The margin for error is razor thin. Buying in so low on stock for minor league players amplifies any “mistakes” you make drafting. In a startup draft, Rule 5, or rookie only draft, the variance of outcomes is so high. I often look back and cringe. I also have looked back and thought to myself, “wow.” Values will change at a much faster pace with prospects compared to MLB players. For an example, before the 2017 season, there was a one-round, Rule 5 draft in one of my 16-team dynasty leagues. This is a money league and it is competitive despite what you may think after you see the draft. This Rule 5 draft means that anyone not rostered could be selected. Most of the selections were rookie players that were not in the database the prior year. Yahoo has become much more diligent at including minor leaguers these days. The draft went as follows:
1. Eloy Jimenez
2. Michael Kopech
3. Nick Senzel
4. Kevin Maitan
5. Cody Bellinger
6. Blake Rutherford
7. Jason Groome
8. Kyle Tucker (this was my pick and not a bad one, but still upsetting to look back on it)
9. Eric Thames
10. Mickey Moniak
11. Alex Verdugo
12. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
13. Corey Ray
14. Yadier Alvarez
15. Ian Happ (also my pick I traded for)
16. Mitch Keller
After which, there was FAAB bidding for the remaining players. The most expensive was Josh Hader at $73. Mejia was $25, but AJ Puk was $12 and Walker Buhler was $7. Makes me sick looking back on this. There was also a lot of FAAB spent on players you would not think of rostering anymore. However, I got Ronald Acuna for merely $3 in FAAB (humble brag) before his breakout 2017 season in the minors. I also believe the coverage and resources for prospects have become significantly more robust over the last several years. So give us a break here—like I said, a lot changes in two years.
My point is that in dynasty drafts, the choices you make can have enormous implications.
Scott White at CBS Sports hosted a 12-team mock prospects-only draft recently, which I was fortunate enough to participate in with Matt Williams.
A 10-round prospects-only draft for you dynasty leaguers out there: https://t.co/J7TnGGI8ty— Scott White (@CBSScottWhite) February 1, 2019
My team was as follows:
Pick 5 - Forrest Whitley – I felt this is a safe pick for the points format as Whitley has the best chance to be who Walker Buehler was last year. However, I do not see how he ends up throwing more than 120 innings in 2019. By 2020, he projects to be a beast and I would not be surprised at all if he is in that same conversation as a Round 3 pick. As you will see, when drafting prospects I value their ceiling exponentially more than their floor. I could have selected someone with higher upside like Wander Franco or Royce Lewis, but Whitley’s proximity to the MLB played a role in my decision. To me, the clear cut No. 1 pitching prospect was the way to go with the fifth pick. Note that I would have selected any of the first four picks if they had fallen—Vlad, Eloy, Tatis, Robles.
Pick 20 – Carter Kieboom – After Brendan Rodgers was selected at No. 19 by our own Matt Williams, I went with the last shortstop in that tier, in my opinion. Kieboom is being overshadowed by Tatis, Lewis, Franco, Rodgers, and Bichette, creating some nice value for the exciting shortstop. His eventual position may be at second base, and fantasy owners should gladly take him at the thinner position.
Pick 29 – Jarred Kelenic – This was someone risky to select so far ahead of consensus rankings, but I believe he has a rare combination of both ceiling and floor. I’m intrigued that he could match or exceed Andrew Benintendi’s trajectory.
Pick 44 – Dylan Cease – He’s a Top 5 pitching prospect in my book and getting him as the SP12 was too much value to pass up. Didn’t think twice.
Pick 53 – Nathaniel Lowe – He could be the best first base prospect on the board, or at least the safest one. Based on his monster 2018, he profiles with a Freeman ceiling while Alonso profiles to a Hoskins ceiling. In my head, I had it mapped out to take Jazz Chisholm with my first pick after the Top 50, but I chose to take Lowe and hope that Jazz fell. No such luck.
Pick 68 – Malcom Nunez – He’s 17 but he has as much upside as anyone drafted here. With a back half of the draft pick, the risk is perfectly acceptable for such a high reward.
Pick 77 – Grant Lavigne – He walked more than he struck out with power in rookie ball and could play in Coors. Drew Waters was sniped at pick 76!
Pick 92 – Mark Vientos – Continuing the steak of upside plays in the later rounds will always be my strategy with prospects. If one of these guys like Vientos pops, he’s worth 4-5 of the lower ceiling prospects around this range.
Pick 101 – Colin Poche – Here is my hot take. Look at Poche’s numbers from Triple-A last year. He is my most likely player to be the next Josh Hader this year. I realize this was a points format, so it devalues him—but I wanted this guy on my team.
Pick 116 – Michael Chavis – He hits the ball hard and, although I wanted to draft a few other players that did not make the list, I could not pass up Chavis outside of the Top 100.
There were some great picks in this draft as players like Jazz Chisholm, Kyle Wright, Ronny Mauricio, Xavier Edwards and Josh James were selected after pick 50. I will look back on this list before the 2021 season and likely cringe at some names I passed on and say “wow” to some of the names I drafted so late.