Perfect MiLB Draft – OAK Style

To introduce myself, I’m Kyle Pulek, and this will be my 5th or so year of playing fantasy sports. I’m more into baseball, but I do play some football as well. Being the youngest person in the league, it means that I’m not as “seasoned” (to put it nicely) as the older folk in the group, so much of my research is based off of these specific players, I don’t have 1980 player comps for you to review. Sorry to the older fans.

Okay so instead of posting the same old that Andy (CHC) and Bradley (STL) did, I think it’s time for something new. Reading over their reviews, I think my picks for the most part align with what they think. My plus guys are their plus guys, their worst picks are my worst picks, and so on. So instead of posting mine on the main page, I’ve decided to have a little fun and create my “Perfect MiLB Draft”. Now, you ask why I wouldn’t just take the top 11 players on the board and call it a perfect draft? Well, that really wouldn’t help you any, now would it?

My goal of this post is to show not only who I think the best “value” was in each round, but to more so show who the best “player” is in a certain round and how they’d fit into my perfect draft. Just like the others, I’m keeping it to the top 11 rounds (one extra bonus round of insight for you!). However, not only am I gonna strive to pick the best player, but sometimes I might have to pass over that player for the “right” player. You’ll see what I mean as we go along.

1. Only one player may be selected per round. No excuses. Tough choices must be made
2. Player must be drafted in the round you’re working on. Round 1 means players picked 1-20, round 2 is players 21-40, and so on. No cheating here.

Remember, this is entirely my own opinion and my research/analysis per players.

Round 1
My Pick: OF Bryce Harper WAS (LAD 1.1, 1st overall) [ETA 2012]

Reasoning: Take the best player on the board in round 1. Good reasoning if I do say so. I made this pick of Harper here because he’s got the best ceiling for a hitter in the league, and I think that he opens a lot of doors for me. Taking him allows me to chance myself on pitchers in the future who are high risk high reward, because I don’t have to hope that one of my hitter picks turns into a stud here. Pitchers I think have the best chance of making the jump from mediocrity to stardom.

Best Player: I guess you can argue that Moore or maybe Trout are better, but I like me some Bryce Harper.

Round 2
My Pick: OF Bubba Starling KC (WAS 2.2, 22nd overall) [ETA 2014/2015]

Reasoning: After taking Harper round 1, I don’t want another guy close to the bigs, because that limits the upside of my perfect team. I want the sky as the limit for my team (crossing off Hultzen/Turner). After a heated debate with myself, I decided to take the hitting potential over the pitching potential. I narrowed my list to either Taijuan Walker or Bubba Starling, but as I examined the next round further, I think I can land a great SP prospect next round, and not sacrifice the hitting potential here. Starling has freakish athleticism, and reminds me of a blend of Kemp and Trout. That’s pretty scary. His potential? The Moon and beyond. Unfortunately, that means no Taijuan Walker for my team.

Best Player: You can make a case for Walker, Hultzen, Turner, Starling, Archie Bradley, heck even Lindor or Carlos Martinez here. I think Starling has the potential + talent, so he’s my best player in the round.

Round 3
My Pick: SP Zack Wheeler NYM (STL 3.13, 53rd overall) [ETA 2012/2013]

Reasoning: I really got pidgeon-holed into this pick. It really came down to whether I wanted a pitching prospect in 2 and a hitter in round 3, or vice versa. I took the vice versa approach. After taking potential phenom Starling, I had no choice but to go SP, as next round it really drops off pretty hard. Wheeler is the last true #1/2 semi-ace type pitcher on the board, and this round really didn’t excite me all too much. I thought about taking Walker in round 2, so that I could take any of Yelich/Alonso/Rizzo/Baez etc. in this round. However I think Starling and Wheeler present the most valuable combo, so that’s what I went with. This is a perfect draft, after all.

Best Player: Like I said above, I could have gone Alonso/Yelich/Rizzo here and had one of the best players of the round, depending on what you have to emphasize. I think the best player in the round is Rizzo, but being that I’ve already landed 2 hitters I couldn’t take a 3rd and have a top pitching staff as well.

Round 4
My Pick: OF George Springer HOU (SEA 4.7, 67th overall) [ETA 2013]

Reasoning: ANOTHER OF? is all I can hear being yelled at the screen. “HOW IS THIS DRAFT PERFECT WITH ANOTHER OF!” Well I think Springer is by far the best player in the round, and it’s not close. Just like Harper, and Starling, Springer brings all 5 tools to the table. I don’t think Singleton offers upside close to what Springer does, and he’d be my second choice. Springer has the potential to be Grady Sizemore when Sizemore decided to not get injured and go 25-30. That’s what I see in Springer, and for my 4th round pick I really can’t pass up that potential and that proximity (ETA 2013) for any other player this round.

Best Player: Springer stands head and shoulders above the crowd, Singleton is in second. Grandal is somewhere around Singleton as well.

