This year, instead of posting a straight top fantasy prospects list like only boring sites do (cough, me, cough), we decided to shake things up. Zig where others zag, if you know what I mean. So we put the bat signal out for others in the industry who are both knowledgeable from both a fantasy perspective and a prospect perspective. The response was, frankly, even better than I anticipated, as you'll be able to tell by the names involved.
But first, the parameters. These are the instructions for the participants of this draft, straight from the e-mail I sent out prior to kicking it off:
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 standard 13-team 5x5 rotisserie where you keep all players indefinitely with no contracts/salaries involved. The first rule is that any player you select must still have their prospect status. The second rule is that there are no other rules. It's just about building the type of farm system you would want to start from scratch with.
Just 13 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. The result of this is not a precise list by any means, but a great representation of how minor league players are valued for fantasy across the industry.
So without any further ado, here are the first three rounds of the Fake Teams Expert Mock Prospect Draft:
Pick 1.1 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - Billy Hamilton (OF/CIN)
"I can almost hear all of you groaning as I type this. I first saw Hamilton in early 2011 in the Midwest League and I've been a huge fan ever since. The only thing he does faster than he runs is talk. But, you guys know all that. I really only considered one other guy here and I'm sure he'll be off the board in short order."
Pick 1.2 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Jurickson Profar (SS/TEX)
"Jurickson Profar was the top player on my board, so I was thrilled to see him available to me at my pick. He plays a scarce position and projects to stick in the middle infield for years to come, is close to the majors already, and has the tools to hit for both average and power while stealing bases. Easy pick."
Pick 1.3 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - Oscar Taveras (OF/STL)
"Not a tough decision for me here, as I get to grab my #2 prospect (next to Profar). Oscar Taveras may not get a ton of playing time in 2013, but he has the potential to be a very special hitter."
Pick 1.4 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Xander Bogaerts (SS/BOS)
"I will take Xander Bogaerts, a guy who could be the next great hitting SS. Until he moves to 3B. :)"
PIck 1.5 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Mike Zunino (C/SEA)
"Hmmm....hitting or pitching....pitching or hitting.... On the positional scarcity theory, I will go with Mike Zunino."
Pick 1.6 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Wil Myers (OF/TB)
"I can't resist a potential middle of the order hitter that should help my fantasy team in 2013 should I choose to call him up (hypothetically speaking of course)."
Pick 1.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - Dylan Bundy (SP/BAL)
"I'll be swift and select Dylan Bundy. Made it to the Bigs in his first full year out of high school, could be in the rotation to stay by the end of the year. Legit #1 potential. Breaking my 'pitchers are scary' rule for this one. Considered d'Arnaud here."
Pick 1.8 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Nick Castellanos (3B/DET)
"I feel like I'm in a weird spot here but I'm going to go with the best bat left in my opinion with Nick Castellanos. I believe the power will come eventually and he should be a third baseman so there's positional value as well."
Pick 1.9 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - Travis d'Arnaud (C/NYM)
Pick 1.10 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Taijuan Walker (SP/SEA)
"I never recommend drafting a pitcher in the first round of a prospect draft, but overdrafts have left me no choice. Taijuan Walker should have gone in the top-6, so I'm thrilled to have him fall in my lap here. He's the second best pitching prospect I've seen in person. Number one is already off the board."
Pick 1.11 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Gerrit Cole (SP/PIT)
"Similar to what Mike said: I'd rather take a position player here, but I don't really see one worth taking (although a few do tempt me), so I'm going with Gerrit Cole, who I consider to be the second-best SP prospect in the minors. I saw Cole in Portland this summer and he made me feel feelings again, taking a perfect game into the 5th. I'll live with the occasional clunker in order to benefit from all the 200-plus K seasons."
Pick 1.12 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Shelby Miller (SP/STL)
"The run on arms continues. Long one of baseball's top prospects, Miller looked lost halfway through 2012, but everything clicked back into place in mid-July, after which he returned to his dominant self, throwing 59.1 innings with a 2.88 ERA and a ridiculous 70:7 K:BB. The hard-throwing righty, who will still be 22 for most of the 2013 season, also made his MLB debut and looked just as good, so we already have an idea that he can pitch in the bigs."
PIck 1.13 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - Zack Wheeler (SP/NYM)
"Wheeler cemented his status as a top prospect last season, reaching AAA while striking out a batter per inning and posting a 45% ground ball rate as well. The scouting reports on Wheeler point toward a pitcher who has the potential to have 4 average or better pitches. We ranked him in our consensus rankings as our #2 pitching prospect, and he is the top pitcher remaining on my list."
