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 recently 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.
A reasonable selection given the talent available, Wacha's value has been on a bit of a yo-yo. The Cardinals got great value in selecting him 19th overall and then proceeded to watch him dominate the minors, reaching as high as Double-A in a season that only started in July. If you scout the box scores, Wacha's numbers will elevate him to the same status as Dylan Bundy or Jose Fernandez. The issue of course is that Wacha is older than both Bundy and Fernandez and also benefited from how he was deployed. He never pitched more than three innings and only faced more than nine batters once in his season. This gives him an advantage on two fronts: he can go all out with his pitches without fear of running out of gas later in the game as well as never having to turn a lineup over. He can attack hitters with his full arsenal from the word "go" instead of holding a pitch back or changing his approach a second time through the lineup. All this is to say, he's not what his numbers make him appear to be but he should be able to be a number three starter in short order when it's all said and done.
While Team 12 (and Team 13) allowed a player of great value fall to me in the first round (Gausman), I wouldn't be so lucky in the second. I had my eye on Bonifacio for my second round pick from the moment I submitted my first (I wanted Brinson, but Bonifacio was always more realistic). I think Bonifacio flies up or onto a lot of top 100s after this year. His numbers might not jump off the page but he cut his K% by 4% despite moving from rookie to full season ball, while maintaining his (somewhat low) BB%. Bonifacio barrels the ball extremely well and I expect his power to grow as he continues to mature. If it's not already evident, I love this pick and am extremely jealous of Team 12.
When I finished drying my eyes after seeing Bonifacio go off the board, I refocused and narrowed my top options down to two player. One of them was Richie Shaffer. So the worst I can say about this pick is that it took one of my preferred options on the board, and the best might be that it made my selection that much easier. I think Shaffer has been shafted a bit when it comes to his prospect status. He's polished as a college bat and showed he could handle the easier competition in his brief stint at Short Season Hudson Valley. The Rays are notorious for going "slow and low" with their prospects, but Shaffer is the type of bat that could move quickly. He was one of the best college bats in the draft and it was a surprise to many that he lasted 25 picks. To the same end, it's a bit surprising that he lasted as long as he did in this draft. I had him as a possible 1st rounder but early 2nd at worse and here we are in the dead center of the 2nd round. While Team 13 passed up a bit of value in round 1 whilst in the pursuit of an impact bat, his interest and opportunity dovetailed nicely by selecting Shaffer.
Team 14 (Me) - Adalberto Mondesi - SS - Kansas City Royals
First Round Pick: Kevin Gausman
If it came down to it, I don't know who I would have taken between Mondesi and Shaffer. I think I would have gone Shaffer as my team has Adrian Beltre at the hot corner and their timetables could coincide in such a way that Shaffer would inherit the position from Beltre. In the end, my choice was made for me, not that I'm any worse off for it. Mondesi was both easy and difficult for me to take. He spent 2012 as a 17 year old playing above rookie ball and more than held his own with a .290/.346/.386 slash line. He's a switch hitter who could potentially have plus hit and run tools. His ability to stick at shortstop isn't in question as his defensive tools and baseball instincts receive high praise. It's so so so easy to dream on Mondesi. It was difficult for me to take him though, in regards to the risk involved. He's 17. There's a tremendous amount of risk involved with any 17 year old not named Bryce Harper. He still needs to develop physically, as his slugging percentage might tell you, and how much he does might dictate if he's another Alcides Escobar or another Jurickson Profar. I'm happy to have him and think this is a great spot to take him, but the risk weighs on my mind as much as the dream leads my heart.
This is probably about right for Miller even if I'm not particularly on him. An offense first shortstop who could end up a second baseman is plenty valuable in our league, so getting one in the second round is nothing to sneeze at. I long considered Miller underrated as a prospect and a name who people hadn't really known about. I think that's beginning to change and that it may be starting to dilute his value. He's not been great defensively thus far in the minors, though he has the actions to stay at short. Obviously offense is more important to us fantasy leaguers and as well as he did in 2012, much of that damage was done as a 22-year old in Hi-A (and in the Cal League to boot), and if you know how I feel about Matt Skole, you'll know that doesn't impress me. Miller did graduate to Double-A during the year and continued to rake there, allaying some of my fears. That said, he only accumulated 170 plate appearances at the level. I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but am a bit weary that more advanced pitching could expose him. I still think he's a big leaguer and makes sense for this pick, but this might be the height of his value.
