur, though it was close. He has been dominant on the mound in pro ball and has struggled at the plate, though his plate discipline is an obvious strength. I still think he can be a John Olerud type and/or a No. 3 starter, and I’ll enjoy watching it play out.
Full disclosure, he’s been the top guy on my board for probably two rounds now, and I was waiting for someone else to make the move but I can’t let him slide anymore. Kikuchi is a MLB ready starter armed with a plus slider and above-average command. Not the sexy pick in a prospect draft, but here we are.
66) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Marlins
Let’s begin with why he is still available. In early June, the Phillies shut down Sanchez due to right elbow inflammation, and, despite an intent to have him pick up innings in the Arizona Fall League, a separate, reportedly minor injury (right collarbone soreness) kept him from participating. Further, his slight, 6’0″ frame does not engender durability. Consequently, many believe he is destined for Tommy John surgery or relief, or both. I am more optimistic. Now, why did I select him? Arguably, Sanchez projects to possess the best combination of elite repertoire and advanced command of any pitching prospect. Already, he sits in the mid-to-upper-90s with a fastball he can manipulate to sink or cut. In support of his fastball, he has two potential plus off-speed pitches (curveball and change-up). Notably, Sanchez exhibits an advanced feel for pitching, repeats his athletic delivery, and exercises uncanny command over all his pitches, especially his fastball. In the end, he has rare, top-of-the-rotation potential. While the risk is significant, it is folded into his precipitous fall in this draft.
67) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
Alright, so full disclaimer; for some reason I thought Sixto had already been drafted. If I were smarter/could read, I would’ve popped him ahead of Lee last time. That being said, Anderson is a very solid consolation prize. He doesn’t have the usual profile I bet on when it comes to fantasy starters, but Anderson seems to have the perfect combination of stuff, pitchability and fantasy-friendly ETA. Basically, I dare you to find a bad scouting report about him. He might have to fight for playing time early in his career thanks to Atlanta’s absurd pitching depth, but in time Anderson can emerge into a well-rounded fantasy SP3. He might not strike out 250 guys a season, but he also won’t make you hate your life when you look at his WHIP.
68) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves
Soroka’s rookie campaign came to an abrupt end when he went down with lingering inflammation in his right shoulder last June. Fortunately, he was able to return in the Braves’ fall instructional league and go into the offseason with some peace of mind. In the limited time Soroka pitched in the majors, he was mostly as advertised, posting a 3.51 ERA over five starts with 21 strikeouts and seven walks in 25 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old isn’t going to blow batters away, but he has excellent command and the arsenal to turn over lineups. The Braves have plenty of promising young arms, so the path isn’t clear to a rotation spot in the short-term, but I’m optimistic that Soroka will be a nice value if he can stay healthy.
Martinez carries obvious risk; he’s going to be a 23-year-old in March and he’s never played above the Northwest League. I’m still a big fan, as I believe he can be a hitter who hits for average, steals bases and with just enough pop to not complain about it on Gchat to Craig. At this point in the draft, I’m willing to take the risk. It wouldn’t shock me if he goes several rounds higher next year, or if he didn’t get drafted at all. Or if the earth exploded.
70) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Seuly Matias, OF, Royals
Look, if you swat 31 homers in 94 games as a teenager in full-season ball, you’ve got my attention. There are certainly some swing-and-miss issues here (but not as much as you assume) and some potential pitch recognition issues as well, but that is top-of-the-scale power being shown in-game at the same age most of his peers are in still at the complex. The alternative was taking a pitcher, and, well, you know how I feel about that.
71) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — Josh James, RHP, Astros
The story of Josh James is some kinda something, alright. His first start at Lancaster in the spring of 2016 yielded the following write-up in my notes: “FB 88-90, will cut it, poor location, elevating and leaking; uphill motion, short/quick leg kick, some crossfire; 81-82 SL flashes some bite, very inconsistent, np.” The “np” stands for non-prospect, and he looked every bit of it in that wildly nondescript performance. Fast-forward through two years and one sleep apnea surgery though, and holy hell, look what we have here. James touched 103 in October working highest-leverage innings for the defending world champions, and before he did he looked very much the part of a viable three-pitch starter with sustainable and elite strikeout numbers. The gas sits high-90s, and while the big-league sample size is tiny, both his slider and change generated astronomical whiff rates on the heels of joining forces to set down over 36 percent of the minor-league hitters he faced on the year. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s durable. Give him to me everywhere I can acquire him this year.
72) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ, — ONeil Cruz, SS, Pirates
Cruz is a tooled-up infielder (for now), with emphasis on the “up.” Listed at 6-6, 175, the 20-year-old certainly has a frame to fill out, but with enough current athleticism that staying at shortstop long-term is not out of the question, though it’s unlikely. He used those long limbs to begin to get to his power in 2018 in Low-A ball, and there’s more on the way. Whether he ends up at 3B or even in the OF, his hit/power/speed combo (11 SB in 2018) the bat should carry him and he could be a fantasy boon. It was encouraging that his contact rate improved and he has a chance to be a list-riser in 2019.
73) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Colton Welker, 3B, Rockies
Welker represents my third Rockies position player prospect taken during this mock draft. (I have the whole set – what’s my prize?) He may have the best hit tool of the three – he’s batted an absurd .335 as a professional, which is impressive even though Rockies prospects enjoy favorable hitting environments. He’s likely lasted this long because he has yet to flash impact power in games, but Nolan Arenado, who will be a free agent after this season, never hit more than 18 dingers in the minors. I find myself increasingly optimistic that hit-over-power prospects will find away to achieve at least an acceptable level of power in the Majors.
74) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
I believe this is my third straight year selecting May. There’s a chance I don’t get a fourth chance. He’s already had some Double-A success, and after another stuff bump in 2018, May has both proximity and front-of-the-rotation potential going. Contextually he’s in a good park and a good roster to rack up good wins and ERA totals, and the Ks should come in bunches on the back of a potential 70 fastball/breaker combo. Yeah, pitching is less valuable in this format, but May’s upside works for any format.
75) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers
The stats won’t justify this pick (or possibly being picked in this draft) but Taveras is a classic example of why you don’t scout the stat line. The bat speed is electric and the key to his surprising pop given his lithe but thin frame. I got a close up of his Futures Game batting practice and he was putting them over the fence at Nationals Park with relative ease. He has the athleticism to swipe bags, but he struggled with efficiency last year. Everything about Taveras is potential because the production just hasn’t been there. Still, he just spent a full season at High-A and is only 19 years old. When he has time to adjust, I think the raw tools will play beautifully.
76) Craig Goldstein, Twitter — Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Twins
Another 19-year-old who spent most of his season in High-A, Graterol isn’t built like your typical top of the rotation starter, standing a stocky 6-foot-1, but the arsenal sure plays like a front-end starter. He’ll touch triple digits with movement, the slider flashes 7, and he rounds out the repertoire with a curve and change. In his eight starts at Low-A, Graterol struck out 11-per-9 and generated ground balls over 60% of the time. It’s a small sample and forever away from the majors, but the ability to miss bats and keep the ball on the ground (he didn’t allow a home run in 60 High-A innings, either) bodes well for his future. Arms are dropping like crazy – no surprise in this draft – but I’m still pumped to be able to get a guy with Graterol’s ceiling at this stage of the draft.
77) Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus — Nico Hoerner, SS, Cubs
78) Tom Trudeau, The Dynasty Guru — Cole Tucker, SS, Pirates
We’re at the draft where we’re starting to see owners take “their guys” and Cole Tucker is very much my guy. The former first round pick has missed time over the years, but has steadily progressed through the minors, demonstrating patience, contact ability and occasional pop. He’s not a burner, but Tucker followed up 47 steals in 2017 with 35 in 2018. The Pirates have endured mediocrity at short for years and Tucker’s all-around skills will be a welcome boon for them and our fantasy teams as soon as this season. The overall upside may be lacking, but his frame and athleticism has earned Manny Machado comps. Realistically I am hoping for .260/.340 seasons with 10-15 homers and 15-20 steals.
79) Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ, — Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox
Seems like Cease has slid pretty far, still available here in the sixth round. Sure, he’s got to throw more strikes (yet to get under the 3.5 bb/9 mark in any one season), and doesn’t quite have the physicality of some of the other SP options still on the board, and so the reliever risk whispers understandably persist. But with two plus pitches (mid-90s fastball and big-breaking mid-70s curve) in hand already, penchant for whiffs (career 11.9 k/9) and a very good showing the second half of the season at Double-A, it’s worth a shot here in hopes he can make the tweaks necessary to remain a starter.
80) Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus — George Valera, OF, Indians
I wrote up a fairly detailed report with my thoughts on Valera in our recent Ten Pack on likely 101 candidates for next year, so I’ll point you in that direction for the goods. The tl;dr version for fantasy purposes looks like this: 18-year-old dude swings it like Robinson Cano, he already shows an advanced ability to get off his back leg and create loft, the frame will add a bunch of strength when he matures, but he looks athletic enough that he should still be able to run a bunch through his twenties. A hamate break is the only thing keeping him down here in the 80 range I just took him, and his rank’s as likely as any to have a much smaller number in its place this time next year.
81) Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus — Adrian Morejon, LHP, Padres
Of course, there is a time and place to take an arm—this was the only one I would take in this draft. Morejon conquered the Cal League as a teen and has true SP2 upside with the potential for a strong WHIP and 200 strikeouts. Of course, this all came after I cursed Wilson’s name repeatedly for taking Valera the spot before me.
