Fantasy Baseball 2015: B/R Expert's Final 25-Round Mock Draft, Version 3.0

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterMarch 27, 2015

Fantasy Baseball 2015: B/R Expert's Final 25-Round Mock Draft, Version 3.0

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    It's easy to be happy when Giancarlo Stanton is your top pick.
    It's easy to be happy when Giancarlo Stanton is your top pick.John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Forget your chores and homework or your nine-to-five responsibilities and honey-do list. Your fantasy baseball draft is happening, like, more or less now. (That is, if you haven't had it already.) So nothing is more important than preparing for your player picking.

    (OK, maybe fundamental stuff, like food consumption and basic hygiene, but you get the idea.)

    What's the best way to prep? Well, hopefully, you have printed out or bookmarked the Bleacher Report Draft Cheat Sheet, reviewed the B/R 300 position rankings, checked in on both batches of sleepers and read up on the top rookies.

    But perhaps the most enjoyable activity is partaking in a mock draft. You know, just your basic practice of picking players for the fake version of baseball that we all love so much.

    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).

    Besides, it's plain fun.

    Back in mid-March, I participated in a mock draft and wrote all about it. But player values change all the time—practically daily—due to performances, injuries and transactions. That's why it's time to recap another mock.

    What follows is a look at how everything went down.

The Participants

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    Clayton Kershaw's draft spot was rather shocking.
    Clayton Kershaw's draft spot was rather shocking.Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Before getting to the picks, let's look at the pickers.

    Held on March 26 through ESPN Fantasy Baseballthis was a public mock draft for a 12-team league. Here's a rundown of the names of the teams that participated, in order of their respective draft slot:

    1. Team a
    2. Team Newcomer
    3. Team Catania (Jason Catania)
    4. master batters
    5. Team Caughlan
    6. Team Lopez
    7. Team Kelly
    8. Team Oates
    9. Tea Litschgi
    10. Team Berkhout
    11. Team Johnson
    12. Team harvey

    As you can see, I landed pick No. 3.

Scoring and Settings

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    The productive—but very injury-prone—Troy Tulowitzki went a little earlier than you might expect.
    The productive—but very injury-prone—Troy Tulowitzki went a little earlier than you might expect.Ben Margot/Associated Press

    As for the other information you should know, this mock was set up for a make-believe league that uses standard five-by-five rotisserie scoring: BA, R, HR, RBI and SB for hitters, W, ERA, WHIP, K and SV for pitchers.

    The 22 lineup positions are as follows: one each for catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, middle infield, corner infield and utility; five outfielders; and nine pitchers of any sort (starters and relievers).

    There were also three spots for bench players, meaning 25 rounds—and 300 picks—in total.

    Got it?

    Mock on!

Round 1

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a1 Clayton Kershaw SP
     Team Newcomer2 Mike Trout OF 
     Team Catania3 Giancarlo Stanton OF 
     master batters4 Andrew McCutchen OF 
     Team Caughlan5 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 
     Team Lopez6 Troy Tulowitzki SS 
     Team Kelly7 Carlos Gomez OF 
     Team Oates8 Edwin Encarnacion 1B
     Team Litschgi9 Anthony Rizzo 1B 
     Team Berkhout10 Jose Abreu 1B 
     Team Johnson11 Robinson Cano 2B 
     Team harvey12 Miguel Cabrera 1B 

    Analysis

    My Pick:  Giancarlo Stanton, OF

    I went into this mock wanting to take a slightly different approach, make some selections I might not in a league that actually counts, just to see what happens. That started with taking Stanton, who is the third player on my board—but he's behind Andrew McCutchen. In other words, I went off chalk, figuring I would grab his 30-plus home runs rather than Cutch's more all-around game. That would force me to snag some stolen bases later on, for instance.

    Others Picks

    This isn't a points league, so taking Clayton Kershaw—the top pitcher—with the first pick is, uh, ill-advised. I also was surprised to see the injury-prone Troy Tulowitzki go not only in the first round but in the first half  of the first round.

