Ben Pernick’s 2021 #2EarlyMock Draft Review

Ben Pernick breaks down picking fifth in his #2EarlyMock draft.

So the World Series is over, now it begins. The long wait until the next baseball season, which, for all we know, may be even longer than the normal wait. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered! Here are the results from the #2EarlyMocks which started as the playoffs began (which leads to some interesting results). Unlike the Pitcher List mocks you will soon see, this consisted of deeper rosters and a 15-team, five OF format and 28 players total (six on the bench), leading to different strategies. With a draft so deep, I tried a different, more concise writing approach so you can get through it all without your eyes bleeding.


1.5 – Jacob DeGrom (SP, New York Mets) 


THE GOOD:  The most consistent ace pitcher for past five years, and the elite SP pool is thinner than ever. Insane 21.6% overall swinging-strike rate and increased fastball velo gives him even more upside.

THE BAD: Increased mid-career velo could cause increased injury risk. He will likely continue to fall short in wins (ugh), making him arguably not the #1 SP from a category perspective.


2.26 – Yu Darvish (SP, Chicago Cubs)


THE GOOD: Now 1.5 seasons of health and dominance, GREAT value taken as the ninth SP after Kershaw, Nola, Castillo, Giolito. Pocket aces strategy a solid gambit in a format with 14 hitters and 9 pitchers.

THE BAD: He’s 34, so injury risk remains despite healthy stretch. This could be buying high on a small healthy sample, and he may lack run support if the Cubs’ offense fails to rebound.


 3.35 – Corey Seager (SS, Los Angeles Dodgers


THE GOOD: Second consecutive healthy season, showed power/average ability from his debut and then some. Insane .330 xAVG and .653 xSLG suggests additional upside, peak age 26, and playoff performance supports this argument.

The BAD: He may regress from huge ADP jump from 2019. SS is a deep position and he is one of few elites that doesn’t steal bases. Still may have some injury risk with back issues.


4.56 – Trent Grisham (OF, San Diego Padres)


 THE GOOD: 10/10 HR/SB at age 23 suggests fantasy stud upside. Good combination of elite O-Swing% and high FB% to maximize power, OBP and runs atop a stacked Pads lineup.

THE BAD:  Showed some inconsistency as season went on, lacks full-season track record. May be low average risk. Lacks exit velocity and barrel rate you’d like to see from a power hitter, reminds me of Brian Dozier, which didn’t end well.


5.65 – Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)


THE GOOD: Improved max exit velocity from 112 to 116 mph in 2020, and finally used elite speed with six SB. Excellent .295 xBA and .613 xSLG, could be OF peak Javy Baez in age-27 season.

THE BAD: All changes were batted-ball dependent, and 33% HR/FB simply won’t stick. 30% K rate and low BB% makes him volatile, especially as he didn’t make any notable approach change.


6.86 – Will Smith (C, Los Angeles Dodgers


THE GOOD: Has the potential to be the top fantasy catcher in baseball with elite O-Swing and whiff rates to go with high FB rate and power. His Statcast affinity top comp is Mike Trout.

THE BAD: It was a small sample, and his huge improvements could regress. Value drops if benched on rest days or if NL removes DH. Regressed to 2019 form in playoffs, which led to benching.


7.95 – Liam Hendriks (P, Free Agent) 


THE GOOD: Quietly put up another dominant year as A’s closer, proved he’s no one-year wonder. Even better BB rate and 1.14 FIP.  14 saves was best in AL. Reliable elite closers are rare.

THE BAD: Some may feel pick 94 is too early to invest in a closer. He is a free agent, so 2021 team and role are unclear even though likely closer wherever he goes.


8.116  Julio Urias (P, Los Angeles Dodgers)


THE GOOD: Displays believable contact management skills, excellent diverse arsenal. Still just 24 and additional growth possible. Playoff dominance reminded us of the upside.

THE BAD: Disappointing K rate, risk for regression. Needs to improve to be worth this price. Needs to go deeper into games for added win potential.


9.125 – Alec Bohm (3B, Philadelphia Phillies)


THE GOOD: Immediate success in majors, hit for high average and moderate power. Excellent park for home runs hitting in middle of strong lineup.

THE BAD: Sophomore slump possible, needs to cut high GB rate to improve power. Similar breakout Ke’Bryan Hayes went many rounds later.


