The Best of The Rest: Finding Value Outside of the First Round
Last month, Jack Cecil wrote a great article outlining the dearth of impact, cornerstone prospects in the 2017 draft. The takeaway was that higher picks in dynasty drafts this year will have lower relative value compared to other years – namely 2018 – due to the lack of any truly elite options. While this is unfortunate for anyone who heavily invested in their draft this year, it doesn’t mean there isn’t some great upside to be found towards the back end.
As is true with any first year player draft, there were a number of highly ranked players taken late with the expectation they would accept a higher, over-slot bonus to sign despite their disappointing draft position. These guys often go overlooked in most dynasty drafts because most fantasy owners fundamentally misunderstand the MLB draft process and mistakenly believe only the best players go in the first round. This presents an excellent buying opportunity to gobble up some great talent very late in drafts. So why not cash in all those shabby looking early round picks and grab a number of these guys later on. There are a number of potentially valuable prospects to choose from, I’ve just highlighted four of my personal favorites:
SS/3B Mark Vientos, New York Mets – Round 2, Pick 22
Born a month before the new millennium, Vientos was one of the youngest players drafted this year. He also may have some of the highest upside. Ranked in the top 30 on both Baseball America (20) and John Sickles’ (26) lists, he was projected to possibly go in the middle of the first round. But inconsistent production during his senior season caused him to fall all the way to the back end of the second. Still, most sources agree Vientos has the potential to be an offensive monster.
Already 6’4” and just 190, Vientos will fill out as he ages. He currently displays a solid hit tool for his age and uses excellent bat speed to tap into his plus power. His youth is definitely an issue and was probably the main culprit of his ups and downs. But the Mets showed they believe he will iron that out as he matures as they went well over slot to sign him away from his University of Miami commitment. Keep an eye on him as he starts moving through the Mets’ system. This year may be the only chance to get in on the ground floor before his stock starts rapidly rising.
RHP Blayne Enlow, Minnesota Twins – Round 3, Pick 1
Another potential first rounder, Enlow saw his stock fall in the weeks leading up to the draft due to diminishing velocity on his fastball towards the end of the spring. Some called into question whether he could remain a starter and handle the rigors of a long season. But between a long showcase season last year, his stint with the US National team and his school season this spring, he has pitched a lot over the past year. The loss of velocity could be attributed to a young arm getting worn out. But at 6’4”, he definitely has the size and body type to develop into a durable starter. He also has the stuff.
Before this spring, Enlow’s fastball was sitting in mid-90’s and he could actually add some heat as he grows into his frame. But the pitch that pays the bills is his 60-grade curveball. A nasty 12-6 offering that has been tabbed as the best breaking ball in the class, it generated a lot of feeble swings from many of the top high school prospects in last year’s Tournament of Stars. Of course, high school pitchers are generally not known for their dependability. But the price at which you could get Enlow for in drafts this year will mitigate that inherent risk while possibly returning upside equal to guys taken much higher.
3B Dylan Busby, Pittsburg Pirates – Round 3, Pick 12
With guys like Brendan McKay, Adam Haseley, Pavin Smith and Jaren Kendall, highly touted college bats were well represented at the top of the 2017 MLB draft. Busby was significantly less touted but carries comparable upside. Over the past two seasons at Florida St., Busby has dominated D1 pitching to the tune of 29 HRs, a .319 batting average and a .984 OPS. He also showed similar pop with a wood bat for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in his Cape Cod league stint last summer.
The knock on Busby is the swing and miss in his game. It’s a real concern as evidenced by his 29 percent strikeout rate at Florida St. He also may not have the athleticism to stick at 3B and need to move across the diamond or into the outfield. But if he can bring that K rate down with the help of the Pirates hitting coaches, he is a fairly polished hitter otherwise and should move quickly through their system.
SP James Marinen, Los Angeles Dodgers – Round 4, Pick 24
At 6’5”, 210 lbs, James is a big kid. Young pitchers with his size and body type are almost always a double-edged swords. On one hand, they should have no trouble withstanding the grind of being a starter over a full season. But on the other, they most likely have control issues since it is difficult to repeat their delivery mechanics. Marinan definitely checks that box and improvement in that area will be the main thing to watch as begins his professional career. His changeup also needs development and his breaking ball could use some refinement as well, but he’s got a fastball that flashes plus-plus at times and sits in the mid 90’s. Again, high school pitcher, low success rate, yada yada yada. But the foundation and tools are there for him to be an outstanding pitching prospect that will cost almost nothing to take a flyer on.