The 2014 MLB Draft is just two days away, and with this date comes a host of new fantasy prospects for dynasty leaguers to covet, debate, and decry. While this year’s crop of prep and college talent isn’t quite as impressive as some of what we’ve seen in the recent past, there’s still a bevy of young talent you can use to bolster your MiLB rosters or use as trade chips in an attempt to win now.
With the draft just around the corner, Craig and I were looking for a way to deliver original content to our readers. And then we hit on this idea: What if we created a format in which we assigned each team one player, then explained our reasoning for why each player should end up with said team? It would be like a draft mock-up. A mock draft, if you will. Groundbreaking, we know.
Yet Craig and I lack the scouting experience, patience, and basic intelligence to bring you a legit mock draft—we’ll leave that to the talented BP Prospect/Perfect Game staffs. But what Craig and I can do is tailor what we know about these players to a fantasy perspective. A daunting task indeed.
So this mock draft won’t be about where we think these players will go. It’s not even about what we think these teams should do. This is about finding the best possible fits for these players from a dynasty POV, and explaining to you why you should root for such outcomes. It’s perhaps more of a fun exercise than a truly useful one, but hopefully the discussions surrounding organizational context do provide you with some modicum of enlightenment.
Without further ado, let’s turn this over to Craig, who has the no. 1 pick. What should us dynasty leaguers be rooting for, Craig?
1. Houston Astros – Alex Jackson – C – Rancho Bernardo HS
Craig: Options abound at no. 1, as you’d expect, and while it might not make sense for the Astros to take someone like Jackson with more polished options available, when it comes to fantasy value, this might be the best spot for the backstop. Jackson’s biggest impact is behind the plate, and Houston is open-minded enough (and value conscious enough) to leave him there, despite the long road to the majors that doing so would entail developmentally. It’s not the pick they’ll make, but from an organizational standpoint, it might be Jackson’s best shot to remain a catcher.
2. Miami Marlins – Carlos Rodon – LHP – NC State
Ben: I’m thrilled that Craig ended up taking Jackson at 1.1—and I agree that’s a nice spot for his fantasy value—but it sets up what I think is an absolute dream dynasty scenario with Rodon going to Miami. This is an organization that aggressively promotes its prospects, with a parent team that plays in the NL and in a favorable home park. Under this scenario, we could realistically see Rodon in 2015 with an eye toward using him as a no. 3 fantasy SP by 2016. Yes, please.
3. Chicago White Sox – Brady Aiken – LHP – Cathedral Catholic HS
Craig: There’s not really a bad spot for talented left-handed pitchers with four-pitch mixes. Aiken makes sense for the White Sox, though, in that he flashes a quality cutter. There are some organizations that preach against the cutter, but the White Sox aren’t one of them, actively teaching it at the major-league level with pitching guru Don Cooper. While Cooper wouldn’t work with Aiken directly (at least to start), having that kind of knowledge and philosophy within the system would bode well for his development of the pitch. It doesn’t hurt that the White Sox are aggressive with promotions, addressing one of the worst aspects of high school pitchers in timetable to the majors.
4. Chicago Cubs – Max Pentecost – C – Kennesaw State
Ben: This is an impossible pick. I was hoping Jackson would drop here, as the Cubs have had better luck developing position prospects than hitters of late. That being said, there’s an organizational need for pitching, meaning we could see an advanced arm shoot through the minors. Still, I’m going to settle on the safe, intriguing Pentecost, who’s viewed as having a modest ceiling but would be going to an organization that’s produced some positive offensive outcomes from the likes of Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and Kris Bryant in recent years. And while forecasting contextual stats several years into the future is a fool’s errand, Pentecost could find himself immersed in an excellent lineup once he does reach the majors. I considered a ton of guys here, from fast-moving arms like Aaron Nola to prep gambles like Jacob Gatewood, but Pentecost provides the best mix of upside and probability.
5. Minnesota Twins – Tyler Kolek – RHP – Shepherd HS
Craig: This is a new-wave Twins pick. The “old Twins” would have been all over a college arm like Aaron Nola, but this jibes with their new power arm philosophy, and one they’ve done quite well with based on recent history. Jose Berrios looks like a good return at present (granted, we’re far off with him), and they’ve left Alex Meyer as a starter despite the two-pitch dominance that got him drafted. Kolek probably isn’t a fast-track type of guy, but then again the Twins have the type of system where they won’t be forced into that type of thinking. Plus, pairing him with some of the talented arms they have in the lower minors should only help his (and their) development.
