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It’s this time of year that we mock, both in a true and in a meta sense. Most fantasy mock drafts are drawn out, boring, and bring the over-the-top praise on social media out of the woodwork, where it’s thankfully been hiding all off-season thus far. However, when you can take a mock and turn it into something different and fun, then you’ve already won. This is not your ordinary mock. It’s a counterbalance to the force. This is now the fifth year I’ve overseen this exercise, and its third year here at Baseball Prospectus—and every year it gets more and more fun. This year we have a couple of new names, and new affiliations, as you’ll see in the write-ups below.

And just like we did last year (and the year before that), we first must examine the parameters. There are always parameters. Because it’s really stupid to try and fix something that’s not broken, I kept the exact same format as last year, which worked so well. And just like last year, these were the instructions for the participants of this draft, straight from the email I sent out prior to kickoff:

“The premise is very simple, we're drafting a minor league roster for a brand new dynasty league team (no one has a major league roster yet). 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 in tact. 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. And yes, both Kenta Maeda and Byung-ho Park are eligible.”

Just 15 guys drafting 10 minor leaguers a piece to start a dynasty league roster with. And the most fun part about this exercise is that with all of the picks, I asked each “owner” to write a quick comment on why they were taking the player—so you’re going to be reading analysis directly from the person who made the pick in the draft. The result of this is not a precise prospect list by any means, but a great representation of how minor league players are valued for fantasy across the industry.

We’ll also take a look back at last year’s draft and highlight a few picks worthy of highlighting as we go through the corresponding rounds—since many of the participants returned to test their meddle once again. Here are a few picks that should be looked back on with joy and mirth:

  • At Pick 1.3, Al Melchior selected Carlos Correa, who has wasted no time in becoming one of the great fantasy players in today’s game at quite a young age.
  • At Pick 2.21, Eno Sarris grabbed another Carlos, this time of the Rodon persuasion, who is looking to build off a very strong end of last season to claim his place as the no. 2 the White Sox have been looking for behind Chris Sale.
  • At Pick 2.24, James Anderson selected current top-five fantasy prospect Nomar Mazara, who looks to have a spot in Texas waiting for him in the second half.

With those pleasantries out of the way, here are the first two rounds of the 2016 Baseball Prospectus Experts Mock Prospect Draft:

Round One

1.1) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
“There are only two potential options with the first pick, one with a bit more upside but substantially risk and… Seager. So, yes, the answer comes down to security in the selection but the Dodgers shortstop isn't without his own significant ceiling. No longer a lock to move to third (in the short term), Seager offers the ability to hit for average (.337 in 27 September games for LA), and power (22 home runs between the minors and majors in 2015) from a premium position. It's not fair to expect that type of average from Seager from day one, but something in the .290-plus range isn't unreasonable based on his tools. He has the frame to grow into more power, and 20-plus home runs shouldn't be an issue within a few years, with the potential for me. Granted, shortstop depth has improved in a big way—with Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor called up last season, and Xander Bogaerts establishing himself—but this is still a position that batted .256/.307/.375 last year, so Seager's potential production could place him squarely in the top five at the position, if not higher.”

1.2) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
“I (strangely) agree with everything Craig said above, and while I do indeed find Byron Buxton to carry significantly more risk than Seager, he's a hell of a consolation prize (though I did also consider Garin Cecchini here). Injuries and aggressive promotions have stayed Buxton's progress on stat sheets but you'd be hard-pressed to find a scouting report that doesn't still paint him as an All-Star. While I think we're going to have to wait a while for the power to come, Buxton should make an impact in steals immediately, and his .209/.250/.326 line from last season hasn't changed my view that he'll be a future contributor in average. I want to see Buxton stay on the field for an entire season in 2016, and I don't particularly care whether a majority of his PA come in Triple-A or back in the majors. I just want him to be poised to dominate in 2017, and I think that's a realistic timeline for him to emerge as an OF3. Obviously, the ultimate upside is as top-three fantasy outfielder (and maybe fantasy player overall) in the game. Not too shabby.”

