It’s only February 22, and I have participated in my fair share of mock drafts this month. I do not know if it is the snow, the frigid weather, or the fact that I just want baseball back, but I cannot stop mock drafting. Thursday night, I participated in Howard Bender’s (
) fifth installment of the #MockDraftArmy. I had previously participated in two of these mock drafts and this particular mock draft mirrors the one that took place last Thursday. It consisted of 15 teams and 23 rounds. It is worth noting that this is a two-catcher mock draft which certainly changes strategies a bit.
My strategy headed into the draft was grabbing hitting—and more specifically power—early. I have been preaching for the past two months how quickly power evaporates. I planned on diving in early and often and I actually stuck to that strategy quite well; maybe too much.
1. Miller at The Fantasy Fix
2. B/R Catania
4. Bone Squad
5. GoldnGreen Elephants
6. Great expectations!
12. Steel Town Buccos
14. Nick Shlain Rotowire
I was banking on Adrian Beltre falling to me and he was taken with pick before mine. Knowing the health risks associated, I decided to go with Troy Tulowitzki and lock up Shortstop early. If he can stay healthy, he’s a lock to hit thirty home runs. I’ll take that risk, especially considering his upside.
: It looks as though the clock made the pick for Andrew Miller when he drafted Miguel Cabrera first overall. Regardless, this is the first mock draft that I have not seen Mike Trout go with the first pick. Clayton Kershaw continues to move from the middle first round to the late/early second round as these mock drafts get closer to the beginning of the 2014 season.
This was not a tough decision, as I wanted to grab a third baseman early. It has been a long time since third base was this thin and Longoria is a clearly a top option. If his health continues, he should go .280-32-100. That’s fantastic production from a shallow position.
: I liked all picks in this round and where they were taken. Everyone seemed to be on their game up to this point.
Knowing that I definitely would not be taking a pitcher, I wanted to lock up another 20-plus home runs and great run producing numbers. Matt Holliday, come on down! Holliday is workhorse and it felt too early to take another gamble (if that is, indeed, what Tulo can be considered as).
: For as much as I liked all of the second round picks, I disliked one pick in particular in this round: Albert Pujols. I am just not sold on him regaining the magic that he once had. I think Pujols will be productive, but I’d prefer to wait a few rounds and grab a guy like Anthony Rizzo (which I did.) Also, under no circumstance would I draft Jean Segura before Ian Desmond. I love Desmond this year; 20/20 production is a beautiful thing.
I went with another Cardinal here and felt like it was a perfect spot to take him. He is another health risk, but he can be a big time producer when he makes it to the field. I expect a .300 average with a solid increase in power.
: I’m not feeling Justin Verlander going before Chris Sale or Stephen Strasburg, mainly because of his offseason abdominal surgery. Verlander has a great track record, but I want a safer option which is certainly Sale, given the three options.
Anthony Rizzo is one of my top breakout candidates this season, so grabbing him at number 73 overall had me grinning. Rizzo had a low BABIP last year, .258, which is a number that I expect to rise considerably. He has thirty home run power and could reach that number as soon as this season.
: It’s nice to see Ian Kinsler fall to where he belongs. I’ve seen him being drafted way too early in several other mock drafts. Both Elvis Andrus and Adrian Gonzalez were very nice value picks towards the end of this round.
If this weren’t a two-catcher mock draft, I would have waited longer on a catcher, but since it is, I had to jump on McCann here. I absolutely love him in Yankee Stadium. I think thirty home runs are conceivable this season. In fact, I would bet a mortgage that he sets a career high in homers. I have a lot of confidence in McCann which explains
his spot on my rankings this season
: I loved the Carlos Beltran pick in the middle of this round. He may only have a few years left, but at Yankee Stadium, he should make the most of them.
Much like Anthony Rizzo, I think Jedd Gyorko is a real breakout candidate; so much so, that I could see him being a top four option as early as next season. Gyorko managed to club 23 home runs last season, 13 of which came at Petco Park. Where I think the biggest improvement will come for Gyorko is in his strikeout percentage. He struck out 23.4% of the time while walking only 6.3% of the time. If his minor league numbers are any indication, those numbers will both change for the better. I talked in length about Gyorko on the AskROTObaseball Livecast this past Wednesday.