6. Seattle Mariners – Aaron Nola – RHP – LSU
Ben: The Mariners mess up every nearly offensive prospect they get their hands on, and most of their elite pitching prospects have suffered injuries lately. Who’s to say if the latter is their fault, but I’m still chickening out by giving them a super-safe pick in Nola, who has plus command and a repeatable delivery. The upside here is fairly modest, but I’m hoping that even the Mariners can’t manage to break Nola, who could profile as a mid-rotation starter by the second half of 2016. Not a sexy pick, but at least he’d have a favorable home ballpark. Sorry, but I don’t want to break Nick Gordon or Jeff Hoffman or Bradley Zimmer.
7. Philadelphia Phillies – Bradley Zimmer – OF – University of San Francisco
Craig: The brother of recent first-round pick Kyle Zimmer, Brad is an outfielder and an interesting one. He’s tooled up, as Phillies picks often are, but he’s got more skills than some of their recent selections (/side eyes Anthony Hewitt and Larry Greene). Putting someone with his ability to square up the baseball in a bandbox like Citizens Bank Park would be an ideal setting for him in terms of future power production. Power is his weakness, and putting him in an org with an ultimate destination that assists power is the best thing we can do for Zimmer. The Phillies also don’t have any long-term potential roadblocks to Zimmer in the outfield, even if he does have to shift to right field in the long term.
8. Colorado Rockies – Kyle Schwarber – C/1B – Indiana
Ben: I was tempted to go with Casey Gillaspie here, and Craig made a compelling case for why he should be the pick, as Coors Field could turn his power into average-ish for the first-base position. But by landing in Coors FIeld, Schwarber erases the biggest concern surrounding his profile—that he’ll have to move from behind the plate—because he could still be fantasy-relevant at first base if Colorado is his home. With a potential above-average hit tool and a borderline plus-plus power tool, we’re looking at someone who could one day serve as one of the better first-base prospects in the game. Add in that Schwarber isn’t quite a lock to move off the plate and that the Rockies have a history of sticking with defensively questionable backstops, and this would be a dynasty dream come true. And for obvious reasons, no pitchers were considered here.
9. Toronto Blue Jays – Trea Turner – SS – NC State
Craig: Turner isn’t high up on my personal board, but from a fantasy sense, there aren’t a ton of noteworthy prospects in the middle infield standing in Turner’s way, and his speed should play up a bit on the turf in Toronto. If he can learn to keep the ball on the ground, the way the turf plays should only aid him. There’s not much power, but the speed should play in the middle infield. It’s not the most inspiring rationale, but there are plenty of reasons to avoid pitchers in Toronto, and there’s a lot of potential value in this selection.
10. New York Mets – Jeff Hoffman – RHP – East Carolina
Ben: The Mets have run into some bad luck when it comes to pitcher injuries lately, losing Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery and running into a scare with Noah Syndergaard, too. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the tremendous job this organization has done developing power arms lately, with Harvey, Thor and Wheeler leading the way. Hoffman would give them another dominant right-hander in that mold, as well as one of the premier talents in the draft. Honestly, I think the Mets are one of the best realistic landing spots for Hoffman this season from a dynasty perspective. Citi Field is a nice place to call home if you’re a pitcher, and this organization seems to specialize in getting flame-throwing righties to get the ball over the plate. The prospect of a 2017 rotation with Harvey, Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Hoffman in it is truly absurd.
11. Toronto Blue Jays – Brandon Finnegan – LHP – TCU
Craig: I just spoke of plenty of reasons to avoid pitchers in Toronto, as the park serves hitters well. There’s also that there has been less than ideal development from the Blue Jays pitching prospects in a few areas, but we should note how well 2012’s first-round pick Marcus Stroman has worked out for them. Finnegan isn’t exactly Stroman, but he is an undersized lefty with a mid-90s fastball (that he holds) and a swing-and-miss slider, so you tell me. The slider is not the plus-plus weapon that Stroman boasts, but it’s plenty vicious in its own right, and the changeup offers deception if not consistency. This is a guy that wouldn’t require a ton of development work and his ability to be fast-tracked a la Stroman would likely appeal to the Blue Jays who are focused on contending these next few seasons.
12. Milwaukee Brewers – Michael Conforto – OF – Oregon St.
Ben: The Brewers have had success developing all-bat types like Prince Fielder, Matt LaPorta, and to a certain extent Khris Davis in their recent history. Miller Park would be a great home for someone with Conforto’s power. And with little talent in the mid- to upper-minors, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Milwaukee wants to put Conforto on the fast track, either. This one’s pretty simply, but I didn’t want to give the Brewers an arm and they haven’t done terribly well with toolsy youngsters in the recent past, so a polished college bat it is.
