Spring training games have started, the World Baseball Classic is yet to kick off, and it's still mock season for those of us in the fantasy baseball industry. I've participated in a few mocks this year, but by far the most interesting and challenging of those mock drafts was the Fake Teams Expert Prospect Mock Draft. Ray Guilfoyle and Jason Hunt of Fake Teams and Bret Sayre now of Baseball Prospectus setup a group of some of the internet's brightest prospect pundits including John Sickels, Mike Newman, and Derek Carty. Oh, and they invited me for some reason.
The rules were simple. It's a 13-team snake draft of prospect eligible players for a dynasty league starting up from scratch. No major leaguers are owned yet and all players are kept indefinitely with no contracts or salaries involved. Standard 5x5 stat categories.
The draft order:
1: Nick Shlain, RotoWire
2: Derek Carty, DerekCarty.com
3: Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus
4: Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams
5: John Sickels, Minor League Ball
6: Josh Shepardson, Baseball Prospectus
7: Spencer Schneier, Beyond the Box Score
8: Craig Goldstein, Fake Teams
9: J.D. Sussman, FanGraphs/Bullpen Banter
10: Mike Newman, FanGraphs/RotoScouting.com
11: Ben Carsley, Fire Brand of the AL
12: Jason Catania, FanGraphs
13: Jason Hunt, Fake Teams
The complete results were fascinating and can be found here. You can also read write ups on every pick by the writers who made the pick here, here, and here.
In a snake draft, you need to be flexible. It's not like an auction where the player you think is the best overall will always be available to you. Fortunately, I lucked out with the first overall pick and got my guy. His name is Billy Hamilton and he's the fastest man in baseball. As tempting as Oscar Taveras and Jurickson Profar are, Hamilton is the first prospect I would select in a dynasty format or even towards the end of a mixed redraft league (Jeff Erickson even beat me to him in a mock last week! But I got Taveras later). Clearly, I'm not the only one crazy for Hamilton, though I'm certainly higher on him than a lot of my peers. His value is enormous considering how many bases he's going to steal and in a dynasty league that means your team owns the category for life. Even in a redraft league he could be a difference maker in the steals category with a measly second half callup.
In the future (and possibly the near future depending on how the first two months go in Cincinnati), Hamilton is going to hit leadoff in a lineup that features Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. All Hamilton really has to do to reach his monster fantasy potential is get on base and run. He's going to hit for a good average, steal a tons of bases, and score tons of runs in that lineup. Profar and Taveras are stars in the making and I don't doubt their potential to produce in the majors soon if given the opportunity. I just think Hamilton will be the better fantasy player upon arrival.
Other notes from the first few rounds:
Two catchers (Mike Zunino and Travis d'Arnaud) were selected in the first nine picks. I'm not a big position scarcity guy in fantasy, I try to go after the best stat lines no matter where I can fit them, but this is something else. I've always been skeptical of catching prospects because of their propensity for injury and breaking down. Also, it's hard to be a good hitter while you have to catch, so if I was going to go after a catcher in fantasy I'd go after a catcher-eligible who plays a decent amount of first base like Buster Posey or Carlos Santana. I like to wait on catching and I did again in this draft snagging Rob Brantly with the last pick of the entire draft. Not a special prospect, but Brantly makes good contact and can hit for a good average with very little power or patience.
Jason Hunt had the last pick of the first round and took Zach Wheeler and Addison Russell. Then it came back and he took David Dahl and Gary Sanchez. How did we let him get this good of a team? He even balanced it out by taking good starting pitching in the second half of the draft! A+++
Ben Carsley took Javier Baez at 16 and he also gets an A+ here. Russell and Baez were both very high on my personal rankings, so check that out if you haven't already. Baez has tremendous bat speed and there's plenty of pop in the bat. There aren't up the middle players that have the same kind of power potential as there are few players in the minors with that potential. A year from now he'll be a first-round pick in a league like this without question.
I had the first pick and then I had a lot of waiting to do before my next picks which would be back to back. I held out hope that Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano would be there at 26 for me, but both were snatched up in the second round. Jameson Taillon dropped to 23, but it wasn't far enough. I'd have been happy to have him, but I ended up with Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley as the highest guys on my board when I picked at 26. I was fine with that. I'm still pretty high on both of their respective ceilings and Bauer has a chance to produce for me this year.
Here's my entire team:
After I got Bauer and Bradley, I knew I didn't need to take many more pitchers, but with Aaron Sanchez just sitting there I couldn't resist. I was pleased to get him that late considering Noah Syndergaard was picked early in the third round. I've always been on the Sanchez side of this debate between the two righties, but when you take the draft position into account it's clear I got value taking him at this spot.
Then I went back to taking toolsy outfielders. Heathcott showed off some impressive tools at the Arizona Fall League this year and he could be ready to help the Yankees next year. Lewis Brinson is a Rangers prospect that has every tool and improving baseball instincts. Brinson could be the steal of this draft and if he is then Craig Goldstein will never let me forget that he was going to take him with his next pick. D.J. Davis hasn't played a lot of pro ball, but he has outstanding speed.
Ultimately, I'm entirely satisfied with the players I was able to pick here. I have a good group of players to supplement my major league roster. This year, Hamilton, Bauer, and Brantly will each give me something. Next year, Bradley, Heathcott, Marisnick, and Lee could all do the same. Sanchez and Brinson each have immense upside, but are a little ways away from the majors.
What does everyone else think? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@electricsnuff).