10.146 – Travis D’Arnaud (C, Atlanta Braves)


THE GOOD: Power and average from catcher rare, underrated in two-catcher league. 58% hard-hit rate best in MLB, .304 xBA .538 SLG. Solid playoff performance backs that this is legit. 

THE BAD: Long history of injuries & inconsistencies, career-high 27% K rate. But at this slot in a two-catcher league, risk baked into price.


11.155 – Jonathan Villar (2B/SS, Free Agent)


THE GOOD: Huge value drop from 43 ADP in 2019, still had 40+ SB pace. His K/BB was similar to 2019, and decline rather unlikely at age 29.

THE BAD: Terrible Statcast .216 xBA, .287 xSLG, 18% sweet spot percentage, bad for free agency. Bad defense could cost him playing time and team role unclear. There’s always a chance he’s the next Dee Gordon. 


12.176 – Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds)


THE GOOD: Finally tapped into big power, 90th-percentile exit velo and hard-hit rate, career high 14% barrel percentage. If he can do that with a lower K rate, .290, 30 HR possible with excellent OBP. Excellent home park for power.

THE BAD: He’s still a high injury risk, and has never seemed to be able to hit for batting average and power at the same time. At risk of getting platooned, especially with no NL DH.


13.195 – John Means (SP, Baltimore Orioles)


THE GOOD: Fastball velocity jumped by two points, overcame dead arm and family tragedy with dominant final stretch. Excellent 0.84 WHIP, has ace upside if retains fastball velo and regains CH command. No AL Beast next year, and already deserved better with an excellent 3.04 xERA.

THE BAD: May be higher injury risk with low IP count + higher fastball velo. Will need to improve third pitch. Camden will always hurt his ERA.


14.206 – Brandon Belt (1B, San Francisco Giants)


THE GOOD: 96th-percentile xSLG (.598) and barrel rate (17%) validated breakout. Added power with best K/BB of career. High walk rate gives him high floor.

THE BAD: Could be small sample fluke since Oracle played as hitters park with no fans, and age-32 true breakouts rare. Cooled off in September, so could be benefit of hot streak.


15.225- Taylor Rogers (P, Minnesota Twins)


THE GOOD: 3.64 xERA suggests some he had some bad luck, and he’s still the primary closer on competitive team. Elite 4% walk rate, and an age-38 Sergio Romo will be less likely to spoil save opportunities.

THE BAD: I was sniped on Trevor Rosenthal, who I preferred, and if Rogers’ decline continues, he’ll lose job completely. Gave up too much hard contact and barrels in year where he had easier hitter matchups.


16.236 – Mark Melancon (P, Free Agent)


THE GOOD: Was consistently underrated closer for elite team, makes up for lack of dominant fastball with strong secondaries. Lacks gaudy K rate, but consistently sub-3 ERA. Career of effective save chances matters for future opportunities.

THE BAD: I had totally failed to realize he’s a free agent, and he could easily be a setup man for other high-end ballclubs. Huge amount of closer/reliever free agents makes situation volatile.


17.255 – Alex Dickerson (OF, San Francisco Giants)


THE GOOD: 114 mph max exit velo suggests huge power is no fluke. Previous possible breakouts thwarted by injury. 17% K rate and 10% BB rate suggest upside for average, power and handful of SB.

THE BAD: Lacks additional upside at age 30, lack of proven track record and steady playing time. Similar to Belt, may have benefited from short-term change of home park being hitter-friendly.


18.266 – Rowdy Tellez (1B, Toronto Blue Jays)


THE GOOD: Possible HUGE upside with MLB-best 117 mph max exit velocity, K rate cut in half to 15%, was red hot before injury. .270, 35 HR season upside if healthy.

THE BAD: Barrel rate declined, big boys with knee injuries risky. (Anyone remember Bucky Jacobsen?) Team could look to upgrade at DH or platoon with Vlad at 1B.


19.275 – Andrew Vaughn (1B/UT, Chicago White Sox)


THE GOOD: Manager suggested he’d get the Eloy/Robert treatment, he has Eloy-esque power and average potential, great lineup and home park for power. Decline of Mazara and E5 opens his path.

THE BAD: McCann can still steal PT, lack of minor league results and uncertainty of “missed” year’s effect on minors development. High risk, high reward, but more stable guarantees still on the board.


19.296 – Griffin Canning (P, Los Angeles Angels)


THE GOOD: Still has high upside at age 24, 3.99 ERA and a K per inning despite inconsistent season, should improve entering 2021 healthy, another year removed from issues.

