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John Sickels' Column: Early Draft Review

John Sickels

John Sickels

John Sickels writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Here is a quick look at the first day of the 2010 draft. Keep in mind that it will be at least five years before we can fairly judge any of these drafts. This article will focus mostly on potential fantasy impact. We will do a review of the complete draft class for each team next week.

AL EAST

BALTIMORE: Manny Machado in the first round was a no-brainer pick and an excellent one. His fantasy value is definitely long term: don’t expect him in the majors for at least three years, but in a long-term context with a big farm system, he should be looked at as a premium hitter at a critical position.

BOSTON: Kolbrin Vitek has a strong bat but an uncertain position at this point. Bryce Brentz is a definite corner outfielder with outstanding raw power but questions about his batting average. Anthony Ranaudo could be the 2009 version if Kyle Gibson…or he could be an injury flameout. All three players could get to the majors within the next two or three years if everything goes well, though on Boston playing time for youngsters can be uncertain.

NEW YORK: Cito Culver is a raw shortstop from upstate New York with great tools but in equally great need of refinement. He has no fantasy value at this point, and looks like a significant overdraft to me.

TAMPA BAY: The Rays drafted three very impressive high school bats: outfielders Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson, and catcher Justin O’Conner. All three have the potential to hit for very strong power with at least a decent average. The Rays move prospects slowly, however, and it will be at least three and probably five or six years before any of these guys reach the majors. Adjust your fantasy plans accordingly.

TORONTO: The Blue Jays went heavy for arms. College guys Deck McGuire and Asher Wojciechowski could reach the majors quickly, although Woj may take extra time to learn a changeup unless he becomes a reliever. High school pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard are much rawer and will take quite a bit of time to develop. McGuire is the best fantasy play at this point.

AL CENTRAL

CHICAGO: The White Sox went with a polished college lefty in Chris Sale, who could reach the major leagues within two or three years. He could be a number two starter if he reaches his full peak, but may settle in as a number three.

CLEVELAND: The Indians snagged an impressive power lefty in Drew Pomeranz. If his control sharpens up a bit, he could get to the major leagues within two or three years, although we’ll have to see how fast the command improves. He has a number two starter ceiling.

DETROIT: The Tigers aren’t afraid of signability issues and picked one with Nick Castellanos in the supplemental round. His bat is impressive but he’s four or five years away. Supplemental round pick Chance Ruffin out of Texas is a very polished reliever who could be in the majors within a year, drawing comparisons to Huston Street.

KANSAS CITY: The Royals have needed a shortstop for years and Colon shouldn’t need much time in the minors. He draws Placido Polanco comparisons but could end up being better than that. He might not be a star, but he should be solid, and that’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt.

MINNESOTA: Alex Wimmers fits the classic Twins profile: he’s polished, has decent stuff, and really knows how to pitch. He fits somewhere between Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey in terms of upside and shouldn’t need more than two years in the minors.

AL WEST

LOS ANGELES: The Angels went extremely heavy with tools. The most advanced is RHP Cam Bedrosian, but even he’s probably four years away. Kaleb Cowart, Chevez Clarke, Taylor Lindsey, and Ryan Bolden all have marvelous athleticism but will need considerable development time. There are no big fantasy plays here yet, except in the deepest leagues with long time horizons.

OAKLAND: Outfielder Michael Choice may need a bit more development time than the typical college star, but his power and patience are legitimate and I think his physical tools are underrated.

SEATTLE: Supplemental high school pick Taijuan Walker has a great arm but is extremely raw, and is a five-year development project. He has no fantasy value at this point, except in the deepest, most farm-oriented leagues.

TEXAS: Three of the four Ranger picks were high school guys. Outfielder Jake Skole and catcher Kellin Deglan are more advanced than pitcher Luke Jackson, but all of them are four or five years away at best. Third baseman Mike Olt has a good glove and solid bat and could get to the major leagues sooner. None of them are great fantasy plays at this point, but Olt is the most advanced.

