A lot can change overnight in our little niche known as the Fantasy prospect world.
That's the predominant thought I had as I spent the past day or so writing up my team from the MiLB expert mock draft I was invited to join early in February. In fact, even as I wrote the article we heard news that Casey Kelly is likely headed for Tommy John surgery: a sad reminder of how volatile the value of a prospect can be from one moment to the next.
With that in mind, I think it's interesting to review this draft not in its immediate aftermath, but rather several weeks after its conclusion. Do many of the picks we made still hold weight? How seriously has Spring Training impacted our selections? Have the various Top 100 and Top 150 lists from major publications swayed popular prospect opinion? Do you enjoy rhetorical questions?
I'll attempt to answer some of these queries by examining my team, plus providing some commentary on picks I liked and didn't like in each round of the draft.
FIRST ROUND, PICK 11: Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT (11th overall)
My comments then: "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."
My thoughts now: I have Cole ranked as the seventh-best Fantasy prospect in the game, so I have no problem with his selection. He's the second-best starter in the minors, after Dylan Bundy, and you can make an argument that the pure stuff is the best of any pitching prospect. I saw him absolutely dominate the Sea Dogs last August, and even if he doesn't reach his full potential he'll rack up the strikeouts on his ridiculous fastball alone.
Pick I liked: Wil Myers, OF, TB (6th overall)
It's hard to go wrong in the first round, but getting Myers at No. 6 is a nice grab given his very high floor.
I'd wait on: Mike Zunino, C, SEA (1.5)
I view Zunino as more of a nice Fantasy asset than a star in the making so he should be a second or third rounder to me.
SECOND ROUND, PICK 3: Javier Baez, SS, CHC (16th overall)
My comments then: "After taking an MLB-ready pitcher with my first selection, I'm going to go with the high-upside position player here and grab Baez. 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 be a stud."
My thoughts now: Taking a pitcher in the first was a gamble, but it paid off by getting Baez a few picks later. When I took Cole I was hoping Baez or Miguel Sano would be there for me at 15, and it turns out both were. I actually have Sano ranked one spot ahead of Baez on my Top 150 at No. 11, but the way the MIs were flying of the board I went with the potential shortstop here. I'll take Cole and Baez to start a Dynasty League MiLB roster any day. This pick also enraged Mike Newman, which is arguably what matters most.
Pick I liked: Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS (2.6)
Rendon is a risk to be sure, but if he stays on the field he's a lock to contribute meaningfully to Fantasy teams.
I'd wait on: Carlos Correa, SS, HOU (2.5)
I don't think this is a horrible pick by any means; there are just a few players I like better than Correa who were selected immediately after last June's No. 1 pick.
THIRD ROUND, PICK 11: Mike Olt, 3B, TEX (37th overall)
My comments then: "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 Olt. 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."
My thoughts now: I still agree with this logic, and now that I've compiled all of my rankings and formed my own Top 150 list I think Olt is a bit underrated by some. Yes, you can focus on the strikeouts and whatnot but Olt has pop and should end up at 3B in the long run, even if he's in a different uniform. I wanted safety here, but it's not like Olt is devoid of upside either. He's No. 22 on my Top 150.
Pick I liked: Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL (3.12)
Another 3B who everyone is a bit too down on, Arenado might not be a superstar but he can really hit and will play half his games at Coors Field.
I'd wait on: Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE (3.10)
This would be a steal if we were drafting for legit franchises, but Lindor's Fantasy upside isn't as appealing considering his defense is irrelevant.
FOURTH ROUND, PICK 3: Rymer Liriano, OF, SD (42nd overall)
My comments then: "After taking Olt for probability, I'm going with one of my personal favorites in Rymer Liriano, OF, SD. Not a sure thing, but his tools are dreamy and I think he has upside as a (2009-2010) Nelson Cruz-like Fantasy asset. I would've considered Brian Goodwin here too, but Bret doesn't like to share."
My thoughts now: "Sadface" would be the predominant thought I have now. A few weeks after the MiLB mock draft, we learned that Liriano will miss the entire 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. While it's easy to write the injury off since Liriano is not a pitcher, he's also not the sort of prospect who can afford to miss reps. Liriano needs work on his approach and pitch recognition - not his physical maturity or tools - so the time off could hurt him. I knocked him down to No. 72 on my Top 150 after having him in the mid-30s pre-injury.
