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Expert Prospect Draft Results, July 2018

Following the 2018 MLB Draft and the beginning of the 2018-2019 international signing period, The Dynasty Guru gathered ten baseball writers to participant in a prospect draft. The participants include writers from several top fantasy baseball websites, including Baseball Prospectus, Baseball HQ, Fantrax, Razzball, Rotowire, and Rotoworld. The prospect draft began after the signing deadline on July 6th. As we made selections, we provided brief write-ups regarding each prospect. You can view the entire draft, including the write-ups, here: Fantasy Baseball Expert Prospect Draft, July 2018!

In this article, I will examine each expert’s draft, analyzing each selection and noting my favorites. In addition, I will explore draft trends to help prepare you for upcoming prospect drafts. Which expert do you think had the best draft? Let us know in the comments section!

Fantasy Baseball Expert Prospect Draft, July 2018

Following a draft position swap, Kyler Jesanis drew the unenviable position of starting the draft. In fact, when another participant offered to move from the first overall draft position, Kyler remarked, “I volunteer as tribute.” This year, picking from the top of the draft is certainly similar to entering the Hunger Games! The absence of a standout, elite hitting prospect muddles the top of the draft. Further, this draft class is incredibly deep, with intriguing talent available throughout the six-round prospect draft.

Kyler Jesanis

Kyler is a writer for The Dynasty Guru.

  1. (1) Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Chicago White Sox, age: 21.33
  2. (20) Triston Cases, 3B/1B, Boston Red Sox, age: 18.49
  3. (21) Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, Atlanta Braves, age: 21.60
  4. (40) Jackson Kowar, RHP, Kansas City Royals, age: 21.78
  5. (41) Ethan Hankins, RHP, Cleveland Indians, age 18.14
  6. (60) Tristan Beck, RHP, Atlanta Braves, age: 22.05

At first overall, Kyler selected arguably the best pure hitter in the draft, Nick Madrigal. In addition to his excellent hit tool, Madrigal is a double-plus runner, with sub-4 second home-to-first times from the right-side. Standing at a listed 5’8″, however, he has minimal power. Regardless, as Kyler notes, Madrigal possesses “a high probability to hit .290+, smack 12-18 home runs, steal 20-25 bases, and produce 170+ runs and runs-batted-in.”

After selecting Madrigal, Kyler had to wait until the 20th pick for his next selections. With those selections, he nabbed two of the top power bats in the draft class, likely to hedge against Madrigal’s modest power output. Both Triston Casas and Greyson Jenista are 6’4″ behemoths with huge power, good patience, and questionable long-term defensive positions.

To close the draft, Kyler selected three pitchers. Jackson Kowar boasts a mid-90s fastball, a loopy, 12-to-6 curveball, and a beautiful, fading change-up. With improved command and a sharpened curveball, he could develop into a 3-starter. Next, Kyler paired Kowar with a high-upside prep arm, Ethan Hankins. This spring, his draft stock fell due to shoulder tightness, regressed stuff, and inconsistency. At his best, Hankins has 2-starter upside, with command of a mid-90s fastball with two promising secondaries (changeup and curveball). Finally, Kyler bestowed the honor of Mr. Irrelevant to Tristan Beck. With good command of four average offerings, Beck profiles as a solid 4-starter.

Christopher Crawford

Christopher is a writer for NBC Sports/Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.

  1. (2) Casey Mize, RHP, Detroit Tigers, age: 21.20
  2. (19) Connor Scott, OF, Miami Marlins, age: 18.76
  3. (22) Noah Naylor, C, Cleveland Indians, age: 18.39
  4. (39) Jameson Hannah, OF, Oakland Athletics, age: 21.26
  5. (42) Lenny Torres Jr., RHP, Cleveland Indians, age: 17.74
  6. (59) Luken Baker, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals, age: 21.34

With the second pick, Christopher snapped up the top prospect in this draft class, Casey Mize. Although Mize stumbled down the stretch, he still closed the season with a spectacular 156-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As Christopher notes, “[w]ith a hard fastball, two swing-and-miss secondary pitches, and quality command, Mize should move quickly, and could be a difference maker.” Few pitching prospects possess his combination of plus command and control and plus repertoire.