Round 2

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey13 Jose Bautista OF
     Team Johnson14 Yasiel Puig OF 
     Team Berkhout15 Jose Altuve 2B 
     Team Litschgi16 Felix Hernandez SP 
     Team Oates17 Adam Jones OF 
     Team Kelly
    18 Max Scherzer SP 
     Team Lopez19 Ryan Braun OF 
     Team Caughlan20 Michael Brantley OF 
     master batters21 Adrian Beltre 3B 
     Team Catania
    22 Ian Desmond SS 
     Team Newcomer
    23 Hanley Ramirez SS/OF 
     Team a24 Chris Sale SP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Ian Desmond, SS

    In all honesty, I wasn't enamored with this pick, but that's because I wasn't excited about any of the players on the board at this point, particularly the hitters. Given the options, I chose to lock up the shallow shortstop spot with a perennial 20-20er. (Remember that whole thing about going after stolen bases?) For the record, had Adrian Beltre not been taken right before my turn, he would have been mine. 

    Others Picks

    The only selection that jumps out to me as way too early? Ryan Braun, who would have to be something close to the player he was in 2012—or three years ago now—to earn a top-20 take. Now that he's 31 and unlikely to run all that much, I don't see that happening.

Round 3

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a25 Stephen Strasburg SP
     Team Newcomer26 Josh Donaldson 3B 
     Team Catania27 Bryce Harper OF 
     master batters28 Freddie Freeman 1B 
     Team Caughlan29 Starling Marte OF 
     Team Lopez30 Anthony Rendon 2B/3B 
     Team Kelly31 Buster Posey C 
     Team Oates32 Justin Upton OF 
     Team Litschgi33 George Springer OF 
     Team Berkhout34 David Price SP
     Team Johnson35 Corey Kluber SP 
     Team harvey36 Madison Bumgarner SP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Bryce Harper, OF

    I went with my second consecutive Washington Nationals hitter, but not by design. (Although, I do like the Nats, as does most everybody.) Truth be told, I was so hoping Josh Donaldson would make it to me, but I was foiled by one pick—again!

    I fully realize that this could be a terrible choice if Harper doesn't take "the leap" in 2015 because otherwise I'm paying for potential rather than production. Am I super confident in that? No. Do I think he's more likely to (finally) break out than not? Yes.

    Others Picks

    Anthony Rendon, a fringy first-rounder at the outset of spring before his knee started acting up, could be nice value at No. 30 overall. Then again, it might be even more unlikely than it already was that he will repeat his 17 stolen bases from a year ago, which puts more onus on his power.

    And if you know me by now, you know I can't get on board with taking Buster Posey this early, even though he's the top fantasy backstop by far. 

Round 4

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey37 Zack Greinke SP
     Team Johnson38 Albert Pujols 1B 
     Team Berkhout39 Jose Reyes SS 
     Team Litschgi40 Jacoby Ellsbury OF 
     Team Oates41 Cole Hamels SP 
     Team Kelly42 Adrian Gonzalez 1B 
     Team Lopez43 Corey Dickerson OF 
    Team Caughlan
    44 Johnny Cueto SP 
     master batters45 Evan Longoria 3B 
     Team Catania46 Carlos Gonzalez OF 
     Team Newcomer47 Jordan Zimmermann SP 
     Team a48 Jon Lester SP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Carlos Gonzalez, OF

    Another risky pick. CarGo's injury history always gives me pause, and it did here, too. But it also allowed him to drop to the point where the reward (a 20-20 campaign with a .300 average) was worth the risk (No. 46 overall) in my mind.

    Others Picks

    You'll notice that almost all of the top-tier starting pitchers are gone by now, as Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann and Jon Lester all were plucked by the end of Round 4. None of them were bad picks, but once they were gone, I more or less decided I would ignore pitching until Round 10 to see if I still could concoct a quality rotation. 

Round 5

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a49 Aroldis Chapman RP
     Team Newcomer50 Victor Martinez DH
     Team Catania51 Billy Hamilton OF
     master batters52 Yoenis Cespedes OF
     Team Caughlan53 Ian Kinsler 2B  
     Team Lopez54 Chris Davis 1B
     Team Kelly55 Kyle Seager 3B 
     Team Oates56 Nolan Arenado 3B 
     Team Litschgi57 Jason Kipnis 2B 
     Team Berkhout58 Jonathan Lucroy C 
     Team Johnson59 Matt Kemp OF
     Team harvey60 Carlos Santana 1B 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Billy Hamilton, OF

    I'm really not a huge fan of steals-only hitters, but I thought it would be a good way to load up on a category that is easy to compile—and easy to trade away as needed. Hamilton has some growth potential, especially in batting average with his wheels and in runs scored with a healthy Cincinnati Reds lineup, and he's a valuable commodity for his elite production in a single category.