Pick I liked: Gary Sanchez, C, NYY (4.1)
Sanchez has the highest upside of any backstop in the minors, so grabbing him with the 40th overall pick looks good to me.
I'd wait on: Corey Seager, 3B, LAD (4.10)
Seager is a fine prospect but I think this was a reach as his upside isn't high enough to offset how far away he is from the majors.
FIFTH ROUND, PICK 11: Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS (63rd overall)
My comments then: "Went out last night after seeing Spencer's pick and thought, "oh good, one of Barnes, Teheran or Arcia will definitely fall to me!" Drafting with the big boys sucks sometimes. For Plan D, I'll go with the ultimate risk/reward pitcher in Giolito, who I'll have to wait forever for but who I think has among the highest upside in the minors. The Nats have had success rehabbing high-upside guys back from TJ surgery too (the media may have covered this once or twice), so that makes me feel a little better. I'll wait to grab a pitcher who's closer to the majors or batter with the wraparound pick."
My thoughts now: This is the pick that got the most oohs and ahhs from my fellow drafters, so it seems like expert consensus was with me here. Giolito is a huge risk to be sure, but as you can see from our results it's pretty easy to grab close to MLB-ready mid-rotation starters late in Dynasty drafts, so I don't mind rolling the dice. I'll have to wait until 2017 or so to use him, but the upside is unreal.
Pick I liked: Julio Teheran, SP, ATL (5.10)
As you can see from my comments, Teheran would've been my pick had he lasted past my half-mentor, half-mortal enemy Newman. The reports on him this spring have been very encouraging.
I'd wait on: Kolten Wong, 2B, STL (5.12)
This is a completely defensible pick, especially if you're playing for the short term, but I'm lower than most on Wong. There's a joke in here somewhere.
SIXTH ROUND, PICK 3: Adam Eaton, OF, ARI (68th overall)
My comments then: "Boring? Yes. Safe? Yes. Useful? Also yes. I've gone high upside and power-heavy with a bunch of my picks, and now I want a guy who I know will contribute and who can bring some speed, AVG, runs and OBP to my team. Eaton might struggle to find playing time right when the season begins, but Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross aren't blocking him forever. The pick isn't flashy, but I'm comfortable with it."
My thoughts now: I'm not in love with this pick, although it makes sense in the context of the team I'd drafted to this point. Considering the likes of Courtney Hawkins and Jackie Bradley Jr. went immediately after Eaton, though, I may have gotten a bit too cute here. That being said, Eaton is certainly useful and I'm sure I'll find plenty of use for his four-category contributions. I'm just not sure I should've settled for a modest ceiling this early in the draft. Eaton ranks in at no. 70 on my Top 100.
Pick I liked: Adalberto Mondesi, SS, KC (Pick 6.12)
Mondesi is a popular sleeper pick this offseason and for good reason. If you're looking for the next impact fast-rising prospect, he's a good bet.
I'd wait on: Austin Hedges, C, SD (Pick 6.10)
I don't have Hedges ranked in my Top 150 Fantasy prospects. His defense could be special, but his ceiling as a hitter is pedestrian, especially in Petco.
SEVENTH ROUND, PICK 11: Joey Gallo, 3B, TEX (89th overall)
My comments then: "Here is my literal reaction to Roman Quinn being snatched away form me. I guess this is Mike's payback for me taking Baez in the first. That was quite a punch to the gut (as was the Stryker Trahan pick a few turns ago), but I will settle for Gallo. Strikeouts/youth/position/risk blah blah blah, dude hits the ball far."
My thoughts now: I was just a little upset at Newman for taking Quinn one pick before me. Gallo is a decent compilation prize, though, and while Quinn has 80 speed Gallo has 80 pop. He's not a great bet to reach his ceiling, but if he does we're talking about 40-plus homers on a regular basis. He's ranked as my No. 96 Fantasy prospect, so this is appropriate value in my book. "Strikeouts/youth/position/risk blah blah blah, dude hits the ball far" is the type of writing and analysis you don't get just anywhere.
