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Collette Calls: Prospects Prices From Tout Wars

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

March Madness takes on a different meaning around the Collette household. Yes, my wife and her entire family are Kentucky Wildcats supporters so they are very much interested the NCAA basketball tournament each March, but March Madness to my wife is an absentee husband most weekends. Between personal and professional associations, I am in no less than eight leagues most years and 2011 is no different and add in new commitments to local media, and March has been a blur. It may not be her favorite time of the year, but it is mine and it is why 100% of what I win is spent on a nice family getaway every fall once the baseball season is over. After all, not too many spouses handle it as well as my much better half does when I kiss her and the kids goodbye and head up to Manhattan every March to participate in Tout Wars.

In five short seasons, I've gone from the new face in the room that felt overwhelmed to the dumbest guy in the room that takes too many of his hometown Rays and volunteers to do too much live-blogging of the other drafts. In all seriousness, it is a great weekend to catch up with many of the writers in the industry that I converse with weekly and with some, daily, yet only get to see once or twice a year due to busy schedules and commitments. The drafts were extra special this year because both Foleys NYC and Sirius/XM Radio got involved to increase the exposure to the battle of the Touts. Foleys went as far as to give us our own Tout Wars menu where the recent champions had menu items named after them and I ingested the Jason Grey sliders and immediately felt pangs of indigestion which Grey accurately diagnosed as jealousy while holding his brand new personalized trophy given to him by F.X. Flinn of SABR. Speaking of Flinn, if you hate having to draft a MI and a CI in your drafts these days, he is the man to blame as he is the one who suggested it to the founding fathers after a very early draft back in the day.

Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports radio carried all three drafts live over the weekend as a variety of hosts covered each draft and debated the merits of the picks and all feeds were simulcast on while live blogs were run on MLBAM even shot a little video to give people a behind the scenes look at the draft. Simply put, if you wanted immediate access to the results of the drafts, there were plenty of options available to get them. Flash back to five years ago when I first drafted when Twitter not used by anyone in the room and results were being flashed on message boards and Facebook by a few participants. The fact the drafts results are now instantly known is a double-edged sword because friends were immediately texting me with their feedback or critiques of my bids or to tell me what the radio hosts thought of my moves.

That said, I think it is awesome that other fantasy baseball players are that tuned into ToutWars to help them plan their own drafts. A good friend of mine texted me on Monday saying he found listening to the draft on Saturday and following the live blog was extremely helpful for his local mixed league draft prep because it allowed him to see where the minds of the influential experts were. Even though there are a variety of fantasy baseball sites out there, most people share the same set of core reads. Before becoming competitors with him in ToutWars, Jeff Erickson was always a must-read for me and that is not just me doing some major sucking up. That goes for everyone else at the draft tables over the weekend as spots in ToutWars are not just given out to anyone they have to be earned. Additionally, there is no tenure in the league so if you don't hold your own; you can find yourself uninvited in the near future.

Getting back to my friend's comment the insight into where the minds of the experts are becomes very valuable during draft preparation. Since this is a column about prospects, I wanted to take a look at where the prospects were going in each of the three drafts over the weekend. ToutWars is not a keeper league so these prospects are being drafted with 2011 playing time projections only as this group is not going to waste their time filling up an active roster spot with empty at-bats.

NL Draft:

Allen Craig $1
John Mayberry Jr. $1
Scott Cousins $1
Jarrod Parker $1
Lucas Duda $1
Mike Minor $3
Jordan Lyles $1
Wilson Ramos $3
Domonic Brown $7
Devin Mesoraco $1
Brad Emaus $2
Joshua Rodriguez $1
Brandon Belt $8
Brandon Beachy $3
Freddie Freeman $15

Freeman is rather obvious given he has been handed a job. Brown's value was likely discounted by at least half with his wrist injury as he would have likely met or exceeded Freeman's winning bid. Belt drew a large bid with the news he would likely make the Giants despite the current roadblocks in his way at the positions he plays. Fantasy411's Cory Schwartz took three rookies in Mesoraco, Emaus, and Rodriguez and it just may work out for him. Ramon Hernandez is already complaining of elbow soreness and is off to see Dr. Kremcheck and the other two are Rule 5 players that the Mets and Pirates are likely going to keep on the 25-man roster thus giving Schwartz cheap production if either pans out.

Mixed Draft:

Dustin Ackley $1
Jesus Montero $2
J.P. Arencibia $3
Mike Minor $4
Michael Pineda $7
Chris Sale $3
Domonic Brown $1
Tsuyoshi Nishioka $9
Freddie Freeman $4
Danny Espinosa $8
Craig Kimbrel $10
Brandon Beachy $1
Jake McGee $4

Curious that Minor went for more in the mixed league than he did in the NL-only draft. In mixed leagues, playing time is very critical because of the amount of at-bats in the player pool so when you select a rookie, it has to be one you know will play. Note that Brandon Belt was not selected and he was not even taken until the 13th overall reserve pick. Only 13 rookies were chosen in this draft and eight of them were either pitchers or catchers. If you are a mixed league player and looking for rookies as positional help in your draft, the experts seem to agree the help really is not there.

AL Draft:

Zach Britton $3
Jordan Walden $2
J.P Arencibia $5
Lonnie Chisenhall $1
Jake McGee $9
Kyle Drabek $5
Chris Sale $4
Mike Moustakas $6
Hank Conger $4
Brent Morel $10
Jason Kipnis $1
Desmond Jennings $3
Tsuyoshi Nishioka $14
Ryan Kalish $5
Jesus Montero $3
Casper Wells $3
Mark Trumbo $4
Carlos Carrasco $4
Chris Carter $1
Louis Coleman $1
Dustin Ackley $8
Lucas May $1

This draft saw the highest selection of rookie talent of all three drafts which should not be a surprise given the Rays and Royals have the two best farm system in baseball while the Rangers and Indians also grade out very well. Eight percent of the players bid upon in this draft were rookies and only Carrasco, Trumbo, Nishioka, Morel, Drabek, and Arencibia appear to have sealed up starting spots in the lineup or the rotation. McGee's $9 price was saves speculation for the future as all of Joe Maddon's language of late points to Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta sharing the job until McGee's slider becomes more consistent for him. Jennings was an $8 player in this league last season but most feel he is going to be in Durham for a bit unless someone gets hurt in the Rays' outfield.

Clearly, this information is only for those in reset leagues as keeper league players need to go the extra dollar as they build a team for three to five years rather than just this season. Banking on rookies to take you to the fantasy dreamland in any season is a very risky play but in 2011, the move appears to be even riskier because the promise of playing time is not there for too many players this season.