On Tuesday afternoon, I participated in my first live mock draft of the baseball preseason—a 12-team snake draft using 5x5 rules. I drew the 10th slot.
Here's a detailed look at the selection process (Rounds 1-14), followed by my filler picks for Rounds 15 through 25:
1. OF Mike Trout, Angels
2. 3B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
4. OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers
5. 2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
6. 1B Joey Votto, Reds
7. OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
8. SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
9. OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
*10. 1B Albert Pujols, Angels
11. 1B Prince Fielder, Tigers
12. OF Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Reasons for Taking Pujols
1. The greatest hitter of this century is only 33 years old.
2. Pujols has crushed 30-plus homers in all 12 MLB seasons. For good measure, he has amassed 103 or more RBI 11 times.
3. Even in a down campaign, Pujols still posted rock-solid marks in on-base percentage (.343) and slugging (.516).
4. You can never have enough corner first basemen.
13. OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
14. OF Justin Upton, Braves
*15. OF Josh Hamilton, Angels
16. 3B Evan Longoria, Rays
17. SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
18. SP Justin Verlander, Tigers
19. 3B David Wright, Mets
20. C Buster Posey, Giants
21. 3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers
22. 3B Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
23. SP David Price, Rays
24. SS/3B Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers
Reasons for Taking Hamilton
1. Despite a sizable slump in last season's latter half, Hamilton posted career highs in homers (43) and runs (103).
2. I thought about grabbing a third baseman (Longoria, Wright) or elite starting pitcher (Verlander, Kershaw), but simply opted to start building an outfield with certifiable power.
25. 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
26. 2B Ian Kinsler, Rangers
27. SS Jose Reyes, Blue Jays
28. 1B Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
29. SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners
30. SP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
31. OF Jason Heyward, Braves
32. SP Zack Greinke, Dodgers
33. SP Matt Cain, Giants
*34. 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers
35. 1B Billy Butler, Royals
36. OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals
Reasons for Taking Gonzalez
1. Gonzalez gets a relative free pass from last year's 18 homers since he averaged 32.8 bombs from 2007-11.
2. From the perspective of hits (188), doubles (47), RBI (108) and batting average (.299), I have no qualms with Gonzalez's overall production last season.
3. Gonzo's value easily exceeds the 34th draft slot.
4. Once again, you can never have enough high-end corner infielders.
37. SP Jered Weaver, Angels
38. SP Cliff Lee, Phillies
*39. OF Adam Jones, Orioles
40. OF Jay Bruce, Reds
41. RP Craig Kimbrel, Braves
42. SP Cole Hamels, Phillies
43. OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
44. SS Starlin Castro, Cubs
45. OF Bryce Harper, Nationals
46. RP Jason Motte, Cardinals
47. OF B.J. Upton, Braves
48. SS Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Reasons for Taking Adam Jones
1. Jones (32 HR, 82 RBI, 103 runs, 16 steals, .287 batting) was a top-20 asset among hitters last season despite the so-so RBI tallies.
2. Heading into his age-27 campaign, Jones still has plenty of growth potential in the five core categories, plus OBP and slugging.
3. It was a tough call here, deciding amongst Jones, Starlin Castro and an elite starting pitcher. But I'll likely snag a pitcher next round.
49. OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
50. 2B/SS/OF Ben Zobrist, Rays
51. 1B Allen Craig, Cardinals
52. OF Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
53. 2B Brandon Phillips, Reds
54. SS Ian Desmond, Nationals
55. 3B Chase Headley, Padres
56. SP Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
57. SP R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays
*58. SP Madison Bumgarner, Giants
59. OF Austin Jackson, Tigers
60. C Matt Wieters, Orioles
Reasons for Taking Bumgarner
1. The sky's the limit for Bumgarner heading into his age-23 campaign. His reasonable upside includes 17 wins, 3.20 ERA, 1.08 ERA and 200-plus strikeouts.
2. Check out his absurd numbers from last June: 5-0, 2.42 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 45/8 K-BB ratio.
