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 7.1 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - Lewis Brinson (OF/TEX)
"Lewis Brinson is very young and he's a 5-tool potential player. According to people who've seen him those tools aren't as raw as anticipated on draft day. It's still early, but he's a riser for me. I think he's someone who can make big jumps up prospect lists in the next two years."
Pick 7.2 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Alex Meyer (SP/MIN)
"I'll go with Alex Meyer. A huge guy, his height may actually work against him control wise with all those moving parts, but a repertoire that is designed to generate both strikeouts and groundballs gives him frontline upside. Still a bit raw, but calling Target Field home will help his fantasy prospects if he can make good on his upside and rise through the minors to reach Minnesota."
Pick 7.3 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - Wily Peralta (SP/MLW)
"I'm not thrilled about taking another pitcher, but I'm going best prospect available, and right now that's Milwaukee right-gander Wily Peralta. Peralta is that rare combination of upside (I am still a believer in his #2 starter ceiling) and proximity (he should start the year in the Brewers rotation). He's built to throw a ton of innings and he can keep the ball on the ground."
Pick 7.4 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Jorge Bonifacio (OF/KC)
"I'm staying away from the pitching prospects, and in keeping with that theme, my next choice is the Royals right fielder of the future-Jorge Bonafacio. Bonafacio is the younger brother of Blue Jays utility man Emilio Bonafacio, but he got all the power in the family. He could be a middle of the order hitter down the road."
PIck 7.5 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Brad Miller (SS/SEA)
"Gotta go with Brad Miller, INF, Seattle Mariners. I love his bat, and there is at least a fair chance he can stick at shortstop."
Pick 7.6 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Luis Heredia (SP/PIT)
"I'll shoot for the moon and select Luis Heredia, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates. He's years away, but the upside is immense. I lack impact arms in my farm system and he's the SP that I've identified with the most upside still on the board."
Pick 7.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - Wilmer Flores (3B/NYM)
"I'll take the gamble on the bat, and defense doesn't matter in fantasy if they trot him out at 2B."
Pick 7.8 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Stryker Trahan (C/ARZ)
"I'm going to reach a little here and bypass the highest rated player on my board in favor of Trahan. He produced big numbers in rookie ball, showing an advanced approach at the plate and good power. He's no lock to stay at catcher, especially if his bat stays this far ahead of his glove. When I see Trahan, I see Wil Myers in that his bat could force him out from catcher and to the outfield, where Trahan has the athleticism to survive. He's not the same athlete as Myers, and he doesn't have the same hit tool, but he could have more power. I should probably opt for more developed talent but eyes get big when I see upside like Trahan's available."
Pick 7.9 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - James Paxton (SP/SEA)
Pick 7.10 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Roman Quinn (SS/PHI)
"If Billy Hamilton was the top player taken in this mock draft, then Roman Quinn might be a first rounder in 2015. Quinn scouted with nearly as much pop, speed and better defensive chops than Hamilton as a teenager. Ready for his first taste of full season baseball, I can't think of a better breakout candidate at a more premium position available."
Pick 7.11 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Joey Gallo (3B/TEX)
"My literal reaction to Roman Quinn being snatched away form me: http://www.youtube.com/
Pick 7.12 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Yordano Ventura (SP/KC)
"I usually shy from pitchers with Ventura's profile -- hard-throwing yet undersized -- but at this stage, it's too tempting to have an arm with legitimate triple-digit heat who could be a strikeout monster if he stays in the rotation or a future closer if he doesn't."
PIck 7.13 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - Richie Shaffer (3B/TB)
PIck 8.1 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - Allen Webster (SP/BOS)
Pick 8.2 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Kyle Parker (OF/COL)
"The one thing my imaginary dynasty crew lacks is a real power bat, a role that Parker should fill, especially once he gets to Coors Field (likely some time in 2014). The 23-year-old 2010 first-rounder, who was once Clemson's starting QB, has smashed 21 and 23 homers the past two seasons and is ready for Double-A. What really seals the deal is how Parker took his plate discipline up a couple notches in 2012, improving both his K rate (19%, down from 26%) and his walk rate (14%, up from 9%) simultaneously."
