Fantasy Baseball 2019: Sleepers, Busts and Final MLB Mock Draft

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2019

Mookie Betts is inching closer to Mike Trout for the first pick in the fantasy baseball draft.
Mookie Betts is inching closer to Mike Trout for the first pick in the fantasy baseball draft.Associated Press

You are playing fantasy baseball, and you are there for one reason. When you study baseball every day and put your thoughts and choices on the draft board for all to see, you have a lot more inspiration than just being involved in the league or having a reason to get together and have a couple of beers.

Those are fine reasons for those who don't understand, but you are giving your all and you want to win—and you're going to win.

We are here to provide a bit of help. We offer our first-round mock draft, and then provide two late-round sleepers and two busts to avoid at all costs.


12-Team Fantasy Mock Draft

1. OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
2. OF Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
3. 3B Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
4. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
5. OF Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
6. P Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
7. SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
8. DH-OF J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
9. SS Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
10. SS Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
11. 2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
12. 2B Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs


Fantasy Sleeper (Pitcher): Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians

Mike Clevinger deserves more recognition, but he is the fourth pitcher in the Cleveland rotation and tends to get overlooked. However, he can play a key role on your team because of his dependability and talent.

The 28-year-old started 32 games last year even though he was pitching behind Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. He has an array of pitches that includes a hard change-up and a slow slider that go a long way toward keeping hitters off balance

It paid off last year when he had a 3.02 earned-run average in 200 innings on the mound. He had an impressive 207 strikeouts with 67 walks. His WHIP was 1.16 and that figure has gotten better in each of the last three years.

While we like Clevinger quite a bit, a word of warning when he is facing a left-handed-heavy lineup. He faced 410 left-handed hitters and 400 right-handed hitters, and lefties did better against him when it came to long hits. He gave up 18 doubles and eight home runs to right-handed hitters, while lefties had 18 doubles, three triples and 13 home runs against him.

Still, Clevinger could rise to the level of No. 2 or 3 starter with the Cleveland Indians as the season progresses because of his steady improvement.


Fantasy Sleeper (Hitter), 2B Jurickson Profar, Oakland Athletics

There was a time when Jurickson Profar was one of the top prospects in all of baseball, but the former Texas Ranger had a history of struggling with the bat and injuries for years.

The 26-year-old showed a different side to his game last year, when he played in 146 games for the Rangers and had a .254/.335/.458 slash line that included 61 extra-base hits, 20 home runs, 82 runs scored and 77 RBI.

The Oakland Athletics have taken a chance on Profar, and he should play regularly in the infield but not at the shortstop position he was drafted at because Marcus Semien is established there. Instead, the Curacaoan will have the opportunity to play second base on an every-day basis.

The switch-hitter attacks the baseball, but he needs to have a better feel for the strike zone as he does not get many walks. He had 54 last season in 594 plate appearances, and while that's not particularly impressive, his strikeout total of 88 is somewhat acceptable.

The majority of his power is as a left-handed hitter as 16 of his blasts came against right-handed pitchers. However, he had a .346 OBP as a right-handed hitter, and that was slightly better than his .330 mark as a lefty, per Rotowire.


Fantasy Bust (Pitcher): Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox

Rick Porcello has been through the complete range of success and failure during his time with the Boston Red Sox.

The 30-year-old had a brilliant 20-4 record in 2016 that included 223 innings pitched, a 3.15 ERA, 189 strikeouts and just 32 walks with a 1.01 WHIP.

However, Porcello fell apart in 2017 with an 11-17 record in 203.1 innings with a 4.65 ERA. The strikeouts were close to what they had been with 181, but he had 16 more walks than he had in 2016.

He is not a hard thrower, and he depends on location. That part of his game was a big issue two years ago and his WHIP increased to 1.40.

The 2018 season was an excellent turnaround year for the right-hander. He had a 17-7 record, his ERA dropped to 4.28, and he was not as busy as he had been in either 2016 or 2017. He had 191.1 innings in 2018 and his WHIP dropped to 1.18. 

So the pattern has been established with good year-poor year-good year record. The 2019 season should be a year when he suffers, and that could just mean his location is off by centimeters. That's all it takes for a double-play ball to be turned into an extra-base hit.


Fantasy Bust (Hitter): Starlin Castro, Miami Marlins

Starlin Castro did not look at his best with the Miami Marlins last year, and it's hard to be enthusiastic in a situation where the team is not in a position to win more than occasionally. His numbers were down across the board last season.

After a .300/.338/.454 season in 2017 with the New York Yankees, the 29-year-old slipped to .278/.329/400 last year. His home run figures have slipped from 21 in 2016 to 16 in 2017 and 12 last year.

It should be noted the Dominican had 174 more plate appearances in 2018 than he did in 2017, yet his productivity was down across the board. 

If you are considering taking Castro at any point in your fantasy draft, put that thought away quickly and move on.

All stats courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball Reference unless noted.