    Others Picks

    I quite liked this round of choices, as I like all of Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Kinsler (three Detroit Tigers!), Chris Davis, Kyle Seager, Nolan Arenado, Jason Kipnis, Matt Kemp and Carlos Santana. As for the selections of closer Aroldis Chapman at the top of the round and catcher Jonathan Lucroy near the bottom, they're not out of place so much as not my fantasy cup of tea at this stage.

Round 6

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey61 Dustin Pedroia 2B
     Team Johnson62 Matt Harvey SP 
     Team Berkhout63 Craig Kimbrel RP 
     Team Litschgi64 Adam Wainwright SP 
     Team Oates65 Starlin Castro SS 
     Team Kelly66 David Ortiz  UTIL 
     Team Lopez67 Sonny Gray SP 
     Team Caughlan68 Nelson Cruz OF 
     master batters69 Jeff Samardzija SP 
     Team Catania70 Prince Fielder 1B 
     Team Newcomer71 Greg Holland RP 
     Team a
    72 Kole Calhoun OF 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Prince Fielder, 1B

    With the starter-worthy first basemen dwindling, I decided it was time to grab Fielder, who could bounce back and put up a 30-homer, 90-RBI season if everything goes right. He's still only 30 years old, and he gets to hit in the Texas Rangers' park half the time. 

    Others Picks

    Matt Harvey might be able to earn the 62nd overall pick, but that's assuming absolutely everything—from his health to his command to his innings total—goes perfectly. Basically, taking him this high is buying at an absolute peak, which is not recommended.

    I also saw Starlin Castro as a major reach at No. 65. He's not going to hurt owners (though he did in 2013), but he doesn't hit for a ton of power and has been running less and less, so there's no reason to jump on him this early, even in the improved, enticing Chicago Cubs lineup.

Round 7

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a73 Brian Dozier 2B
     Team Newcomer74 Julio Teheran SP 
     Team Catania75 Christian Yelich OF 
     master batters76 Chris Carter UTIL 
     Team Caughlan77 James Shields SP 
     Team Lopez78 Hunter Pence OF 
     Team Kelly79 Alexei Ramirez SS 
     Team Oates80 Kolten Wong 2B 
     Team Litschgi81 Jason Heyward OF
     Team Berkhout82 Kris Bryant 3B 
     Team Johnson83 Gerrit Cole SP
     Team harvey84 Alex Gordon  OF 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Christian Yelich, OF

    I very much like Yelich in 2015, and I think he went a round (or maybe even two) later than he should have. I see him taking another step forward this year, but even if he doesn't, there's plenty to like about a .280 hitter with 10-12 homers, 20-25 steals and upward of 90 runs scored.

    One thing I didn't love immediately after this take is that it locked up my five-man outfield already, through just the first seven rounds. Because I was operating more from a best-available approach rather than a position-scarcity one, I happened to fill a position that I typically like to leave with one or two openings until later, when I can draft based on category need.

    I had been considering Brian Dozier for second base, and had he dropped two more spots, he would have been just as good a value and covered a position I needed more. 

    Others Picks

    Chris Carter is one of the more volatile draft picks around, as I have seen him go as early as this round and as late as Round 20 in other mocks. The power is for real, but so is the .220 batting average. He's basically taking over for Adam Dunn.

    You'll notice Kris Bryant, he of the monstrous prospect hype and even more monstrous spring, comes off the board at No. 82. I actually could see him being worth that in the end, but I'm not going to pay that price to find out.

Round 8

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey85 Masahiro Tanaka SP
     Team Johnson86  Mookie Betts OF 
     Team Berkhout87  Pablo Sandoval 3B 
     Team Litschgi88  Matt Carpenter 3B 
     Team Oates89  Gio Gonzalez SP 
     Team Kelly90  Marcell Ozuna OF 
     Team Lopez91  Joey Votto 1B 
     Team Caughlan92  Todd Frazier 1B/3B 
     master batters93  Matt Holliday OF 
     Team Catania94  Devin Mesoraco C 
     Team Newcomer95  Tyson Ross SP 
     Team a96  Mark Melancon RP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Devin Mesoraco, C

    Looking back, this was my did-I-really-make-this-pick pick. I like Mesoraco plenty—he's my No. 3 catcher—because I believe in his 20-homer power, and I do see a strong Reds lineup if some of the big bats stay healthy (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce).

    But I don't normally grab a backstop this soon. I think Mesoraco in Round 8 is a better value than Lucroy in Round 5, though.

