Recapping the Pitcher List Staff Dynasty Draft

Recapping the Pitcher List Staff Dynasty Draft.

In any draft, no matter the format, it takes a handful of rounds to get a good idea of how the room is valuing different types of players and what direction your own roster is going. For dynasty leagues, there are even more possible paths to take since there’s a spectrum of competitive windows from win-now to dominate down the road.

In the recently completed Pitcher List Dynasty League, my approach was to have my cake and eat it too by trying to win now but picking my spots to get some future pieces as well.

It didn’t take long for the room to force me into adjusting part of that strategy because of some important league rules and pitching getting pushed up the board.


League Format and Rules


Knowing your league’s rules is where to start before even developing a draft strategy. It’s a 14-team head-to-head league with 10 categories, changing the traditional 5×5 to replace average with OBP and wins with quality starts. We start 14 hitters (following the NFBC main event format with two catchers, five outfielders, and one utility spot) and 10 pitchers (seven SP and three RP) with a six-man bench, three IL spots, and a 20-man farm team. The quirky twist was that any minor leaguers taken in the first 15 rounds cannot be placed on your farm team, which effectively diminished the value of prospects and caused a run on them in Round 16.

Another twist is that once you promote a Minor League player to your active roster, they cannot be sent back down to your farm system.

I took the first prospect, Rangers outfielder Wyatt Langford, at pick No. 17 since I believed he would make the MLB team out of spring training. But I quickly saw that the rules were depressing prospects’ values and couldn’t risk too many of my limited bench spots getting used up by minor leaguers, so I didn’t take another until Red Sox outfielder Roman Anthony in the 18th round.

Having OBP instead of average is a fun tweak since most of the rankings out there are for traditional 5×5. I focused on getting guys with high walk rates throughout, reeling in Evan Carter (projected 11.9 BB% by ATC), Pete Alonso (10.1), Ian Happ (12.0), Brandon Nimmo (11.3), Will Benson (12.8), Mitch Garver (11.5) and Brandon Marsh (10.3). I avoided low-walks guys like the plague, passing on free-swingers like Salvador Perez, Ezequiel Tovar, and CJ Abrams with the thought that they are overrated for OBP leagues.


Choosing a Build


Once the first handful of rounds were behind us, I wanted to identify what type of builds everybody else was taking so that I could find a path with the most value to be had. The problem there was that the best value was going to be building a prospect juggernaut since so many minor leaguers were pushed down the board. The other way to get the best value is to go for a total win-now strategy by taking advantage of all the older players that fall in a dynasty draft.

Since we had a four-hour clock per pick, the draft was going slow enough for me to keep close tabs on everyone’s rosters to see which directions they all were going. On the spectrum, I found three teams that were focusing entirely on the win-now strategy and four squads that were mostly win-now with a lean to the middle on one side. On the other side were two teams looking entirely to the future and one rebuilding team leaning to the middle on the other side. Then straddling the two sides were three teams leaning towards rebuilding and two owners including myself with a win-now lean.

It’s not in my DNA to do a rebuild unless I’m taking over a truly terrible dynasty roster. With my team named RotoProspects after my website where I do prospect and dynasty rankings, I knew I wanted to inject plenty of youth and upside into my roster. But the competitor in me made it so I had to try to win now since there were only three teams totally going for it.

To have a good shot at winning in year one, I had to stay away from prospects as long as possible, trusting my ability to find value in the later rounds when everyone’s focusing on their farm team. I had to put aside my distaste for closers in a dynasty league by keeping up with the room pushing relievers up the board, finding a loophole in the process.


Putting Strategies to Work in Draft


Having to start seven starting pitchers but with a small bench that makes it difficult to pile up quality innings, I realized I could stash relievers that also qualify at SP. So I popped Mason Miller in the 14th round and later snagged John Brebbia in the 32nd round, giving me the possibility of collecting saves from 2 SP spots. Nabbing the top two Nationals relievers in Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan should mean I come out with whoever emerges as the No. 1 closer in Washington. This allowed me to take a shot on one more possible closer in Robert Suarez and if any of my five relievers don’t work out, then I can shift back to SPs.

So my build wound up being to take my ace in the first round since Spencer Strider made it to me at pick 12. Then, since I went with tons of ceiling but plenty of risk with Langford and Carter in my next two picks, I shifted to safe veterans in Alonso and Manny Machado in rounds 4 and 5, respectively. With Strider in the fold, I waited until the sixth round to get my next SP in Logan Gilbert. Without any middle infielders or much speed, I then went with Nico Hoerner and Ha-Seong Kim, loving the position flexibility they give me. I stayed young on my next two SPs – Gavin Williams and Bryan Woo, with Happ sandwiched in between as my third OF.

