It was a winter full of mock drafts for the Pitcher List staff. That included a prospects-only dynasty mock for 12 brave souls. Three-hundred prospect-eligible players were snatched up, and each of the writers is here to tell you the reasoning behind their picks, why you should consider them in dynasty leagues, and for some of them, possibly even redraft leagues.
Having the No. 1 pick isn’t always the most fun way to draft, often necessitating reaching on guys you know won’t make it back to you 22 picks later. That said, you also get the best player overall, and it provides an interesting challenge, having to balance your risks and reaches.
Round 1 (Pick 1): Wander Franco, SS, TBR
Could I really have gone any other direction here? I could probably leave this be and let the pick speak for itself, but I’ll dive into his numbers a bit, just for giggles. Despite being more than three years the junior on average than his Appalachian League teammates in his pro debut, Wander Franco took home the 2018 Appalachian League MVP with a monstrous .351/.418/.587 slash line and 11 home runs in his 61 games. He followed this up by going through two levels of the minors in 2019, torching both Single-A and High-A to the tune of .327/.398/.487 and 18 stolen bases. All of his offensive tools are graded 60 or higher, and he’ll almost certainly be in the majors by 2021, just his age-20 season. A shred of me considered Jo Adell when i first saw the order, but thinking about it longer than a moment, this decision was easy. Franco should end up being a true five-category stud for years and years to come.
Round 2 (Pick 24): Joey Bart, C, SFG
Not drafting catcher early is generally my mantra for fantasy, but I believe Joey Bart’s level of production justifies the high selection. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB draft had a tremendous second season in the minors, managing an .824 OPS with 16 home runs in 79 games, with his .316/.368/.544 slash in his 22 game Double-A stint standing out in particular. Even in the cavernous confines of Oracle, Bart could easily be a 25+-homer guy with a strong batting average, less rare at the catcher position than it used to be but still pretty rare. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him get a taste of the majors in 2020, though we likely won’t see him play a meaningful role for fantasy owners until 2021. His excellent arm strength and solid glove behind the dish should keep the Giants from moving him away from catching, which would be my only concern for the 22-year-old star.
Round 3 (Pick 25): Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA
I would be lying if I said my Mariners fandom wasn’t a partial motivator for this pick. That said, Logan Gilbert was legitimately incredible in 2019 and should be headlining Seattle’s rotation by 2021. Gilbert used his great four-pitch mix to post a 2.13 ERA between three levels of the minors, with his 1.73 ERA and 10.5 K/9 in 12 games at High-A being his most impressive stop. That said, his 2.88 ERA and 10.1 K/9 at Double-A was still amazing, and he shouldn’t be waiting long before getting the call to Triple-A in 2020. It’s not likely that Gilbert quite lives up to the legendary dominance of fellow Stetson product Jacob deGrom, but hey, I can dream.
Round 4 (Pick 48): Spencer Howard, RHP, PHI
From one high-upside righty to another. Spencer Howard, a 2017 draftee, showed flashes in his first two minor league seasons, but his huge strikeout numbers were largely counteracted by his tendency to hemorrhage walks. That changed in 2019, though, as his BB/9 dropped to 2.0 on the season, and he struck out 11.9 per nine while ascending all the way from Rookie Ball to Double-A, more than holding his own at each stop. The 23-year-old has a phenomenal fastball that touches the high 90s, which helps to make up for his inconsistent, though occasionally electric secondary offerings. If he can simply continue to keep the ball in the zone like he did in 2019, he could end up being one of the better strikeout artists in baseball. I feel good about the risk, though, especially given the far safer pitching option I already have in Gilbert.
Round 5 (Pick 49): Riley Greene, OF, DET
Riley Greene just oozes upside, and I decided to take a shot on the 19-year-old outfielder, who isn’t projected to reach the majors until 2023. His standout tool is a 60 Hit, with excellent raw power that many experts believe will eventually translate to game power as he physically matures. His .271/.347/.403 slash between three levels in 2019 is respectable for an 18-year-old (not everyone can be Franco, after all), and he’s expected to start 2020 at Single-A. Greene should end up being a contributor in every category outside stolen bases, though he did swipe five bags in 57 games last season. I didn’t have an outfielder at this point in this draft, and I also didn’t have a player with a longer time frame to the majors. I shored up both needs with this one.
Round 6 (Pick 72): Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, TEX
In hindsight, I probably could have waited several rounds on Julio Pablo Martinez. Like, a lot of rounds. Like, better prospects than Martinez went undrafted. This is the only pick I genuinely regret. Martinez wasn’t bad in 2019, but he didn’t exactly light the world on fire either, mainly due to his major contact issues. Fifteen home runs and 32 stolen bases in 500 plate appearances is exciting, but he’s never going to get the opportunity to make the most of his speed in the majors if he continues to get on base at just a .317 clip. There’s potential here still, but at 23 and having yet to crack Double-A, Texas can only be so patient with him.
