My offseason from January to March is filled with 50-round draft-and-holds. It’s my preferred format for quite a few reasons. Yet, I am still learning how to best compete–hey, at least I am break even in low buy-in drafts the last couple years–and one of my blind spots is rookies.
I’m attracted to safe, boring veterans rather than new, shiny toys. This year, it’s debatable whether Christian Yelich or Ronald Acuna should go first; but I have yet to take Acuna and have way too much Yelich sitting on rosters. I’ve yet to take the necessary steps (i.e., drafting ahead of schedule) to snag Victor Robles or Eloy Jimenez.
And the list goes on.
So, hopefully you can find some use from the guys listed here while my veterans wither on the vine and these young guys dash my dreams of a championship yet again.
Before we Begin
A few notes:
- Prospect rank is based off our top 185 list.
- Team rank is based on our individual team contributors top 50 lists
- ADP data is from NFBC draft-and-holds between January 7th and February 6th
- You can check here for more details, but NFBC draft-and-holds are 15-team, 50-round drafts that have no transactions during the year; so, 750 total players are drafted
I don’t need to tell you how fluid rosters are, even moreso than usual this time of year given the lack of free agent signings.
Hell, Realmuto just got traded and Harper and Machado are still touring the country looking for an agreeable contract.
All that to say that I am cautious about how this will look come the actual season—or even once spring training begins—but it’s still fun to think about.
Top 10 Prospects Drafted
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays #1, NFBC #43
Papa Vlad should be proud. Guerrero Jr. is projected to provide quite the impact for the Blue Jays–and fantasy teams–this year. I personally have a hard time stomaching a late 3rd round pick on baby Vlad, but Steamer projects are salivating: 22 HRs in 548 ABs with a slash line of .306/.368/.511. That’s quite the expectation of a 19-year old rookie: 15th highest OPS.
I’m too conservative to draft him at his going rate, but there is a lot of upside for those willing to do so.
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals #1, NFBC #100
Robles is currently projected to the opening day CF for the Washington Nationals. A spot in the starting lineup is exactly what we, and I am sure Nationals fans, want to see right out the gate. What I am worried about, given his 7th round draft slot, is where he will bat in the lineup.
The most common projection systems have him penciled in for between 559 and 610 ABs. But, Roster Resource has him projected for the 8th spot in the batting order, which would yield around 3.9 PA/game. With between 131 and 141 games played, this puts Robles on pace for between 510 and 550 ABs.
Just keep this in mind when considered whether to draft the promising rookie.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox #1, NFBC #121
Jimenez and Robles are interesting to compare since they are averaging being selected only approximately a round apart.
Compared to Robles, Jimenez brings:
- more projected HRs and RBIs
- higher batting average, on-base percentage (barely), and slugging percentage
- fewer stolen bases
- more uncertainty
If we could only bank on Jimenez’s call-up date, then I would feel confident in selecting him here. And his upside is still enough for me to ignore my more cautious side, though I have yet to draft him in 3 draft-and-holds so far.
But it is easy to see the concern here: Jimenez is projected to have as many at-bats as Robles, despite starting the season in the minor leagues with an unknown promotion date.
Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS Rockies #xx, NFBC #176
With Hampson, here is what we know:
- The Rockies did not re-sign DJ Lemahieu.
- The only infielders the Rockies have signed so far are Daniel Murphy who, while has traditionally played 2B, is expected to be the Rockies‘ first baseman this year, and Mark Reynolds who is expected to provide power off the bench while backing up Murphy.
- Ryan McMahon is currently projected to have at least 390 at-bats this year (minimum amount among several projection systems) but seemingly has nowhere to play.
We won’t know for sure until after spring training, but Hampson has the talent to take the starting job before the season starts. If we see that, then #FreeMcMahon may continue to be a thing. And we’ll learn that the Rockies just didn’t like McMahon more than them not liking rookies.
Hampson is the first rookie that I reasonably hope to target (round matches my comfort level) as long as I have not focused too much on middle infields by that point. Here are the other 2B/SS going in the same area:
- Cesar Hernandez: Average Pick 172
- Elvis Andrus: Average Pick 173
- Jonathan Schoop: Average Pick 177
- Garrett Hampson: Average Pick 181
- Eduardo Escobar: Average Pick 182
- Paul DeJong: Average Pick 189
Hampson offers as much upside as anyone from that group. And just the tiniest bit of downside in that he could start in the minors. If he does not crack the opening day roster, then Hampson most likely does not return value. But, you can always buffer against that by selecting a quality backup middle infielder.