1.3) Yoan Moncada, 2B, Boston Red Sox (Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams)
“I almost took Phillies shortstop J.P Crawford here, and I actually did, for about five minutes, before changing my mind and taking Moncada here at 1.3. I decided to swap the high floor that Crawford provides for the high-ceiling Red Sox second baseman. Moncada possesses the tools to be a first round fantasy hitter soon after reaching the big leagues. After a slow start to his professional debut, Moncada showed off his hit and speed tools, finishing the season hitting .278 with 49 steals in 52 attempts. He should start the 2016 season in High-A and could finish in Double-A with a strong showing to start the season. Where he plays once he reaches the big leagues is a bit of mystery right now with Dustin Pedroia blocking him at second base, so he could end up in the outfield in a few years, joining Mookie Betts and possibly Andrew Benintendi to form one of the youngest outfields in the game.”

1.4) J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (D.J. Short, Rotoworld)
“Crawford might not have the elite fantasy upside of the names selected before him here, but I'll take my chances on a shortstop who isn't far off from the majors. The 21-year-old has displayed a good approach, with nearly as many walks (160) as strikeouts (163) over 283 minor league games, so I'm hopeful he'll have a useful batting average and get on base at a high clip in the long-term. This should make him a good fit near the top of the Phillies' lineup, so runs scored should be there. With the potential for double-digit homers and steals, he's going to be a well-rounded fantasy option in time. We'll likely get our first look at him with the Phillies by midseason, but I'm not counting on much from him this year.”

1.5) Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers (James Anderson, Rotowire)
“I grabbed Mazara in the second round last year, and I was happy to see him waiting for me in the first this year. He is the rare high-upside 20-year-old with a high floor to match. Not many 20-year-olds with 65-70-grade raw get on base at a .409 clip while striking out less than 12 percent of the time in their first 20 games at Triple-A. He hit just 14 homers in 131 games last year between Double-A and Triple-A, but that power is going to pop soon, and when it does, he’ll start putting up silly numbers in Texas. Silly, as in, there might be a couple .300/35-homer years in that stick. I fully expect him to force the club’s hand in April or May and see 90-plus games in the majors this year, and he has the polish to be special from day one.”

1.6) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
“This pick is exactly why you can’t just say ‘ok so I’ll just take a bunch of hitters at the top because hitters are best.’ There are four hitters I would take over Giolito, but there’s also no competition right now for the best fantasy pitching prospect in the game. Giolito has two top-of-the-scale pitches in his fastball and curve, and the fact that he can pair it with a changeup that can miss bats and a strong command profile is just unfair to hitters. There’s also a non-zero chance that we see him in Washington this year—though 2017 is much more likely. There are rarely pitching prospects who could actually profile as the best starting pitcher in baseball, and Giolito is the first one of those we’ve seen since his future rotation mate, Stephen Strasburg. Guess I’ll have to grab some hitters later on.”

1.7) Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals (Eno Sarris, FanGraphs)
“Left on the board with this pick are the many—many—prospects with more upside than Turner seemingly has. The power that once seemed burgeoning now seems less likely to turn up. And by playing him twice as often at second as shortstop, even with the struggling Ian Desmond showing poor glove at the time, the Nationals have broadcasted at least some belief that he may end up at the less valuable position. And though he has good wheels, it might be more the 20-stolen-base kind of wheels than a top shelf steals guy. But there's something very appealing about Turner—opportunity. Danny Espinosa is all that stands between Turner and a starting job (at shortstop), and the Nationals have turned Espinosa into a backup before. With the contact rate Turner showed last year, and his minor league strikeout rates, he should be able to provide decent batting average, a few steals, and non-zero power… this year!”

1.8) Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Texas Rangers (Craig Glaser, STATS Inc)
“Gallo's power is one of the loudest tools in the minors and I couldn't let him get past me at pick no. 8. Gallo is only 22 but had a decent 123-PA taste of the majors last year where he struggled with contact but knocked 10 extra-base hits, posting an ISO over .200. He'll probably never hit for a high average but guys in the .230-.250 range don't hurt as much as they used to for fantasy and who knows, maybe this hypothetical league will switch over to OBP at some point. Projections already have him as a 30-40 HR hitter with a handful of steals, which is a nice building block for any fantasy team.”