Round 7 (Pick 73): Travis Swaggerty, OF, PIT
While his minor league numbers since being drafted in the first round out of South Alabama haven’t been particularly eye-popping, Travis Swaggerty can at least fall back on his excellent speed that’s allowed him to steal 32 bases in 173 games, as well as with his great on-base skills (10.9% walk rate in 2019). These traits should make him a natural leadoff hitter for the Pirates, ensuring that his stolen bases also come with solid run production. Beyond that, though, he’ll likely be close to league average in every other regard, though I don’t think anyone would complain about a 20/30 hitter with around 100 runs. His elite defensive ability should keep him in the lineup regularly, and he should only be a few years out from being a regular fixture atop the Pirates order.
Round 8 (Pick 96): Robert Puason, SS, OAK
Given that we haven’t seen him play in the minors yet, I don’t have a ton to say about the 17-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Robert Puason was ranked as the No. 2 international prospect in the 2019 pool, and the A’s snapped him up for $5.1 million. He has good mechanics for his age and is a naturally gifted athlete who should be a plus contributor on the basepaths, as well as at the plate and defensively at shortstop. Scouts expect his strong arm and great glove to stick at shortstop for the foreseeable future, which is valuable and never a guarantee with prospects this young and with this much development to go. Puason is basically a very valuable lottery ticket, but the innate talent was too much to risk waiting longer for.
Round 9 (Pick 97): Brett Baty, 3B, NYM
The No. 2 prospect in the Mets system, Brett Baty is a talented hitter who should be able to hit for both average and power at the major league level. His 15.3% walk rate in 2019 is a testament to his excellent eye at the plate, and should work to bring down his 28.5% strikeout rate, which isn’t bad for a 19-year-old corner infielder by any means. I’m slightly worried that Baty’s lack of agility could eventually necessitate a move across the diamond to first base, but a 60-grade arm should at least delay that. I’m excited to watch Baty over the coming years to see if his huge raw power that convinced the Mets to take him 12th overall in the 2019 draft can start seeping into games more often, and to see what kind of batting average his line drive-heavy profile yields. Baty has a ton of upside and could very well be batting third or fourth for the Mets within three to five years.
Round 10 (Pick 120): Michael Toglia, 1B, COL
If there’s one thing that stands out about Michael Toglia, it’s his enormous power, which ended up getting him drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft. I don’t think I need to tell you guys, but Power + Coors Field= A Fantasy Asset I Want to Own. Though his taste of the minors in 2019 was brief, just 176 plate appearances, nine of his 36 hits went for home runs, and an additional seven were doubles. His 25.6% strikeout rate was respectable, too, though scouts aren’t optimistic that his hit tool is actually that good, and we’ll likely see him strike out quite a bit more in 2020 and beyond. That said, worries about his ability to make contact are really all that’s stopping him from being a perennial threat for 40 home runs and 100 RBI in the middle of the Rockies lineup within a few years. First base has been a bit of a revolving door for Colorado the last few seasons, and I’m optimistic that Toglia can firmly seize the reins to be a solid option at a deceptively shallow position.
Round 11 (Pick 121): Aaron Bracho, 2B, CLE
Another very young prospect, Aaron Bracho is just 18 but already expected to make his MLB debut by 2022, given his particularly advanced plate skills for his age. He struck out just 17% of the time in his first taste of minor league action, and produced a great .281/.402/.570 slash line between two levels. While his great bat speed will likely manifest more as doubles than home runs, he should still be able to chip in 20-25 long balls per season with solid average. While most of my young guys are more like lottery tickets, as players so far from the majors are apt to be, Bracho provides a rare mix of youth and floor, while still having enough upside to be an intriguing fantasy prospect.
Round 12 (Pick 144): Kameron Misner, OF, MIA
The Marlins were able to snag Kameron Misner at pick No. 35 in the 2019 MLB draft due to a poor end to his last college season, and they landed arguably one of the biggest steals of the draft. At 6’4″ with excellent bat speed, Misner just oozes raw power and combines that with excellent 60-grade speed that could easily give him 30-20 or even 30-30 potential at the MLB level when he arrives. He also posted a spectacular 17.7% walk rate in the minors, and his advanced approach at the plate could end up making him a five-category contributor when all is said and done. That kind of potential backed by actual results is hard to come by this late in the draft, and I expect Misner to start climbing up top-prospect lists very quickly.
