Pitcher List Mock Draft No. 3: Travis Sherer’s Picks

Travis Sherer waxes poetic about life, liberty and the pursuit of the perfect 2020 draft...

The Pitcher List staff engaged in three mock drafts over the past couple months. Below are my picks for draft No. 3. Here’s the draft board.

I should explain a couple of things about the way I drafted. First, I do not believe that we will see the kind of offensive output we saw in 2019—probably not even in 2018. Usually when leagues do something to correct a trend, they overdo it. That said, I would be surprised if there isn’t 10% fewer home runs in 2020, at the least. I’m drafting accordingly, by taking established hitters—especially early on. I want to have a high number of high-average, medium-to-high-power guys while others wait on power that might not be there.

I should also explain my pitcher strategy. While it’s nice to pick pitchers who are good at everything, when it comes to skimping on any category, I always choose strikeouts. Ks are always available later in drafts in the form of non-closing relievers. If you can get a couple of relievers with a K rate of 13, you’ve made up for picking one or even two effective-but-not-electric starters.

Let’s get to it.


1.05: Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)


Sure, it would have been nice to get Mookie Betts here, but I wasn’t going to count on it. When I found out I got pick 5, I knew I was going with Cody Bellinger. He’s the best first baseman in the league and he has multiposition eligibility—which definitely came into play later. I’ll admit, Bellinger’s second-half dip is a little concerning, but not very. After all, even though went from a 1.124 OPS before the all-star break to .917 after, his walk rate continued to be elite and he posted a .371 OBP. Even if that’s his floor for 2020, I’d take that. He did steal 15 bases too, and in that second half he didn’t get caught in seven attempts. That number could go higher. And let’s not forget he’s smack in the middle of one of the best offenses in the league, which contributes to his 121 runs and 115 RBI. Also considered: Francisco Lindor


2.20: Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves)


Remember when I said Bellinger could play outfield too? Well, when I saw Freddie Freeman was available, I figured why not double down and just take the second-best 1B too? So Freeman is now my 1B while Bellinger slides into the outfield. I’d say out of anybody picked in this draft’s 2nd round, Freeman has been the most consistent over the last four years. I can expect a .300/.530/.950 slash, 30 dingers and 100+ runs and RBIs. Between Freeman and Bellinger, that is a solid 1-2 punch. Also considered: J.D. Martinez


3.29: Mike Clevinger (SP, Cleveland Indians)


With the big five pitchers taken (Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler) and Shohei Ohtani, I had to grab the guy I thought had the best chance to put up top-5 numbers. Mike Clevinger is that guy. There are a few other close options, but what the 28-year-old righty did in an injury-shortened season was a prorated Cy Young campaign:

Clevinger IP Wins ERA WHIP K BB
2019 Totals 126 13 2.71 1.06 169 37
2019 (prorated to 200 IP) 200 21 2.71 1.06 268 59

Do those numbers look familiar to you? That is almost exactly what Cole put up in 2018 before fully breaking out in 2019. Sure it’s possible that he could get injured again, but look at all the pitchers who were picked just after him: Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and Blake Snell. None of these are locks, health-wise. Also considered: Gleyber Torres


4.44: Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Chicago Cubs)


Kris Bryant hasn’t been the same guy since he won the MVP in 2016, but that doesn’t make him chop liver either. In fact, other than an injury-plagued 2017, Bryant has been consistently putting up .285/.540/.900+ and 30+ homers. He’s just seemed like he’s underperformed when really he’s been as good as you could hope for in every other aspect but home run power. Like Bellinger, Bryant also has OF eligibility in 2020, which will come in handy later. The trio of Bellinger, Bryant and Freeman gives me a solid base of hitters who do not have any weaknesses, except speed. Some might consider Bryant a reach here, but then I’ll point to Manny Machado being picked right around the same spot on average. Also considered: Whit Merrifield, Chris Paddack


5.53: Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs)


This pick had me really torn between Anthony Rizzo and Austin Meadows, but I went with the surer thing. Rizzo fits the mold of the first three hitters I took: .280+/.520+/.900+ with 30 HR. There are sexier picks I could make, but I went fairly conservative hitting-wise with the first four because they fell in my lap. I didn’t expect Rizzo to be around in the fifth round, so I consider this a value pick. Also considered: Meadows and Vlad Guerrero, Jr


6.68: Keston Hiura (2B, Milwaukee Brewers)


I picked all those sure things…and then I threw it all out the window. Keston Hiura might not be a proven quantity, but he’s definitely not a reach here. Not with his offensive potential. Not only did Hiura slash .303/.570/.938 with 18 HR in a half a season, but he also stole nine bases. I don’t think anybody expected his speed to play at the highest level, but his performance on the bases last year suggests 15 aren’t out of the question. The only thing giving me pause about this pick is his near 30% K rate, but he was never a free swinger in college or the minors, it’s a minimal gamble. Also considered: Adalberto Mondesi and Noah Syndergaard


7.77: Mike Soroka (SP, Atlanta Braves)


