Fantasy Baseball 2014: Full 12-Team, 25-Round Mock Draft, Version 2.0
Practice makes perfect—even when it doesn't really count.
With fantasy baseball drafts underway everywhere in recent weeks, it's important to prepare for the big day. Reading up on the top 150 players this year is one way to do so, as is checking out the position rankings and some key sleepers.
Nothing, though, beats doing a mock draft. That's where a group of like-minded fantasy baseball folks gather over the Interwebs to participate in a process of player procurement, pick by pick, for practice.
The idea is to simulate a real fantasy baseball draft in order to get a better understanding of trends in roster construction and each player's average draft position (ADP).
The point? To learn something while having some fun.
With all of the above in mind, after enjoying a 15-team, 23-round mock draft last month, yours truly gave it another go by joining in on a more recent—and less intensive—mock with a bunch of fellow fantasy baseball fanatics.
What follows is a look at how everything shook out.
Before we get to the picks, here's some background.
This mock draft was held on March 11 via ESPN Fantasy Baseball's mock draft lobby. As opposed to the whopping 15 teams picking 23 players each for a total of 345 last time around, this time there were 12 teams drafting over 25 rounds for 300 players in all.
Here's a rundown of the names of the teams that participated, in order of their respective draft slot:
Scoring and Settings
As for other information you should know, this mock was set up for a make-believe league that uses standard 5x5 rotisserie scoring: BA, R, HR, RBI, SB for hitters; W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV for pitchers.
Again, there were 25 rounds, and the lineup positions are as follows: one each for catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, middle infield, corner infield and utility; five outfielders; nine pitchers of any sort (starters and relievers); and three bench spots.
Got all that?
Oh, and yours truly scored the fifth overall pick, which turned out rather well out of the gate when a certain someone fell to that slot.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||1||Miguel Cabrera||1B/3B|
|Team Giusti||2||Mike Trout||OF|
|Team Young||3||Paul Goldschmidt||1B|
|Team Calixto||4||Clayton Kershaw||SP|
|Team Catania||5||Andrew McCutchen||OF|
|Team O'Connell||6||Carlos Gonzalez||OF|
|Team hughes||7||Chris Davis||1B|
|Team Costa||8||Adrian Beltre||3B|
|Team Fiorella||9||David Wright||3B|
|Team moore||10||Jacoby Ellsbury||OF|
|Team stegemoller||11||Prince Fielder||1B|
|Team Selander||12||Hanley Ramirez||SS|
My Pick: Andrew McCutchen, OF
I was surprised but not shocked when McCutchen fell outside the top four picks, which is where he most often gets selected, so I had no hesitation snatching him up at No. 5. This way, I began building my team with a poor man's Mike Trout—a five-category contributor in his prime who fills one of five outfield spots.
While I wouldn't have taken Clayton Kershaw before Cutch—it's so important to get hitting early—the reigning Cy Young winner has been going in the first round in most drafts because of his consistent dominance. The only choice that I would criticize here, then? David Wright at No. 9 overall is just way, way too early for a guy on the wrong side of 30 who has had issues staying healthy.
|Team Selander||13||Ryan Braun||OF|
|Team stegemoller||14||Yu Darvish||SP|
|Team moore||15||Edwin Encarnacion||1B|
|Team Fiorella||16||Carlos Gomez||OF|
|Team Costa||17||Adam Wainwright||SP|
|Team hughes||18||Robinson Cano||2B|
|Team O'Connell||19||Troy Tulowitzki||SS|
|Team Catania||20||Adam Jones||OF|
|Team Calixto||21||Felix Hernandez||SP|
|Team Young||22||Bryce Harper||OF|
|Team Giusti||23||Joey Votto||1B|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||24||Yasiel Puig||OF|
My Pick: Adam Jones, OF
I was shocked when Robinson Cano dropped out of Round 1...and then continued to fall and fall. As a result, I started to get excited with the possibility that I could land a legitimate first-rounder—which Cano clearly is—in the middle of Round 2.
Alas, he went two picks prior to mine, but I was more than happy to get Jones, who gives me a second uber-productive outfielder who will go big in runs, homers and RBI while also helping in average and steals. I also debated taking Bryce Harper or Joey Votto, who each went within two of the next three picks after mine.
It's interesting to see Ryan Braun climbing up draft boards this month now that he's shown once again that he can, you know, hit. I have no problem with an owner grabbing him anywhere in Round 2, but I wouldn't want to risk taking him with my first choice.