Round 5
My Pick: SP Daniel Norris TOR (CHC 5.3, 83rd overall) [ETA 2015]

Reasoning: Now we’re starting to see a drop in value overall in the players, and more super high potential picks. Norris I think fits the bill as a guy with superstar upside at SP, but not much to offer as of current stats. A 6’2 lefty who throws mid 90s is difficult to come by, and I think he’s got a great chance to be something special in the league. Rosario or Betances would both be good picks, but since I know who’s at their respective positions a little later on with comparable value, I’d definitely pass on them in round 5 in favor of the other guys a few rounds later. I think I’ll be able to nab a “good” starter in the future with #3/4 upside much later in the draft, so no need to take someone like Barnes (2/3 upside) or Betances (strong potential to land in the ‘pen) when I could have the upside of a #1 (albeit a long ways to go).

Best Player: Norris has the best upside, the best player could be Rosario or Betances. But I’m going to go with Matt Barnes being the best player, because I think he’s close and has a good shot to fulfill his potential as a #2 or #3 starter.

To Recap my roster after 5 rounds…
1. OF Bryce Harper (ETA 2012)
2. OF Bubba Starling (ETA 2014/2015)
3. SP Zack Wheeler (ETA 2012/2013)
4. OF George Springer (ETA 2013)
5. SP Daniel Norris (ETA 2015)

Round 6
My Pick: SP Sonny Gray OAK (LAD 6.1, 101st overall)

Reasoning: I think he’s pretty much what Matt Barnes is for potential, except he’s going to cost me less. I love his upside as a #2/3 starter, BUT even better than Barnes is that he’ll be up in 2012 (or at least should be). I think that by having that upside and being THAT close to the MLB, it’s like getting a guy who by most lists would be ranked in the 50s. Someone who I think offers a similar situation to Gray is Matt Harvey (NYM, taken by TB @ pick 48 [rd 3 pk8]). Both have similar upsides and proximity, but Gray has slightly worse stuff, however has the ballpark advantage for his pitching in OAK. I like taking Gray 10x better than taking Harvey with my 3rd round pick.

Best Player: Gray fits the mold as the best player and the “right” player for my team, so I’ll be happy with him as the best player on here. Also considered were Chad Bettis and Keyvius Sampson.

Round 7
My Pick: RP Rex Brothers COL (BOS 7.15, 135th overall) [ETA 2012]

Reasoning: A RP? Yes. I think this might go down as the best pick in the draft right here. Brothers is fighting for a closers job. He’s got a good shot to swipe it from Bentancourt halfway through the year. The young fireballer is someone I want on my team because he’s got the upside of the #1 Closer, and he’ll have it this year. Instead of guessing if someone will ever become a closer or a reliable player, he’s already integrated into the bullpen, and all that’s left is to get the job. I think my team was getting away from helping me this year a little too much (with the picks of Starling/Springer/Norris having no shot to play before September). I double dipped at guys who would be playing in 2012, trying to even out my team with some current fill ins (Bullpen injuries always seem to happen).

Best Player: Rex Brothers is currently the best player in the round out of his experience. Had I not gone with Brothers, or if he wasn’t taken in this round, guys like Purke/Meyer/Stephenson/Biddle/Brentz would all have made a good case to be this pick.

Round 8
My Pick: 2B Rougned Odor TEX (KC 8.16, 156th overall) [ETA 2015]

Reasoning: Here comes the first IF player I take. He’s not the best player on the board, and probably not even the best IF player available here either (Panik, Colon). But there’s something that makes me think Odor can be Profar-like in flying up the boards. Odor was very unknown in last year, but he’s started to pick up steam after hitting .262 in A- ball as a 17 year old player. I think he offers the superstar upside though, and that’s why I’m picking him. I’ve got no 2B/SS ready to come up, and if I wanted one Colon would have been my pick. But I think my “Perfect” MiLB team should have the potential for each player to be dominant at his position. And Chrisitan Colon or Joe Panik don’t offer the same type of huge upside that Odor does, and that’s why I took him.

Best Player: I’d label either Robbie Grossman or Derek Norris as the “best player” of the round. Grossman gets the nod from me here, I think that he’s well underdrafted here in the 8th round. But I already have a stable of capable OF players (Springer/Harper/Starling) and my C will come later (Ahhh the blessing of foresight).

Round 9
My Pick: SS Andrelton Simmons ATL (WAS 9.2, 162nd overall) [ETA 2013]

Reasoning: Second infielder in a row. He almost beat out Pastornicky in Spring Training, even without playing ever above A-ball. He’s got great potential, and I like this value for him. He too offers all-star type upside, except a little earlier than Odor. I think that he’ll end up playing an integral role in my team in 2013 and beyond, as I think my team might get long in the tooth in the IF by the time Odor comes up. So getting mini “waves” of talent is important to slowly switch to a younger IF for my team.