I’m sure Nick Pollack will question this pick. Not that picking Mike Soroka makes no sense, but picking him this early is what is questionable. What I don’t understand is why he isn’t picked in the 7th or 8th round? If Jose Berrios can be picked here, why can’t Soroka? They aren’t that far off. Is the difference in the K rate? That’s all I can think of. Berrios goes deeper in games, but not by a substantial amount. Also, what compared to the other pitchers on the board: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Carlos Carrasco, and James Paxton—all of whom are injury-prone or in decline. Also considered: Josh Hader and J.T. Realmuto


8.92: Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland A’s)


The step back in walk rate is concerning, but it didn’t result in fewer runs, RBI, stolen bases, or home runs. Also, Ramon Laureano’s average exit velocity (89.5 mph) ranks right up there with top prospects Bo Bichette and Fernando Tatis Jr. Playing a full season, this kid has 30/20 potential. I’m not sure there are many guys left at this point in the draft with that kind of upside—not bad for a third outfielder. Also considered: Rhys Hoskins and Josh Hader


9.101: Corey Seager (SS, Los Angeles Dodgers)


I had to get a shortstop and after Corey Seager, the options are scant at best. Yes, he’s had injury issues, but it’s hard to argue he doesn’t still have the talent to be a top-10 shortstop. His average was down a little after returning from Tommy John surgery, but something that is overlooked is his XBH% was at a career-high 48.12% which means just about every other hit Seager had gone for extra bases. That is a very good sign. Considering he’ll likely be hitting at the top of a potent Dodgers lineup, the counting stats will be solid as well. Also considered: No one. Had to get a SS here


10.116: Justin Turner (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)


My grand plan was to pick Josh Donaldson here, which would move Bryant to the outfield and I’d have some crazy power just about everywhere. Ryan Amore had to go and ruin that, so I went with 35-year-old Justin Turner instead. If Turner can repeat his 2019 stats (.290/.509/.881 with 27 HR in 135 games) this pick is a no-brainer. I don’t really like taking anybody once they’ve hit 34, but Turner doesn’t seem to have slowed down yet. In fact, he might even be better. His slashes in 2017, 2018 and 2019 are three of the best four of his career. Also considered: Jesus Luzardo


11.125: Kyle Hendricks (SP, Chicago Cubs)


Got sniped two picks in a row. I was three picks away from Luzardo, but alas, it was not meant to be. Kyle Hendricks is a pretty good consolation prize. The Professor is a master of deception and adjustment. He’s all but guaranteed a 3-ish ERA and a 1.15 WHIP by keeping the league off balance. You have to when your fastball sits 86 and most years it is his best pitch! Sure that is a result of how well he uses his changeup, but it is insane to think in today’s game that a mid-80s fastball can be a weapon. It will be interesting to see how the Cubs handle Hendricks now that Joe Madden has gone. Madden kept Hendricks a short leash (only 12 of his 30 starts did he go more than six innings). Even with the shortened outings, Hendricks has reached 177 IP four of the last five years. His only real flaw is he doesn’t pull decent strikeout rates, which can be supplemented, which I will show you how later. Also considered: Zack Wheeler and Liam Henricks


12.140: Robbie Ray (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)


Remember when I said Hendricks’ lack of strikeouts can compensated for? This is Step 1. Get the guy with the K/9 rate of 12 the past two years. Yes, Ray allows too many baserunners (1.35 WHIP) and homers (30), which is a dangerous combination, but his ability to get swings-and-misses is a commodity and I’ll take him hoping for three or four dominant months. Also considered: Matthew Boyd


13.149: Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs)


Can somebody tell me the difference between Kyle Schwarber and Marcell Ozuna? Or Schwarber and Bryce Harper? Or Schwarber and Hoskins? Or Schwarber and Michael Conforto? Let’s take a look:

Marcell Ozuna .240 .330 .474 .804 29 80 89 6th
Bryce Harper .260 .372 .510 .882 35 98 114 3rd
Kyle Schwarber .250 .339 .531 .870 38 82 92 13th
Rhys Hoskins .226 .364 .454 .818 29 86 85 9th
Michael Conforto .257 .363 .494 .857 33 90 92 10th

The point here isn’t to say that Schwarber isn’t flat out better than any of these guys, but to ask why is he the last picked? In all cases, I picked him multiple rounds later. I just don’t see it. If the whole point of playing fantasy baseball is to find value in picking a guy later than he should be picked, here it is. Also considered: Nobody. Schwarber should have been picked earlier


14.164: Will Smith (RP, TBD)


My first reliever! I am generally someone who champions relievers being picked earlier than most, so this is out of character for me. Smith at round 14 just seemed too easy. Even though at the time he was a free agent, I knew he would sign somewhere to be a closer, and a week or so later, Atlanta scooped him up. Smith is less of a gamble than Ken Giles. I would have rather had Edwin Diaz, but he went a couple picks beforehand. Also considered: Julio Urias and Max Kepler


15.173: Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox)


Luis Robert in the 15th round is a steal. I’ve seen this guy go in the top 10 rounds because of his power/speed combo. A Cuban defector in 2017, Robert exploded through the minors last season, slashing a combined .328/.624/1.000 with 32 homers and 36 stolen bases as he made pit stops in High-A, Double-A and Triple-A in 2019. Am I expecting that in the majors? No. But is a 20/20 season possible? Definitely. Also considered: Nobody. I was tickled pink with this pick