This is another pick I just don't love. I'm all for taking a guy who was considered a top 10 pick before a lackluster platform year (which is what the Red Sox did with Marrero), but he's a guy who provides more real life value than fantasy value. He's the kind of guy that hits enough to make his defense worthwhile to an MLB team. That type of player is a waiver wire, even in a twenty team league and not the type to stock up on and spend time developing in your fantasy system. It's not to say it's horrible value, Marrero is a likely major league and there is value to that, but I think you win dynasty leagues by developing and trading for starts - and low ceiling major leaguers aren't the best way to go about doing that.
Team 17 - Clayton Blackburn - San Francisco Giants
First Round Pick: Lucas Giolito
If you follow me on Twitter and/or have experienced any of my conversations with Bret or Jason, you'll know I'm not a Blackburn fan. Not to diminish what he's done thus far, as he's been extremely impressive in his pro career thus far, but he's just not the type of prospect I like. I don't see his prospect value increasing much and the perception of a prospect (based on stats or scouting reports) is just as, if not more important than their likely eventual outcome. Drafting a guy like Blackburn now only presents downside to me unless you hold on to him into his major league career. Based on his profile, I see his ceiling as a number three starter with a likelihood of a four. Those guys are certainly valuable but I also know that based on his profile, he's a guy who carved up the lower minors using excellent command and control. Both are qualities you want in a prospect but they are also qualities that can look less impressive the higher up the organizational ladder you go. This isn't to say Blackburn's quality as a prospect changes at all, but the perception of it might (at least amongst less educated speculators) based on a less dominating stat line. Blackburn doesn't have much projection left either, so it's not like we can predict a major step forward based on the refinement of stuff or control. Add to that, that he's going to begin 2013 at Hi-A (in the Cal League) and you're getting a moderate ceiling talent who isn't particularly close to the big leagues. Not that the value here is awful, it's just not the type of value I look for as a fantasy owner.
Team 18 - Roman Quinn - SS - Philadelphia Phillies
First Round Pick: Stryker Trahan
A few things here.
1) I know for a fact that this owner was hoping to get a crack at Mondesi before I popped him so it's likely that this pick was plan B or C at best.
2) I'm not a huge Roman Quinn guy at the moment. I acknowledge the upside that Quinn holds, especially in the fantasy game, but I fear that the upper levels could expose the holes in his game. He's by no means old for his level, but for those wondering how I could be so high on Mondesi but fearful of Quinn, the difference is in their ages. Quinn at 19 and in Short Season ball is absolutely respectable...Mondesi at 17 at the same level is precocious. I fully acknowledge that Quinn could be the next big thing in terms of speed in the minors and I might be missing the boat on him, but something is telling me to give him another year before buying in.
I think at times the effort to get ahead of someone who could be a big riser robs the pick of it's value. In essence, those guys then have to take a big step forward to justify the selection instead of it being gravy. I don't know that that's the case with Quinn (or Mondesi) but the thought concerns me in both cases.
3) Quinn makes for the 8th shortstop to be selected in the second round. Don't let anyone tell you up the middle talent is more important in real life than it is in fantasy. We're all looking for studs at the scarce positions.
Take this however you want it, but Clint Coulter was more of a first round pick for me than Christian Bethancourt was. A big part of that is Bethancourt's not belonging in a draft like this to begin with but let's not ignore the value received in getting Coulter so late. A risky pick because much of his value is tied to him remaining a catcher, Coulter's offensive prowess, if he can stick behind the plate could be elite. I compared Coulter to Trahan earlier this offseason and I was surprised at how much I ended up liking Coulter as a result. I think this is great value and while Trahan is a superior fantasy product, Coulter's value shouldn't be overlooked. As a late second round pick, this is a decisive win.
I really like this pick and it was no surprise as Team 20 loves ceiling and Blue Jays and the two dovetail nicely here. Davis slid a bit too far for my liking; giving this pick both value and upside, a combination that any fantasy owner likes to have. Davis will not burn through the minors like he does on the basepaths but the payoff for waiting on him might be huge. His speed is elite but questions remain on the bat. If it all clicks, he'll be a monster in fantasy and getting that type of value at pick 40 is absolutely tremendous. With just these two picks I could already see Team 20 receiving the "highest upside" superlative even if the risk involved is jaw-dropping. Still, when picking so late you often have the choice of potential or security, not both. I would also opt for potential given the choice.
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Let me know in the comments.