1.9) Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Paul Hartman, Fantasy Assembly)
“At 19 years old, Urias has as high a ceiling as any prospect in the game. He shows excellent command of three plus pitches and, with the exception of three Triple-A starts, has dominated older competition at every step of his development. He'll return to Oklahoma City in 2016, where he'll need to build up his innings after just 87 in 2014 and 80 last year. I have no expectations that he'll be able to help my fantasy squad in 2016, but look for him to contribute in 2017, with the real payoff coming after that.”

1.10) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Al Melchior, CBS)
“Glasnow has breezed through every stop in the Pirates' organization, and given that the Bucs are counting on Jeff Locke and Ryan Vogelsong to populate the back of their rotation, the 22-year-old would seem to have a big-league opportunity sooner rather than later. It may be just as well that Glasnow will probably get a little more time in Triple-A to begin 2016, as he threw strikes just 59.8 percent of the time at that level last season (per StatCorner). Still, only Jose Berrios may be a safer bet among the high-end pitching prospects, and Glasnow has a clearer path to contribute sooner. It's also helps that Ray Searage will be there when Glasnow arrives in Pittsburgh.”

1.11) Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies (Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus)
“Rodgers clung to the top spot in multiple iterations of Chris Crawford’s Top 100 Draft Prospects last year on the strength of plus hit and power tools, and landing with the Rockies third overall couldn’t have been a much better outcome from a fantasy perspective. He features the kind of elite bat speed and consistency with his barrel delivery at a young age to make his projection far easier than most high-school bats. While I had to pass up on a bunch of closer-to-the-majors talent to land him here, the upside of a .290-hitting shortstop with 25-homer potential (that can play up in Coors) was just too tantalizing. Given the renaissance of young, offensively-oriented six-spotters dotting the landscape nowadays, snagging my own to build a farm system around seemed like the right call.”

1.12) Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers (Mike Rosenbaum, MLBPipeline)
“Brinson has one of the highest ceilings in the minors, with the potential for five average-or-better tools including a plus power-speed combo. However, it was his capacity to make adjustments and apply those tools consistently last season that prompted me to take him with the 12th pick. He showcased the whole power-speed thing (20 HR, 18 SB) at age 21 between High-, Double- and Triple-A, and did so while making significant strides in his approach, highlighted by a career-best walk rate. Even if the hit tool doesn’t develop as hoped, it should still be good enough for him to utilize the raw power and get on base at a respectable clip, which could lead to a lot of runs and steals. I thought there was an outside chance I might be able to get Mazara here—until James picked him fifth. Also considered A.J. Reed and Dansby Swanson with the pick.”

1.13) Alex Reyes, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Jock Thompson, BaseballHQ)
“Some might be concerned about the character issues posed by his suspension for marijuana, but most of the time this is pretty standard stuff in my opinion, a rite of passage for many 21-year-olds. Reyes’ transgression—now legal in four states—doesn’t affect his arm or his stuff. Obviously the 49 walks in 101 innings last year say Reyes still has work to do on his control. But the 152 strikeouts over the same period say that—along with his new hiatus—this is where his issues end. Reyes’ mid-90s velocity not only lasts late into games, but it also sets up what is now a swing-and-miss breaking pitch. That Reyes allowed just one homer last season is just one more testament to the difficulties he poses. Reyes reached Double-A before his 21st birthday; he’ll reach Triple-A in 2016 and perhaps even debut with St. Louis later this season.”

1.14) Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves (Eric Longenhagen, ESPN)
“Swanson is relatively risk-free as far as prospects go and will provide value across several categories because of a rare combination of contact, power and speed. And it all comes at SS. His approach—as many strikeouts as walks in pro ball so far—befits a top-of-the-order hitter, and he should score plenty of runs as well. Yes, he lacks freak upside, but every splashy bat I was targeting in round one has been taken and this is a sturdy foundation on which to build a fantasy farm system.”

1.15) Nick Williams, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Mike Buttil, Razzball)
“Williams still seems to be a polarizing prospect, but in 2015 he was able to answer some of the questions about his approach and I think there's enough offensive upside to warrant a high pick. I like the 22-year-old's chances to contribute in all five fantasy categories in the next year or two. A hitter-friendly home park and no major blocks to playing time once he's ready don't hurt either.”