Best Player: Lance Lynn offers the nearest upside to the bigs, and I think he’s the safest bet of the round. However we found our closer of the future in Brothers, so I don’t want to double dip on a guy who might end up as a 5 starter and a solid RP. I’d rather land the upside of Simmons.

Round 10

My Pick: 3B Edward Salcedo ATL (OAK 10.3, 183rd overall) [ETA 2013]

Reasoning: Yup, chalk up the 3rd IF pick in a row. That’s just how highly I value the top IF prospects, I guess. My reasoning is that I can find a guy with 5 tools early in the draft from the OF (Starling/Springer), and they will actually need to blossom into those 5 tools if they want to be the best in the game. The best OF players in the league all can do at least a bit of both (Ellsbury, Kemp, Braun, McCutchen, JUpton). There are few just power or just speed players who are high on the board in the OF (Bourn). So I need those guys to hit on all 5 tools to fulfill the potential I need from them. However, IF you don’t need that. You can get all power guys (Beltre, JJ Hardy, Bautista) or all speed guys (See: Most SS), but you don’t need both. And I think later round IF players can still have just 3-4 tools and be tops at their position. Remember, this is about maximizing value.
Anyways, Salcedo has the potential to hit the crap out of the ball, and I like that he’s semi-athletic as well, enough to swipe a few bags. I could see him turning into a 30-10 guy in the MLB with a solid albeit not great average. But that’s good enough for a top 5 3B in the league, so I’m not going to fret over the non-5 tool player in the IF.

Best Player: I think Salcedo has a case to be the “best” player of the round too. J.T. Realmuto has the potential to be the top prospect catcher in 2-3 years, so that’s not exactly someone you want to pass up. Levi Michael could also be this pick, without as much upside. I think Salcedo is the best player in the round.

Round 11
My Pick: C Christian Benthancourt ATL (CHC 11.3, 203rd overall) [ETA 2014]

Reasoning: The heir apparent to Brian McCann, Benthancourt gets rave reviews about his upside. He’s got 20 HR potential from the catcher slot, but he’s also got a CANNON for an arm. He’d throw in the upper 90s as a pitcher if he weren’t on the other side of the plate. My team needed a catcher, and I think Benthancourt should have been taken 50+ picks earlier, that’s how good he is. He ranks on a lot of top 100 prospect lists, so I think that getting him at 203 is insane. This will wrap up my team of Perfection.

Best Player: I think Benthancourt ranks head and shoulders (and knees and toes) above the field in this round. I do like Mendez in this round, but he’s not close to Benthancourt.

My Final Perfect Team:

1. OF Bryce Harper (ETA 2012)
2. OF Bubba Starling (ETA 2014/2015)
3. SP Zack Wheeler (ETA 2012/2013)
4. OF George Springer (ETA 2013)
5. SP Daniel Norris (ETA 2015)
6. SP Sonny Gray (ETA 2012)
7. RP Rex Brothers (ETA 2012)
8. 2B Rougned Odor (ETA 2015)
9. SS Andrelton Simmons (ETA 2013)
10. 3B Edward Salcedo (ETA 2013)
11. C Christian Benthancourt (ETA 2014)

Overall I really love this team. A mix of guys who will be up this year (Gray/Brothers/Harper) and guys who will be making their debut in 2015 (Starling/Norris/Odor). I think balance is key in any league, because you never want to be caught without a backup plan. I really did my best to fill all the holes I could on hitting and pitching in 9 rounds. I was really optimistic in the draft with upsides, and obviously some won’t strike gold, but all it takes is one of the 3 IF players to turn into a top 10 player, and I’ve got a huge fantasy star with a pick in the 8th to 10th round. That’s what I targeted late in the draft.

I have just one complaint about my team, and that’s that I didn’t get to take one of the many high upside pitchers I like after round 5. Some guys that I wish I could have taken but didn’t (but you still could!):

Justin Nicolino (rd 6 )
Keyvius Sampson (rd 6 )
Matt Purke (rd 7 )
Robert Stephenson (rd 7 )
Tyler Thornburg (rd 9 )
Dillon Howard (rd 9 )
Trevor Rosenthal (rd 9 )
Andrew Chafin (rd 10 )

OF Brandon Jacobs (rd 6 )
OF Brandon Nimmo (rd 6 )
3B Garin Cecchini (rd 7 )
3B Dante Bichette Jr. (rd 8 )
OF Ravel Santana (rd 8 )
OF Robbie Grossman (rd 8 )
2B Taylor Lindsey (rd 9 )
C J.T. Realmuto (rd 10 )
OF Kyle Parker (rd 11 )

I advise you to read up on some of the above pitchers and hitters, they could win you your league in 4 years. Remember, the more high upside arms or bats you have, the better chance you have to find the hidden gem in there. I think that with a little research on the players that you like, you find out the good and bad about them. Remember, the best place to go to see the most updated lists and most informative articles on prospects on the web, including personal takes and scouting reports?