16.188: Griffin Canning (SP, Los Angeles Angels)


I wanted one last starter before moving onto the next phase in my pitching draft strategy so I went with Griffin Canning. As it stands right now, Canning is probably the Angels’ third best starter (counting Ohtani). Unless he implodes in spring training, he will have a rotation spot. It becomes harder to say that about the SP talent pool this late in the draft. And Canning did have some solid starts in his MLB debut season. There is potential for three plus pitches and plus control. In 2019, the control just wasn’t good enough. He left too many pitches over, which resulted 14 homers allowed in just 90 innings. I don’t see that continuing into 2020—he’s been an advanced prospect since he was drafted in 2018—but if it does, this is a reasonable gamble that I could cut loose. Also considered: Casey Mize


17.197: Luis Arraez (2B/3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins)


Picking Luis Arraez was a direct rebuttal to picking Schwarber four rounds earlier. I build a lineup where there isn’t a single AVG or OBP weak spot except Schwarber. I knew I was going to get Arraez anyway, but now I felt like I needed to grab him a round or two early. Simply put, Arraez has the most important skill in baseball: getting on base. Could he win the 2020 batting title? Yes. Yes he could. His contact rate was 93.3% for all the pitches he swung at, and he rarely swung outside the zone (26.9%). The result? A rookie campaign where Arreaz hit .334 with a BB:K ratio of 36:29. Hopefully he can make use of his above average speed to steal a few bases in 2020. Also, he’s a good fielder, Arraez qualifies for multiple positions. What’s not to like? Also considered: Nobody


18.212: Nick Anderson (RP, Tampa Bay Rays)


And here we go! First underdrafted reliever off the board: Nick Anderson. You know, the guy who struck out 110 batters in 65 innings pitched… 110 Ks in 65 innings… 110 Ks in 65 innings!!! You do know who I’m talking about, right? I had to ask. Because I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only one who sees it combined with a respectable 3.32 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Pay attention: this is how you compensate for picking starters with subpar K rates. Also considered: Nobody


19.221: Giovanny Gallegos (RP, St. Louis Cardinals)


Next on the list of crazy good but undervalued relievers is Giovanny Gallegos. What separates Gallegos apart from other relievers isn’t just his 11.31 K rate. It’s also his ability to minimize baserunners. With a 0.81 WHIP, Gallegos is one of those rare pitchers who has good control and good stuff. He also could end up as a closer or a fill-in for a closer, since right now the Cardinals closer is Carlos Martinez, aka the most brittle man on earth. Also considered: Nobody


20.236: James Karinchak (RP, Cleveland Indians)


The final pick to my Big 3 reliever strategy is the riskiest: James Karinchak. Even if you don’t pick him until the last couple rounds, you want Karinchak on your team. If anybody in your league is going to take a flyer on this guy, it should be you. What kind of upside are we talking about? How about another Nick Anderson? Karinchak’s plus fastball and plus curve resulted in 74 striketouts in 30 innings. Yes, that’s right, he’s striking out two guys an inning (21.96 K rate)! He’s also doing it with a WHIP (1.09) and ERA (2.67). It’s not all roses though, he does have control issues. So far, however, in his first trip to the MLB, he allowed one run in five innings while striking out eight and walking just one. Also considered: Nobody


21.245: Austin Hays (OF, Baltimore Orioles)


Picking Austin Hays is a gamble. Because the Orioles are in the middle of a full rebuild—and Hays finished 2019 strong—he will get every opportunity to build on his .309/574/.947 slash in just 21 games last year. Also considered: Josh James


22.260: Colin Poche (RP, Tampa Bay Rays)


Alright, I quadrupled down on relievers by picking Colin Poche. Significantly less talented than some of the other relievers I picked just a few rounds ago, Poche’s success is contingent mostly on deception in his delivery. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to be successful. In his debut season, he posted a 5.40 ERA with a near 13 K rate, but he had just one disastrous month that ruined the rest. Also considered: Dustin May and Forrest Whitley


23.269: Buster Posey (C/1B, San Francisco Giants)


The last pick of the draft and I still needed a catcher. I was torn between Buster Posey and Salvador Perez. Posey is clearly in decline and Perez is coming back from a significant injury (Tommy John). Ultimately I chose to bet on Posey for a brief resurgence. He turns 33 during spring this year, and more games at 1B could lead putting him back around a .300 average. Also considered: Perez

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Travis Sherer

All Seattle Mariners fans have learned the future is all we have because the present is always too painful. I am Western Washington University alum, a local sportswriter, an official NCAA basketball statistician, a freelance radio and television production statistician, and a minor league standup comedian. Follow me @ShererTravis on Twitter.

One response to “Pitcher List Mock Draft No. 3: Travis Sherer’s Picks”

  1. Eric says:

    You nailed it on Schwarbs – and the Cubbies should leave him lower in the lineup where he is likely to continue similar production to 2019 if healthy

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