Round Two

2.16) A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros (Mike Buttil, Razzball)
“Reed's NFBC ADP is higher than Jon Singleton's, who the Astros currently have penciled in at first base. Reed tore through the Cal league, then proved it wasn't a product of his environment by torching Double-A as well. At this time last year it would have been silly to take him this high (and maybe it still is) but I figured there was no way he'd make it back to me through another 28-pick gauntlet. He's close, and the bat has a ton of upside even if he's limited to first base defensively.”

2.17) Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Eric Longenhagen, ESPN)
“The oft-injured Meadows finally got a full season under his belt in 2015 and mashed in the pitcher-friendly FSL and in the Eastern League before finishing off the year in Arizona where he looked great despite poor numbers. He's going to steal bases and hit home runs, the latter thanks to a swing path that allows for a rare combination of contact and power. At just 20, he's already kissed Double-A and I shudder to think what he'll be able to do once he fills out. Though it’s fair to wonder how he’ll stay healthy if he doesn’t. With Swanson already on board, I can swallow some health risk if it means I’m getting upside this intoxicating.”

2.18) Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (Jock Thompson, BaseballHQ)
“Nothing spectacular about Devers’ .288/.329/.443 line on the surface. But once you understand that he did all this in A-ball at age 18 and take in the scouting reports, it’s easy to like his upside. A left-handed hitter who already makes 80-plus percent contact and goes line-to-line with pop, Devers’ plate approach, strength and HR totals will improve with age, and make him a middle-of-the-lineup MLB bat. Now at 3B, could end up at 1B, could be fast-tracked to Double-A by the end 2016.”

2.19) Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox (Mike Rosenbaum, MLBPipeline)
“I was hoping for A.J. Reed after the turn but will gladly settle for Benintendi, who, like Brinson, features a very intriguing blend of power and speed. What I like about Benintendi—and what I believe gives him a relatively high floor in the big leagues as well as fantasy-wise—is that he’s a disciplined and selective hitter who controls the zone to his advantage and doesn’t miss pitches when he gets them. It’s the same reason I could see him being a quick-to-the-majors guy, much like Schwarber and Conforto. I do have some concern that the approach might detract from his hit tool as he climbs the ladder, but I’m still very high on his chances of being a four-category guy.”

2.20) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians (Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus)
“I generally tend to take a more conservative approach with my prospect acquisitions, focusing on higher floor contributors to keep while I sell off the ceiling guys for present value. Every rule has its exceptions, however, and Frazier is one of them. After an underwhelming start to his professional career he made tangible strides in putting bat to ball much more frequently at High-A, while the elite bat and foot speed combination began to play with greater regularity. Frazier's ceiling is so absurd—think 30-plus homers and 15-20 steals—that I'm just going to go ahead and ignore entirely the platoon floor if his contact rate stagnates against better competition.”

2.21) Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Al Melchior, CBS)
“With a strong season at Double-A Biloxi, in which he slashed .307/.347/.453 with 25 stolen bases, Arcia brought himself much closer to being the Brewers' shortstop of the present. He showed considerably more thump than in previous full-season stops, hitting 37 doubles and seven triples in 552 plate appearances. Even if Arcia's power doesn't translate right away, he should help Fantasy owners with batting average and steals, making him mixed league-relevant as soon as this season. Just maybe dynasty owners will have some power to look forward to as well.”

2.22) Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets (Paul Hartman, Fantasy Assembly)
“I'm taking all of the lefties! With a run on the top hitting prospects, Matz slipped through to me in the second round where I'll happily pair my 2nd ranked LHP prospect with my top one. Matz won't reproduce the 2.27 ERA that he had over six big-league starts last year, but he'll get plenty of groundballs while striking out nearly a batter an inning (a pretty good recipe for success). There are very few prospects with the ability to produce at the level of Matz in 2016, so what he may lack as far as future ceiling, he more than makes up for with immediate results.”

2.23) Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres (Craig Glaser, STATS Inc)
“When the Padres acquired Margot and three other prospects for Craig Kimbrel, a lot of people questioned the high price paid by the Red Sox for their new closer. Margot's upside is a big part of that cost. Margot is a great athlete who, at only 21, seems close to earning a shot in the majors. Once he gets there the Padres could find themselves with a rangy CF who makes contact, has developing power and has the potential to wreck some havoc on the bases.”