THE BAD: K% and BB% declined, still has inconsistency and control issues, #3 starter upside max. Doesn’t go deep enough into games to get many wins, and bullpen is unreliable.


21.305 – Jordan Hicks (P, St. Louis Cardinals)


THE GOOD: Opt-out or not, still has upside to be elite closer with 101 mph fastball velocity. Enters 2021 healthy with good odds of claiming role. Had 2.43 xERA and .242 xwOBA. Plenty of upside.

THE BAD: Could struggle with control and consistency post-injury and 1.5 years since last MLB pitch. Doesn’t get as many Ks as one would expect given his velocity, and lacks elite control.


22.326 – Jordan Montgomery (SP, New York Yankees)


THE GOOD: A Pitcher List favorite, posted a 3.65 xFIP with 24% K rate and 5% BB rate. Entering year with rotation spot on excellent team and opportunity for first full season in years at age 28 with two strong secondaries. Fastball bumped up 1 mph to 93 mph, great for a lefty.

THE BAD: 17% HR/FB is concerning as he’s long struggled with the longball. Continues to throw terrible four-seam despite better results from sinker. Lacks durability to stay healthy and go deep into games.


23.335 – Austin Slater (OF, San Francisco Giants)


THE GOOD: Injury stifled breakout, .282 with 5 HR, 8 SB in just 104 PA. 14% barrel rate, .305 xBA, .542 xSLG. Top Statcast affinity comps: Ian Happ, Paul Goldschmidt, Dom Smith.

THE BAD: Lack of pedigree, post-injury slump could mean fluke, joining other Oracle Park 2020 “breakouts.” But that’s more than baked into this price, no?  


24.356 – Cesar Hernandez (2B, Free Agent) 


THE GOOD: Still hit solid .283/.355/.408, and despite three homers, hit 37% hard-rate to 28% for his career. Career-best 92% Z-Contact, 90th-percentile speed suggests SB upside at age 30 still intact. Huge discount from pre-2020 price.

THE BAD: Unclear why no SB attempted in 2021, increased GB% for second straight year. Free agent, so 2021 role unclear, platoon role possible.


25.365 – Drew Smyly (SP, San Francisco Giants)


THE GOOD: Had fantastic 15% swinging-strike rate over small sample, with 38% K rate over 26 innings. 2.01 FIP, and park should be more pitcher-friendly in 2021. With boost in fastball velocity, resembles the Charlie Morton breakout.

THE BAD: Since 2012, there’s only three times he’s eclipsed 100 innings, and only once hit 175 IP. At age 31, there’s a chance he’s a Matt Shoemaker-esque always-hurt type. 


26.387 – Austin Riley (3B, Atlanta Braves)


THE GOOD: Cut down K rate from 36% in 2019 to just 24% in 2020. Despite poor surface stats, deserved better with .262 xBA and .471 xSLG. Actually improved exit velocity with 91 mph and brought down excessive 20-degree LA to 14 degrees. Total post-hype breakout, he’s still just 23.

THE BAD: Ridiculous 2019 power stretch didn’t return, reduced Barrel% and sweet-spot rate made him look ordinary. Was a mess in the playoffs, full-time role not guaranteed.


27.395 – Luis García (2B, Washington Nationals)


THE GOOD: Held his own in rookie debut at age 20, upside for .300 15-10 or more, Jorge Polanco-esque. Bat-first player who is so young has plenty untapped upside.

THE BAD: Poor 2nd-percentile exit velocity (84 mph), 46th-percentile sprint speed indicate lack of power and speed upside. Will need to improve 72% contact rate for batting average-centered player. 


28.416 – Franchy Cordero (OF, Kansas City Royals)


THE GOOD: Unluckiest player in the majors, behind his .211 AVG and .447 SLG% was a .343 xAVG and .631 xSLG. K rate down to 6%, supported by 20% Z-Contact rate jump to 93% Z-Contact. Gordon’s retirement opens door for 26-year old, 30-15 potential with batting average upside if healthy.

THE BAD: 42 PA sample still extremely small, could easily regress with increased PT. Playing in pitcher-friendly stadium and poor supporting lineup. But inability to stay healthy is biggest barrier to success.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

One response to “Ben Pernick’s 2021 #2EarlyMock Draft Review”

  1. Michael says:

    Is there a link to the complete draft board?

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