    Others Picks

    I see some regression in stolen bases for Todd Frazier this year after he somehow swiped 20 in 2014, but I don't know how he fell this far. Maybe the reason I took Mesoraco is because I had Frazier all queued up to be my starting third baseman, and then he was sniped two picks prior.

Round 9

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a97 Jay Bruce OF
     Team Newcomer98  Jacob deGrom SP 
     Team Catania 99  Ryan Zimmerman 1B/3B/OF
     master batters100  Dee Gordon 2B 
     Team Caughlan101  Trevor Rosenthal RP 
     Team Lopez102  Manny Machado 3B 
     Team Kelly103  Garrett Richards SP 
     Team Oates104  Evan Gattis C/OF 
     Team Litschgi105  Carlos Carrasco SP/RP
     Team Berkhout106  Mark Trumbo 1B/OF 
     Team Johnson107  Cody Allen RP 
     Team harvey108  Jorge Soler OF 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Ryan Zimmerman, 1B/3B/OF

    Like I said, I had been hoping to get Todd Frazier to fill my still-empty third base position, so when he didn't make it to me, I decided to go for the next hot cornerman on my list. Zimmerman is yet another injury risk (and yet another National) for my club, but if he's healthy, he's a fantasy starter, which is what I need at this point. Plus, the fact that he'll be eligible at three positions doesn't hurt.

    Others Picks

    Had I known that Dee Gordon would have lasted until pick No. 100 compared to the 51st overall selection I used on Billy Hamilton, I would have swapped the latter for the former, especially given that my club still doesn't have a second baseman.

Round 10

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey109 Brandon Moss 1B/OF
     Team Johnson110  Jake Arrieta SP 
     Team Berkhout111  Leonys Martin OF 
     Team Litschgi112  Dellin Betances RP 
     Team Oates113  Alex Wood SP/RP 
     Team Kelly114  Brett Gardner OF 
     Team Lopez115  Hisashi Iwakuma SP 
     Team Caughlan116  David Robertson RP 
     master batters117  Kenley Jansen RP 
     Team Catania118  Chris Archer SP 
     Team Newcomer119  Alex Cobb SP 
     Team a120  Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Chris Archer, SP

    Ladies and gents, here's my first pitcher. I was the last owner to grab an arm, as you likely noticed by now.

    No, Archer isn't a legitimate No. 1 to lead a fantasy rotation, but he really came into his own last year with a 3.33 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 194.2 innings. At 26, he's ready to blow past 200 innings and whiff about that many batters. He has it in him to be a top-20 starter.

    Others Picks

    Because I finally started looking at pitchers in this round, I liked the takes of Jake Arrieta, Dellin Betances, Hisashi Iwakuma and David Robertson at this rather reduced rate.

Round 11

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a121 Homer Bailey SP
     Team Newcomer122  Elvis Andrus SS 
     Team Catania123  Lance Lynn SP 
     master batters124  Koji Uehara RP 
     Team Caughlan125  Matt Adams 1B 
     Team Lopez126  David Wright 3B 
     Team Kelly127  Michael Wacha SP 
     Team Oates128  Huston Street RP 
     Team Litschgi129  Salvador Perez C 
     Team Berkhout130  Steve Cishek RP 
     Team Johnson131  Jimmy Rollins SS 
     Team harvey132  Jonathan Papelbon RP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Lance Lynn, SP

    Now it's time to load up on starters to ensure I compile enough wins and, especially, strikeouts to make up for eschewing arms for the first nine rounds.

    Lynn doesn't get much love in fantasy, but he's a steady 200-inning pitcher who will provide production in all four starter-related categories. Even if his 2.74 ERA from 2014 regresses, I trust his 3.37 FIP since 2012 and his ability to push 180-190 strikeouts.

Round 12

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey133 Gregory Polanco OF
     Team Johnson134 Yan Gomes C 
     Team Berkhout135 Charlie Blackmon OF 
     Team Litschgi136 Doug Fister SP 
     Team Oates137 Mat Latos SP 
     Team Kelly138 J.D. Martinez OF 
     Team Lopez139 Yadier Molina C 
     Team Caughlan140 Daniel Murphy 2B 
     master batters141 Glen Perkins RP 
     Team Catania142 Howie Kendrick 2B 
     Team Newcomer143 Alex Rios OF 
     Team a144 Andrew Cashner SP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Howie Kendrick, 2B

    A quick excursion back into the hitter pool to pick up Kendrick. I needed a second baseman and was worried that the new Los Angeles Dodger would go soon, given that Daniel Murphy went just before. Kendrick is consistent, which is a good trait to have at an otherwise shallow and volatile position. He's not the kind of flashy performer who will win a league for you, but sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry.

