Bret Sayre, of Dynasty Guru and Baseball Prospectus, organized an expert prospect mock draft this winter including prospect analysts John Sickels, Mike Newman, and Jim Callis, among others. For some reason he asked me to partake as well. Bret has started to roll out the results with Rounds 1-2 over at Baseball Prospectus, so definitely go check that out for the parameters of the draft, and short but sweet player notes from all the experts. I'm happy with how this turned out, had lots of fun doing it, and would like to thank Bret and BP for the opportunity.
Here's what the first two rounds look like:
1.1) Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Eno Sarris, FanGraphs)
1.2) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins (Chris Crawford, MLB Draft Insider)
1.3) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams)
1.4) Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins (John Sickels, Minor League Ball)
1.5) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
1.6) Carlos Correa, SS Houston Astros (J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter)
1.7) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Mike Newman, RotoScouting)
1.8) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
1.9) Addison #myguy Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics (Nick Shlain, Rotowire)
1.10) Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds (Mike Rosenbaum, Bleacher Report)
1.11) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (Craig Glaser, Bloomberg Sports)
1.12) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Jim Callis, MLB.com)
1.13) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Nick Faleris, Baseball Prospectus)
1.14) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
2.15) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
2.16) Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians. (Nick Faleris, Baseball Prospectus)
2.17) Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Tigers (Jim Callis, MLB.com)
2.18) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Craig Glaser, Bloomberg Sports)
2.19) Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals (Mike Rosenbaum, Bleacher Report)
2.20) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Nick Shlain, Rotowire)
2.21) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
2.22) Robert Stephenson, SP, Cincinnati Reds (Mike Newman, RotoScouting)
2.23) Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs (J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter
2.24) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
2.25) Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers (John Sickels, Minor League Ball)
2.26) Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros (Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams)
2.27) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Chris Crawford, MLB Draft Insider)
2.28) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Eno Sarris, FanGraphs)
I don't want to spoil the rest of the draft, but my notes after two rounds are as follows:
Tier 1: Oscar Taveras, Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts, Miguel Sano, Javier Baez. This was the top five, and personally it's not my preferred order, but I think all of these players have an argument for the top spot. This is the clear cut top-five for a format like this. Many are of the mind that Buxton, Bogaerts, and Taveras (in some order) are the clear top three, but Sano and Baez have elite power potential and may ultimately be better fantasy players because of it.
Addison Russell: I got my guy! I was very happy with my first pick at nine and mildly surprised he was still available. I would have taken Russell with the eighth pick over Bryant, but Ben Carsley went for the game-changing power upside and I really can't blame him. As they say in the Fast and Furious films, "Sometimes you have to make a call." Anyway, Russell is a future fantasy stud and a fairly safe bet as far as prospects go. The strides he has made defensively have likely assured him of a future at shortstop. There's pop in his bat, and he can run. What's not to love?
Billy Hamilton: Let's just say I wasn't surprised he came off the board at 10. Hamilton could dominate the stolen base category right away and contribute runs depending on where he sees the majority of his at-bats in the Reds’ lineup. In case you haven't noticed, there aren't a ton of guys stealing a lot of bases anymore. Only 12 different players have had a season with 40 steals in the past two years: Alex Rios, Rajai Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Reyes, Michael Bourn, Eric Young Jr., Carlos Gomez, Everth Cabrera, Ben Revere, Elvis Andrus, Starling Marte, Jean Segura, and Mike Trout. Davis was the only player to do it twice. Hamilton could steal 80 bases and make it look easy. It could get really crazy, lapping the field is a possibly.
Archie Bradley: No surprise here, he's been my top pitcher for some time now. I think Taijuan Walker went more or less where he should at 13th because the drafters seemed to favor position players, which is to be expected with pitching as deep as it is. I'm also a fan of Craig Goldstein's back-to-back selections of Syndergaard and Gausman. That's a lot of power pitching, and Gausman's changeup is a monster pitch. It was undoubtedly tough to take two pitchers in that spot, and you will have to follow the rest of the draft to see how Craig filled out his team.
CALLIS: You should really read all of the expert notes, but I found this from Jim Callis about Nick Castellanos noteworthy, "I think he might be the best pure hitter in the minors outside of Oscar Taveras." Great Odin's raven!
BUNDY: I was caught in the middle there and considered taking Albert Almora, but ultimately I went for the upside with Dylan Bundy. I also think Jonathan Gray has more upside than Mark Appel so if given the choice I'd prefer Gray. His power stuff is tremendous as he showed in his professional debut.
FRANCO: I've been a Maikel Franco fan for quite some time and it's nice that he was picked here to show how far he's come. It looks like he's going to stick at third base and hit for power which would make him a pretty nice player.