Josh James, RHP, Astros #4, NFBC #183
James is currently slotted into the #4 spot of the Astros rotation with a ZiPS projection of 1.6 WAR. For fantasy purposes, he could realistically generate a high number of wins, thanks to the high caliber Houston lineup. And a 10 K/9 is reasonable given his track record.
The only thing that gives me pause is not knowing how the Astros will manage his innings. Plan for 125-130 innings and you will not be disappointed.
Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Mariners #2, NFBC #188
To be honest, I prefer James much more than Kikuchi. To the point that seeing them ranked this closely makes me ponder whether one of them going too high or too low. Or perhaps I’m off in my evaluation
In times like this, it’s nice to take the pulse of the large community:
— Brian Young (@FakeBaseballGM) February 13, 2019
As for a summary on Kikuchi, I’ll leave that to Eric Cross:
Yusei Kikichi’s @Fantrax ADP currently sits at 219.2 as the 57th SP off the board. I’m willing to go into the 150-175 range on him as my SP3/4 or so. Two plus pitches with solid command. Could easily see him in the 3.50/1.25 range with between around 8-8.5 K/9. #FantasyBaseball
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) January 24, 2019
Note: Eric has an entire article over at FantraxHQ highlighting his top rookies to draft this year.
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals #1, NFBC #202
It feels as though Reyes has been discussed as a prospect forever, and I guess Reyes feels that way as well. Unfortunately that is what having Tommy John surgery will do to you.
#stlcards Alex Reyes passed his physical this morning and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today (weather permitting). He’s returned from injury with perspective and a purpose.
Reyes: “I’d like to get off those prospect lists as soon as possible.”
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) February 13, 2019
At this point, we don’t actually know what Reyes’ role with the Cardinals will be. Roster Resource currently has him listed as SP depth at AAA.
But there are rumblings about what the starting rotation will actually look like. Perhaps Carlos Martinez will move back to the bullpen where he pitched effectively in 2018? Or some are listing Reyes as a darkhorse candidate to be a 2019 closer, or at least a high-leverage guy.
Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays #3, NFBC #232
Coming off a respectable 95 plate appearances at the MLB level in 2018, Jansen projects to offer solid HR-potential (12-15 home runs) with an equally respectable average from the catcher position. I fully expect Jansen to finish as a top 10 catcher with the potential for more. It’s up to you whether that production is worth a 15th round pick.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds #2, NFBC #233
Senzel’s current draft spot is predicated on him somehow breaking into the Reds‘ lineup and securing significant at-bats.
My concern over his ability to do that has nothing to do with Senzel’s talents, but moreso with the talent of the other guys on the Reds‘ roster, specifically at the positions he has played most (2B and 3B).
Those concerns present enough risk that his current draft spot is too high; there just doesn’t seem to be enough at-bats to go around for him to hit his projections
|Player||THE BAT (Games/PA)||ATC (Games/PA)||Depth Charts (Games/PA)||Steamer (Games/PA)|
|Scooter Gennett||147 / 644||144 / 600||152 / 637||141 / 605|
|Eugenio Suarez||151 / 658||149 / 633||155 / 651||148 / 636|
|Nick Senzel||111 / 482||91 / 363||114 / 477||87 / 358|
Steamer has Gennett/Suarez for the least number of games, which leaves Senzel with a possible 35 games to fill-in. Couple that with 10 American League away games, that gives Senzel 45 games assuming no injuries and on one else covers instead.
My conclusion is that without missed time by Gennett or Suarez–which realistically is unlikely–Senzel will need to learn a new position at the MLB level in order to hit his projections. And that may just be what happens:
David Bell on his first impressions of Nick Senzel in CF: “This is more than possible”
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) February 14, 2019
My suggestions are to pay attention to Spring Training to see if Senzel is receiving playing time in the outfield, and adjust your expectations down if you have been only relying on the numbers because they seem to be his ceiling for 2019.
Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics #1, NFBC #235
MLB has Luzardo ranked as the #1 LHP prospect, which is not too surprising given his control and devastating changeup.
It is unlikely Luzardo breaks camp in the rotation, but most industry experts think he will see the majors at some point this season. And projection systems, as well as NFBC drafters based on average draft pick, expect around 110-120 innings pitched.
In all, 170 prospects—representing 29 different teams–from our team top 50 lists have been drafted in NFBC draft-and-holds.
