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2016 New Player Mock Draft: Round 1

A new year has brought a new crop of writers to TDG, and we decided the best way to introduce our various styles, quirks, and personalities was via a mock draft. Eight of the new writers, and two of your old favorites, did a five-round slow mock draft of players who entered into the player pool in the past year. This includes 2015 international signings and Rule 4 draft picks. We’ve each written up a short explanation of our choice. Our hope is that you’ll be able to use this information to help you in the upcoming draft season. We’ll post each round separately along with a wrap-up post following the fifth round. At the end of it all, you’ll know 50+ players a little bit better, and you’ll know us a little better too.

1.1- Eric – Yoan Moncada, 2B, Boston Red Sox

This one is a no-brainer for me.  With his rare combination of speed and power potential, Moncada offers the most upside of the group, and unlike most of the other players who are eligible for this draft, I have the benefit of almost 350 professional plate appearances to support my assessment.  After his assignment to full season A ball, Moncada got off to a slow start.  I’m guessing it had something to do with the long layoff, because he blew up in the second half, posting a .310/.415./.500 triple slash line along with 45 stolen bases and 25 extra base hits.  The switch-hitting second baseman has the potential to fill up the box score from a historically weak position.

1.2  Matt – Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox

While Moncada is a no-brainer first overall, there are a handful of legitimate options for the second overall pick. I considered Dansby Swanson, Jung-ho Kang, and Brendan Rodgers, but eventually decided on the 2015 Golden Spikes award winner. After dominating SEC pitchers, the smooth-swinging left-handed outfielder hit a combined .312/.416/.555 between Low-A and A, with 11 HR and 10 steals in just 239 plate appearances. His gap power should play up in Fenway Park, and his 35 walks to just 24 strikeouts indicate he might be closer to the show than most players on this list.

1.3- Ben – Brendan Rodgers, SS, Colorado Rockies

The third overall pick in the 2015 draft, Rodgers may have the most offensive upside on in the draft.  Rodgers features a plus bat and plus power: a rare combination for a shortstop.  Even better, the 19-year old hopes to eventually call Coors Field home.  Rodgers does have more risk than both Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson (the latter I considered for this spot along with Jung-ho Kang), as Rodgers’ is less advanced  and not as sure of a bet to stick at shortstop.  Still, his bat would play at second or third base and despite the risk and his ETA, it’s impossible to pass up on the tantalizing upside.

1.4- Jack–  Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves

Swanson is a player who is entering pro ball with polish, and is primed to make an impact as soon as early 2017 for the Braves.  His hit tool is advanced, allowing him to contribute in runs and RBI, and his speed is clearly plus.  His power is the lagging tool here, being of the 10+ home run variety.  While his ceiling is clearly the lowest out of the top 4 picks in this draft, his floor rivals anyone else’s presently.  If you are in need of a player who will stick at SS, Swanson is your man, the man earns Jeter comps for a reason.

1.5- JJ– Jung-Ho Kang, SS/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Quite a dagger that I missed out not only on ‘The Next Derek Jeter,’ but also missed out on his flowing locks. I’ll pick up the pieces from my broken heart and select somebody who can help me right now, Jung-Ho Kang. 

The Pirate infielder not only gives me somebody who can help in 2016; he offers the multi-positional eligibility that I crave. Those factors put him as the second-best player available behind Moncada on my board, though I’d have Rodgers as second if I were starting from scratch. Chris Coglan’s murder-attempt/slide seems to have depressed Kang’s value this winter and I just don’t get it. In arguably the finest rookie class in the history of baseball, Kang’s wRC+ of 130 put him squarely behind Kyle Schwarber and ahead of Francisco Lindor and Maikel Franco (min. 200 PA). Unless Kang entering his age-29 in 2016 wouldn’t align with a deep rebuild, I’m always going to lean towards taking the present value that Kang provides and the flexibility that he gives me — both within my roster and on the trade market.