With his next two picks, Christopher selected two high-upside, prep bats. A graduate from the same high school as Kyle Tucker, Connor Scott is eerily similar. A tall (6’4″), left-handed outfielder, he has double-plus speed, a feel for hitting, and power potential. Meanwhile, Noah Naylor, the younger brother of Josh, has similar hitting ability and power potential as his brother, but with the athleticism and arm strength to play catcher.

In the later rounds, Christopher sandwiched a high-upside prep arm between two advanced college bats. One of the youngest players in the MLB Draft, Lenny Torres Jr. already sports a mid-90s fastball and a promising slider. Jameson Hannah had a tremendous season (.360/.444/.555), exhibiting an average or better hit tool, borderline average power, and above-average speed. Finally, Luken Baker possesses 70-grade raw power, but his season ended prematurely due to a brutal leg injury in April.

James Anderson

James is the Lead Prospect Analyst and Assistant Baseball Editor for Rotowire, and publishes a top-400 prospects ranking. You can follow him on Twitter @RealJRAnderson.

  1. (3) Jonathan India, 3B/2B/SS, Cincinnati Reds, age: 21.58
  2. (18) Kyler Murray, OF, Oakland Athletics, age: 20.93
  3. (23) Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants, age: 16.84
  4. (38) Jeremiah Jackson, SS, Los Angeles Angels, age: 18.30
  5. (43) Anthony Seigler, C, New York Yankees, age: 19.06
  6. (58) Misael Urbina, OF, Minnesota Twins, age: 16.21

James hit the nail on the head when describing this draft class, stating, “I don’t think there’s a strong consensus of the order up top.” Given so many players are in play early in the draft, James managed to draft his top prospect, Jonathan India. A monster season (.350/.497/.717) in the most difficult college conference (SEC) propelled India into the top-5. James explains “improved pitch recognition” led to his breakout, and his plus bat speed “should result in high exit velocities in pro ball.” At his best, India showcases above-average tools across the board, with a high floor, but lower ceiling.

For the rest of the draft, James targeted low-floor, high-ceiling prospects. Headlining this group is Kyler Murray. A top athlete in the 2018 MLB Draft, Murray is returning to Oklahoma to play quarterback this fall. As a baseball player, he has 70-grade speed, above-average raw power, and a questionable hit tool.

Then, James’ run on teenage hitting prospects began. Marco Luciano is the most promising bat in the international class, with potentially explosive 70-grade raw power. The two prep bats, Jeremiah Jackson and Anthony Seigler, are above-average hitters with average power at premium positions. Returning to the international waters, James ended the draft with Misael Urbina, a potential plus hitter with plus speed and power projection.

Wilson Karaman

Wilson is a writer for Baseball Prospectus. You can follow him on Twitter @vocaljavelins.

  1. (4) Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies, age: 21.94
  2. (17) Victor Victor Mesa, OF, Unaffiliated, age: 21.98
  3. (24) Brice Turang, SS, Milwaukee Brewers, age: 18.64
  4. (37) Mike Siani, OF, Cincinnati Reds, age: 18.99
  5. (44) Ryder Green, OF, New York Yankees, age: 18.19
  6. (57) Kyle Isbel, OF/2B, Kansas City Royals, age: 21.36

Power is always in high demand, and Wilson drafted the premier power bat in this draft class, Alec Bohm. With a strong 6’5″ frame, Bohm possesses 70-grade raw power. In addition to the power, Wilson remarks, he has “a surprising feel for the barrel for a player his size.” This year, Bohm developed into an all-around hitter, with improved plate discipline and a more refined approach.