Seeing four pitchers go by the end of Round 2 seemed a bit much, as the only two who typically come off the board by this point are Kershaw and Yu Darvish. Nothing against Adam Wainwright and Felix Hernandez, but they're closer to the next batch of starters than they are to those top two, in my opinion.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||25||Cliff Lee||SP|
|Team Giusti||26||Evan Longoria||3B|
|Team Young||27||Ian Desmond||SS|
|Team Calixto||28||Max Scherzer||SP|
|Team Catania||29||Jason Kipnis||2B|
|Team O'Connell||30||Stephen Strasburg||SP|
|Team hughes||31||Giancarlo Stanton||OF|
|Team Costa||32||Dustin Pedroia||2B|
|Team Fiorella||33||Freddie Freeman||1B|
|Team moore||34||Alex Rios||OF|
|Team stegemoller||35||Shin-Soo Choo||OF|
|Team Selander||36||Ian Kinsler||2B|
My Pick: Jason Kipnis, 2B
I have Kipnis well inside my top 30 overall, because he's a 20-homer, 30-steal candidate who should reach 90 runs and RBI with a solid batting average at a position where there are maybe only two or three other elite hitters. Getting him at No. 29, then, was more than all right by me. I had also been eyeing Evan Longoria, who went at No. 26.
Not to harp on this, but with Cliff Lee, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg going in the first half of Round 3, that made—count 'em—seven pitchers gone within the first 30 selections. That is too, too many.
If you've been following my work over the past month, you know I'm not a fan of Alex Rios, so there's no way I would have taken him within about 30 picks of No. 34. I also felt it was too soon for Ian Kinsler, who is not only injury-prone and perhaps over the hill, but he also will no longer be playing in the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark. I did, however, like the selection that was sandwiched between that pair: Shin-Soo Choo.
|Team Selander||37||Jose Fernandez||SP|
|Team stegemoller||38||David Price||SP|
|Team moore||39||Jose Reyes||SS|
|Team Fiorella||40||Jose Bautista||OF|
|Team Costa||41||Justin Upton||OF|
|Team hughes||42||Buster Posey||C|
|Team O'Connell||43||Albert Pujols||1B|
|Team Catania||44||Chris Sale||SP|
|Team Calixto||45||Craig Kimbrel||RP|
|Team Young||46||Hunter Pence||OF|
|Team Giusti||47||Justin Verlander||SP|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||48||Elvis Andrus||SS|
My Pick: Chris Sale, SP
If I'm being honest here, I was about to take Justin Verlander over Sale, who was queued up at the top of my next-to-draft list when the clock struck 0:00. It's not that I didn't want Sale—again, I had him queued up for a reason—but I'm buying in on a Verlander return to form, which could make him a top-three SP in 2014.
I'm not sure if Sale can quite get to that level, especially while being stuck on a better-but-still-not-good White Sox team that might limit his wins total. Either way, I knew I wanted one of the remaining two best arms after so many had gone by my turn.
By the way, this is the point at which the mock went from fast-paced-but-fun to downright frantic, as picks started being made within 10 seconds. Trying to keep track of everything at such an elevated rate would come back to bite me in a bit, as we'll get to later on.
Frankly, most of the players in this round seemed to be taken rather early, from the three Joses (Fernandez, Reyes and Bautista) to Justin Upton, Buster Posey, Albert Pujols, Hunter Pence and Elvis Andrus. I'm also not going to be the guy in drafts who gets Craig Kimbrel, because I won't waste—er, use—a pick within the first five or six rounds on a player who predominantly contributes to only one category.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||49||Eric Hosmer||1B|
|Team Giusti||50||Joe Mauer||C/1B|
|Team Young||51||Starling Marte||OF|
|Team Calixto||52||David Ortiz||UTIL|
|Team Catania||53||Wil Myers||OF|
|Team O'Connell||54||Zack Greinke||SP|
|Team hughes||55||Jay Bruce||OF|
|Team Costa||56||Madison Bumgarner||SP|
|Team Fiorella||57||Yoenis Cespedes||OF|
|Team moore||58||Yadier Molina||C|
|Team stegemoller||59||Anibal Sanchez||SP|
|Team Selander||60||Aroldis Chapman||RP|
My Pick: Wil Myers, OF
Here is where I made a conscious decision to go a different route from the previous mock draft I participated in, as I was more focused on targeting young hitters with less experience but more upside rather than older, more proven bats.
I debated Myers, Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes for almost the entire 45 seconds I had to choose, and I decided to throw a little caution to the wind and gamble on the potential of last season's AL Rookie of the Year. I didn't see any of the three as a bad decision; this is my OF3 we're talking about.
In what was otherwise a quiet chat room during the draft, this pick was one of the few that elicited an angry response, meaning I had snaked someone's selection.