And to save you some time, that would be the 2016 World Series Champion Cubs with no prospects represented.
But, many of the players’ average pick is well over 750, which is the standard number of players taken in a draft-and-hold.
So let’s look at two other ways to see what shakes out: players ranked between 1-750, which will tell us that the player can be reasonably expected to be drafted in a standard NFBC league a; and players ranked 1-600, which provides a certain measure of quality.
So what does this tell us? FIIK!
But we can see that it pushes the Padres down a bit and brings the Blue Jays up, with some Braves, Orioles, Astros, and Diamondbacks sprinkled in as well.
In other words, Padres fans should expect to see a number of young players throughout the season; whereas, Blue Jays fans should expect to see young players as well, but their guys–Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Danny Jansen, Bo Bichette, Billy McKinney, and more–should be providing a bit more impact.
You can use the table at the end of the article to see more details by team.
There are way too many players to go into detail on each. Instead, I’m going to present the top 3 at each position.
Quick note about catchers:
In case draft season hasn’t stated for you yet (kind of wish I could but I am currently 2 Best Balls and 3 ongoing Draft-and-Holds in so far) and draft preparation is a March activity, I’ll let you in on an open secret: catchers suck this year! I mean, yeah, they are bad every year. But, it’s bad ya’ll.
But, on the bright-ish side, there are three prospects sitting in the almost top 400:
Danny Jansen, Blue Jays #3, NFBC #232
I discussed Jansen earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Francisco Mejia, Padres #4, NFBC #257
CimberHand trade last year, Padres fans are singing:
My Mejia (Oh Mejia I love you boy, oh my Mejia)
Mejia (Oh Mejia I love you boy, Mejia) I love you
And it’s clear NFBC drafters expect him to take the catcher blues away since he is currently the 12th catcher off the board. Or, around 31 draft spots higher than Austin Hedges, the incumbent backstop.
Carson Kelly, Diamondbacks #19, NFBC #409
The job is Kelly’s to win in spring training with his competition being Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy. Expectations are that Kelly and Avila will ultimately split most of the duties in the 2019 season.
With that in mind, Kelly is currently the 31stst catcher off the board. Or in other words, he is replacement level. And when I look through the list, that seems about right.
If you’re the kind of person who likes having a decent backup option in draft-and-holds, then Kelly is one of your last hopes. And with a little talent showing through, he could be a top 20 guy behind the plate.
Update: And now the Diamondbacks have added Caleb Joseph on a split contract
Peter Alonso, Mets #2, NFBC #269
I really want to start a pool for when Alonso takes the 1B job away from Todd Frazier. I mean, it has to happen not too far into the season, right?
At pick #269, you will need that decision to happen relatively early in the season. And, that’s too much guesswork for my taste. Call me boring, but here are guys going after him that I prefer instead:
- Yonder Alonso
- Ryan Zimmerman
- Ryon Healy (around 80 picks later!)
Now, some of this is based off me pegging him for around a .240 batting average and 400-425 at-bats. You have others who are much more optimistic, and if you agree, then he definitely should be coming off the board before these three guys.
Rowdy Tellez, Blue Jays #22, NFBC #514
Tellez is coming off the board around the same spot as Austin Riley who is mentioned later. And rightfully so since they both have entrenched veterans (Smoak/Morales and Donaldson) standing in their way.
If you wait until this point to get depth for 1B, then you have waited too long. Sure, one or more of the guys after Tellez (or even including Tellez) will provide value this year but good luck on figuring out who that will be. Except for the next guy on this list!
But this is about Tellez. And my advice is to pick him up if you want some late, upside potential. But make sure to other players in the works for your positional depth.
Nate Lowe, Rays #7, NFBC #530
I am surprised that Lowe is going after Tellez in drafts, albeit only about one rounder later.
Neither player has a guaranteed route to playing time, but Lowe’s is debatably easier, and Lowe should be able to perform comparably to Tellez if both were to receive playing time. If I am choosing between the two, give me Lowe with the pick discount.
But since this one seemed like it could be debatable, I set up a poll to see how people feel about both of their chances to hit 175 plate appearances:
One more poll for tonight, and this one goes deep in the draft (around pick 525-535 in NFBC) looking at first base prospects.
— Brian Young (@FakeBaseballGM) February 14, 2019
Garrett Hampson, Rockies #2, NFBC #176
I discussed Hampson earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Keston Hiura, Brewers #1, NFBC #349
Hiura is a classic example of doing your own homework rather than depending solely on projection systems. Most of the common ones currently have him listed for 125 or fewer at-bats. If that happens, there will be a lot of disappointed owners who depended on his 2B (or possibly OF) eligibility to carry them through mid-season.