With his next pick, Wilson followed my selection of Julio Pablo Martinez with another highly-regarded Cuban prospect, Victor Victor Mesa. The son of Cuban legend, Victor Mesa, is an elite defensive outfielder, with double-plus speed and uncanny instincts. At the plate, Wilson notes “[h]e generates outstanding bat speed organically with good lower-half engagement.” In his last full season in Serie Nacional, Victor Victor hit .354/.399/.539 with 40 stolen bases in 70 games.

The next three selections represent a mix of high-floor (Brice Turang) and high-ceiling (Ryder Green) prep bats. A lithe left-handed hitter, Turang drives the ball gap-to-gap with authority with modest power and utilizes his plus speed on the bases. In the MLB Draft, Mike Siani fell to the fourth round due to signability concerns. Should he develop more power, he is a future five-category performer. Green has a questionable hit tool, but potential 70-grade raw power and some speed. Finally, Kyle Isbel is an elite college performer (.357/.441/.643) with average tools.

Jesse Roche

Yours truly! Follow me on Twitter @jaroche6.

  1. (5) Jarred Kelenic, OF, New York Mets, age: 18.99
  2. (16) Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, Texas Rangers, age: 22.31
  3. (25) Brady Singer, RHP, Kansas City Royals, age: 21.94
  4. (36) Shane McClanahan, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays, age: 21.21
  5. (45) Nick Schnell, OF, Tampa Bay Rays, age: 18.29
  6. (56) Logan Gilbert, RHP, Seattle Mariners, age: 21.19

The 2018 draft has tons of talent. Of all the prospects available, however, Jarred Kelenic is the only prospect with the potential, plus tool trinity (hit, power, and speed). Thus far, he is finding little resistance in his debut, hitting .396/.450/.623 with 2 home runs and 4 stolen bases in his first 14 games.

At my next pick, I surprisingly found Julio Pablo Martinez still on the board. Few available players possess his five-category upside and proximity. Signed by the Rangers in March for $2.8 million, he hit .333/.469/.498 with 24 stolen bases at just 20 years old in Serie Nacional. Thus far, JPM is displaying some power (.203 ISO), patience (12.7 BB%), and speed (5 stolen bases).

Over the rest of the draft, I selected the top three college arms not named Mize and another high-upside outfielder. When drafting pitching prospects, I favor floor and proximity over ceiling. Brady Singer is a nearly MLB-ready 3- or 4-starter, with above-average command and a solid repertoire, headlined by a running, low-to-mid-90s fastball. Next, Shane McClanahan arguably has the best raw stuff of any arm in this draft, regularly touching the upper-90s from the left-side, but with shaky command. An athletic 6’3″ and 180 pounds outfielder, Nick Schnell projects to have average-to-above-average hit, power, and speed tools. Finally, Logan Gilbert is a reliable, polished innings-eater, with a low-90s, live fastball and three average-to-above-average secondaries.

Eric Cross

Eric is a writer and MLB Prospect Analyst for Fantrax, and recently published his top-100 prospects ranking. You can follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.

  1. (6) Nolan Gorman, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals, age: 18.18
  2. (15) Seth Beer, OF/1B, Houston Astros, age: 21.82
  3. (26) Parker Meadows, OF, Detroit Tigers, age: 18.70
  4. (35) Grant Lavigne, 1B, Colorado Rockies, age: 18.88
  5. (46) Orelvis Martinez, SS, Toronto Blue Jays, age: 16.65
  6. (55) Richard Gallardo, RHP, Chicago Cubs, age: 16.85

Three words describe Eric’s draft: power, power, and . . . power. To start, he selected Nolan Gorman, the top prep power bat with enormous 70-grade raw power. In addition to the power, Eric notes “Gorman’s hit tool is solid for a slugger of his magnitude and he should hit in the .280 range more often than not.” Thus far, he is off to a fast start, hitting .313/.429/.609 with 6 home runs in just 18 games.