    Others Picks

    In hindsight, seeing Yan Gomes, who I have ranked just one spot behind Devin Mesoraco in the catcher rankings, go in Round 12—and 40 picks after I took Mesoraco—makes me shout an obscenity.

    Also? Even though I wasn't in the market for outfielders after having loaded up on them early, I like the selections of Gregory Polanco and J.D. Martinez in this round.

Round 13

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    David Goldman/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a145 Chase Utley 2B
     Team Newcomer146 Fernando Rodney RP 
     Team Catania147 Drew Storen RP 
     master batters148 Rusney Castillo OF 
     Team Caughlan149 Lucas Duda 1B
     Team Lopez150 Yordano Ventura SP 
     Team Kelly151 Zach Britton RP 
     Team Oates152 Joaquin Benoit RP 
     Team Litschgi153 Josh Harrison 3B/OF 
     Team Berkhout154 Melky Cabrera OF 
     Team Johnson155 Anibal Sanchez SP 
     Team harvey156 Francisco Liriano SP 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Drew Storen, RP

    I'm worried neither about Storen's recent surgery on his left (non-throwing) hand—he's already due back, according to Chris Johnson of MASNSports.com—nor the incorrect narrative that he can't cut it as closer because of a pair of October blowups. Rather, I see 40 saves waiting to happen from a guy with a 2.94 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in his career on a stacked Nationals team.

Round 14

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey157 Eric Hosmer 1B
     Team Johnson158 A.J. Pollock OF 
     Team Berkhout159 Collin McHugh SP 
     Team Litschgi160 Jered Weaver SP 
     Team Oates161 Ben Revere OF 
     Team Kelly162 Neil Walker  2B 
     Team Lopez163 Ian Kennedy SP 
     Team Caughlan164 Wil Myers OF 
     master batters165 Erick Aybar SS 
     Team Catania166 Jose Quintana SP 
     Team Newcomer167 Adam LaRoche 1B 
     Team a168 Justin Morneau 1B 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Jose Quintana, SP

    Back to the starters. Quintana is in my top 30 for his under-the-radar strong 2013-14, in which he put up a 3.42 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 7.7 strikeout-to-walk ration (K/9). Knowing that arms like him still would be available at pick 166 is a huge reason why my strategy to wait on SPs should work out just fine.

Round 15

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
      Team a169 Brian McCann C
     Team Newcomer170 Aramis Ramirez 3B 
     Team Catania171 Justin Verlander SP 
     master batters172 Jayson Werth OF 
     Team Caughlan173 Ben Zobrist 2B/SS/OF 
     Team Lopez174 Shin-Soo Choo OF 
     Team Kelly175 Michael Pineda SP 
     Team Oates176 Jose Fernandez SP 
     Team Litschgi177 Pedro Alvarez 1B/3B 
     Team Berkhout178 Joc Pederson OF 
     Team Johnson179 Jake McGee RP 
     Team harvey180 Dallas Keuchel SP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Justin Verlander, SP

    OK, I'll bite. Verlander was plain bad last year, what with a 4.54 ERA and 1.40 WHIP that both actively hurt any owner who continued to start him. I know we've seen the best of him, but between the fact that he still threw 200 innings (for the eighth straight year) and posted a much nicer 3.74 FIP, I'll gamble he'll be better in 2015, at least enough to serve as a quality fourth starter. Especially if he's now fully recovered from the core-muscle surgery he had over the previous winter.

Round 16

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey181 Andrew Miller RP
     Team Johnson182 Alcides Escobar SS 
     Team Berkhout
    183  Phil Hughes SP 
     Team Litschgi184  Xander Bogaerts 3B/SS 
     Team Oates185  Oswaldo Arcia OF 
     Team Kelly186  Hector Rondon RP 
     Team Lopez187  Brandon Belt 1B 
     Team Caughlan188  Russell Martin C 
     master batters189  Martin Prado 3B/OF 
     Team Catania190  Jhonny Peralta SS 
     Team Newcomer191  Matt Cain SP 
     Team a192  Joe Mauer 1B 

       

    Analysis

    My Pick: Jhonny Peralta, SS

    Confession: I really wanted Xander Bogaerts as my starting middle infielder, and I thought he would fall to me here. I thought wrong. So I went with Jhonny Peralta, whose actual production might be something like Bogaerts' upside for 2015. Funny how that works.

