It’s never too early to start preparing for next year’s fantasy draft, especially now the World Series has concluded and the offseason has officially begun. With that in mind, we here at Pitcher List did a couple of early mock drafts. Here’s a quick overview before we dive into the two mock drafts:
- 12 teams, with head-to-head scoring.
- Starting lineups included one catcher, three outfielders, two utility spots, and nine slots for pitchers. The rosters also included four bench spots each.
- Standard 5×5 cateogires.
- 23 rounds.
And now, without further ado, the draft orders, staff members, and actual draft boards.
Mock Draft #1
- Van Burnett (@Van_verified)
- Joe Gallina (@JoeGallina)
- Chris Weber (@shwebsi)
- Adam Howe (@EightyGrade)
- Nick Pollack (@PitcherList)
- Jake Crumpler (@jakecrumpler)
- Scott Chu (@ifthechufits)
- Rick Graham (@IAmRickGraham)
- Steve Gesuele (@stav8818)
- Pete Ball (@PeteBBaseball)
- Eric Samulski (@SamskiNYC)
- Chad Young (@ChadYoung)
Mock Draft #2
- Ben Pernick (@BenjaminPernick)
- Scott Youngson (@jscottyoungson)
- Ben Palmer (@benjpalmer)
- Nate Schwartz (@_nateschwartz)
- Ben Rosener (@BenRosener)
- Kevin O’Brien (@RoyalReportKev)
- Daniel Port (@DanielJPort)
- Anthony Tucker (@AnthonyTucker81)
- Mark Steubinger (@Mark_Steubinger)
- Asher Dratel (@Low_rax)
- Ryan Amore (@JumpingJeets)
- Sam Lutz
Let’s dive into things, shall we?
Of course, that should come as no surprise considering the 25-year-old hit 41 home runs to go along with a staggering 73 stolen bases as well as a .337 batting average and a .416 on-base percentage in 735 plate appearances. The outfielder also added 149 runs scored and 106 RBI.
After Acuna though, things are less settled. At least where the two early mock drafts are concerned. Some combination of Mookie Betts, Corbin Carroll, and Julio Rodríguez went in the next three picks with Freddie Freeman, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bobby Witt Jr., Aaron Judge, Kyle Tucker, and Shohei Ohtani slotting in as first-round picks in both drafts.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.
The case could certainly be made for any of that second group to go as high as fourth after Acuna, Betts, Carroll, and Rodriguez, or even higher for that matter. Freeman, Judge, Witt Jr., Judge, Tucker, and Ohtani all finished the 2023 season in the 90th percentile or higher in xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG.
Tatis Jr., it should be noted, just missed out on that, with a .282 xBA that ranked in the 89th percentile. His .368 xwOBA and .511 xSLG finished in the 90th and 91st percentiles respectively.
Corey Seager, Juan Soto, and Yordan Alvarez – all second-round picks in both drafts – are three more players with a legitimate shot at both being first-round picks and producing like first-round picks next season. That’s especially true with Soto if the Padres trade him to a team with a quality lineup and a more fantasy-friendly ballpark.
Potential Mid-Round Steals
Starting pitchers Bobby Miller and Bryce Miller both went in the middle rounds of the two drafts, which seems about right considering both their respective success as rookies last season, as well as the number of elite starting pitching options ahead of them. Bobby Miller was selected in the seventh round in one draft and the ninth in the other. Bryce Miller, meanwhile, was taken in the ninth and 10th rounds respectively.
The former logged a 3.76 ERA, a 3.51 FIP, 119 strikeouts, and 32 walks in 22 starts spanning 124.1 innings for the Dodgers while the latter pitched to a 4.32 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in 131.1 innings for the Seattle Mariners while adding 119 strikeouts and eight pitcher wins while allowing just 26 walks.
The potential for either to take a step forward next season on a contending team makes them a quality pick in the middle rounds of the draft, especially considering the pitcher win upside. Bobby Miller logged 11 pitcher wins in just 22 starts for the Dodgers last season, and should be similarly productive where wins are concerned heading into next season.
But there’s serious breakout potential here with both starters thanks to the decidedly above-average stuff that both already displayed as rookies.
*All Stuff+ data via FanGraphs.
Speaking of Los Angeles Dodgers rookies coming off strong debut seasons, James Outman went in the 11th round of both drafts, just six picks apart. The outfielder hit .248 last season with a .353 on-base percentage, 23 home runs, and 16 stolen bases in 567 plate appearances for the National League West club, adding 86 runs scored and 70 RBI. If he exactly replicates those numbers next season, he’ll be a quality selection in the 11th round. If he can take just a bit of a step forward, he has the ability to significantly outperform an 11th-round draft position thanks in part to his role in an elite Dodgers lineup.
Elsewhere, Dansby Swanson looks like a steal after going in the 11th and 12th rounds respectively in both mock drafts. While he only hit .244 with a .328 on-base percentage in 638 plate appearances in his debut season with the Cubs, Swanson added 22 home runs and eight stolen bases, while his .346 xwOBA was his second-highest ever in a full season and his 10.8% barrel rate was identical to the barrel rate he logged in his career year with Atlanta in 2022.
Best Selections From The First Half Of The Draft
- Eury Pérez – Selected with the last pick of the seventh round in the first mock draft as the 23rd starting pitcher off the board, Perez has (to put it plainly) a league-winning upside with his bat-missing ability. The right-hander never threw more than six innings in any of his 19 starts last season, yet struck out six or more batters in an outing 11 times. In fact, prior to a four-start run in the season’s final month in which Perez failed to complete five innings, he logged a 2.68 ERA and a 3.55 FIP in 74 innings over the course of his first 15 starts, striking out 10.95 batters per nine innings during that stretch. A stretch that included an outing where he recorded just one out and was tagged for seven hits, six earned runs, and a pair of home runs. If he can log more innings in 2024, he has the upside to be a top-1o fantasy starting pitcher.
