NL-only league prep: Taking a look at the first two rounds

USA TODAY Sports

Ray Guilfoyle has an NL-only league draft on Thursday night and gives you his thoughts on how the first two rounds should go.

I have my big money league draft on Thursday night. This is an 11 team (we added one team this season), 5 x 5, NL-only non-keeper league that I won last year, so I have to prove my worth by repeating this season. It certainly won't be easy, as there are some good owners in this long time league, and any time you win a league, let's face it, you had luck go in your favor.

For me, I lucked out with a few of my draft picks last season, most notably drafting Buster Posey in the 8th round, Jose Altuve in the 12th, Aroldis Chapman in the 19th, Wilin Rosario in the 21st, and A.J. Burnett in the 22nd rounds. I had some bad picks mixed in there as well, but drafting these five players where I did turned out waaaaayy better than expected.

Anyway, in addition to ranking each position, I like to take a shot at what the first two rounds will look like, as you want to make sure the guys you draft in the early rounds don't turn into busts. So here is how I think the first two rounds will go on Thursday:

First Round

1. Ryan Braun, MIL

2. Andrew McCutchen, PIT

3. Matt Kemp, LAD

4. Carlos Gonzalez, COL

5. Joey Votto, CIN

6. Giancarlo Stanton, MIA

7. Bryce Harper, WAS

8. Justin Upton, ATL

9. Troy Tulowitzki, COL

10. Clayton Kershaw, LAD

11. Jason Heyward, ATL

Second Round

12. Matt Holliday, STL

13. Jay Bruce, CIN

14. Stephen Strasburg, WAS

15. Hanley Ramirez, LAD

16. David Wright, NYM

17. Buster Posey, SFG

18. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD

19. Cole Hamels, PHI

20. Allen Craig, STL

21. Ryan Zimmernan, WAS

22. B.J. Upton, ATL

A couple others who could sneak into the second round are: Starlin Castro, Paul Goldschmidt, Cliff Lee, and Matt Cain.

Last season, five starting pitchers went in the first two rounds, but this season, I don't see that many being drafted so early. But, I hope I am wrong. I don't plan to take a starting pitcher till the 4th or 5th round this season, as I think the pitching is deep and love building my offense early.

On draft day, everyone picks a number out of a hat, and the person with #1 gets to pick where he wants to pick in the draft. He can pick anywhere from first to eleventh. One twist to this draft is the fact that the first three rounds go as follows:

1 - 11

11 - 1

11 - 1

So, there is a good reason to draft eleventh rather than first, as you get to draft three of the top 23 players in the National League. I had the #2 pick last season and had the choice to pick toward the middle or tail end of the first round, but stuck with the 2, and drafted Ryan Braun. Yeah, that pick helped me win too.

But, every year is different, and last years studs may be this year's disappointments. And last year's duds may help you win championships this season. That's just how baseball is. Every year we get breakouts, we get busts, we get another 27 HR, 95 RBI, .290 BA from Matt Holliday, we get volatility in the closer role, and we get the dreaded Tommy John surgery for several starting pitchers. Having the ability to navigate your draft without drafting a bust or a pitcher headed for TJS is not easy.

If I pick #1 out of the hat this season, I am taking the #1 spot and drafting Braun again. If I get the 2, I will keep the 2 and draft Kemp or McCutchen. Actually, if I pick any number 1-7 out of the hat, I will stick with that pick.

One thing I wil focus on early in my draft is drafting outfielders, a first baseman and a third baseman in the first four rounds, as I don't want to get stuck with a lower tier first baseman or third baseman this season.

So, NL-only leaguers out there, did I miss anyone in my first two rounds above? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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