PIck 2.1 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - Addison Russell (SS/OAK)
"Yes, this is a complete homer pick. But Russell is a prospect who advanced quickly after signing, has shown the potential to be an impact talent at the plate while providing both power and speed and the potential to stay at the position. Is he the 14th best player available? No. But will he be there at pick #39? Doubtful. I'd rather take the chance on him a bit earlier given how long until I have my next pick."
Pick 2.2 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Jose Fernandez (SP/MIA)
"After taking a pitcher in Round 1, I had my eye on one particular hitter who should come off the board shortly, but Fernandez is closer to the bigs, and thus more of a sure thing. Whoever said, "There's no such thing as a pitching prospect," hasn't seen this 20-year-old Cuban-born right-hander. Fernandez's prototypical power arsenal and thick-trunked physique will help him not only dominate but also gobble up innings, so his elite rate stats (1.75 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 10.6 K/9) will carry even more weight. He's not quite the prospect that Dylan Bundy is, but his 2012 numbers compare favorably across the board."
Pick 2.3 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Javier Baez (SS/CHC)
"After taking an MLB-ready pitcher with my first selection, I'm going to go with the high-upside position player here and grab Javier Baez, SS, ChC. When phrases such as "Gary Sheffield-like bat speed," "70 power" and "shortstop" are thrown together ... enough said. He's not a sure bet to reach his ceiling, but he doesn't even have to to be a stud."
Pick 2.4 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Christian Yelich (OF/MIA)
"Ben drafting Javier Baez was a kick in the groin, but Yelich allows me to take the type of player I covet. He's unlikely to dominate any one category, but Yelich will accumulate counting stats resulting in significant value."
Pick 2.5 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - Carlos Correa (SS/HOU)
"I too was hoping Baez would fall. In my league, I don't often draft prospects who are in rookie ball, but Correa was the highest upside position player available. Plus, I prefer to go after players at scarce positions (See, Pick 1.9), Correa was an easy choice for me."
Pick 2.6 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Anthony Rendon (3B/WSH)
"Count me in on the Baez-regret-bandwagon as well. I'm going to pick myself up and dust myself off by selecting Rendon though. To get a bat and approach this advanced in the second round is good fortune I think. I'm passing on arms once again, but if healthy, I love what Rendon brings to the table (average, OBP, solid power, positional scarcity). That's a big if of course, but a risk I'm willing to take given the value."
Pick 2.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - Byron Buxton (OF/MIN)
"Buxton has a huge ceiling, but a lot of work to do. If he pans out he could be among the top fantasy performers year and in and year out while also playing a premium position."
Pick 2.8 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Miguel Sano (3B/MIN)
"Thoughts of 80 grade power dance through my head as I excitedly make this selection. Sano may have to move off third base, but the power will play anywhere on the diamond. Sano's success hinges on the utility of his hit tool. Thankfully for him his power sets the bar for a usable hit tool quite low, and even if it plays at a slightly below average rate, the power will compensate."
PIck 2.9 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Tyler Skaggs (SP/ARZ)
"I was thinking about another position player, but ultimately I can't pass up a 21-year-old lefty who is ready for the majors right now yet still has some projection remaining."
Pick 2.10 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Jameson Taillon (SP/PIT)
"Since Josh took the player I hoped would fall to me, I will take a pitcher here who has the potential to be a number 1 starter. My choice here is Pirates pitching prospect Jameson Taillon."
Pick 2.11 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - Jonathan Singleton (1B/HOU)
I don't care that he likes to get high, I'm taking the best bat left on the board in Jonathan Singleton. First base is not as deep as it's been in the past, especially when it comes to hitters who can boast 30 HR potential and an above average bat. Singleton is a great mix of both upside and proximity.
Pick 2.12 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Kevin Gausman (SP/BAL)
"I was really hoping Byron Buxton would keep falling, as I had him way up on my draft board. Instead, I go with my first pitcher in Kevin Gausman, who projects to have three plus pitches and should move through the minors quickly. He has a good frame and pitchability and has front-end upside. The division he’ll play in is the only drawback."
Pick 2.13 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - Archie Bradley (SP/ARZ)
"I was also hoping against hope that Buxton would be here for one of my picks. Unfortunately, he is not and I don't see a bat worth reaching for ahead of these two guys. I'll take Archie Bradley and Trevor Bauer. I think Bradley is an ace in the making, Bauer still has a No. 2 ceiling for me."