NL EAST

ATLANTA: Supplemental pick Matt Lipka has blazing speed and top-shelf athleticism, but will need four or five years to develop. He’s a shortstop right now but might have to switch positions to outfield or second base, making his long-term fantasy outlook unclear.

FLORIDA: Christian Yelich is a pure hitter with a lot of polish for a high schooler, but can he really play outfield? If he ends up at first base, he’ll be blocked behind Logan Morrison, who has a lot more power potential.

NEW YORK: Matt Harvey has an excellent arm, but his track record is rather erratic. Fantasy-wise, he’s a real wild card…if he maintains his mechanics, the North Carolina product could reach the majors within two years. But if he loses his control again, it could take longer.

PHILADELPHIA: Hometown lefty Jesse Biddle has great long-term potential, but is a lot of projection right now and will need at least four or five years. He has no fantasy value except in long-term contexts, but is worth keeping an eye on down the line.

WASHINGTON: Bryce Harper is really really good. Keep in mind that he’s only 17…it may take him four years to get to the majors and he’d still be just 21.

NL CENTRAL

CHICAGO: The biggest shock of the draft was Hayden Simpson in the first round. The Southern Arkansas right-hander has a great arm but is undersized and didn’t face the best competition in college. His fantasy value is highly-speculative at this point; this could be a great sleeper pick or it could blow up in the Cubs’ face.

CINCINNATI: Yasmani Grandal is a great defensive catcher and made huge progress with his bat this year. He’s a good fantasy option and should be ready for the major leagues within two or three years.

HOUSTON: First round picks Delino DeShields (blazing speed, some power) and Mike Foltynewicz (fresh Midwest arm) are both highly promising in the long run but will need plenty of development time. Supplemental pick Mike Kvasnicka was called as a third baseman but could end up at catcher or third base. None of them are short-term fantasy picks, but DeShields and Folty have a shot to make big impacts eventually, and Kvasnicka could be a solid player once he settles on a position.

MILWAUKEE: Dylan Covey was one of the best high school arms available despite a late-season slump. As with most high schoolers, he’s at least four years away if not longer, but he could end up as a very solid number two starter if all goes well.

PITTSBURGH: As high school pitchers go, Jameson Taillon is a safe bet, with exceptional stuff and solid command. He’s still somewhat risky and long-term as a fantasy play, but the upside as a number one starter is huge if he pans out.

ST.LOUIS: College picks Zach Cox (third base) and Seth Blair (RHP) are both impressive picks who should get to the major leagues fairly quickly and have medium-term fantasy value. Supplemental pick Tyrell Jenkins is riskier and will take longer to develop, maybe as long as five or six years, but has the highest ceiling of the group due to his outstanding athleticism.

NL WEST

ARIZONA: Barret Loux is a polished college pitcher with slightly above average stuff, projecting as a number three or four starter. He won’t need long to develop, but also doesn’t have as much upside as some of the younger talents.

COLORADO: Outfielder Kyle Parker has a signability complication with Clemson football, but his power upside his huge and you know how offense plays in Colorado. He may need more time than the average college player, but could also be a 30-home run force. Pitcher Peter Tago has a terrific arm and is just 17 years old; he’ll need four or five years but could be a number two starter.

LOS ANGELES: Zach Lee may be the most unsignable player in the draft, and it will be very interesting to see if the Dodgers can actually ink him away from LSU football. He could be a number two starter if he turns pro, but that might not be for three more years. No fantasy value at this point.

SAN DIEGO: Karsten Whitson was second only to Taillon among high school arms with his combination of stuff and command. He probably won’t need as much time as some high schoolers, but that still puts him three or four years away at best. If you are in a long-term league, he’s worth stashing.

SAN FRANCISCO: Outfielder Gary Brown may be attractive for his blazing speed, and his glove should get him to the majors fairly soon. Beware of his below average plate discipline, which could cut into his OBP and ultimate value. His power is also marginal.

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