After Gorman, Seth Beer is a potential three-true-outcome slugger, with huge power and patience. Like Gorman, he has impressed in his debut (.337/.449/.573). However, temper early expectations as advanced college bats should perform well in the low minors.

In the middle rounds, Eric targeted high-upside prep bats. The younger brother of Austin Meadows, Parker has a large 6’5″ frame with present plus speed and plus power projection. Meanwhile, Grant Lavigne is one of the biggest post-draft risers. Not only did his plus or better raw power land with the Rockies, but he is already lighting up the Pioneer League (.413/.486/.667).

At the end of the draft, Eric turned to the international market. Orelvis Martinez received the largest J2 international signing bonus ($3.5 million) due to the potential for above-average hit and plus power tools. Richard Gallardo already sits in the low-90s with his fastball and exhibits advanced command.

Bret Sayre

Bret is the Managing Editor for Baseball Prospectus and the Founder of The Dynasty Guru. You can follow him on Twitter @BretSayreBP.

  1. (7) Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates, age: 20.90
  2. (14) Jordyn Adams, OF, Los Angeles Angels, age: 18.74
  3. (27) Alek Thomas, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks, age: 18.21
  4. (34) Mason Denaburg, RHP, Washington Nationals, age: 18.93
  5. (47) Ryan Weathers, LHP, San Diego Padres, age: 18.69
  6. (54) Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles, age: 18.66

If power describes Eric’s draft, then speed describes Bret’s draft. With his first three picks, Bret selected speedy outfielders. A blazing start to the spring (.390/.609/.707) elevated Travis Swaggerty to the top of the first round. Although the rest of his season was uneven, he flashes above-average-to-plus hit, power, and speed tools. Next, Bret selected arguably the fastest player in the draft class, Jordyn Adams. A breakout performance at the National High School Invitational (NHSI) earned Adams a first round selection, causing him to pass on playing football (wide receiver) at North Carolina. The last of the speedy outfielder trio, Alek Thomas has an advanced hit tool and profiles well at the top-of-the-order.

Following his focus on speedy outfielders, Bret moved to prep pitching prospects. Partly due to a biceps injury this spring, Mason Denaburg fell to the late first round. When healthy, he has an electric mid-90s fastball, power curveball, and promising change-up. Meanwhile, Ryan Weathers, the son of former major league pitcher, David Weathers, has above-average command and repertoire. Although Grayson Rodriguez landed in a poor spot for a pitcher, he has a large, 6’5″ and 230 pound frame, a mid-90s fastball, and intriguing secondaries.

Chris Blessing

Chris is a prospect writer for Baseball HQ. You can follow him on Twitter @C_Blessing.

  1. (8) Joey Bart, C, San Francisco Giants, age: 21.58
  2. (13) Nico Hoerner, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs, age: 21.17
  3. (28) Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays, age: 18.69
  4. (33) Jake McCarthy, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks, age: 20.95
  5. (48) Daniel Lynch, LHP, Kansas City Royals, age: 21.66
  6. (53) Gabriel Rodriguez, SS, Cleveland Indians, age: 16.39

Chris received a Blessing when Joey Bart fell to him in the first round. Notwithstanding my lovely pun, Bart is truly a special talent, with exceptional offensive and defensive ability. For fantasy baseball purposes, defense is only relevant to the extent it facilitates or hinders opportunity and eligibility. As Chris notes, Bart’s defense will only accelerate his climb to the majors. At the plate, he has plus raw power and, now, projects to an average hit tool, aided by a more patient approach. Such an offensive skillset at catcher is rare.

