Last year I took you through my 20-team dynasty league's four round draft and gave my thoughts on each of the picks. People seemed to like it, so I'm bringing it back this year. We concluded our draft on Sunday and I'm going to break this out into six parts going ten picks at a time. I figure this is at least a mildly interesting look at the types of players that are going in leagues this deep, and how different people value different players. After all, it's nice to know you're not alone on your valuations. Additionally,
our own Baseball Prospectus' Bret Sayre joined this league in the offseason, so he may add in his own comments from time to time.
While this won't be as instructive as Bret's departing gift to all of us (a write up of the industry experts minor league mock draft that we participated in (Part 1, Part 2), it might be of service for those of you in similar leagues that are in progress and whose drafts are often built on first round talent from the most recent draft and pop up guys from the most recent year.
As mentioned above, this is a 20-team dynasty league. We have 25 man rosters, 22 keepers, and a 15 man minor league system. Roster cut downs were made prior to the MiLB draft, and the MLB portion of the draft is held after the MiLB draft. Not everyone's minor league rosters are stocked but of the 300 available minor league roster spots, I would guess over 200 of them are filled. Our rosters use only three outfield spots, not five, but are restricted by LF/CF/RF positions, not the generic OF. This puts extra value on centerfielders who can produce and also changes team needs a substantial amount.
Foreign imports (Ryu, Fujikawa et al.) are eligible to be picked in our draft. The other rules are standard; the players must be rookie eligible by MLB standards with the exception of service time, meaning fewer than 130 at-bats for hitters and fewer than 50 innings pitched for pitchers.
Lastly, this is not a snaking draft. In a league this deep, we gear the draft toward replenishing the weaker teams as much as possible. Each team has three picks in the three rounds and trading of MiLB draft picks is not allowed*, so keeping track of each teams haul should be relatively easy. With all that said, let's get to the picks.
If you missed the first half of the first round check it out here
The West Virginia Power teammates get selected back-to-back right in the middle of the first round. I was interested to see this pick because this was one of 3 new owners to our league and the only one I didn't know at all. This is a strong first impression to make. Like Hanson, Polanco wasn't a known quantity before 2012, but a .325/.388/.522 slash line with 16 home runs and 40 steals will get you recognition in a hurry. I did have my eye on Polanco with my 14th pick, but I wasn't crestfallen he didn't make it there. This is right about where he should go given the available talent and this league's preference for hitting prospects. That said, it's strange to me that Kevin Gausman remains on the board at this point.
Team 12 - Max Fried - SP - San Diego Padres
This was no surprise to me because I know of Bret's love of Fried. I know he likes him more than Gausman, but I would take Gausman over Fried due to the proximity to the majors and the similar projected ceilings of the two. That said, if you find to comparable players and have an affinity for one over the other, you should draft the guy you like. Fantasy is about having fun, after all and the gap in value between Fried and Gausman just isn't that large.
Team 13 - Albert Almora - CF - Chicago Cubs
Picked one pick before Fried in real life, Almora goes a pick later in this draft, but still before Gausman who is experiencing an Aaron Rodgers-esque fall. Almora brings a lot of security to the table. He's extremely polished for his age and while the upside might not rival that of a Buxton or even a Polanco, Almora should be able to hit for average, add decent pop and swipe some bags. In a 20-team league, guys who can do a little of everything and don't hurt you anywhere take on added importance. Another factor in this pick is that the owner was desperate for a minor league bat. The third of our new owners, this team went arm heavy during the minor league dispersal draft leaving the title of biggest impact bat to...*shudder* Christian Colon. Almora certainly wrests that title away and should allow Team 13 to see dividends quick than most prep bats.
Team 14 (Me) - Kevin Gausman - SP - Baltimore Orioles
Now obviously my talking up of Gausman in the previous comments could be seen as biased since I ended up picking him, but it's quite the opposite really. I only picked Gausman because someone of his caliber shouldn't be available this far down in this type of draft. I like Zimmer a bit more than Gausman, but not 7 picks more. One would then think I'd be elated at the value I was getting, and in a sense I was...but I was also hoping to take Corey Seager at this spot to satiate both my value preference and my Dodger-fanhood. It was a heart-rending decision but I couldn't pass up the value I was getting in Gausman to please my greedy heart.