If I was going to summarize my general draft style in one word, it’s value. So my next two picks were way higher on my rankings than where I got them – Zack Gelof at 157th overall and Josh Naylor at pick No. 180. After finally taking Miller as my first “closer” in Round 14 (!) and getting a fourth OF in Nimmo, I passed on the expected prospect run in the 16th round by taking a different type of win-later player – Jacob deGrom, hoping that he could possibly help me down the stretch this year, but if not then to give me an ace for next season. I came back with another older pitcher with an injury-prone tag in Chris Sale at No. 236 overall, which looks pretty good now with the Braves lefty carrying an ADP of 109 over the past week in NFBC DCs.

I dipped my toe back in the prospect pool with Anthony, who walked at a 17.7% clip across three levels in the minors last season. Finding a mix of power and speed for my outfield next was important since I couldn’t be sure that Langford was going to break camp in the majors (this was back in late February). So, I scooped up Benson and Tommy Edman, sandwiched around Garver, who I’d been targeting as my C1 all along. I’ve come to regret the Edman pick since his wrist has proven to be a bigger problem than I was expecting, but at least he gives me more position flexibility and when he goes on the IL I’ll be able to grab something else I need.

One of my favorite picks from the rest of the way starts with watching a tier of solid starting pitchers slide for so long that I was overjoyed to land Kenta Maeda at pick No. 409 (his ADP is 250 in NFBC DCs).

Despite waiting to really attack my farm, I still wound up with six more prospects from my top 100 in the later rounds – Carson Williams, Victor Scott II, Bryan Ramos, Jacob Melton, Samuel Zavala, and Jonatan Clase. I scored some personal favorites in Blake Dunn, Jeter Martinez, and Cole Carrigg and closer with two of my picks to break out in 2024 – Pirates flame-thrower Jun-Seok Shim and Mariners shortstop Dawel Joseph, who I believe could become this year’s Sebastian Walcott.


Snipes and Favorite Picks


It didn’t take long to get sniped, having my darling Elly De La Cruz swiped from me at No. 15 overall when I was waiting at 17. Then 16th overall took Gunnar Henderson, top in my queue, but I’m happy now to have gotten Langford at 17, even though I was afraid it was a bit of a reach at the time. In in seventh round, I was holding my breath for Christian Yelich, but he went two picks before me. In the next round, Seiya Suzuki went the pick before me. One of my favorite targets, Shota Imanaga, was snagged three picks before my turn in the 15th round.

There are those times in a live draft room where you might call out “nice pick” and not actually mean it, but I took note of the instances where I was truly impressed. So here’s one favorite pick from each team from their draft order:

  1. Luis Castillo, 56th overall (ADP #29 in NFBC DCs over the past week): My favorite underpriced ace.
  2. Edwin Diaz, 114th overall (ADP #43): Love getting my No. 1 closer this late.
  3. Brendan Donovan, 306th overall (ADP #288): Career 11.1 BB%, to bat lead-off for the Cardinals at 2B and OF – sign me up!
  4. Marcus Semien, 60th overall (ADP #32): The best volume hitter, hands down (MLB record 835 plate appearances between the regular season and postseason last year).
  5. Zack Wheeler, 61st overall (ADP #23): Phillies ace may make it into first round in NFBC main event this late – wow!
  6. Teoscar Hernández, 216th overall (ADP #117): He doesn’t walk a lot (5.6 BB% last year), but getting out of Seattle to the Dodgers lineup is the best offseason change of scenery.
  7. Andrés Muñoz, 147th overall (ADP #76): This is another snipe with No. 1 overall closer upside.
  8. Jeimer Candelario, 288th overall (ADP #210): A favorite mid-round pick of mine and another snipe.
  9. James Paxton, 541st overall (ADP #300): One of those win-now bargains that slip through the cracks in a dynasty draft.
  10. Maikel Garcia, 318th overall (ADP #201): Shooting up draft boards as it became evident he should bat leadoff for the Royals.
  11. Termarr Johnson, 354th overall (#34 prospect on my rankings): Yet another snipe thanks to a 21.9 BB% last year to go with blossoming power from a hitting machine.
  12. Yusei Kikuchi, 460th overall (ADP #228): One last favorite pick of my own that I hadn’t mentioned.
  13. Bryson Stott, 153rd overall (ADP #112): Was in the top of my queue and provides nice power-speed blend.
  14. Samuel Basallo, 211th overall (#14 prospect on my rankings): Kicking off the 16th-round run on prospects in style with a baby Yordan Alvarez at catcher.

Here is the link to the full draft board for anybody curious about the rest of the picks.

Rudy Ropp

Rudy Ropp is a Dynasty Fantasy Analyst here at Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 1999. Co-founder of RotoProspects.com which features a weekly-updated Top 500 Prospects and a monthly-updated Dynasty Top 500 Rankings. I have similar love for movies and music - my dream used to be the next Quentin Tarentino as a former video store clerk or a Rolling Stone writer like in Almost Famous. In addition to being a fantasy baseball nut, I'm a dad, avid traveler, Star Wars fanatic, lifelong Mariners fan, pickleball player, and newspaper sports writer/designer/editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login