Including Bart, and until his last pick, Chris focused on acquiring high-floor prospects. Nico Hoerner played college ball for power-suppressing Stanford. As such, his swing plane is flat and fundamentally sound, leading to low, hard contact. With a more lofted swing, Hoerner may develop borderline average power. Regardless, he has an above-average hit tool, plus speed, and should profile up-the-middle on defense. Similarly, Jake McCarthy is an above-average bat with plus speed and latent power. Meanwhile, Matthew Liberatore is a projectable, left-handed pitcher, with a deep repertoire, and advanced pitchability, mound presence, and command for a high school pitcher. A teammate of McCarthy, and like Liberatore, Daniel Lynch is projectable, left-handed pitcher, with a deep repertoire and above-average command. With his final pick, Chris absorbed some risk, drafting 16-year-old Gabriel Rodriguez, who exhibits average tools across the board.

Ralph Lifshitz

Ralph is a prospect writer for Razzball, and recently published his top-100 prospects ranking. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectJesus.

  1. (9) Trevor Larnach, OF, Minnesota Twins, age: 21.38
  2. (12) Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays, age: 18.68
  3. (29) Jeremy Eierman, SS, Oakland Athletics, age: 21.84
  4. (32) Cole Winn, RHP, Texas Rangers, age: 18.63
  5. (49) Tristan Pompey, OF, Miami Marlins, age: 21.31
  6. (52) Steele Walker, OF, Chicago White Sox, age: 21.95

Like Chris, Ralph targeted high-floor prospects. The headliner is Trevor Larnach. This year, Larnach finally tapped into the raw power promised by his 6’4″ frame. During the College World Series, he led Oregon State to the National Championship, sealing a come-from-behind win in game 2 with a ninth-inning home run (1:30 mark). In addition to his plus or better raw power, Larnach is a patient hitter with a feel to hit, spraying hard contact to all fields.

The only prep prospects selected by Ralph are as low-risk as teenage prospects come. Ralph describes Jordan Groshans as “[a] player with natural feel for the barrel, and raw power driven by an extra quick bat.” Further, he has a projectable 6’4″ frame and could develop above-average tools (except for speed) across the board. Meanwhile, 80-grade pitching name Cole Winn dominated all spring, including at the NHSI, with advanced command of a deep repertoire, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a 12-to-6 curveball.

Along with Larnach, Ralph loaded up on well-regarded college bats. Jeremy Eierman strumbled this spring, leading to serious questions regarding his hit tool. Despite his struggles, he has excellent bat speed, generating high exit velocities and above-average power. Further, he is an aggressive, instinctual base runner, which allows his average speed to play up. Tristan Pompey, the younger brother of Dalton, and Steele Walker both make the most of average tools.

Tom Trudeau

Tom is a writer for The Dynasty Guru. You can follow him on Twitter @TomTrudeau.

  1. (10) Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, San Diego Padres, age: 18.93
  2. (11) Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Unaffiliated, age: 27.07
  3. (30) Griffin Conine, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, age: 21.01
  4. (31) Noelvi Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners, age: 16.74
  5. (50) Joe Gray Jr., OF, Milwaukee Brewers, age: 18.34
  6. (51) Cadyn Grenier, SS, Baltimore Orioles, age: 21.70

Unlike Chris and Ralph, Tom chased high-risk, high-reward prospects. Long a proponent of Xavier Edwards, Tom got his guy at the end of the first round. With Edwards, Tom envisions a high-average 50-steal threat at shortstop. Unlike many speed-demons, Edwards should supply some pop as he fills out his 5’10” and 155 pound frame.

With back-to-back picks, Tom immediately selected the lone Japanese import in the draft, Yusei Kikuchi. Likely posted this offseason, Kikuchi is a 27-year-old left-handed pitcher with a long track-record of success in Japan, including an impressive 2017 season (1.97/0.91 ERA/WHIP, 187 2/3 IP, 217/49 K/BB). Armed with an explosive low-to-mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider, he has high upside. However, questions regarding his command and prior injury issues may dampen his stock.