13. San Diego Padres – Kyle Freeland – LHP – Evansville
Craig: Basically any old arm would do here, but tabbing one of the more advanced college arms to get to PETCO seems like a no-brainer. Freeland has earned some Chris Sale comps thanks to his funky mechanics and bat-missing slider, but it’s unlikely that he (or anyone, really) can match that type of talent. Fortunately, from a fantasy standpoint, he doesn’t need to match Sale in talent to replicate something close to his numbers when half his starts come in PETCO. The only concern here is the track record of health among San Diego pitching prospects, though I’m more inclined to chalk that up to “pitchers get hurt” than anything in particular San Diego is doing.
14. San Francisco Giants – Grant Holmes – RHP – Conway HS
Ben: The Giants are among the best organizations in baseball when it comes to developing high-ceiling prep arms. Holmes is a moderately high-ceiling prep arm who comes with somewhat less risk than your typical high school arms. This is a match made in heaven from a developmental standpoint, as well as an ultimate ceiling standpoint since pitchers love AT&T Park. I’m not going to overthink this one.
15. Los Angeles Angels – Sean Newcomb – LHP – Hartford
Craig: Newcomb, like Freeland, is an advanced college southpaw who can touch the mid-90s. The similarities stop there as Newcomb’s best secondary pitch is a plus changeup, and a breaking ball that has shown promise. The Angels lack… everything in their farm system but have shown the ability to work with arms (Skaggs comes to mind) in the past. He should be able to move quickly as a college product, and the big-league park’s predilection for pitchers is just an added bonus.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks – Nick Gordon – SS – Olympia HS
Ben: Listen, I’m as down as anyone to mock the D-Backs for their impressive ability to purge elite talent from their organization on a regular basis. But let’s give their player dev department some credit where credit is due. The Diamondbacks have drafted and/or helped to develop guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Adam Eaton, Patrick Corbin, Chris Owings, Matt Davidson, A.J. Pollock, and Wade Miley in recent seasons, and they still have some talent in their org despite Kevin Towers’ attempts to get rid of all of it. Gordon won’t fall this far in the actual draft, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he did. He’s a very talented shortstop prospect, albeit a better MLB name than a fantasy one.
17. Kansas City Royals – Touki Toussaint – RHP – Coral Springs Christian Academy
Craig: The Royals have struggled on the development front at the big-league level but have actually shown a deft touch in guiding arms up to that stage, despite the faltering of Montgomery, Dwyer, and Lamb. Previous first-round pick Kyle Zimmer is on the verge of the big leagues, Yordano Ventura is there, Miguel Almonte, Sean Manaea, and Christian Binford are all performing well in High-A and they even turned Kyle Smith into something another team wanted. There’s a lot to like about this matchup from a fantasy standpoint, notwithstanding the poor home run environment that Kauffman provides. The spacious outfield and home run depressing qualities of the home park could allow Toussaint to focus on pounding the strikezone without fear of getting lit up, and living in the zone might be the best thing he can do.
18. Washington Nationals – Monte Harrison – OF – Lee’s Summit West HS
Ben: Most people (including Craig) probably expect/want me to take Erik Fedde here, and I do think that’d be a fine pick for dynasty league owners. But I like what the Nationals have done with uber-athletic prospects in the past, and Harrison has a chance to be a fantasy monster. He’ll take quite a while to reach the majors, as prep outfielders are wont to do, but he’s a true potential five-category fantasy contributor, though the hit tool has a ways to go. I also considered guys like Derek Hill and Gatewood here, as well as Fedde and Tyler Beede.
19. Cincinnati Reds – Derek Fisher – OF – University of Virginia
Craig: The Reds don’t appear to have a set draft philosophy in terms of profile, having had success with high school bats (Mesoraco, Bruce), high school arms (Bailey, Stephenson), and college arms (Leake), and while the success is to be determined, they popped college bat Phil Ervin just last year. I have them going back to the college bat well with Fisher, an athletic outfielder with solid speed and the ability to hit for both average and power. His power numbers should flourish in Great American Ball Park, especially given the consistency with which he can put bat-to-ball, and he should slot well into the Reds outfield, flanking Billy Hamilton with Bruce or Ervin on the other side.