1.6- Jesse– Dillon Tate, P, Texas Rangers

At this point in the draft, everyone left has risks. So why not go with the player with the highest potential reward? Out of all of the eligible players left, Dillon Tate might be the one with the highest possible ceiling. Drafted 4th overall by the Rangers out of UC Santa Barbara, the big right hander has a fastball sitting in the mid 90s, often touching 98, and a slider that projects as a ++ pitch in the MLB. How he progresses in turning his already good Changeup into an elite Major League offering may be the difference between top of the rotation potential or a bullpen spot floor. Either way, at this spot in the draft, I’d go with high reward over the lower ceilings for my other options like Happ and Bregman, even if it means waiting to a few years longer to see how it plays out.

1.7- Travis–  Ian Happ, OF – Chicago Cubs

There is a lot of talent in this draft but once the big guys get snatched up the options become less obvious. So there are a few players that I thought about taking here. Happ ultimately won me over because I’m a sucker for switch hitting college outfielders with above average hit tools but who are solid across the board. Drafted 9th overall out of Cincinnati, he’s one of the top college hitters in the class and further along in his development than most of the remaining players. Although he hits better as a lefty, his swing is fluid and compact from both sides of the plate. Currently projected to have average power, he has shown patience in his approach which, coupled with his 60 grade hit tool, should allow that power to play up. Overall, Happ has a great combination of upside and high floor which becomes less common from this point on.

1.8- Tyler– Alex Bregman, 2B – Houston Astros

It’s a testament to the depth of this year’s class that the 2nd overall pick in the June Rule 4 draft can be a polished college bat at a premium position and fall to the back half of the first round here. Bregman hit well enough across two levels in a limited sample to instill confidence that his .300-average upside with double digit home run power is realistic. His athleticism, speed, and middle infield defense should keep his floor relatively high as well. He probably won’t be a superstar, but he could reach the majors as early as 2017. There’s enough of a bias against second base prospects in the scouting world that Bregman might be cheap in most drafts this winter compared to the value he’s likely to provide soon.

1.9- Frank– Kenta Maeda- SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

This was a no-brainer for me at the back end of the 1st round. I’ll gladly take a guy that can and will help me right now. The scouting reports aren’t exactly Darvish-esque and that’s the reason Maeda is available at 1.9. The reports say a lot of the same things Hisashi Iwakuma’s reports said. He’s in his prime, healthy, and pitching in one of the best situations a pitcher can be in. The ballpark is very friendly, his catcher is one of, if not the best pitch framer in the game and he’s pitching for a team projected to win a ton of baseball games. I couldn’t be happier with Maeda at 1.9.

1.10- Greg– Trent Clark, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers got a bit of a bargain when the Texas prep product fell to them in the middle of the first round. Clark boasts excellent bat speed and bat-to-ball ability, with average or better projectable power. He had no trouble showing the pure hitting ability in his professional debut, slashing .309/.424/.430 across two rookie-level leagues. The on-base ability lends itself to a top-of-the-order future, where he can maximize his plus speed. In today’s speed-hungry environment, Clark’s stolen base potential makes him an upper tier dynasty option among 2015 draftees and provides a floor for his fantasy value that not many prep hitters possess. A .275 hitter who can swipe 20 bases and pile up runs is a nice baseline, with potential to beat that batting average projection and add a little pop.

The Author

Tyler Baber

Tyler Baber

23 Comments

  1. Jon
    January 14, 2016 at 12:13 pm — Reply

    Hey Guys,

    So I have the chance for 5 majors keepers, 5 minors keepers and 2 draft picks (from exactly the pool you’re choosing from here.) Looking for a little input on what to do with my Keepers and picks. I’ll tell you what I think and hopefully get some insight from y’all.

    Majors keepers options (pick 5): Cole, Price, Posey, Fielder, Kang, Odor, Moncada (he was drafted to a major league roster, so has to be kept a majors guy or get dropped, where someone else will draft him no doubt).