Pick 8.3 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Kyle Gibson (SP/MIN)
"I've been high on Gibson since he was drafted and the reports of his post-TJ velocity have me very encouraged that he can be the No. 3 starter I've long envisioned. Put someone with his stuff and profile in the offensive-depressing environment that is Target Field, and you've got a solid piece for a Fantasy rotation. I really wanted Allen Webster here and was intrigued by some position players who I feel have fallen too far, but I needed to grab another arm, and Gibson will produce for me immediately."
Pick 8.4 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Nick Franklin (SS/SEA)
"I tried to reason my way out of selecting Nick Franklin here, but could not. He may never become a star, but Franklin is close to ready, plays the middle infield and projects for above average power for second base or shortstop."
Pick 8.5 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - Joe Ross (SP/SD)
"I've been lucky enough to have a lot of players I rate highly fall to me and I'm ecstatic to get Joe Ross, SP, SD here. He's insanely athletic and has front of the rotation stuff. He battled injury last year, but he's going to explode up prospect charts by midseason."
Pick 8.6 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Jonathan Schoop (2B/BAL)
"Since I couldn't talk J.D. out of taking Ross, I'm going to stick with the bats and select Jonathan Schoop, 2B/3B, BAL. Schoop's numbers aren't pretty but the Orioles have been aggressive with him. Hopefully they send him back to Double-A last year so we can see how he adjusts to the level. He's got a swing that portends power, though the utility of his power will be determined by the hit tool. Defensively I think he profiles best at 3rd where his power will play, but on the off chance he sticks at 2nd, the power would be above average. I was looking to take a high upside arm at this point given that I only have one, and he may be a reliever, but I'm happy to keep taking potential impact infield bats this late in the draft."
Pick 8.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - C.J. Cron (1B/LAA)
Pick 8.8 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Jorge Alfaro (C/TEX)
"Schoop is who I had initially planned on taking, but since he's gone, I'll select my first catcher, Jorge Alfaro of the Rangers. There is a big gap between what he is presently and what he could become, so I'll have to be patient, but the potential payoff is a catcher with above average power and offense."
PIck 8.9 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Tony Cingrani (SP/CIN)
"At this point, I have one major league ready pitcher in Skaggs and one long-distance major league pitching prospect with Crick. Looking for another arm, my eyes drift to another near-ready lefty to pair with Skaggs: LHP Tony Cingrani of the Cincinnati Reds."
Pick 8.10 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Justin Nicolino (SP/TOR)
"OK, since I have just one pitcher on my roster, I will take Justin Nicolino of the Miami Marlins. He recently got comps to Cole Hamels, and if he is just short of that, he will be a solid major league starter, especially in the spacious Marlins Park. He is the owner of a sick changeup and projects to be a No. 3 or 4 starter in the big leagues, with a chance to be more."
Pick 8.11 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - Gary Brown (OF/SF)
"I'm tired of taking pitchers, so I'm going to take the best hitter available on my board. The season started out really rough for Gary Brown, but he turned it around, hitting .315/.356/.452 from mid-June. I think the hate has gone a little too far on Brown, who can still be a solid fantasy player even if he's a second-division baseball player. And for me, there's still a non-zero chance that he can be the player we thought he could be at this time last year."
Pick 8.12 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Michael Choice (OF/OAK)
"Choice lost part of his 2012 to injury, but he still had a solid year and has exciting tools, most prominently power that could make him a middle-of-the-rotation threat. Yeah, he'll strike out a lot, but his hit tool isn't as bad as those strikeouts indicate, and he is even capable of throwing in a few steals."
Pick 8.13 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - D.J. Davis (OF/TOR)
Pick 9.1 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - Zach Lee (SP/LAD)
Pick 9.2 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Jarred Cosart (SP/HOU)
"I'll take Jared Cosart and hope he sticks as a starter. There's certainly no guarantee of that, but he has the stuff for it. Of course, his delivery will cause command issues, and there are questions with pitchability, but he at least has the body and repertoire to potentially be a front-of-the-line starter. And even if he winds up in the bullpen, there exists a decent chance he'll be able to make it as a closer."
Pick 9.3 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - John Lamb (SP/KC)
"For the second pick in a row, I'm going to take a guy who is being overlooked this year. John Lamb may have missed nearly all of the 2012 season, but he still has the upside of a #2 starter, albeit with more risk this time around. It's still been only 18 months since the surgery, and Lamb was a top-25 prospect prior to the injury."
Pick 9.4 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Arodys Vizcaino (RP/CHC)
"With my next pick I will taken former top pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino. Coming off TJS, he has a shot to put his name back into the minds of fantasy owners in 2013. If he can't start, then the closer job awaits in Chicago."