Chavis’s season was limited to 46 games because of a suspension, but he performed well when he was activated, and I think he’s one of the more underrated infield prospects in baseball. There’s plus power, and while I don’t know if he’s ever going to hit for a super high average, he doesn’t have to, and he’s made enough hard contact for me to project an average (or slightly better) hit tool. My concern is that he might have to move to first base, but there’s just enough offensive potential here to suggest he could be fine there, too. I like him.
83) D.J. Short, Rotoworld — Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays
The catcher position is just plain bad right now, so this is a good spot to take someone who has a chance to be a top-10 option right away in fantasy leagues. Of course, that’s a pretty low bar. Jansen, who turns 24 in April, became a new man in the minors after wearing glasses and held his own during his first stint in the majors last year with a .779 OPS in 95 plate appearances. With Russell Martin now out of the picture, the stage is set for him to play a major role this year. Jansen is probably not going to be a 20-homer guy, but the approach is really solid. I like the instant impact here and the potential long-term outlook at a weak position.
84) Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus — Jordyn Adams, OF, Angels
Why stop at one uber-athletic Angels prospect when you can have two? Adams is perhaps even rawer than Adell was when drafted, but he’s got tools for days and big-time fantasy upside to dream on. The hit tool is the main question, but that’s why Adams fell this far to begin with, because no one doubts his speed or ability to go get it in center. Adams may be a slow burn guy — not everyone can take the minors like storm a la Adell — but now is probably your only chance to get in on the ground floor. Hopefully Mike Trout is still available later in the draft so I can really round out my five-tool Angels outfield.
85) Jesse Roche, The Dynasty Guru — Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres
A command and control maestro, Paddack enjoyed a wildly successful return from Tommy John surgery this past year. Incredibly, he issued just 8 walks over 90 innings between High-A and Double-A (2.4%)! Clearly, his control is otherworldly, and he consistently peppers the strike zone (69.1% strikes). Further, Paddack has a solid repertoire, lead by a double-plus, fading, low-80s change-up nearly indistinguishable out of his hand from his low-90s fastball. The continued development of his mid-70s curveball, which remains inconsistent and may only be average, will dictate his ceiling as a potential mid-rotation starter.
I view Paredes as a future 55-hit with 55 future power, which is a pretty solid player. How can a 19-year-old in Double-A who only struck out 14% of the time while hitting .321 not get a plus hit grade?Well it’s because of how pull heavy the approach is. He’s going to vulnerable to the shift unless adjustments are made.
87) Jim Calls, MLB Pipeline (MLB.com) — Luis Patino, RHP, Padres
I didn’t get personal favorite MacKenzie Gore with my last pick but I’ll pounce on another fun young Padres pitcher here. One evaluator told me Patino was the best pitcher he saw during his minor league coverage in 2018. He had a mid-90s fastball that peaks at 99 mph, two power breaking pitches, a promising changeup — and he had a 2.16 ERA with a 98/24 K/BB ratio in 83 1/3 innings last year in low Class A at age 18.
88) J.P. Breen, MKETailgate — Triston McKenzie, RHP, Indians
McKenzie doesn’t have the premium velocity that many top-end pitching prospects possess, but his tall, lanky frame allows him to get great extension and helps his fastball play up a bit. His walk rate remained under eight percent as 20-year-old pitcher in Double-A, which highlights his control and his ability to command the strike zone. There are injury concerns — he missed time with a forearm issue — but he’s a potential mid-rotation arm who could be more if he can fill out and gain a few ticks on the fastball. McKenzie is good value as we near the end of the top-100 picks.
89) Ralph Lifshitz, Prospects Live — Tyler Freeman, SS, Indians
You want hit tool? Freeman has got plenty, a 3% swinging strike rate paced the short season New York Penn League, despite being the 12th youngest player in the circuit. While his.352 batting average captured the batting title by nearly nineteen points. Not bad for a player few were excited about heading into the season. His balanced line drive swing, swift hands, and superior hand-eye coordination lead to consistent contact. A slightly above average runner Freeman likely settles in at average, but shows advanced instincts and natural reads on the bases, which should lend itself to 10-15 steals early in his career. An exaggerated leg kick was added late in his prep days and hints to more power potential. Love gambling on a quality of contact player with projection.
The Orioles are understandably seen as the worst/unluckiest organization at developing pitching prospects. Their track record is admittedly terrible. That said, they have a great one in Hall, who is one of the five best left-handed pitching prospects in the minors. He has an excellent frame (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), an athletic, repeatable delivery and a smutty repertoire. Hall is poised for a big age-20 season, and may earn a promotion to Double-A before the All-Star break.
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