I actually liked the takes of Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner here; to me, they're both underrated in fantasy. I'm not as high on regression candidate Anibal Sanchez as others, so seeing him go inside the first 60 picks feels like it could leave no margin for value.
Starling Marte also went about 20 spots too soon, because although he's been helpful in runs and steals, he will only be helpful in runs and steals. Also, his ultra-aggressive approach at the dish is going to lead to a lower average than last year's .280, and he lacks the power to bring much in homers and RBI.
|Team Selander||61||Allen Craig||1B/OF|
|Team stegemoller||62||Matt Cain||SP|
|Team moore||63||Josh Donaldson||3B|
|Team Fiorella||64||Kenley Jansen||RP|
|Team Costa||65||Adrian Gonzalez||1B|
|Team hughes||66||Ben Zobrist||2B/SS/OF|
|Team O'Connell||67||Ryan Zimmerman||3B|
|Team Catania||68||Matt Holliday||OF|
|Team Calixto||69||Matt Carpenter||2B/3B|
|Team Young||70||Greg Holland||RP|
|Team Giusti||71||Matt Kemp||OF|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||72||Brandon Phillips||2B|
My Pick: Matt Holliday, OF
Look, about that whole spiel I just gave about youth and upside...well, I simply couldn't pass up Holliday at this stage after I had considered him, albeit briefly, in the previous round. He's 34, and at some point, he'll have his cliff season—but come on, the dude hits every year. An average around .300 with 22-25 homers and 90 RBI and 90 runs is pretty much a lock. Plus, allow me to introduce you to my outfield so far: McCutchen, Jones, Myers and Holliday. Look out!
Josh Donaldson was a great story in 2013, but he'll have to be an even better story in 2014 in order for him to be worth pick No. 63 overall. If you buy into the whole 27-year-old-break-out thing, that's your prerogative, but I see a solid player who is better in real life than fantasy, because he might not be better than slightly above average in any category.
I feel pretty much the same way about Ben Zobrist, who derives about 40 percent of his value from being eligible at three positions, including shortstop. That's helpful, but if he fails to top 12 homers and/or steals as well as 80 runs and/or RBI, is he really that great? By the way, those are the numbers he didn't surpass last year.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||73||Kyle Seager||3B|
|Team Giusti||74||Gerrit Cole||SP|
|Team Young||75||Alex Cobb||SP|
|Team Calixto||76||Carlos Beltran||OF|
|Team Catania||77||Mark Trumbo||1B/OF|
|Team O'Connell||78||Jean Segura||SS|
|Team hughes||79||Joe Nathan||RP|
|Team Costa||80||Carlos Santana||C/1B(/3B)|
|Team Fiorella||81||Mike Minor||SP|
|Team moore||82||Starlin Castro||SS|
|Team stegemoller||83||Jason Heyward||OF|
|Team Selander||84||Masahiro Tanaka||SP|
My Pick: Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF
In need of a first baseman, and figuring that a little more power (OK, a lot more power) never hurt a fantasy owner, I snatched Trumbo, who has mashed at least 29 homers in each of his first three full seasons, including a career-high 34 in 2013. I'd bet another 30-homer campaign is on the docket, and with his move from pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium to hitter-friendly Chase Field, Trumbo could set another career-best mark in 2014.
Try as I might, I just can't get on board the Alex Cobb train. I'm not denying that he's good, but any pitcher who relies so much on offspeed stuff and movement can be prone to wild fluctuations from year to year, or even start to start. I'll be shocked if he comes close to matching his 2.76 ERA or 8.4 K/9 from last year. He's more of an SP4 in my book, but going 75th overall requires him to be at least an SP3.
One pick I did like? Jean Segura, mainly because I nearly took him over Trumbo given my need for a shortstop. I'm not sure his second full season will be quite as good as his first, especially in the power department, but I do think he's capable of hitting for average, scoring lots of runs and swiping 40 bases in an underrated Milwaukee lineup.
|Team Selander||85||Brian McCann||C|
|Team stegemoller||86||Alex Gordon||OF|
|Team moore||87||Homer Bailey||SP|
|Team Fiorella||88||Aramis Ramirez||3B|
|Team Costa||89||Jayson Werth||OF|
|Team hughes||90||Trevor Rosenthal||RP|
|Team O'Connell||91||Jose Altuve||2B|
|Team Catania||92||Gio Gonzalez||SP|
|Team Calixto||93||James Shields||SP|
|Team Young||94||David Robertson||RP|
|Team Giusti||95||Everth Cabrera||SS|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||96||Mat Latos||SP|
My Pick: Gio Gonzalez, SP
Gonzalez is an easy top-20 starter—heck, he's in my top 15—so to grab him in Round 8 of a draft where a ton of pitching was taken early is a coup. He's a 200-strikeout arm who will post an above-average ERA and WHIP, and the Nationals have to be better this year, which means he should top last season's 11 wins—even if he doesn't exactly match the 21 wins he recorded in 2012. He'll slot in just fine behind Sale.