3. Last year, Bumgarner posted three months of a sub-3.00 ERA.
4. Bumgarner has a chance to be the Giants' most formidable starter, which is saying a lot with Matt Cain in the rotation.
61. SP Yu Darvish, Rangers
62. 3B Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
*63. SP CC Sabathia, Yankees
64. 1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees
65. 2B Jason Kipnis, Indians
66. C Yadier Molina, Cardinals
67. SP Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
68. 3B Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
69. C/1B Joe Mauer, Twins
70. C/1B Victor Martinez, Tigers
71. SP Roy Halladay, Phillies
72. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Reasons for Taking Sabathia
1. I remember that Sabathia's elbow started barking during last year's playoffs, but that doesn't seem to be an issue headed into spring training.
2. As a result, Sabathia's draft number (63) is markedly lower than his actual value—somewhere in the upper 30s/low 40s.
3. Of the last six campaigns (2007-12), Sabathia annually collected at least 15 wins, a sub-3.40 ERA and 197 strikeouts.
73. C/1B Carlos Santana, Indians
74. OF Michael Bourn, Indians
75. RP Jim Johnson, Orioles
76. OF Shin-Soo Choo, Reds
77. SP Chris Sale, White Sox
78. SP Johnny Cueto, Reds
79. OF Desmond Jennings, Rays
80. 3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants
81. SP Mat Latos, Reds
*82. 2B Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
83. SP James Shields, Royals
84. 1B Freddie Freeman, Braves
Reasons for Taking Hill
1. Last year, Hill (26 HR, 85 RBI, 93 runs) notched career highs in triples (six), batting average, on-base percentage (.360), slugging (.522) and OPS (.882).
2. Of his last four seasons, Hill clubbed between 26 and 36 homers three times.
3. Check out Hill's splits from last June (six homers, 20 RBI, .370 batting) and September (four homers, 19 RBI, .333 batting). Of equal importance, the power hitter notched an OBP of .339 or higher for five months (excluding May).
85. SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers
86. SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
*87. SP Max Scherzer, Tigers
88. SP Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
89. SP Aroldis Chapman, Reds
90. OF Alex Rios, White Sox
91. RP Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies
92. OF Alex Gordon, Royals
93. 3B/OF Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
94. SP Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
95. OF Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays
96. SP Kris Medlen, Braves
Reasons for Taking Scherzer
1. Scherzer rang up a career-high 231 strikeouts last year despite tossing fewer innings than 2010 or 2011.
2. For May, July and August, Scherzer earned an 11-1 record and 132 strikeouts.
3. Scherzer's ERA tallies improved greatly for August (2.25) and September (2.17). Bottom line: He might be evolving into an elite starter.
97. SP Rafael Soriano, Nationals
98. OF Mark Trumbo, Angels
99. OF Josh Willingham, Twins
100. 1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
101. SP Matt Moore, Rays
102. 2B Jose Altuve, Astros
103. RP Fernando Rodney, Rays
104. OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers
105. SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
*106. 1B Eric Hosmer, Royals
107. RP Joel Hanrahan, Red Sox
108. 1B Ike Davis, Mets
Reasons for Taking Hosmer
1. I will bet my life that Hosmer finishes with a batting average above .232 this season. It's one of the easiest calls for 2013.
2. Heading into his age-23 campaign, Hosmer has the reasonable upside for 165 hits, 17 homers, 82 RBI, 75 runs and 15-plus steals.
3. I'm a sucker for power-hitting corner infielders with 15-steals potential.
109. SP Doug Fister, Tigers
110. SP Anibal Sanchez, Tigers
*111. SP Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays
112. OF Hunter Pence, Giants
113. OF Carlos Gomez, Brewers
114. RP Mariano Rivera, Yankees
115. RP J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks
116. DH David Ortiz, Red Sox
117. SP Dan Haren, Nationals
118. 1B Adam LaRoche, Nationals
119. SP Tim Lincecum, Giants
120. RP Joe Nathan, Rangers
Reasons for Taking Morrow
1. In a bit of honesty, I didn't covet Morrow (10-7, 2.96 ERA) in this round. But I took a phone call sometime in Round 9, and Morrow was the only pitcher amongst Fister and Anibal Sanchez left on my pre-pick draft queue. Oh well.