PIck 9.5 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Michael Wacha (SP/STL)
Pick 9.6 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Matt Adams (1B/STL)
"The bat is the name of the game in fake baseball (unless you're a pitcher of course) so I'll go with a guy who's value is tied entirely to his bat, Matt Adams 1B St. Louis Cardinals. He makes for yet another guy that's big league ready on my farm system, though, he's blocked at the big league level."
Pick 9.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - A.J. Cole (SP/WSH)
Pick 9.8 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Blake Swihart (C/BOS)
"Since Spencer just sniped my anticipated pick, I'll have to switch up my strategy. I'm light on arms, but I'm not competing with this squad, just building as much value as I can. I would assume I'd be able to trade that stored up value in the future. With all of that said, I'll take another A ball bat, Blake Swihart, C, BOS. Swihart started off very slowly but really began to put things together in the second half. He carries a ton of risk given how raw he is, but the opportunity to get a switch hitting catcher who has the potential for average power and a plus hit tool is just too tempting. Patience will be key with Swihart, but I believe his value makes him a worthy selection this late in the game."
Pick 9.9 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - Chris Stratton (SP/SF)
"I considered Josh Bell here, but after reading Jeff Reese, Bullpen Banter's NCAA Baseball expert, discuss Stratton, I had to get him. Stratton made strides year after year in college and flashed three above average offerings with room for growth. Plus, it's hard to argue against the San Francisco Giants' record of developing pitchers."
Pick 9.10 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Domingo Tapia (SP/NYM)
"With one of the biggest fastballs in minor league baseball, I saw Domingo Tapia touch 98/99 last season with heavy sink. He has too high a ceiling to pass on this late, and I prefer to spend later picks on players scouted in person."
Pick 9.11 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Luis Sardinas (SS/TEX)
"I'm going to go for Sardinas -- I've taken enough high-probability guys recently that I can roll the dice here, and I think Sardinas would get a lot more attention in a system with less shortstop depth. I wish he'd stay on the field more, of course, but 2012 was a step in the right direction and if he can use his speed to become a better baserunner I likely just picked up a starting Fantasy SS in round 9."
Pick 9.12 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Max Kepler (OF/MIN)
"Easily the player furthest from the majors that I've selected, Kepler just turned 20 last week. Last year in his second go-round in the Appy League, he started to unlock some of the power that his still -projectable 6'4" frame suggests his lefty swing possesses, knocking 10 homers as part of 31 extra-base hits in 59 games. Long and lean -- he's the son of ballet dancers! -- Kepler should head to full-season ball, where we could see a real breakout. Getting in on the ground floor."
PIck 9.13 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - Roberto Osuna (SP/TOR)
"Osuna spent last year as a 17 year old split between the Appy League and the Northwest League, holding his own to the tune of a 49/15 K/BB ratio in 43 innings. I like him because he could move quickly, and at this point in the draft still has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter if everything works out."
PIck 10.1 - Jason Hunt, Fake Teams - Josh Bell (OF/PIT)
"Purely an upside play here, as Bell missed most of the season due to a knee injury. That said, he was considered practically unsignable when he was drafted by the Pirates, which was one of the main reasons he fell out of the top 10. The biggest issue for him now becomes that he is already 20, but has only played 15 games as a pro. Add in that he was considered raw at the time, and I could be waiting a long time for this pick to pan out."
Pick 10.2 - Jason Catania, FanGraphs - Marcell Ozuna (OF/MIA)
"This is the seventh hitter in my last eight selections, but pitchers are easier to find in fantasy, so I'll pass up the handful of still-available quality young arms to land a guy who might hit 30 homers in the majors, as long as he can address his contact problems. Ozuna will likely start out at Double-A and play all of 2013 at 22, having hit 22 then 23 then 24 homers the past three seasons. I nearly took him in Rounds 7, 8 and 9, so I'm happy to grab him with my final pick."
Pick 10.3 - Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL - Maikel Franco (3B/PHI)
"Well, crap. I literally had my Ozuna pick already written up, thought there was no way he'd get snatched like that. Should've known better. At the risk of going a little 3B heavy, I'll grab Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI, and hope his approach is good enough for the plus power to play. Also, as I said on Twitter a few days ago, I had Franco's exact profile in independent league high school baseball and feel a special connection to all slow third basemen who don't strike out a lot. I am sad I don't have anymore picks."