Pick 3.1 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - Trevor Bauer (SP/CLE)
Pick 3.2 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Noah Syndergaard (SP/TOR)
"We just passed a pretty big drop-off point, and there were a number of equally viable options available to me at this pick. I opted to go for Noah Syndergaard, as there are few pitchers left with front-end upside and the kind of stuff Syndergaard possesses. He’s another pitcher with a good frame and a hard fastball with two potentially plus complementary pitches. He also has the arsenal to generate groundballs, which is a plus. There’s risk here and he needs to prove himself at the upper levels, but I like the upside, and he could move quickly."
Pick 3.3 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - Brian Goodwin (OF/WSH)
"I could go chalk for this pick, but there's no fun in that. I cannot imagine a team of mine without Brian Goodwin on it and he's not getting back to me in another 20+ selections. I think he can be a full five category contributor with an emphasis on speed (which I didn't get much of in my first two picks) and he's already reached Double-A. I don't care if this is a bit of a reach - he's my guy, plain and simple."
Pick 3.4 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Jorge Soler (OF/CHC)
"We don't know too much about the guy I am taking, but in his limited plate appearances here in the states in 2012, he showed some power, speed and a solid eye at the plate that bodes well heading into 2013. My choice is Cubs outfield prospect Jorge Soler. I look forward to seeing how he fares in full season ball in a few short months."
PIck 3.5 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Jedd Gyorko (2B/SD)
He may not be especially toolsy, but he can really hit and he's ready now. I believe in the bat and I will go with Jedd Gyorko, 2B-3B, San Diego Padres.
Pick 3.6 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Delino DeShields Jr (2B/HOU)
"I drafted explosive power with my last pick, Miguel Sano, and I'm going to compliment him with a burner and stolen base monster with this pick. I'm selecting Delino DeShields Jr, second baseman for the Houston Astros. Billy Hamilton overshadowed DeShields Jr's base stealing binge, but the son of a former big leaguer swiped 102 bases in 121 attempts. He's yet to taste the upper minors, and thus he has rungs on the minor league ladder left to ascend before reaching the show, but he has a skill-set that could be well worth the wait."
Pick 3.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - Trevor Rosenthal (SP/STL)
"This may be considered a reach, but when a guy's floor is dominant closer, you have to jump at him. I heard from multiple places that Rosenthal was big-league ready as a starter in 2012, and with some seasoning he could develop into a front of the rotation pitcher. I am his biggest fan, and considered him in the 2nd round as well."
Pick 3.8 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Alen Hanson (SS/PIT)
"This might be a bit of a reach but I have doubts that he'd get back to me. Despite my first two picks playing 3rd base, I like to grab up the middle prospects if I can. We'll see if Hanson can back up his breakout 2012, but even with some statistical regression, his bat will play up the middle. Despite Josh grabbing my preferred option of Delino DeShields, Jr just ahead of me, I'm excited to get Hanson's blend of pop and speed at this point in the draft."
Pick 3.9 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - Albert Almora (OF/CHC)
Pick 3.10 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Francisco Lindor (SP/CLE)
"Only two shortstop prospects taken in the first three rounds are sure bets to stick at the position and Lindor is one of them. This winter, it seems dynasty league owners are using Lindor's elite defense as a reason to discount his hit and power tool. Maybe they "lag behind" technically, but he's still extremely young and has considerable room for growth."
Pick 3.11 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Mike Olt (3B/TEX)
"I'm not necessarily his biggest fan in the world, but after taking a high-risk pick with Baez it makes sense to take a high-floor guy in Mike Olt, 3B/1B, Tex. I think he'll end up in a different organization by midseason, and I like the power potential at third, plus he shouldn't embarrass himself in terms of AVG or OBP. I was tempted by a few fallen SP prospects and high-upside OFs, but I think/hope at least one of them will be around in four picks."
Pick 3.12 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Nolan Arenado (3B/COL)
"Don't care about the concerns that cropped up surrounding Arenado in 2012. He's still a 21-year-old contact machine (10% K rate) who's doubles -- and potentially home run -- power combined with an innate ability to put bat on ball will play up nicely at Coors Field. Plus, with apologies to Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco, there's exactly no one standing between Arenado and several years of quality production for both the Rockies and my dynasty squad."
PIck 3.13 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - David Dahl (OF/COL)
"Taken high in the first round last season, Dahl went out and absolutely obliterated the Pioneer League, a league that generally trends toward college players rather than high schoolers. Is it a small sample in an amazing offensive environment? Absolutely, but he could very well be a five category monster that plays in Coors Field when he reaches the bigs."
Stay tuned for Rounds 4-6 tomorrow.