    Minors keepers (7 total, including these 5 guys and 2 draftees below): Franco, Lindor, Russell, Urias, D. Norris. (These guys I can “call up” any time before they’re 24, but then in order to keep them after that year I have to keep them as “majors” keepers).

    I will also have the first overall pick in the new player pool draft (internationals and Rule 4 draftees). Which means everyone on your list here (apart from Kang/Maeda who are too old) will be eligible to draft to my minors teams. Benitendi, Rodgers, Swanson probably the main contenders. Although Berrios, Margot are also unowned.

    With all that (somewhat complex info) considered, where are you guys leaning for the majors keepers? And would you advise dropping Norris as my 5th minors keeper to replace him with someone else (essentially a 3rd draft pick from the new player pool)?

    MANY thanks for the input!

    League is 12-team, 5×5 H2H standard categories. C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 4 OF, 3 UTIL, 4 SP, 5 Bench, 2 DL.

    • January 17, 2016 at 11:52 am — Reply

      Hi Jon,
      In terms of the majors, I’d keep Cole, Price, Posey, Odor, and Fielder. It’s close between the final two and Moncada, but I’d only chose Moncada if you’re rebuilding right now.
      I don’t think you’d be able to find a guy that’s major league ready and has the upside that Daniel Norris has, so I would keep him over a draft pick unless it’s a really early guy.
      Rodgers is probably your best option, but it’s very close between him, Berrios, and Benintendi. If you’re competing I’d go with Berrios, if your close to competing I’d pick Benintendi (he could fly through the minors like Conforto and Schwarber), and if you’re rebuilding then Rodgers is your guy.
      Good luck!

      • Jon
        January 17, 2016 at 2:27 pm — Reply

        Hey Ben,

        I am actually rebuilding right now. I’m likely going to keep the minors guys (Franco, Russell, Lindor) down one more year for the purpose of having great keepers going into the following season. As this article affirms, Moncada would instantly become the #1 asset of the “new players” eligible to be drafted so even though it costs me a majors keeper slot, I feel like I have to keep him around for my rebuilding squad.

        He’d be replacing Odor for me, who’s a nice player but I don’t think his ceiling is especially high.

        Some of this, also, can be affected the fact I’ll have the 4th, 21st and 28th picks in the majors draft. (With 5 players kept per tea, this is basically a draft where “Rd 1” is equivalent to “Rd 6” of a normal draft). So part of the consideration is which players that I don’t keep, could I theoretically be able to get back with the 4th (or later) picks. As an example, if I drop Fielder but have the 4th pick, unless two of the first three picks are Fielder and Pujols (also available), I could just draft one of those guys back to the team for that year.

        Does that change your thinking at all? thanks!

        • January 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm — Reply

          As a rebuilder, you would have to hold on to Moncada, I agree. I am a big fan of Odor, but he’s probably the weakest player of that group. I’m not sure how much value Fielder would provide you with once you’re ready to compete, which is why I may think about him over Odor…but I probably would lean to letting Odor go.

          • Jon
            January 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm

            Last point here: is your mind on Fielder changed at all if this is following list of 1Bs is likely to be available in the draft (after keepers)?

            Fielder, Pujols, Hosmer, Zimmerman, Carter, Adams, Pearce, Teix.

            Logic says that either Fielder or Pujols is likely there available with my 4th overall pick, even Hosmer in a pinch. There will of course be other good just-missed keepers available too (usually an ace or two). But if I miss out on one of those top 3 somehow, then the 1B pool seems to dry up pretty quick for a 12-team league.

            Could also, of course, take Kang or Odor there but that spot (equivalent to 4th pick of the 6th round in a normal 12-team draft) seems a little high for these two.

            Thanks!