Pick 10.4 - Mike Newman, ROTOScouting/FanGraphs - Jairo Beras (OF/TEX)
"I'll take Jairo Beras because he just seems like a guy who should be taken by now."
Pick 10.5 - J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter - Manny Banuelos (SP/NYY)
"He probably won't pitch in 2013, but prior to his injury he had a mid 90s fastball with decent arm side run, a curveball that he could bury when he was ahead of the count (read: can't throw for strikes consistently) and a very good change up. It's hard to say how he'll look when he returns from Tommy John surgery, but absolutely worth a late flyer here."
Pick 10.6 - Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams - Jesse Biddle (SP/PHI)
"I wasn't a fan of Biddle entering last season, when he produced strong results despite some diminished stuff. During 2012 however, Biddle regained some velo and in my mind has re-established himself as a potential #2/3 pitcher if everything breaks right. His curve is a potential plus pitch he compliments with with a high 80s/low 90s fastball, a solid change and has recently added a slider and two-seam fastball to his repertoire. I think there's value here even if he falls short of his ceiling, as he is built to log plenty of innings, standing 6'4/225 lbs."
Pick 10.7 - Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score - Andrew Toles (OF/TB)
"With my last pick I wanted to go with a guy I really liked who is under-the-radar."
Pick 10.8 - Josh Shephardson, Baseball Prospectus - Josh FIelds (RP/HOU)
"Alright, I'm going to go off the board again. The player I'm selecting most likely wouldn't be in my top 250 dynasty prospects. However, because this is the last round, and I'm operating under the assumption we would be able to add/drop/promote prospects from our farm system throughout the year, I'll take a guy who could possibly contribute this year. I'll select Josh Fields of the Houston Astros. Poor control in the Dominican Winter League is a concern, but it was only six innings. He had a strong year in the upper minors, spending most of it in Double-A, but also succeeding in 13.2 innings in Triple-A. The Astros selected him 1.1 in the Rule Five draft, and I believe he could see save chances this year. Jose Veras is the front runner to break camp as the closer, but that doesn't mean he'll be closing for the Astros all year. If Veras struggles due to poor control, he could be supplanted. Conversely, if he pitches really well, it would make sense for a rebuilding Astros squad to deal him. Finally, by selecting a potential save source for 2013 in this draft, it gives me flexibility in the active roster portion of the draft."
PIck 10.9 - John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Joc Pederson (OF/LAD)
"I have to go with the across-the-board skills of Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, who should be a fantasy contributor in more than one category."
Pick 10.10 - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams - Cheslor Cuthbert (3B/KC)
"With my last pick, I am going to grab a guy who had plenty of love last year at this time, but struggled in a big way in 2012. Royals third base prospect Cheslor Cuthbert will probably repeat High A in 2013, but that may be all he needs to gain some confidence to begin the ascent to stardom."
Pick 10.11 - Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus - Jeimer Candelario (3B/CHC)
"My last pick is my breakout hitter for 2013: Cubs 3B Jeimer Candelario. He'll get his first taste of full-season ball this coming season, and I expect him to build off his solid stint in the Northwest League. He has the potential to hit for both average and power."
Pick 10.12 - Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com - Dan Straily (SP/OAK)
"I actually had the same thought as Josh. Assuming I can replenish after promoting him, I'll take Dan Straily"
Pick 10.13 - Nick Shlain, Rotowire - Rob Brantly (C/MIA)
"He's instant production for my team because he's already in the majors (Bauer and Hamilton my only other picks that will sniff the bigs this year). In 31 games last year he hit .290 after he was acquired in the Anibal Sanchez trade. He makes solid contact, but there's no power here. It looks like he's only going to face righties as he's the strong side of a platoon with Jeff Mathis (noble work the Marlins are doing). That should help keep his batting average up and that's rare to get from a catcher."
I hope you enjoyed this series. I'd be remiss not to mention that this will be my last post here at Fake Teams. I don't need to tell you readers how great the content is here and it's because of the dedication and knowledge of the entire staff of writers. So even though I won't be an ongoing part of it, I'll still be reading and learning along with the rest of you. And if that's not enough and you want to continue to find my stuff on the interwebs, you can find me at Baseball Prospectus and my personal site, The Dynasty Guru. So don't be a stranger.