Selections I liked: Trevor Rosenthal, the last of the potential 100-strikeout closers, is a great value at No. 90; James Shields, a consistent workhorse and an SP2, is just as nice at No. 93; and Everth Cabrera, who might swipe 50 bases at the shallow shortstop spot, is hard to beat at No. 95 (I nearly grabbed him because I'm still sans SS).
Selections I didn't like: Alex Gordon (No. 86), a solid-at-best outfielder who might hit 15 homers, might steal 12 bases, might score 90 runs, might knock in 80—or might do none of that; Aramis Ramirez (No. 88), who is about 87 years old now and coming off a season wrecked by a knee injury and, more recently, surgery on his colon that has set him back in camp; and Jose Altuve (No. 91), a useful 2B whose power production is limited by his own bat and whose overall fantasy production is limited by his surrounding lineup.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||97||Jonathan Lucroy||C|
|Team Giusti||98||Martin Prado||2B/3B/OF|
|Team Young||99||Pedro Alvarez||3B|
|Team Calixto||100||Jordan Zimmermann||SP|
|Team Catania||101||Jose Abreu||1B|
|Team O'Connell||102||Jered Weaver||SP|
|Team hughes||103||Desmond Jennings||OF|
|Team Costa||104||Shelby Miller||SP|
|Team Fiorella||105||Kris Medlen||SP|
|Team moore||106||Doug Fister||SP|
|Team stegemoller||107||Chase Utley||2B|
|Team Selander||108||Josh Hamilton||OF|
My Pick: Jose Abreu, 1B
The hype has been building on Abreu, which can make him a scary pick if he's taken too soon, especially given that he's never played a major league game in his career. But at No. 101 overall, I'll take a shot that he's a potential 30-plus-homer guy in year one. Besides, if he works out, I can always shift him to 1B and Trumbo to OF, or I could trade one of them for a need during the season.
Martin Prado is having himself quite the spring training, and I prefer his versatility here to that of Zobrist three rounds earlier. If I'm going to credit myself for Abreu, I might as well throw some praise on the Pedro Alvarez pick, since they might be very similar players. I also really liked the value on Jordan Zimmermann (No. 100), Desmond Jennings (No. 103) and Shelby Miller (No. 104).
On the other hand, I can't support the selection of Kris Medlen one pick later given that he is currently dealing with elbow ligament damage, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Even if he can avoid surgery, I'm staying far, far away from him.
|Team Selander||109||Victor Martinez||UTIL|
|Team stegemoller||110||Wilin Rosario||C|
|Team moore||111||Michael Cudyer||OF|
|Team Fiorella||112||Aaron Hill||2B|
|Team Costa||113||Koji Uehara||RP|
|Team hughes||114||Jim Johnson||RP|
|Team O'Connell||115||Billy Hamilton||OF|
|Team Catania||116||Glen Perkins||RP|
|Team Calixto||117||Shane Victorino||OF|
|Team Young||118||Domonic Brown||OF|
|Team Giusti||119||Anthony Rizzo||1B|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||120||Billy Butler||UTIL|
My Pick: Glen Perkins, RP
I needed some saves, and all of the top closers were long gone by this point—except for the excellent-but-underappreciated Perkins, so I took the plunge just to stay afloat in the saves category. For the record, I would have gone with Perkins ahead of Koji Uehara and Jim Johnson, but I didn't have to because the two latter players went back-to-back a few picks beforehand.
As an owner who had been keeping one eye on the catchers, I can appreciate the Wilin Rosario selection, especially at No. 110. And as an owner who had been noticing a growing need for speed, I may well have taken Billy Hamilton had he not gone right before it was my turn. I'm not sure the rookie will hit much, but Round 10 is late enough that it doesn't hurt to try and find out.