Round 17

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a193 Rougned Odor 2B
     Team Newcomer194 Francisco Rodriguez RP 
     Team Catania195  Mike Napoli 1B 
     master batters196  Jake Odorizzi SP 
     Team Caughlan197  Sean Doolittle RP 
     Team Lopez198  Ken Giles RP 
     Team Kelly199  Adam Eaton OF 
     Team Oates200 Rick Porcello SP 
     Team Litschgi201  Carlos Beltran OF 
     Team Berkhout202 Neftali Feliz RP 
     Team Johnson203 Aaron Sanchez SP/RP 
     Team harvey204 Joe Nathan RP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Mike Napoli, 1B

    Having just covered the middle, I figured it was about time to fill my corner infield spot, too. Napoli is being wildly overlooked in drafts because he's coming off a down year and is now 33 years old. But I see a hitter who should have no problem reaching 20 home runs—he hit that mark six straight seasons prior to his 17 in just 119 games in 2014—and who will benefit in runs and RBI from being in the middle of a stacked Boston Red Sox order.

Round 18

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey205 Matt Wieters C
     Team Johnson206 Scott Kazmir SP 
     Team Berkhout207  Taijuan Walker SP 
     Team Litschgi208  Wade Davis RP 
     Team Oates209  Danny Salazar SP
     Team Kelly 210  Shelby Miller SP 
     Team Lopez211  Coco Crisp OF 
     Team Caughlan212  Austin Jackson OF 
     master batters213  R.A. Dickey SP 
     Team Catania214  Jenrry Mejia SP/RP 
     Team Newcomer215  Jedd Gyorko 2B 
     Team a216  Jean Segura SS 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Jenrry Mejia, SP/RP

    I find myself landing Mejia in a lot of the mocks I have done. Sure, his peripherals (3.65 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) are far off from what you might want from a closer, but as a reliever in 2014, his ERA was 2.72 and he tallied 28 saves. Plus, his starter's repertoire should play up in one-inning stints. As for the looming return of Bobby Parnell? I was never all that high on him even before he had Tommy John surgery.

Round 19

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a217 Lorenzo Cain OF
     Team Newcomer218 Danny Santana SS/OF 
     Team Catania219 Kevin Gausman SP 
     master batters220 Luke Gregerson RP 
     Team Caughlan221 Drew Smyly SP 
     Team Lopez222 Tyler Clippard RP 
     Team Kelly223 Steve Pearce 1B/OF 
     Team Oates224 Danny Duffy SP 
     Team Litschgi225 Curtis Granderson OF 
     Team Berkhout226 Brett Lawrie 2B/3B 
     Team Johnson227 Travis d'Arnaud C 
     Team harvey228 Matt Garza SP 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Kevin Gausman, SP

    You should know by now my great affinity for Gausman, whose pedigree, stuff and flashes of success make him one of this year's true breakout candidates. If he merely repeats last year's 3.57 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 7.0 K/9, I'll take it, but I think there's more in there now that the kid gloves are about to come off.

Round 20

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey229 Scooter Gennett 2B
     Team Johnson230 Nick Castellanos 3B 
     Team Berkhout231 Marcus Semien 2B/3B/SS 
     Team Litschgi232 John Lackey SP 
     Team Oates233Yasmani Grandal  C/1B 
     Team Kelly 234 Santiago Casilla RP 
     Team Lopez235 Addison Reed RP 
     Team Caughlan236 Brad Boxberger RP 
     master batters237 Wilin Rosario C/1B 
     Team Catania238 Trevor Bauer SP 
     Team Newcomer239 Arismendy Alcantara 2B/OF 
     Team a240 Carl Crawford OF 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Trevor Bauer, SP

    I like Gausman more than Bauer right now, but the latter has been catching up to the former in my eyes over the course of the spring, especially considering Bauer hasn't walked a batter in 15.1 frames. It's possible he's still just going to be a maddeningly enigmatic pitcher who teases as much as he tantalizes, but if everything clicks, Bauer could be a No. 3 in fantasy. Like, this year.