Round 13 (Pick 145): Ryan Vilade, SS, COL
A 2017 draftee, Ryan Vilade has hit well at every one of his three minor league stops, highlighted by his 2019 season at High-A where he slashed .303/.367/.466 over 128 games, swiping 24 bags along the way. He played about one-third of his games at High-A Lancaster at third base, and it’s possible that ends up being his primary position, despite being drafted as a shortstop. His arm should keep him on the left side of the infield, though, and his impressively well-rounded batting profile should hopefully keep him in the lineup, regardless of what position he has to do it at. The presences of Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story mean that his relevance would likely have to come with another team, though, or by adding significant positional versatility.
Round 14 (Pick 168): Logan Webb, RHP, SFO
I hadn’t taken a pitcher since the fourth round, so I figured now was as good a time as any to snag Logan Webb, who made his way to the majors for eight starts in 2019. Despite subpar results, though, Webb has phenomenal throughout his six minor league seasons, making use of a killer fastbal-slider combo to post a 3.36 ERA across his just over 300 innings of minor league work. His health is a concern, as he’s pitched over 100 innings in a season just once since debuting in 2014, but when healthy, he has the necessary stuff to post respectable pitching numbers across the board. Some have tabbed him for an eventual bullpen role, which would obviously tank his value, but the Giants used him as a starter in all his 2019 games, so it seems safe for the time being.
Round 15 (Pick 169): Sean Hjelle, RHP, SFO
It wasn’t intentional, but I grabbed my second Giants righty here with Sean Hjelle, who sits just one spot below Webb in the Giants’ organization as their No. 6 prospect and No. 2 pitching prospect. One regard he’s not below Webb, though, is height, which the 6’11” Hjelle has in spades. Given his enormity, one would probably expect him to be a power pitcher, but he instead uses a low-90s fastball combined with an excellent knuckle curve to be more of a finesse, pitch-to-contact pitcher. This approach worked for him across three levels in 2019, as he posted a 3.32 ERA across 143.2 innings pitched, striking out just under nine per nine and walking just 2.3 per nine. He likely won’t see major league action until 2021, as he struggled a fair bit at Double-A, but he should be a strong fourth pitcher for my squad, balancing out Webb’s more risky profile with a much safer one, just as I did with Gilbert and Howard earlier in this draft. Plus, pitching in Oracle is always a positive.
Round 16 (Pick 192): Miguel Hiraldo, 3B, TOR
Another upside youngster, Miguel Hiraldo has impressed mightily with his bat in his first two minor league seasons, with a .300/.354/.460 slash in 539 plate appearances, stealing 29 bases to boot. The stolen bases likely won’t be there going forward for Hiraldo, whose lack of foot speed will likely prevent him from taking advantage of big league catchers like he’s done in the lower levels, but he’s yet another piece on my team whose approach at the plate and contact skills are mature beyond his years, and speak to a high floor with respectable upside. None of his tools stand out in particular, but you absolutely can’t complain about a 14.5% strikeout rate at age 18. Hiraldo is likely a few years out, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see his advanced approach allow him to very quickly make his way through the minors, and join a young, promising Blue Jays core by late 2021.
Round 17 (Pick 193): Thad Ward, RHP, BOS
The Red Sox appear to have made the right decision letting Thad Ward, a college reliever, become a starter after drafting him in 2018. His 11-game 2018 season wasn’t much to write home about, but Ward made a statement in 2019, with a 2.14 ERA in 25 starts between Single-A and High-A, while striking out 11.2 per nine. His slider is his standout pitch, and it was on full display across his 2019 campaign, combining it with a low-90s fastball and respectable changeup. His poor control is concerning, as it could spell a return to relieving if he can’t get things under control but we’ve definitely seen pitchers with BB/9’s far worse than his 4.1 mark find success as starters, so I remain optimistic. If he can develop his changeup some to give himself a good secondary option to pair with the stellar slider, he could easily be an upside mid-rotation starter.
Round 18 (Pick 216): Zac Lowther, LHP, BAL
All of my pitching picks thus far have been righties, so I opted to add a quality left-handed arm while there were still some available. Zac Lowther has been phenomenal in his three seasons as an Orioles farmhand, with a 2.26 ERA in 326 innings, culminating with a 2.55 ERA and 9.4 K/9 at Double-A in 2019. Lowther is an interesting case, as one would assume that a pitcher with average secondary offerings and a career K/9 well above 10 would pack a potent heater, but his fastball sits comfortably around 89 mph. He gets an insane amount of spin on the pitch, though, ending up with a profile that somewhat resembles a very, very poor man’s Justin Verlander. Pitching in Camden and having the atrocious Orioles offense backing him up is concerning to say the least, but it’s hard to not be intrigued by the results Lowther has managed to produce at every level of the minors so far.