The other choice I really liked this round was Anthony Rizzo, who has the upside in him to hit .270-.280 with 30 homers. He's still so young (24), and while he has a lot he needs to improve upon, that also means he has a lot of time to get better. In fact, he should have been taken a round or two earlier, and I had contemplated him when I went with Abreu.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||121||Will Venable||OF|
|Team Giusti||122||Michael Wacha||SP|
|Team Young||123||Francisco Liriano||SP|
|Team Calixto||124||Brett Lawrie||3B|
|Team Catania||125||Manny Machado||3B|
|Team O'Connell||126||Mike Napoli||1B|
|Team hughes||127||Pablo Sandoval||3B|
|Team Costa||128||Sergio Romo||RP|
|Team Fiorella||129||Matt Adams||1B|
|Team moore||130||J.J. Hardy||SS|
|Team stegemoller||131||Daniel Murphy||2B|
|Team Selander||132||Cole Hamels||SP|
My Pick: Manny Machado, 3B
Yes, Machado may well start the season on the disabled list, but by all accounts, his recovery from offseason knee surgery has gone well; he's been running the bases at 70 to 80 percent, per Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun. Getting him at such a discount because of that—No. 125!—was just too good to pass up. Even if I have to find a filler third baseman later in the draft or off the waiver wire for a week or two, I'll still get to enjoy five good months of a rising star.
|Team Selander||133||Jason Grilli||RP|
|Team stegemoller||134||Brandon Moss||1B/OF|
|Team moore||135||Hyun-Jin Ryu||SP|
|Team Fiorella||136||Hisashi Iwakuma||SP|
|Team Costa||137||Julio Teheran||SP|
|Team hughes||138||Chase Headley||3B|
|Team O'Connell||139||Jon Lester||SP|
|Team Catania||140||Salvador Perez||C|
|Team Calixto||141||Matt Moore||SP|
|Team Young||142||Brandon Belt||1B|
|Team Giusti||143||Alexei Ramirez||SS|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||144||Jeff Samardzija||SP|
My Pick: Salvador Perez, C
I much prefer to wait as long as possible and get a capable starting catcher, preferably one who is still in the top 10 or so. As a high-average hitter who has more in his stick than we've seen so far—especially as a part of that young, ever-improving Royals one-through-nine—Perez is just that.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||145||R.A. Dickey||SP|
|Team Giusti||146||Matt Wieters||C|
|Team Young||147||Jonathan Papelbon||RP|
|Team Calixto||148||Coco Crisp||OF|
|Team Catania||149||Wilson Ramos||C|
|Team O'Connell||150||Nelson Cruz||OF|
|Team hughes||151||Alfonso Soriano||OF|
|Team Costa||152||Leonys Martin||OF|
|Team Fiorella||153||Jurickson Profar||2B|
|Team moore||154||Addison Reed||RP|
|Team stegemoller||155||Asdrubal Cabrera||SS|
|Team Selander||156||Steve Cishek||RP|
My Pick: Wilson Ramos, C
OK, here's where the rapid-fire speed of the draft messed me up. In a one-catcher league like this, I never would have selected a second backstop, let alone with the pick right after I'd just taken my first catcher. But because most owners in the mock had turned on auto-pick by now, the eight spots between my picks in Rounds 12 and 13 went by very quickly.
Ramos had been in my queue because, until my previous choice, I still needed a catcher. Then, when I wasn't fast enough on the mouse to rummage through the shortstops to fill the lone remaining open spot in my starting lineup, the clock ran down and, well, Ramos joined my team. It's not the worst choice in the world, because I do like him as a potential top-10 catcher, but again, this was anything but the plan.
|Team Selander||157||Hiroki Kuroda||SP|
|Team stegemoller||158||Will Middlebrooks||3B|
|Team moore||159||Andrew Cashner||SP|
|Team Fiorella||160||CC Sabathia||SP|
|Team Costa||161||Curtis Granderson||OF|
|Team hughes||162||Jedd Gyorko||2B|
|Team O'Connell||163||Xander Bogaerts||SS|
|Team Catania||164||Jed Lowrie||2B/SS|
|Team Calixto||165||C.J. Wilson||SP|
|Team Young||166||Andrelton Simmons||SS|
|Team Giusti||167||Carl Crawford||OF|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||168||Torii Hunter||OF|
My Pick: Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS
My frustration from the time-forced selection last time around was only doubled when the player I had meant to take in Round 13 was chosen—with the pick right before mine in Round 14! That's right; I had been searching for Xander Bogaerts when the computer gave me Ramos, and then the Red Sox rookie got plucked right out from under my nose. Seriously?!