2. That aside, I have high expectations for Morrow. Of his 21 outings last year, the Blue Jays hurler held the opposition to two or fewer earned runs 15 times.
3. When healthy, Morrow has a ceiling for 200-plus strikeouts.
121. SP Josh Johnson, Blue Jays
122. 1B Ryan Howard, Phillies
123. SP Homer Bailey, Reds
124. OF Angel Pagan, Giants
125. OF Shane Victorino, Red Sox
126. SP Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
127. 1B Paul Konerko, White Sox
128. SP Jon Lester, Red Sox
129. 2B Dan Uggla, Braves
*130. C/1B Mike Napoli, Red Sox
131. OF Torii Hunter, Tigers
132. SP Jake Peavy, White Sox
Reasons for Taking Napoli
1. Mike Napoli has averaged 24 homers over the last five seasons, cracking between 20 and 30 every year.
2. His dream campaign from 2011 (30 HR/75 RBI/.320 batting) remains fresh in the mind, especially with his move to Fenway Park.
3. Speaking of which, Napoli has a lifetime OPS of 1.107 at Fenway.
4. Napoli owners will enjoy his dual-position versatility this season (catcher/first base).
133. SP Jon Niese, Mets
134. SS Alcides Escobar, Royals
*135. 3B Mike Moustakas, Royals
136. SS Erick Aybar, Angels
137. OF Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
138. SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
139. 2B Neil Walker, Pirates
140. RP John Axford, Brewers
141. 2B Howard Kendrick, Angels
142. SS/2B Marco Scutaro, Giants
143. SP Lance Lynn, Cardinals
144. 3B David Freese, Cardinals
Reasons for Taking Moustakas
1. In a real draft, I probably won't wait until Round 12 to fill the hot corner. I admire Moustakas' upside, but I'd want him as bench help right now.
2. From a splits perspective, Moustakas posted five months of three or more homers and six months of double-digit runs. Not bad for his age-23 campaign.
3. With 901 MLB at-bats under his belt, Moustakas is a reasonable bet for 25 home runs and 85 RBI this year.
145. OF Alejandro De Aza, White Sox
146. RP Greg Holland, Royals
147. 1B/OF Nick Swisher, Indians
148. 2B Danny Espinosa, Nationals
149. OF Brett Gardner, Yankees
150. OF Ben Revere, Phillies
151. SP Brett Anderson, Athletics
152. OF Carl Crawford, Dodgers
153. OF Andre Ethier, Dodgers
*154. OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies
155. 2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers
156. RP Addison Reed, White Sox
Reasons for Taking Fowler
1. Last season, Fowler notched career highs in homers (13), RBI (53) and batting average (.300).
2. Fowler has reasonable upside for 85 runs and 15 steals in 2013.
3. I needed to make a concerted effort toward accumulating steals and runs in the latter rounds—especially with outfielders.
157. SP Jeff Samardzija, Cubs
158. SP Matt Harvey, Mets
*159. RP Chris Perez, Indians
160. RP Sergio Romo, Giants
161. SS J.J. Hardy, Orioles
162. OF Michael Morse, Mariners
163. OF Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks
164. SP C.J. Wilson, Angels
165. RP Huston Street, Padres
166. RP Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners
167. 3B Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
168. 2B Chase Utley, Phillies
Reasons for Taking Perez
Perez shall remain a candidate for 30-plus saves over the next four seasons, although I would have preferred getting Samardzija or Harvey (above).
Rest Of Squad
Round 15 — SP Mike Minor, Braves
Round 16 — SP Marco Estrada, Brewers
Round 17 — SS Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Round 18 — RP Glen Perkins, Twins
Round 19 — 1B/OF Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Round 20 — SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians
Round 21 — OF Lorenzo Cain, Royals
Round 22 — 2B/3B Ryan Roberts, Rays
Round 23 — RP Brandon League, Dodgers
Round 24 — SP Vance Worley, Twins
Round 25 — OF Andy Dirks, Tigers
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.