Pick I liked: Roman Quinn, SS, PHI (Pick 7.10)
And by "liked" I mean "absolutely hated it happened one pick before me," but this is the steal of the draft in my opinion. Quinn has Billy Hamilton upside but with a real shot to stick at short.
I'd wait on: Brad Miller, SS, SEA (Pick 7.5)
Mr. Sickles is much smarter than I am so maybe it's a bad sign that I don't like some of his picks, but I'm not buying into the Miller hype yet.
EIGTH ROUND, PICK 3: Kyle Gibson, SP, MIN (94th overall)
My comments then: "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."
My thoughts now: They haven't changed at all, although it's looking like Gibson will begin the year in Triple-A after suffering through some command issues this spring. I still think it's a great sign that his stuff and velocity seem to be all the way back to pre-TJ levels, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in June or July. Wins will be tough to come by, but he should contribute instantly in K and ERA and modestly in WHIP. I ranked him aggressively, at No. 58, on my Top 150.
Pick I liked: Tony Cingrain, SP, CIN (Pick 8.9)
Here's a Sickles pick I love: Cingrani doesn't get enough credit for how close he is to the majors and how many batters he's capable of striking out. As mentioned above, I like the Webster pick too.
I'd wait on: D.J. Davis, OF, TOR (Pick 8.13)
This isn't a bad pick at all - I thought Round 8 was pretty strong overall - but there were several position players left I like better than the speedy Davis.
NINTH ROUND, PICK 11: Luis Sardinas, SS, TEX (115th overall)
My comments then: "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."
My thoughts now: "I ranked Sardinas as No. 97 on my Top 150 list, so I consider this a steal. You don't hear much about him thanks to the likes of Jurickson Profar and the Rangers' bevy of other talented players, but Sardinas has Top 10 Fantasy SS upside. He's a prime trade candidate given Texas' glut, but he has tools that will play in any ballpark and organization."
Pick I liked: Zach Lee, SP, LAD (9.1)
Lee's become somewhat underrated after being overrated for a few years, and while he's not an ace he should settle in as a good mid-rotation option. I also really liked the Arodys Vizcaino, John Lamb, Matt Adams and A.J. Cole picks in this round.
I'd wait on: Jared Cosart, RP, HOU (9.2)
I've been low on Cosart since his Philly days, and while he made my Top 150 for the first time this season at No. 136 I still see him as a setup guy in the long run.
TENTH ROUND, PICK 3: Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI (120th overall)
My comments then: "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."
My thoughts now: Franco comes in at an even No. 100 on my Top 150, and he's the third baseman of the future in Philly, even if Cody Asche makes a play for the job in the short term. Franco has big natural pop and an impressive approach for a young power hitter, and despite a lack of athleticism he should be able to stay at the hot corner. I think he'll take a big step forward in 2013.
Pick I liked: Marcell Ozuna, OF, MIA (Pick 10.2)
As you can tell from my Franco write-up I love Ozuna here and think he should've gone much earlier: I considered
him as high as the 8th round and have him ranked at No. 88.
I'd wait on: Andrew Toles, OF, TB (Pick 10.7)
It's not really fair to criticize this pick, since Spencer's just taking a guy he likes (and no one else has heard of) with his final pick. If Toles breaks out let's just remember we heard about him first, but wait on him in your own drafts for now.
Forgive me for the predictable analysis here, but I like my team. I'm not in love with my Eaton pick and if we were drafting today I'd obviously wait on Liriano, but I can't penalize myself for the latter and overall I possess a nice mix of upside and probability. Perhaps I should've gone with another arm instead of Sardinas or Franco in the final rounds, but pitching is always easier to find than is hitting: a lesson that rings true for redraft and dynasty leagues alike.
I was able to grab some players I really like in Cole, Baez, Giolito and Gibson (Liriano would've been included in this group too), and snatched up value where I saw it in the cases of Olt and Eaton. My biggest regret of the draft is not taking Quinn one round earlier, then watching him come off the board one slot before my pick. If you replace Eaton or Gallo with Quinn, I like my draft a lot better.
Pardon the obvious prospect pun, but in many ways, as a MiLB writer/blogger/analyst/enthusiast, being asked to participate in this draft felt like getting called up to the major leagues. I think my team at least compares favorably to any other drafted here, and given the other names involved, makes my draft a success in my book.