2.24) Ozhaino Albies, SS, Atlanta Braves (Eno Sarris, FanGraphs)
“If Turner has been around long enough to see his upside projections lowered, Albies is just now entering the spin zone that will have us all dreaming. At the foundation is a great sense of the zone and a great feel for contact, along with elite speed and a plus glove that should keep him at the position. On that alone, he could end up being an Elvis Andrus type, although probably no earlier than 2017, since he's only 19 and hasn't seen Double-A yet. But if there's any power growth, perhaps Albies could be even better than that. Even with some competition in town now that the older and slightly more polished Dansby Swanson is a Brave.”

2.25) Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
“I kept watching pick after pick come off the board, waiting to be able to cross Zimmer off the top of my list, but that pick just never came. And while it meant I had to pass on one of my prospect boos, Tim Anderson, the value was too great to not take the safer bet here. Zimmer made it to Double-A last year, and while he struggled a bit, the overall package is very safe as a future five-category contributor, and someone who could see the majors as soon as this coming season. I mean, have you seen how bad the Indians outfield is? There’s 15-homer, 30-steal potential here with a strong batting average.”

2.26) Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox (James Anderson, Rotowire)
“The White Sox expedited the transition to Anderson as the club’s everyday shortstop when they declined to pick up Alexei Ramirez’s option this offseason, and in doing so they answered any questions about Anderson’s ability to stick at the six, at least in the short term. In Anderson I get another high-upside hitter with a plus hit tool and a double-plus carrying tool to pair with Mazara, but in Anderson’s case that tool is speed, not power. He made a minor improvement in his approach last season, going from a 2.5 percent walk rate in 2014 to a 4.4 percent walk rate last year, and with another similar jump in that area this year he should profile atop a lineup. The power projection may not be what it once was, but there could still be 15 homers in that bat in his peak seasons. I imagine Anderson will struggle in his first taste of the majors this year, but he should still be good for .250 and 20 steals if he debuts in June and plays every day, which is quite possible considering Tyler Saladino currently sits atop the big-league depth chart.”

2.27) Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins (D.J. Short, Rotoworld)
“I went with a near MLB-ready player with my first pick and I'm doing the same here with Berrios, who probably deserved a call-up last year. The 21-year-old was excellent in Double-A and kept it going at Rochester, including a dominant stretch over his final four starts. He has a strong three-pitch mix and good command, so I'm happy to get him at this point in the draft. It's not saying much, but he has a good chance to be the Twins' best starter from the jump for fantasy purposes. By the way, Berrios approved of this pick on Twitter, which is all I really need.”

2.28) Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams)
“Snell was one of the most dominating starters in the minors last season, striking out 163 while walking 53 in 134 innings across three levels. He possesses two plus pitches and an effective slider. He is near major-league ready and should see time in the Rays rotation by midseason, or sooner, depending if the Rays decide to trade one of their young starters for a bat. He has a no. 2 ceiling and should be a part of the young Rays rotation for the next six seasons.”

2.29) Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
“Is Barreto a shortstop? I don't know. What I do know is that the bat will play even if he has to move to the outfield, and I'm tired of assuming every young but flawed SS defender is going to move off the position. Barreto has really blossomed over the past two years, striking out less and hitting for more power as he's climbed the ladder. I'd like to see him walk more than once a week moving forward and I understand that his SB totals from 2014 are a mirage. But a potential .290 hitter and 15-homer/15-steal shortstop who's in the upper minors? I'll take it at pick 29, even if Barreto is the type of player who might struggle his first year or two in the majors.”

2.30) Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
“Big man, big power, short porch. Okay, that last one doesn't really work since he's not a lefty, but Judge has big power to all fields, so it shouldn't matter much. He's going to swing and miss a lot, but he does well to limit the holes in his swing for such a big human. Power isn't at the premium it once was, but it is still in demand because it impacts so many fantasy categories. He doesn't have the power that Gallo does, but he also shouldn't be the drain on average that Gallo is. Lower ceiling but probably a higher floor, and it's reasonable for him to 12 spots later. He runs well (get ready for the caveat) for a guy his size, and should settle in as a fringe-average runner, so while he won't be a speed asset, he shouldn't be a zero either. Hard to be upset at a guy with this power ceiling at the tail-end of the second round.”

To be continued…