To recover, I went with the safe and somewhat versatile Jed Lowrie, who should be fine as my starting SS, even though his upside might be a repeat of his solid 2013 campaign. If he can come close to repeating that production, though, then the way all this played out might not sting so much in the end.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||169||Matt Garza||SP|
|Team Giusti||170||Grant Balfour||RP|
|Team Young||171||Kendrys Morales||1B|
|Team Calixto||172||Jason Castro||C|
|Team Catania||173||Zack Wheeler||SP|
|Team O'Connell||174||Rafael Soriano||RP|
|Team hughes||175||Adam Lind||1B|
|Team Costa||176||Tony Cingrani||SP|
|Team Fiorella||177||Dan Haren||SP|
|Team moore||178||Casey Janssen||RP|
|Team stegemoller||179||B.J. Upton||OF|
|Team Selander||180||Josh Reddick||OF|
My Pick: Zack Wheeler, SP
I like what Wheeler showed in his first half-year in the bigs, especially in regard to how he got better as the season progressed; he produced a 48-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio and only three homers allowed over his final nine starts, as opposed to a 36-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio and seven homers allowed in his first eight contests.
Will there be a Matt Harvey-like breakout here in 2014? No. But could Wheeler have a takes-the-leap season? As my SP3, I'm counting on it.
|Team Selander||181||Adam Eaton||OF|
|Team stegemoller||182||Christian Yelich||OF|
|Team moore||183||Danny Salazar||SP|
|Team Fiorella||184||Huston Street||RP|
|Team Costa||185||Sonny Gray||SP|
|Team hughes||186||Michael Bourn||OF|
|Team O'Connell||187||A.J. Pierzynski||C|
|Team Catania||188||Austin Jackson||OF|
|Team Calixto||189||Brian Dozier||2B|
|Team Young||190||Brett Gardner||OF|
|Team Giusti||191||Ernesto Frieri||RP|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||192||Patrick Corbin||SP|
My Pick: Austin Jackson, OF
Other than middle infield, the only other starting spot I needed to fill by this stage was my fifth outfielder. Jackson might not ever become the player he looked like he was turning into at this time a year ago, but he's a safe bet to reach double digits in both homers and steals, and he's 90-plus runs scored in the bank. And if he does enjoy a next-level-up breakout at age 27, I'll get to enjoy it, too.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||193||Bobby Parnell||RP|
|Team Giusti||194||Johnny Cueto||SP|
|Team Young||195||Jake Peavy||SP|
|Team Calixto||196||Khris Davis||OF|
|Team Catania||197||Chris Tillman||SP|
|Team O'Connell||198||Clay Buchholz||SP|
|Team hughes||199||Justin Masterson||SP|
|Team Costa||200||Dan Straily||SP|
|Team Fiorella||201||Fernando Rodney||RP|
|Team moore||202||A.J. Burnett||SP|
|Team stegemoller||203||Marco Estrada||SP|
|Team Selander||204||Mike Moustakas||3B|
My Pick: Chris Tillman, SP
With Wheeler in as my rotation upside play, I thought it was time to go with a safer pick. Tillman, to be honest, isn't the very definition of "safe," but he did cross the 200-inning barrier last year while whiffing 179 batters. Even if his ERA bumps a tick closer to 4.00 and his WHIP nudges toward 1.30, that'll do as my fourth starting arm. I did also consider Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, who went over the very next picks.
|Team Selander||205||Mark Teixeira||1B|
|Team stegemoller||206||Norichika Aoki||OF|
|Team moore||207||John Axford||RP|
|Team Fiorella||208||Jimmy Rollins||SS|
|Team Costa||209||Jonathan Villar||SS|
|Team hughes||210||Drew Smyly||SP/RP|
|Team O'Connell||211||Neftali Feliz||RP|
|Team Catania||212||Jim Henderson||RP|
|Team Calixto||213||Jarrod Parker||SP|
|Team Young||214||Howie Kendrick||2B|
|Team Giusti||215||Alejandro De Aza||OF|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||216||Erick Aybar||SS|
My Pick: Jim Henderson, RP
After taking Perkins in Round 10, I sat and waited on closers as long as I could while still ensuring that I'd get one I believe in.
Despite having no real experience closing games in the majors until a month into 2013, this hard-throwing 31-year-old proved he could do the job by sporting great numbers (2.70 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 11.3 K/9) and converting 28-of-32 attempts. I like Henderson about as much as Neftali Feliz, who went one pick earlier, and much more than John Axford—the man Henderson replaced last year—who went five picks earlier.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||217||Lance Lynn||SP|
|Team Giusti||218||Ervin Santana||SP|
|Team Young||219||John Lackey||SP|
|Team Calixto||220||Corey Hart||1B/OF|
|Team Catania||221||Chris Archer||SP|
|Team O'Connell||222||Jose Veras||RP|
|Team hughes||223||Ivan Nova||SP|
|Team Costa||224||Nick Swisher||1B/OF|
|Team Fiorella||225||Nate Jones||RP|
|Team moore||226||Nolan Arenado||3B|
|Team stegemoller||227||Rex Brothers||RP|
|Team Selander||228||Alexander Guerrero||2B|
My Pick: Chris Archer, SP
Archer is very much in the same mold as Zack Wheeler—a young, hard-throwing righty who was a top prospect with some promising success in his first real taste of the bigs in 2013. I don't expect the 25-year-old to match the 3.22 ERA or 1.13 WHIP he put up in 23 starts last year, but if he can maintain the control he showed (2.7 BB/9), there's a lot to like about him as my SP5 with the upside of an SP3/4.