20. Tampa Bay Rays – Tyler Beede – SP – Vanderbilt
Ben: Despite their sterling reputation around the league, the Rays really haven’t developed much homegrown talent in recent years. Wil Myers, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi are all imports, and recent first-round picks like Tim Beckham, Josh Sale, and Mikie Mahtook have largely fizzled out. There’s more promise on the mound than at the plate in this organization, and I’m more confident in Tampa’s ability to develop pitching than I am hitting. Beede is as enigmatic a prospect as they come, but he’s also got big upside and could be a fast-mover if he takes to instruction well. While landing in the AL East isn’t ideal, at least Beede gets to call the somewhat pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field home in this scenario.
21. Cleveland Indians – Michael Chavis – 3B – Sprayberry HS
Craig: There aren’t many hitters’ parks left on the list, and with Chavis being one of the better pure hitters out of the prep ranks, this seems as good a spot as any. The Indians have some successes (Kipnis, Lindor, Naquin) and with the DH as an option, they shouldn’t mind it too much if it ends up that his glove can’t quite hack it.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers – Luis Ortiz – RHP – Sanger HS
Ben: I turned to Craig for some help with this pick, since he lives in L.A., and he mentioned the Dodgers’ recent success with high school arms and high-upside prep hitters. That lines up pretty well with the board I have here, and after debating between Ortiz and Sean Reid-Foley, I settled on the California product who’s falling down some boards because of a “forearm injury” earlier this season. All pitchers break anyway, so whatever, and Los Angeles is a great place for pitchers to play, as is the NL West, so I’m still fine with this pick. He’d take forever to reach the majors in this instance, since it’s hard to see the Dodgers skimping out on their rotation anytime soon, but the eventual upside could be worth it.
23. Detroit Tigers – Erick Fedde – RHP – UNLV
Craig: The obvious answer here is Nick Burdi, the power reliever from Louisville, and despite the potentially dire straits that Detroit’s bullpen could be in if Joe Nathan doesn’t get it together, this is a draft for fantasy value and Burdi is a waste. Fedde will take longer than originally anticipated to pan out thanks to Tommy John surgery, but once (if) he recovers, should find Detroit a welcome home. Detroit works well with power arms, and that’s what Fedde was pre-injury, throwing in the mid-90s and featuring a power slider. Worst comes to worst, you figure he ends up a closer, right?
24. Pittsburgh Pirates – Derek Hill – OF- Elk Grove HS
Ben: “Zomg, another outfield prospect?!” Yes, another outfield prospect. The Pirates have had great success converting toolsy young players into MLB studs recently, and they have a chance to add another special athlete to their system here in Hill. He’s a better MLB prospect than fantasy one because of his potential plus-plus defense, but Hill also has 70-grade speed and the hit tool to turn into a decent offensive player, even if power doesn’t project as a big part of his game. Hill is likely to need a long time in the minors, and there’s no reason for the Pirates to rush him with the glut of talent they have ahead of him in the outfield.
25. Oakland Athletics – Sean Reid-Foley – Sandalwood HS
Craig: Reid-Foley features a nice three-pitch mix and is, for the most part, good but not great. Nice pitchability, good stuff, fairly polished for a prep product… in other words, he’s someone Oakland will turn into a star. He won’t move particularly quickly—though as they’ve shown with Addison Russell, the A’s aren’t afraid to challenge someone who they think can handle it—but the payoff should be there, as even pitchers with sub-par stuff accrue fantasy value in Oakland (/camera pans to Tommy Milone minding his own business).
26. Boston Red Sox – A.J. Reed – 1B – Kentucky
Ben: This isn’t who I want the Red Sox to draft, per se, but from a dynasty POV, it’s very intriguing. The Red Sox lack a definitive first baseman of the future, despite Travis Shaw’s steps forward this season, and they also lack a ton of power in what’s otherwise a very deep system. That means Reed has the potential to move somewhat quickly through the organization despite Boston’s general slow-but-steady approach with prospects. And while Fenway isn’t quite as friendly to left-handed power hitters as it is to righties, it’s still a nice place to call home for any batter.
27. St. Louis Cardinals – Braxton Davidson – 1B/OF – TC Roberson HS
Craig: The Cardinals just find hitters who hit and make them better than we even imagined. This couldn’t work out better for Davidson, one of the best bats in an admittedly weak high school class, which means it couldn’t work out better for fantasy owners. College bats seem to be their focus, but the St. Louis development team could mold Davidson as they see fit, and making the most of his functional power and ability to barrel the ball. As the sacred scrolls say: “all this has happened before and will happen again.”