          • January 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm

            I think Fielder would pretty easily be the best first baseman out there, save for maybe Hosmer. I’d probably stick with Fielder.

  2. January 14, 2016 at 1:03 pm — Reply

    For those of us in leagues that don’t allow midseason pickups, where would you slot Robles and Espinoza?

    • Matt
      January 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm — Reply

      From Bret’s comments on his Top-50 piece at Baseball Prospectus:

      “Robles would be in the Tucker tier, just outside of the top-10 and Espinoza back-end of the top-20; but very fluid among those groups. The Dynasty 101 will cover all of this in due time.”

    • Travis Johnson
      January 15, 2016 at 10:49 am — Reply

      You could probably slot both of them into the mid-to-late first round in the Tate, Happ, Bregman tier.

    • January 17, 2016 at 11:30 am — Reply

      Sorry for the slow reply. I’m doing a dynasty draft where both were available, Robles was the 16th pick, and Espinoza was the 22nd pick.

  3. January 14, 2016 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    From Bret’s comments on his Top-50 piece at Baseball Prospectus:

    “Robles would be in the Tucker tier, just outside of the top-10 and Espinoza back-end of the top-20; but very fluid among those groups. The Dynasty 101 will cover all of this in due time.”

  4. Jon
    January 15, 2016 at 7:25 pm — Reply

    Would you guys keep Kang over Fielder in a 5-keeper 12-team, H2H standard 5×5 league? I’m probably a year away from competing. I would also have the 4th pick in the majors snake draft so I could draft back one of Fielder, Pujols, Zimmerman, Carter, Adams, Pearce for the privilege of keeping Kang.

    • January 17, 2016 at 11:32 am — Reply

      I would not keep Kang over Fielder in that league. If you kept Fielder, you could likely trade him for Kang plus another pick/player.

    • January 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm — Reply

      I would agree with Jack. I’m a bit Kang fan, but Fielder’s a guy who could net you more if he repeats last year.

    • DCer
      January 21, 2016 at 10:29 am — Reply

      I’d keep Kang. SS is weak, and look at Kang’s second half stats. After he had a chance to adjust and received regular playing time, he was an absolute monster: 310/364/548. Most notably, he stopped trying to pull the ball and hit to center and oppo more often. Barring a delayed recovery from his injury, he could be a stud at SS.

  5. Pat
    January 19, 2016 at 8:43 am — Reply

    Anyone know when the rest of this draft will be released?

    • Travis Johnson
      January 19, 2016 at 6:17 pm — Reply

      The second round should be up later this week with the following rounds posted over the next couple weeks.

  6. Joepajoepa
    January 19, 2016 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    I have picks 10 and 11 in an upcoming draft. Kang and Moncada are already on teams, so basically this is all new contract guys. I am looking at Aiken, Kapriellan, Bickford and Naylor with those two picks. Happ and Maeda may still be there as we are one pick away. I am inheriting a team that needs semi rebuilding. I doubt I can compete this season but think 2017 is realistic.

    I have Power and Pitching needs so how would you rank those 4 guys bases on best prospect available. Aiekn, Kapriellan, Bickford and Naylor. Thanks!

    • January 19, 2016 at 12:59 pm — Reply

      Naylor, Aiken, Kapriellan, and Bickford. I could flip the first two if you really wanted to argue over positional needs, or if you had information about Aikens health that was good. As of today i’d rather have Naylor who is very talented and has far fewer health questions. Then there is a bit of a gap before Kaprellian, and then another gap before Bickford.

      • Joepajoepa
        January 19, 2016 at 1:13 pm — Reply

        Thanks Jack. Appreciate the feedback!

  7. Dave
    February 3, 2016 at 2:09 am — Reply

    Hey guys – will there be a follow up to this Mock Draft post? It’s been a few weeks, just want to make sure we’ve got more coming! Thanks.

  8. February 14, 2016 at 9:01 am — Reply

    […] Round 1 Round 2 […]

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