|Team Selander||229||Nick Markakis||OF|
|Team stegemoller||230||Rick Porcello||SP|
|Team moore||231||Colby Rasmus||OF|
|Team Fiorella||232||Miguel Montero||C|
|Team Costa||233||Ben Revere||OF|
|Team hughes||234||Tommy Hunter||RP|
|Team O'Connell||235||Evan Gattis||C/OF|
|Team Catania||236||Anthony Rendon||2B|
|Team Calixto||237||Michael Brantley||OF|
|Team Young||238||Yovani Gallardo||SP|
|Team Giusti||239||Joaquin Benoit||RP|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||240||Bartolo Colon||SP|
My Pick: Anthony Rendon, 2B
Middle infield was the final starting position on the offensive side that I needed to fill, and I was fine with waiting to fill that spot by seeing what the draft gave me.
As it turns out, Rendon, a 23-year-old former top prospect who looked capable as a rookie (.265 BA, 40 R, 7 HR, 35 RBI in 351 AB), could be a pretty nice late-round gift. Injuries have always been a concern for the 2011 No. 6 overall pick, but if he stays healthy, Rendon's bat could turn him into a fringe top-10 2B.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||241||Oscar Taveras||OF|
|Team Giusti||242||Cody Allen||RP|
|Team Young||243||Tim Lincecum||SP|
|Team Calixto||244||Justin Smoak||1B|
|Team Catania||245||Nick Castellanos||3B/OF|
|Team O'Connell||246||Ryan Howard||1B|
|Team hughes||247||Tyler Clippard||RP|
|Team Costa||248||Todd Frazier||3B|
|Team Fiorella||249||Dexter Fowler||OF|
|Team moore||250||Nate Schierholtz||OF|
|Team stegemoller||251||Alex Wood||SP|
|Team Selander||252||Mark Melancon||RP|
My Pick: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF
The parade of youngsters continues with one of this year's top prospects.
The 22-year-old Castellanos was impressive in an aggressive assignment to Triple-A in 2013 (.276 BA, 18 HR, 76 RBI), and he has been flashing more pop this spring. With the Opening Day third base gig in a still-potent Tigers lineup all but locked up, Castellanos can be my fill-in until Machado is ready. After that, he could be shiny-new-toy trade bait if he gets off to a hot start, or simply a solid backup at both 3B and OF.
|Team Selander||253||Jake McGee||RP|
|Team stegemoller||254||Danny Farquhar||RP|
|Team moore||255||Kelly Johnson||2B/3B/OF|
|Team Fiorella||256||George Springer||OF|
|Team Costa||257||Stephen Drew||SS|
|Team hughes||258||Dillon Gee||SP|
|Team O'Connell||259||Brandon Beachy||SP|
|Team Catania||260||Rajai Davis||OF|
|Team Calixto||261||Jhonny Peralta||SS|
|Team Young||262||Devin Mesoraco||C|
|Team Giusti||263||Eric Young Jr.||OF|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||264||Chris Carter||1B/OF|
My Pick: Rajai Davis, OF
With news that Andy Dirks, Davis' platoon partner in left field in Detroit, will be out for a couple months after back surgery, this speedy Davis shouldn't have any trouble stealing a bunch of bases at the outset of the year. That will help me build up some headway in the SB category, which was the one offensive area I felt was lacking a bit—until now.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||265||LaTroy Hawkins||RP|
|Team Giusti||266||Kyle Lohse||SP|
|Team Young||267||Chris Johnson||3B|
|Team Calixto||268||Angel Pagan||OF|
|Team Catania||269||Ubaldo Jimenez||SP|
|Team O'Connell||270||Avisail Garcia||OF|
|Team hughes||271||Jesse Crain||RP|
|Team Costa||272||Neil Walker||2B|
|Team Fiorella||273||A.J. Griffin||SP|
|Team moore||274||Wade Miley||SP|
|Team stegemoller||275||Adam LaRoche||1B|
|Team Selander||276||Taijuan Walker||SP|
My Pick: Ubaldo Jimenez, SP
Still searching for some quality and quantity on the SP front, I found Jimenez readily available and enticing enough at this late stage to take a flyer on him. If he looks good early, he could be an SP2/3, much like he was over the second half of 2013 (1.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.7 K/9). If he turns back into an enigmatic pumpkin, it's not going to cost me much in Round 23.