Luckily, the only players standing in the way of Hiura are Cory Spangenberg and super-utility player Hernan Perez. Assuming Hiura does not show up before, I am banking on the Brewers being in playoff contention and bringing in Hiura as an offensive spark to replace Spangenberg.
I still think a reasonable projection is up to 20 combined stolen bases and home runs (even split), with 16 being a safer bet. Add on counting stats and a .260 average and Hiura’s worth a 23rd round pick. But there is significant risk there, and my preference so far is to just take Hernan two rounds later and enjoy the multi-position eligibility to provide depth.
Or, just take the next guy on this list.
Luis Urias, Padres #3, NFBC #354
I get it to some degree, but largely I find it hard to understand why Urias is currently going after Hiura.
It is within the range of outcomes that Urias could perform as well as Hiura even if they were both on the parent teamon day 1; now, I do think Hiura is the better player, but Urias has a better path to playing time that includes a good chance to hit atop the order.
He can also bring a similar power/speed combination as Hiura.
Suffice to say, I have Urias clearly ahead in my personal rankings for 2019. But here’s your chance to weigh in:
Great response yesterday, so here is another mid-draft prospect battle:
— Brian Young (@FakeBaseballGM) February 14, 2019
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays #1, NFBC #43
I discussed Guerrero earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Nick Senzel, Reds #2, NFBC #233
I discussed Senzel earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Austin Riley, Braves #3, NFBC #510
How high you take Riley has everything to do with how well you think Josh Donaldson will do in a Braves uniform. Or perhaps it has more to do with how many games you think he spends on the disabled list?
Although I am sure he disappointed all of his owners last year, Donaldson’s overall stats were not terrible. Yes, they were below expectation, both in number of games/at-bats and production. But, there isn’t anything to suggest a major decline. But the durability has been a real issue the past two seasons.
Of course Riley is currently going in the 34th round, which is the perfect place to take a high upside guy who can return huge dividends if Donaldson sees extended missed time.
I don’t have any shares yet–I may be the idiot who is too busy taking Jarrod Dyson, Nick Kingham, and Adam Conley pre-Romo trade in my latest draft to reach those rounds–but I am considering making some adjustments to his plate appearances which will have me targeting him a bit earlier than I have otherwise.
Garrett Hampson, Rockies #2, NFBC #176
I discussed Hampson earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Brendan Rodgers, Rockies #1, NFBC #446
It’s the classic #1 vs. #2 battle. In this case, it’s the top two Rockies prospects vying for playing time.
A lot of drafters are taking a flyer on the 22-year Rodgers making an appearance later this season.
Now, I understand we are talking about the 29th or 30th round. But, this seems to high for a player who has yet to make an appearance in the majors and doesn’t have a cleat path to playing time notwithstanding an injury to Trevor Story or beating out Hampson and McMahon for the 2B job.
Bo Bichette, Blue Jays #2, NFBC #462
As a reminder, I am conservative when it comes to drafting minor league players in 50-round draft-and-holds. Admittedly too conservative!
But I see no way that picking Bichette this high pans out.
I am not even sure he sniffs the majors this year.
If he were already on the 40-man roster, or even needing to be protected this December, I would get it. But the Blue Jays have little incentive to promote him. And not to say that the Galvis signing is the impediment to Bichette being promoted, but Galvis does represent a nice stopgap to a Bichette promotion NEXT YEAR.
I’m calling hard pass on drafting Bichette anywhere near high enough to actually roster him.
Victor Robles, Nationals #1, NFBC #100
I discussed Robles earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Eloy Jimenez, White sox #1, NFBC #121
I discussed Jimenez earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Kyle Tucker, Astros #2, NFBC #275
Now, I have spent a lot of this post talking about my being wary of drafting prospects. And for some reason preferring the safety net of veterans over future darlings.
For some reason that has gone out the window for Kyle Tucker. Some of that is due to him dropping much further than pick #275 in my unofficial (i.e., not affiliated with Fantrax or NFBC) 50-rounders, but I can see the value even at his #275 average pick.
I think he needs at least 325-350 plate appearances to make it pay off, and any injury to Reddick or Brantley would probably allow that to happen.
Or, he can keep Didi (who I have more shares of than I would like to admit) happy on my bench while I wait for summer to come.