Tom’s next three selections focused on power. The son of former MLB outfielder Jeff Conine, Griffin is a similar corner outfield power bat. An abysmal start to the season tanked his draft stock. To close the season, however, the switch finally flipped for Conine, including a 10-game hitting streak in which he hit .529/.636/1.265 with 7 home runs. Top international prospect, Noelvi Marte also possesses plus power potential. Notwithstanding a questionable hit tool, Joe Gray Jr. has above-average power and speed.

With his last pick, Tom finally selected a high-floor prospect. Caydn Grenier is an excellent defensive shortstop with above-average speed, but a below-average bat.

Prospect Draft Takeaways

Draft Depth

As repeatedly stated above, this draft class is extremely deep and talented. Without a true standout prospect, the top of the draft is in flux. As such, it is a bad year to have an early selection. On the other hand, it is a great year for later selections. Consequently, my early advice is to trade down and build quantity.

Falling Pitching

In many prospect drafts, pitching can fall. Some owners are simply adverse to pitching prospects. The acronym TINSTAAPP (“There is no such thing as a pitching prospect”) is gospel for far too many fantasy owners. In addition, pitching injuries can be severe and cost a player years of development. Just this year, Brent Honeywell and A.J. Puk suffered torn UCL ligaments prior to the season, requiring Tommy John surgery. With that said, pitching is still valuable, and pitching prospects can make serious waves. This draft class is rich in pitching. As a result, owners likely will wait to select pitchers in favor of hitters and many top pitching prospects will be available late in the draft.

Ignore Real-Life Draft Position

This point is less a “takeaway” and more a guideline. The MLB Draft involves a lot of behind-the-scenes direct negotiation with agents and immense amounts of strategy. Indeed, teams with many picks often select players early who will sign below slot value. Then, such teams push players down the draft, by promising an over-slot deal at a later selection. Consequently, where a team selects a player in the draft often is not a proper gauge of value. Instead, the bonus amount is the best guide to player value. Further, fantasy owners must focus on landing spot and offensive tools (hit, power, and speed).

My Favorites

My favorite round-by-round picks (i.e., made me most jealous) include Casey Mize (Christopher-Round 1), Victor Victor Mesa (Wilson-Round 2), Marco Luciano (James-Round 3), Grant Lavigne (Eric-Round 4), Ryan Weathers (Bret-Round 5), and Steele Walker (Ralph-Round 6).

Overall, my favorite raft haul (other than my own, of course) is a close call between James and Eric.

In conclusion, I want to thank all the participants! The prospect draft was a great success and I had a blast. Most importantly, I highly recommend all readers to follow each of the writers and access their work by clicking on their names.

Please feel free to post comments, questions, or your own observations!

Follow me on Twitter @jaroche6

The Author

Jesse Roche

Jesse Roche

Jesse is an attorney, currently residing in Greensboro. An avid fantasy baseball player, Jesse has experience in a diverse range of leagues, including head-to-head, rotisserie, points, and simulation. Jesse is a four-time website-wide champion at Benchwarmer Baseball and a repeat champion of a dynasty league with John Sickels at Minor League Ball. With a specific interest in baseball prospects, Jesse plans to provide in-depth analysis of up-and-coming stars accessible to all league sizes and types.

2 Comments

  1. Allen Sarvinas
    July 13, 2018 at 5:51 am

    Last year prior to the draft as in months, there were reports that Jo Adell made strides with the hit tool. He was drafted and now having “star” dropped on his name. Are there any players who have made positive progression in a certain skill these last few months that may be hiding a value in their true draft slot?

    • July 13, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Only two bats come to mind for me. Jordyn Adams is a late riser, following an impressive showing at NHSI in late March. He has 80-grade speed, power potential (he was committed to UNC as a wide receiver), and hitting ability. I will say Bret Sayre is very high on him. In addition, Nick Schnell does not have the same loud tools as Adell or Adams, but he turned a lot of heads with a strong finish to the spring.

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