|Team Selander||277||J.J. Putz||RP|
|Team stegemoller||278||David Freese||3B|
|Team moore||279||Zack Cozart||SS|
|Team Fiorella||280||Marlon Byrd||OF|
|Team Costa||281||Yan Gomes||C|
|Team hughes||282||Kole Calhoun||OF|
|Team O'Connell||283||Pedro Strop||RP|
|Team Catania||284||Brad Miller||SS|
|Team Calixto||285||Melky Cabrera||OF|
|Team Young||286||Omar Infante||2B|
|Team Giusti||287||Jonathon Niese||SP|
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||288||Justin Morneau||1B|
My Pick: Brad Miller, SS
Miller is entrenched in a battle with Nick Franklin to be the Mariners' starting shortstop, but after he handled the job well throughout the second half last year as a rookie, the 24-year-old should have the inside track. If he wins the role, there's a chance he will approach 15 homers and 15 steals at a very shallow fantasy position. He is a good backup plan for Lowrie.
|Swervin Lane 2 Lane||289||Alcides Escobar||SS|
|Team Giusti||290||Ian Kennedy||SP|
|Team Young||291||Mark Buehrle||SP|
|Team Calixto||292||Denard Span||OF|
|Team Catania||293||Jose Quintana||SP|
|Team O'Connell||294||Matt Joyce||OF|
|Team hughes||295||Yonder Alonso||1B|
|Team Costa||296||Russell Martin||C|
|Team Fiorella||297||Tim Hudson||SP|
|Team moore||298||Ricky Nolasco||SP|
|Team stegemoller||299||Michael Saunders||OF|
|Team Selander||300||Dan Uggla||2B|
My Pick: Jose Quintana, SP
I also snatched Quintana very late in the previous mock, which goes to show two things: One, I must like the 25-year-old southpaw who sported a 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 7.4 K/9 in 2013; and two, quality, under-the-radar starters are still out there even as your drafts approach the 300th overall selection.
Similar to the last mock draft, my outfield is once again the force on this fake fake team. It's hard to do better than McCutchen, Jones, Myers, Holliday and Jackson, a fivesome that covers all five roto categories. I suspect that Holliday—my OF4—could be the OF2 for a handful of teams in this league.
My infield, though, is still a strong one, thanks to the speed-power ability of Kipnis and the stable power of Trumbo. If either Abreu or Machado overcomes his respective unknown (MLB experience, health), this offense could be a knockout.
On the pitching side, the top two lefties, Sale and Gonzalez, are staff stalwarts who will keep my strikeouts up and my ERA and WHIP down. If one of Wheeler or Archer steps forward in their first full season, I'll have a rotation that is as good as it is deep.
The other focus, as previously mentioned, is the youth on this roster. Whereas last time I took older vets like Mark Teixeira and Jhonny Peralta as bounce-back candidates, this mock called for more potential. The only hitter who is older than 29 is Holliday, who remains as consistently productive as it gets, and not a single starting pitcher is north of Jimenez's 30 years old.
The most glaring problem? As good as Lowrie was last year, and as much upside as Rendon has, I'm a bit worried that my SS and MI positions may need a more steady, less injury-prone presence. And of course, I would have handled my UTIL position much differently—probably with another infielder for depth—rather than giving it to Ramos, who looks out of place there.
Outside of Sale and Gonzalez, the pitching could be a little bumpy, because Wheeler, Tillman, Archer and Jimenez might all prove to be inconsistent. And while I really like Perkins, I do have questions about how many saves he'll get pitching for the Twins—and also about how many saves my team might get if Henderson falters, leaving me with only one closer.
If I were to consider potential trades in the near future, I'd likely be looking to address shortstop and/or middle infield, as well as the closer position and perhaps the stolen-base category. Perhaps the best initial option would be to find an owner who could use an upgrade at catcher and likes Perez—that way, I can simply plug Ramos in at catcher and get something out of that whole mess while also deploying Davis' 40-steal speed at UTIL.
Otherwise, I shouldn't have a problem pulling off a trade that includes one of my breakout candidates—Abreu, Wheeler, Archer or Castellanos—to fix any positions or categories of need.
Which of my draft picks do you like/dislike the most? Where would you have made a different choice along the way? Swing away in the comments section.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11