This was the first huge reach for me in the draft, but comes with the caveat that I am not a Bradley fan. That's not to say I'm rooting against or dislike him, but I don't like him as much as others for fantasy purposes. I've had this argument several times with several people who like Bradley more than I do, which might tell you (or me) that I'm in the wrong here. I'll admit I might be. Perhaps I'm just underrating him. He strikes me as a Denard Span-type player with a bit more power but potentially fewer stolen bases. Is Denard Span worth a first round MiLB pick in a 20 team league? I personally don't think so, though it's well known I'm all "early parts of Pretty Woman" for upside. There is some internal discrepancy here as I did praise Almora for all the qualities I'm knocking Bradley for. On that front, my thought is that Almora is a better version of Bradley, so his worth is amplified and that Bradley falls below some sort of line I've drawn between an impact player in fantasy and a depth guy. I had Bradley as an early second round value, and for that reason he's not someone I'm going to end up with in any draft.
Team 16 - Courtney Hawkins - RF - Chicago White Sox
I was a fan of Hawkins pre-(actual) draft but have been slowly souring on his fantasy prospects since then. He's maturely built and should move quickly as a prospect. He had an impressive debut, recording an 804 OPS across three levels, and reaching Hi-A as an 18-year old. I guess my concern with Hawkins is a lack of growth. He's very good for his age, but he seems pretty set as a player. Are there things he can learn? Of course. Physically though, he appears pretty maxed out so while the numbers might appear big now, I see those numbers tailing off as he climbs the organizational ladder, similar to a command-heavy starter coming up through the ranks. I freely admit I might be underrating Hawkins' power potential, but as a corner outfielder, I'd look for more of a complete package in the first round.
Team 17 - Lucas Giolito - SP - Washington Nationals
Perhaps foolishly, I had the thought that Giolito may have had a shot at getting to me in the second round. I had hoped people would be scared off by his surgery and the resulting delay in his timetable to the major leagues. This team has a penchant for drafting and acquiring players I like, so while I wasn't surprised that this team was not deterred by the injury, I was disappointed. Obviously there is great risk involved in taking a prep arm that is already recovering from Tommy John surgery. While TJ has a great recovery percentage, it's always a concern when a young arm goes under the knife.
Team 18 - Stryker Trahan - C - Arizona Diamondbacks
At this point it's just seeing guys I would hope fall to my second pick get taken. Trahan is a favorite of mine and someone I took in the MiLB mock draft that I linked to above. I've profiled him versus fellow first round catcher Clint Coulter, so if you read me you know how I feel about him and what he brings to the table. His bat would be elite at the catcher position and is strong enough to play elsewhere. I was probably delusional in thinking he could get to the 2nd round, but I was hoping against hope. I love the bat and the positional value in this pick.
This...I don't know what to do with this. Full disclosure, this pick was emailed in during the slow draft and then was requested to have it changed. It had already been posted and so could not have. I think the owner realized this was an overdraft (understatement) and his second choice was a much more reasonable pick who we'll get to in the next installment. In my opinion, Bethancourt doesn't deserve to be owned in a fantasy league, positional scarcity be damned. He's a defense first catcher who has been pushed aggressively up the ladder, with the results showing what you'd expect. Bethancourt has power, but his approach is nonexistent and if he can't learn to identify pitches and lay off stuff out of the zone he'll never access it.
Team 20 - Joey Gallo - 3B - Texas Rangers
A team that likes to swing for the fences in drafts really found the perfect guy. I had Gallo pegged as a late first round talent, and it should surprise nobody to see a team in the first round seduced by the display that he put on this summer. Gallo set an Arizona League record with 18 home runs in only 43 games and added 4 more in the Short Season Northwest League. The owner of prodigious power, Gallo also has a lot of miss in his swing. It's an aggressive move to take him in round 1, but it's likely the only way you'll get him. Guys with his type of power just don't last long.