- George Kirby – Going in the middle of the sixth round in the first mock draft, Kirby is an ideal starter to build a fantasy rotation around, particularly for fantasy managers who stay away from the likes of Spencer Strider and Gerrit Cole early in drafts. Elite at limiting walks, Kirby has allowed the fewest walks per nine innings, 1.15 to be exact, among starters with at least 300 innings of work since the start of the 2022 season, when he made his Major League debut. The next closest hurler is Aaron Nola with a 1.67 metric. Kirby also went in the fifth round of the second mock draft, and even a round earlier he’s well worth taking. Because he’s also decidedly good at limiting home runs. Among those same group of starters with at least 300 innings, Kirby’s 0.98 home runs surrendered per nine innings is tied for the 13th-best metric in the league. He’s a weekly difference-maker in both the ERA and WHIP categories who also pitches on a contending team in a pitcher-friendly ballpark for half his outings. The strikeout numbers aren’t quite as elite, but Kirby is a fantasy ace.
- Cole Ragans – Sticking with starting pitchers, Ragans went in the ninth round of the second mock draft and could end up being one of the better pitcher selections made when all is said and done. After making his debut for the Kansas City Royals on July 15 following a mid-season trade from the Texas Rangers, only Tarik Skubal and Gerrit Cole had a better fWAR among qualified starters. And while fWAR isn’t exactly a fantasy scoring stat, it speaks to the hurler’s overall effectiveness. He also finished sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.18) while allowing the second-fewest home runs per nine frames (0.38) after making his Kansas City debut. And oh yeah, he also had the second-lowest FIP (2.49) among qualified starters during that stretch. Pitching for Kansas City might limit his pitcher win potential, but there’s plenty to like here fantasy-wise.
Later-Round Selections of Note
Generally speaking, barring some players going a bit higher or lower than normal, the first half or the first two-thirds of a draft will probably include the same general mix of players. But once the later rounds of the draft roll around, things become a bit more unpredictable. Potential injured list stashes, or players who missed significant time the previous season due to injury start flying off the board. Jeffrey Springs, Robbie Ray, Lance McCullers Jr., and Rhys Hoskins are just a few players who fit the bill this year in that regard.
It’s also the time to take gambles on prospects near the Major League level. Heading into 2024, Wyatt Langford, Ricky Tiedemann, Jackson Chourio, and Jackson Jobe were among the prospects going off the board later in both mock drafts. Both strategies can pay off handsomely for fantasy managers given the right roster construction and depth.
All in all, the later portions of the draft provide a chance to chase upside and ceiling when considering players and prospects. Or opportunity, whether it be a closer in a bullpen that struggles, or a position player locked into significant plate appearances either near the top of a struggling lineup or else in an elite batting order.
These were some of the best later-round selections:
- Sean Murphy – Murphy going in the 23rd round of any draft, as he did in the first mock draft, is absolute highway robbery. He’s probably still going to split time with Travis d’Arnaud in 2024, but Murphy hit .251 with a .365 on-base percentage and 21 home runs in 438 plate appearances while playing in a lineup that scored the most runs in the league by a decent margin. Atlanta scored 947 runs, the next closest team was the Dodgers with 906 and only one other team (the Texas Rangers) even topped the 865 mark. But it’s more than that. Murphy also made a ton of elite contact. Here’s a quick look at a pair of blind resumes. As you can probably guess, “Player A” is Sean Murphy.
Player B is Rafael Devers.
- Gregory Santos – A 22nd-round selection in the first mock draft, Santos could be an ideal selection for fantasy managers who decide to wait on saves. The 23-year-old logged five saves for the White Sox in 2023, pitching to a 3.39 ERA and a 2.65 FIP in the process over the course of 66.1 innings of work. He only struck out 8.95 batters per nine frames, but logged a 13.4% swinging strike percentage and finished in the 91st percentile in chase rate (at 33.5%) and in the 77th percentile in whiff rate (30%). He also finished with a 127 Stuff+ number, per FanGraphs, that was tied for the 10th-best among qualified relievers and ahead of the likes of Jordan Hicks, Tanner Scott, Brusdar Graterol and Matt Brash.
- Jarred Kelenic – Limited to 416 plate appearances due to injury last season, the 24-year-old hit .253 with a .327 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and 13 stolen bases for the Seattle Mariners in 2023. If he logs closer to 600 plate appearances in 2024, there’s serious 20-20 potential here in terms of home runs and stolen bases. Furthermore, and similar to Outman, if Kelenic can take a bit of a step forward at the plate, his fantasy ceiling would be notable. The Mariners outfielder logged a .333 xwOBA, a 9.5% barrel rate, and a 45.5% hard-hit rate last season. Kelenic went in the 20th round of the second mock draft and is worth selecting as high as the 16th or 15th round.
- J.D. Martinez – The big caveat here is whether or not Martinez – who is a free agent after the season per Spotrac – ends up staying with the Dodgers. If he does, the slugger going in the 18th round of the first draft might be the best selection of either draft. Martinez bounced back with a strong season in Los Angeles, hitting .271 with a .321 on-base percentage, 33 home runs, a stolen base, 61 runs scored, and 103 RBI in 479 plate appearances. Perhaps most crucially, the 36-year-old logged the highest hard-hit rate at 55.1% that he’s posted in a season than in any of the past nine years while also finishing in the 91st percentile or better in xwOBA, xSLG, average exit velocity, barrel rate, and hard-hit rate.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@justparadesigns on Twitter/X)