Round 21

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a241 Michael Cuddyer OF
     Team Newcomer242 Wilson Ramos C
     Team Catania243 Brett Cecil RP 
     master batters244 Chris Tillman SP 
     Team Caughlan245 CC Sabathia SP 
     Team Lopez246 Andrelton Simmons SS 
     Team Kelly247 Derek Holland SP 
     Team Oates248 Billy Butler 1B 
     Team Litschgi249 Asdrubal Cabrera 2B/SS 
     Team Berkhout250 Matt Shoemaker SP 
     Team Johnson251 Mark Teixeira 1B 
     Team harvey252 Javier Baez 2B/SS 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Brett Cecil, RP

    Now that he has been named the closer for the Blue Jays, it's even easier to draft Cecil, who has nasty stuff and a 2.76 ERA and 11.5 K/9 the past two years. While there is at least a little worry over the fact that he hasn't handled the ninth inning before, if he proves he can, Cecil could be a top-10 closer.

Round 22

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey253 Steven Souza OF
     Team Johnson254 Khris Davis  OF 
     Team Berkhout255  Nathan Eovaldi SP 
     Team Litschgi256  Mike Fiers SP 
     Team Oates257  Yasmany Tomas 3B/OF 
     Team Kelly258  Rajai Davis OF 
     Team Lopez259  Drew Hutchison SP 
     Team Caughlan260  Yovani Gallardo SP 
     master batters261  Jeurys Familia RP 
     Team Catania262  Brandon McCarthy SP 
     Team Newcomer263  Denard Span OF 
     Team a264  Chase Headley 3B 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Brandon McCarthy, SP

    Count me in the camp who sees McCarthy's strong second half last year as very much for real. OK, he's not going to have a 2.89 ERA over a full season, but he finished 2014 with a 3.75 FIP overall, as well as a 1.28 WHIP and 7.9 K/9. That's a reasonable expectation, particularly now that he'll spend a lot of time throwing in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium (and AT&T Park and Petco Park, too). 

Round 23

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a265 Ryan Howard 1B
     Team Newcomer266 Mike Zunino C 
     Team Catania267  Ervin Santana SP 
     master batters268  Torii Hunter OF 
     Team Caughlan269  Mike Minor SP 
     Team Lopez270  Carlos Martinez SP/RP 
     Team Kelly271  C.J. Cron 1B 
     Team Oates272  Aaron Hill 2B 
     Team Litschgi273  LaTroy Hawkins RP 
     Team Berkhout274  Wily Peralta SP 
     Team Johnson275 Adam Lind 1B 
     Team harvey276  J.J. Hardy SS 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: Ervin Santana, SP

    At this stage, I'm simply stacking solid starters who could prove to be quality No. 4s in fantasy but who also provide the potential to be very good streaming options, like Santana when he pitches at Target Field. The 32-year-old has made at least 30 starts five years running and owns a 3.88 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in that time.

Round 24

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team harvey277 Miguel Montero C
     Team Johnson278 Jonathon Niese SP 
     Team Berkhout279  Alex Rodriguez 3B 
     Team Litschgi280  Desmond Jennings OF 
     Team Oates281  Lonnie Chisenhall 3B 
     Team Kelly282 Jason Hammel SP 
     Team Lopez283  Clay Buchholz SP 
     Team Caughlan284  Josh Reddick OF 
     master batters285  Kelvin Herrera RP 
     Team Catania286  Dexter Fowler OF 
     Team Newcomer287 Pat Neshek RP 
     Team a288  Derek Norris C 

    Analysis

    My Pick: Dexter Fowler, OF

    Fowler has long been a fantasy tease, often enticing owners with hot streaks that prompt "this is the year" hopes, only to disappoint when his performance dips or he gets hurt. While I will acknowledge he still could finagle a 12-homer, 20-steal campaign in a perfect world, I'm more interested in his .378 on-base percentage the past three seasons, which could help him score plenty of runs as the leadoff man in front of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler.

Round 25

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
    OWNERPICKPLAYERPOSITION(S)
     Team a289 Marlon Byrd OF
     Team Newcomer290 Kendrys Morales 1B 
     Team Catania291  James Paxton SP 
     master batters292  Tony Watson RP 
     Team Caughlan293  Avisail Garcia OF 
     Team Lopez294 Mike Leake SP 
     Team Kelly295  DJ LeMahieu 2B 
     Team Oates296 Jed Lowrie SS 
     Team Litschgi297  T.J. House SP 
     Team Berkhout298  Dalton Pompey OF 
     Team Johnson299 Brandon Phillips 2B 
     Team harvey300  Michael Bourn OF 

      

    Analysis

    My Pick: James Paxton, SP

    One final pitcher to polish things off. Paxton is one of those boom-or-bust players who either will look like a gem of a pick a month from now or will be cast off my roster when his injury history catches up to him again. I'm not tethered to him in any way as the last choice, but I do see the upside from a promising starter who calls Safeco Field home.