Josh James, Astros #4, NFBC #183
I discussed James earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Yusei Kikuchi, Mariners #2, NFBC #188
I discussed Kikuchi earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
Alex Reyes, Cardinals #1, NFBC #202
I discussed Reyes earlier in the top 10 prospects drafted section.
4 Things I May Only Find Interesting
1. 8 Braves Pitching Prospects Being Selected
The Braves have an abundance of young pitchers right now, and it shows in this year’s NFBC drafts.
|Player||NFBC Average Pick||Prospects1500 Team Rank|
And to continue my theme of not taking prospects, I have yet to take a Braves prospect in 3 draft-and-holds that have each hit at least round 25. And I believe I have only taken one (Gohara) in my two Best Ball leagues. Remember, don’t necessarily do as I do!
Amendment: Just took Gohara in a draft-and-hold; it only required him dropping to pick #593 for me to pull the trigger.
2. Pirates 5th Starter Battle
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that are lots of reasons why I enjoy playing draft-and-holds.
One of those reasons is that it forces you to care about more aspects of this game we all love. For example, I am deeply curious about this rotation decision.
The main suspects:
|Mitch Keller||NFBC Average Pick: 492|
|Nick Kingham||NFBC Average Pick: 523|
|Steven Brault||NFBC Average Pick: 749|
The one thing we can clearly take from this table is that NFBC drafters are not pulling for Brault to be the guy. Thanks to Shelly and Paul, I have started to come around on Kingham’s potential upside.
But we’re a prospects focused site, so I’ll be rooting for Keller until he hits 50 IP.
3. Paddack Love
Chris Paddack is a prospect that seems to be getting some helium lately. What I am not sure about is whether I should be paying the price tag (around the 29th round) that is required to roster him.
There’s only one 70+ changeup grade on the #Top100Prospects list.
There’s only one 65+ control grade on the #Top100Prospects list.
And they both belong to the same pitcher: #Padres‘ Chris Paddack.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 29, 2019
He has dominated the minors so far with a 40% K-rate in Single-A, and a 27% rate in limited innings last year at AA. That strikeout rate, combined with the ability to limit walks, makes him an attractive category booster late in the season if he gets called up.
He’s currently being projected for 50-80 innings.
If I could guarantee 80 innings, then I would be buying at the listed price. But, I tend to take the over on injury projections and the under on rookie at-bats/innings; so, I doubt I will see much Paddack on my draft-and-hold teams unless I make a special effort (i.e., forego way-back-of-rotation depth, like Matt Shoemaker or Joe Ross, to do so.
4. Will Smith and Diego Castillo Have Twins
Okay, not exactly…
But for each player name, there is a major league player and a minor league prospect. This would not be important except that it can make compiling lists and pulling in data problematic if you don’t use unique identifiers.
One guess which person did not use unique identifiers.
Want to see more position rankings? Filter the table by position by searching one of: catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, or pitcher. Or search by team to look at just their guys.
|Player Name||Team Rank||Position||Team||NFBC Average Draft Pick|
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||1||3B||Blue Jays||43|
|Eloy Jimenez||1||OF||White Sox||121|
|Danny Jansen||3||C||Blue Jays||232|
|Bo Bichette||2||SS||Blue Jays||462|
|Dylan Cease||4||RHP||White Sox||477|
|Billy McKinney||20||OF||Blue Jays||487|
|Rowdy Tellez||22||1B||Blue Jays||514|
|Sean Reid-Foley||10||RHP||Blue Jays||550|
|David Paulino||13||RHP||Blue Jays||671|
|Jose De Leon||25||RHP||Rays||677|
|Cavan Biggio||8||2B||Blue Jays||702|
|Michael Chavis||1||3B||Red Sox||719|
|Zack Collins||10||C||White Sox||742|
|Reese McGuire||25||C||Blue Jays||764|
|Anthony Alford||7||OF||Blue Jays||776|
|Enyel De Los Santos||8||RHP||Phillies||799|
|Thomas Pannone||23||LHP||Blue Jays||800|
|Durbin Feltman||7||RHP||Red Sox||817|
|Luis Robert||3||OF||White Sox||844|
|Zack Burdi||16||RHP||White Sox||866|
|Dane Dunning||7||RHP||White Sox||877|
|Thyago Vieira||38||RHP||White Sox||903|
|Ian Hamilton||23||RHP||White Sox||915|
|Darwinzon Hernandez||5||LHP||Red Sox||979|