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, Part 3), 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.
After securing some upside and a long wait in the first round, Team 1 opts for a bat that's closer to the big leagues. I was on Tyler Austin as early as May, though I think my interest has tamped a bit. I still like him, and this is good value (this was the player Team 19 meant to pick in Round 1), but I worry about reports that have his swing as not conducive to power. While he's beating up the minors, I think the power maxes out short of what you'd expect for an above-average right fielder. And if that's the case, I might look at a higher upside guy here, such as the guy I almost took at 14, Corey Seager.
Team 2 - Lewis Brinson - CF - Texas Rangers
First Round Pick: Jose Fernandez
Somewhat the opposite of Austin, I was not on Brinson early. Potential 5-tool monsters are a rare breed, of course, but there were lots of questions about his "baseball instincts". After this summer though, scouts came away impressed with Brinson's feel for the game, at least relative to expecations. This gave me hope that the 5-tooler could progress faster than hoped, and I was sure he would last later into the second round then this. I had made him the object of my second round affection because despite Seager still being around, I had zero hope that he'd make it to me. Apparently, I should have felt the same for Brinson.
Team 3 - Corey Seager - SS - Los Angeles Dodgers*
First Round Pick: Mike Zunino
The asterisk is there because the openly acknowledged loophole in our "not trading of minor league picks" policy was taken advantage of here. Team 3 picked Seager and immediately dealt him and Brett Lawrie to Team 10 for Cole Hamels, Alex White and Michael Taylor (so the trade ends up looking like Lawrie/Seager for Hamels/detritus). I think it's obvious that I feel Seager is great value in this spot, no matter what team he ends up on. He ranked inside of Keith Law's top 50 and I think he has a non-zero shot at sticking at shortstop even if it is unlikely. I expect him to continue to grow and fill out, but it's possible he doesn't and he can play the position at least passably right now. Even if he is a third baseman, that's not a bad thing in fantasy. This is great value for the pick.
Team 4 - Luis Sardinas - SS - Texas Rangers
First Round Pick: Byron Buxton
I love Sardinas as a real life prospect but I think this is a bit early for him in fantasy. I have him as a 3rd round guy just because I worry about his fantasy upside and the overall risk involved. He's a great shortstop with plus speed, so stolen bases are there. Beyond that he should be able to help in the batting average department...and that's probably it. I don't like to bank on runs or RBI as they're context dependent. If he hit at the top of a lineup? Sure runs seem like a safe bet. If he's a 9 hitter though? Less so. There's also a decent injury history in his past, so that plays a part in the overall risk assessment. I had a lot of other prospects rated higher, even at the position so I think you rob Sardinas of all his value this early but he is a name to keep in mind for deeper leagues and later in drafts.
Team 5 - Dorsyss Paulino - SS - Cleveland Indians
First Round Pick: Addison Russell
Team 5 continues to load up on middle infielders and building prospect depth from the inside of the diamond out is never a strategy I'll knock. Not much to say about this pick - I don't love Paulino as much as others *cough* Bret *cough*, but he performed extremely well for a 17-year old playing in rookie ball. This is about where I saw him going.
Team 6 - Trevor Story - SS - Colorado Rockies
First Round Pick: Aaron Sanchez
Aaand we've reach four straight shortstops taken. Team 6 snags another great value here. I had a first round value on Story and think he's ahead of the likes of Sardinas and Paulino and has a case (based on positional value) to be ahead of Austin as well. Story doesn't have one standout tool, but is above-average in several categories and should be a solid fantasy producer. If he can stick at shortstop? All the better.
Team 7 - Austin Hedges - C - San Diego Padres
First Round Pick: Kyle Zimmer
After taking a guy I love in the first round, I'm a bit stumped by this pick. I think I've made it clear that I value catchers very highly in a league as deep as this, and that positional value is important to me. That said, Hedges worth as a prospect is primarily for his defense. Yes his bat was better than anticipated, but that doesn't mean it's worth popping at the expense of some players still on the board. I do believe Hedges can justify this pick, but I also think the opportunity cost is something to consider in this situation.
Team 8 - Kyle Crick - SP - San Francisco Giants
First Round Pick: David Dahl
Crick finishes off the last of the guys that I considered first round values (side note: I had about 21 names listed despite only 20 teams drafting. I consider a player a first round value based on what I think of them in general, not relative to their peers in the "draft class". This means there could be 15 or 25 names depending on the year and the talent available. It's not necessarily a normal method, but it's worked for me thus far.). I go back and forth on Crick in that he's probably not polished enough to be a first rounder - hence the slide - but I valued him there because if he does refine his control, he's going to zoom up lists and take leaps and bounds towards reaching his ceiling. His stuff is nasty and he could pitch towards the front of the rotation if he can keep the walks under control. Alternatively, he could be a guy that always intrigues but never figures it out and ends up a talented 4 who always under-achieves. I love the risk/reward at this point in the draft though.
As I mentioned in the first round, this is a team that values getting immediate production out of the minor leagues. It's my position that relief prospects aren't worth drafting in the minor league portion and are mostly not worth holding onto in general. Rondon has been mentioned as a possible closer for Detroit - obviously creating fantasy appeal - but Jim Leyland has said repeatedly that he's not naming a closer soon. Additionally, Rondon has long faced control issues and really only has a fastball that is major league ready. If MLB hitters can sit on a fastball, I don't anticipate a ton of success. The fungibility of relievers and variability of their performance always leads me to pick them up off the waiver wire instead of investing picks and time in the hope that they succeed in a role long enough to create some security. Suffice it to say, I understand the motivation behind this pick but find it to be a tremendous waste of value.
Team 10 - Roberto Osuna - SP - Toronto Blue Jays
First Round Pick: Alen Hanson (also acquired Corey Seager via trade)
I hadn't really though about Osuna going in the top half of the second round, as he was more of a bottom second/top third type guy for me, but it doesn't bother me at all. I get the appeal, especially after his dominating debut. That said, Osuna seems more like a potential mid-rotation starter who will chew up the lower minors because he's advanced for his age. His frame is pretty maxed out and while he can fool lower minors batters with his plus change-up, he'll need to develop a more consistent breaking ball to see sustained success at the upper levels. He has time to do that of course, but if we're looking at pitchers, a guy like Luis Heredia makes a ton more sense to me here, as someone who could develop into more of a frontline pitcher. You'll see me make the same type of comments about Twins' prospect J.O. Berrios, except, he went a round-plus later, making the all the difference in the world in terms of value.