Team Evaluation

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    Big years from Ian Desmond (left) and Bryce Harper will go a long way toward making this fantasy team dangerous.
    Big years from Ian Desmond (left) and Bryce Harper will go a long way toward making this fantasy team dangerous.Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
    POSITIONPLAYERROUND
    CDevin Mesoraco8
    1BPrince Fielder
    2BHowie Kendrick12 
    3BRyan Zimmerman
    SSIan Desmond
    CIMike Napoli17 
    MIJhonny Peralta16
    OFGiancarlo Stanton
    OFBryce Harper3
    OFCarlos Gonzalez4
    OFBilly Hamilton
    OFChristian Yelich
    UTDexter Fowler24
    PChris Archer10 
    PLance Lynn11 
    PDrew Storen13
    PJose Quintana14 
    PJustin Verlander 15
    PJenrry Mejia18 
    PKevin Gausman19
    PTrevor Bauer 20 
    PBrett Cecil21 
    BEBrandon McCarthy22 
    BEErvin Santana23 
    BEJames Paxton25 

    Analysis

    Strengths

    With Stanton at the foundation, it's easy to point to power as a strength, especially if one (or more) of the following occurs: Harper breaks out (finally); Gonzalez stays healthy for 120-130 games; and/or one or both Fielder or Napoli bounces back (ideally the former).

    Frankly, nine of the 13 starters enter 2015 with a realistic shot of smacking at least 20 home runs, with Kendrick, Hamilton, Yelich and Fowler as the only exceptions. And between that quartet as well as Desmond and maybe even Stanton and Gonzalez, there should be plenty of stolen bases.

    Same goes for strikeouts on the pitching side, since all of Archer, Lynn, Quintana and Verlander could approach 175 whiffs (or more). And with my three bench spots filled with starters, I'll be able to stream based on favorable matchups to rack up even more.

    Weaknesses

    On the whole, the pitching staff looks—or at least, feels to me—a little light. Now that is by design, of course, since I actively opted not to select any arm until Round 10. But it would be huge if one of either Archer or Verlander performed like a legitimate top-20 fantasy starter, because there's both depth (Lynn, Quintana, McCarthy, Santana) and upside (Gausman, Bauer, Paxton) beyond those two.

    None of the closers are in the first or second tier at the position, so there's going to be a fair amount of finger-crossing to see if at least two of Storen, Mejia and Cecil can maintain the gig all year to keep the saves total competitive. While Storen should be in position to nail down 30-plus by himself given the number of opportunities he'll get from a loaded Washington Nationals team, there's enough to worry about with both Mejia (Bobby Parnell's midseason return?) and Cecil (just six career saves).

    Looking at the lineup, batting average appears to be a possible problem area, but that's a difficult category to predict from year to year. And it might have been better to grab a hitter who is eligible at multiple infield positions to serve as a backup/fill-in at first and third base or second base and shortstop. Having no off-day plug-ins won't do me any good, especially with offense being so diminished as is. 

    Going Forward

    Were this mock to be played out in a league, I would be looking to build a robust advantage in steals behind the wheels of Hamilton, Yelich, Desmond and Kendrick, with a little help from Gonzalez, Fowler and Stanton, too. That would make Hamilton, in particular, a very tradeable—and coveted—asset who could be moved to net either another high-end arm or a specific position of need (say, first base if Fielder doesn't pan out).

    Additionally, I would be open to swapping one of my five outfielders, each of whom potentially could be top-10-15 at the position. Chances are, one of Harper or Yelich will truly bust out or Gonzalez will regain his former first-round-caliber luster long enough for me to move him before he (inevitably?) hits the disabled list.

    This is far from a perfect team, and it's probably a good amount more high-risk/high-reward than I normally would aim for. But the offensive upside, particularly the power, is hard to ignore, which would make this a fun bunch to watch play out—especially if much of that risk turns into reward.

    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.

    Need more fantasy baseball help? Come pepper me with your questions on Twitter: @JayCat11.