Round 19 (Pick 217): John Doxakis, LHP, TBR
I opted to snag a second left-handed option, and went with a personal favorite sleeper prospect of mine, John Doxakis. After a great final two seasons at Texas A&M, the Rays made him their second-round selection in 2019, and he was phenomenal in his short minor league stint, posting a 1.93 ERA in 10 Low-A starts. Both Doxakis’ low-90s fastball and biting slider are great pitches, with a changeup that varies in quality. He didn’t post dazzling strikeout numbers in college or his taste of the minors, but given his excellent command of his offerings he should easily be able to hover around 9.0 K/9 if not better, with a strong WHIP aided by his rock-solid control. He’s still a ways away from the majors (especially knowing the Rays), but he’ll be in an excellent pitchers’ park with a great offense behind him when he finally does make it.
Round 20 (Pick 240): Christopher Morel, 3B, ChC
2019 was a breakout season of sorts for Christopher Morel, who posted a .284/.320/.467 slash at Single-A after failing to break .250 the previous two seasons. Nothing in particular stands out in Morel’s toolbox, and I largely grabbed him because of the potential opportunity afforded by the infield shake-up the Cubs will likely have going on soon. He does everything well enough, but I likely would have picked someone else given a re-pick here, most likely A’s third base prospect Sheldon Neuse. I don’t have a whole lot to say here, purely because Morel is really just uninteresting. At 6’0″ and a paltry 140 pounds, hoping for power is likely futile here, and his speed on the basepaths is fine, but as with the rest of his profile, nothing to write home about.
Round 21 (Pick 241): Niko Decolati, OF, COL
My last outfield pick was all the way back in the 10th round, so I was overdue here. Niko Decolati is an interesting player, as looking at the grades given to him by many scouts would make this pick a bit of a puzzling one. That said, Decolati exploded onto the scene in 2018, with a .947 OPS and 17 stolen bases in 69 games of Rookie ball. While his offensive numbers as a whole dropped in 2019, he still swiped 15 bags and played solid defense at multiple outfield positions. While he doesn’t walk much, he also doesn’t strike out excessively, either, and could end up being at least a modest contributor at all five categories if he continues to develop. I was throwing darts at this point in the draft, and that 2018 season was more than enough to make Decolati worth a lottery ticket.
Round 22 (Pick 264): Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE
I was shocked to see Bobby Bradley’s name still available here in the 22nd, and snapping him up before anyone else noticed was a must. It feels like we’ve been hyping up Bradley forever, and after he underwhelmed in a brief major league stint in 2019, it seems like many simply tossed him aside. Still, he’s ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Indians system and crushed 34 home runs in 112 games between the MLB and Triple-A. He’s certainly not a guy who’s going to hit for average, but even an empty 40 home runs and 100 RBI is incredibly valuable at this point. Here’s hoping that his poor 2019 in Cleveland was not indicative of what’s to come, and that he can settle in as a strong source of power in the mid to lower part of the Indians’ batting order.
Round 23 (Pick 265): JC Encarnacion, 3B, BAL
At this point, my JC Encarnacion pick is 100% wishful thinking and projection. His underwhelming .709 OPS in four minor league seasons is pretty bad, and he’s yet to reach High-A at age 21, but man, if he could put some muscle on his 6’3″ frame, coupled with his impressive bat control, he could put up some eye-popping power numbers. Alas, that’s all speculation at this point, and he’s basically yet to do anything that actually justifies my drafting him. Even defensively he’s lacking, and at this point we have no idea where his eventual home position will end up being. You can probably ignore him at this point in time, even in deep dynasty formats.
Round 24 (Pick 288): Dom Thompson-Williams, OF, SEA
Acquired from the Yankees in the James Paxton trade, Dom Thompson-Williams had an unremarkable first season in the Mariners organization, his 15 stolen bases and 12 home runs at Double-A doing little to distract from his abysmal 31.7% strikeout rate. Thompson-Williams is a gifted athlete with real talent, as his 20/20 and .299 season in 2018 showed, but he’s seriously going to need to learn some plate discipline if he intends to make anything of said talent beyond the lower levels of the minors. It’s not insane to think he could have 30/30 potential someday, but he has major strides to make before that’s even close to being a reality. At the very least, his solid glove at all three outfield spots should keep him a semi-regular if he can improve enough to reach MLB, but he’s going to have stiff competition in a Mariners system that has no shortage of talented young outfielders.
Round 25 (Pick 289): Sam Delaplane, RHP, SEA
I’ll be the first to admit this is a bit of a homer pick, as I’ve gotten to watch Sam Delaplane pitch quite a lot and felt like adding one last Mariner here at the end of my draft. Still, he’s far from dead weight in my roster, and he’s dominated the minors to the tune of a 2.29 ERA in his three seasons as a reliever. His 15.1 K/9 is eye-popping, and he’s struck out 100+ batters in each of his last two seasons, despite not breaking 70 innings pitched in either. God knows the Mariners pen is in turmoil, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Delaplane take over as the unquestioned closer as soon as late 2020.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)