You can listen to that here
: Billy Hamilton went the pick after mine and regardless of what you think about Hamilton’s prospects this season; it is exactly where he should be going. His speed is way too dynamic and, at this point in the draft, he is worth the gamble. Nolan Arenado went a little too early for my taste, but the he is talented and plays in a great home ballpark. A nice power bump could be in order.
Eight rounds in and I finally drafted my first pitcher. I am a huge fan of Mat Latos and loved that I got him in this spot. Every year he gets drafted later than he should and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s his hipster swag
[Editor’s Note: You only YOLO once]
. Whatever the case, you’re getting borderline-ace production and not paying the price. He is recovering from a torn meniscus, but he should be good to go on Opening Day and have another low-key-awesome season.
: I liked the Kenley Jansen, Billy Butler, and Greg Holland picks this round. All three are great values in the spots that they were taken. Andrelton Simmons belongs nowhere near the eighth round in any mixed league draft.
I finally took a real leap, given that Starlin Castro was a total debacle last season. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Castro, but he is young and I am willing to give him a mulligan for his poor performance in 2013. There are facets to his game that are downright ugly, mainly his apparent inability to draw a walk and his poor base running. Cutting down on his strikeouts, which have risen every year since he was a rookie, wouldn’t hurt either. Castro must take a step forward this year and in the ninth round, I am willing to take that step with him.
: James Shields in the ninth round is probably the steal of this mock draft. I like him better than several starting pitchers that went before him including: Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Gerrit Cole, and Shelby Miller. I also liked the pick of Aramis Ramirez in this round. He’ll be headed off into the sunset soon, but he should still produce at a high level this year.
This was another risky pick, but I have a lot of confidence that Wacha can repeat his solid late season performance from 2013. I was really hoping to nab Doug Fister here, but he went the pick right before me. Sniped!
: Doug Fister, Chase Utley, Victor Martinez, J.J. Hardy, and Brandon Moss were all great picks in this round. In a deeper draft like this, you look for value at this point, and there was plenty to be had in this round.
Rest of the Draft Thoughts
I absolutely loved my picks in rounds 11-14. I drafted Johnny Cueto, who should have a nice season if he can stay healthy, followed by three closers in Sergio Romo, Grant Balfour, and Casey Janssen. Every one of these picks has value (you’ve seen that word a lot in this write up) and has built my pitching staff quite nicely after I only had one pitcher after nine rounds.
My outfield was rounded out by Torii Hunter, Avasail Garcia, and Peter Bourjos. These guys aren’t exactly going to light the world on fire, but they are serviceable. The weakest part of my team is easily the outfielders. If this were a real team, outfield would be the first position I would upgrade via trade.
The last few rounds weren’t flashy. Ervin Santana could be a nice value pick, depending on where he ends up. John Jaso is my number two guy behind the plate—which is quite weak—but that’s what happens when you wait until the last round to grab your second catcher. Lesson learned.
Other Notable Picks That I Liked
Norichika Aoki: 12th round
David Robertson: 13th round
Alejandro De Aza: 14th round
Khris Davis: 14th round
Matt Garza: 16th round
Neftali Feliz: 17th round
Corey Hart: 18th round
Angel Pagan: 21st round
Jose Quintana: 21st round
Kyle Lohse: 23rd round
Overall Team Thoughts
I like this team quite a bit minus my outfield and my second catcher and, while the outfield is serviceable, I should have drafted one somewhere in the round 7-9 range. I have plenty of power and excellent run producers, but I’m not happy with the amount of speed I drafted. That would be another area I would improve via trade if this were an actual league.
On the pitching side of things, I have a solid staff, but I wish I would have drafted another starter to complement Latos. Cueto has the ability to do so, but he needs to stay on the field. My closer situation is rock solid, and the flyers I took on Ian Kennedy and Ervin Santana could pay off in a good way.
Overall Team Rating:
Big ups to Howard Bender for inviting me to be part of the #MockDraftArmy. You can find him on Twitter
and visit his website,