Image credit: Marcelo Mayer (Photo by Tom DiPace)
We released the BA Hot 100 list for first-year player drafts in dynasty leagues yesterday, but there’s always an internal split on how each of us value different players, especially beyond the consensus players at the top of the list.
To get a sense of some of those differences of opinions and how drafts will play out, the BA staff conducted a mock FYPD. For BA subscribers, you can see every pick, the reasons why we took each player, analysis of our favorite picks and the ones we didn’t like as much.
1. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox (JJ Cooper)
Pick Rationale: Mayer’s combination of a relatively safe bat and positional value stands out. Add in the fact that he should be one of the faster movers among the prep ranks and he seemed like a logical pick to go 1-1.
2. Jack Leiter, RHP, Rangers (Ben Badler)
Pick Rationale: Leiter is the best pitcher available, will be one of the fastest to the big leagues and has front-end starter potential. Yes, there are good hitters on the board I like, but there’s less separation among that group, giving me a chance at one of them with my next pick.
3. Brady House, SS, Nationals (Carlos Collazo)
Pick Rationale: I’m thrilled to get House here and a bit surprised Ben was this aggressive with a pitcher right in front of me. House has exceptional power and athleticism and I buy into his advanced approach as well.
4. Seiya Suzuki, OF, Free Agent (Geoff Pontes)
Pick Rationale: I’ve long valued immediate value in my dynasty league FYPDs for years. Suzuki offers the sort of power and contact upside that could make him not only an immediate producer but a top 100 fantasy bat for the next five years.
5. Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs (Matt Eddy)
Pick Rationale: The power-speed potential and shortstop certainty was too tantalizing to pass up at this point in the draft. Lawlar played top competition in the Dallas metroplex and ranked as BA’s No. 1 draft prospect.
6. Henry Davis, C, Pirates (JJ)
Pick Rationale: There is a little trepidation here, as catchers carry injury risks and sometimes can take some extra time to develop (Joey Bart trails the four position players taken behind him in establishing himself in the majors), but the combination of Davis’ promising bat and the rarity of finding a catcher with offensive value outweighs those concerns.
7. Kahlil Watson, SS, Marlins (Ben)
Pick Rationale: Watson is one of the best pure hitters in the draft. I get a middle infielder with a sweet lefty swing, whippy bat speed and ability to manipulate the barrel for frequent contact.
8. Colton Cowser, OF, Orioles (Carlos)
Pick Rationale: I was hoping Watson would fall to me at No. 8, but no such luck. Cowser had an argument for the best hit tool in the draft class. He also has great zone control, solid speed and could tap into more power while profiling in center. A lot to like.
9. Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers (Geoff)
Pick Rationale: Whatever it takes, that’s the best way to describe Frelick’s style of play. Double-plus speed, an advanced approach and feel for the game combined with plus bat-to-ball skills give Frelick the baseline skill set of a dynamic leadoff type. Speed is at a premium in fantasy, and Frelick provides a rare commodity.
10. James Triantos, SS, Cubs (Matt)
Pick Rationale: Triantos’ rare combination of barrel accuracy and impact potential makes him appealing to me in this range. He should stay in the infield, but his bat is clearly his carrying tool—and the Cubs generally know what they’re doing with young hitters.
11. Harry Ford, C, Mariners (JJ)
Pick Rationale: Two catchers in two picks? I’m taking Ford for his athleticism and offensive value more than his ability to don a chest protector. Much like Tyler Soderstrom, Ford’s value is less tied to catching than say Henry Davis, but if he does stay there, his speed is a truly unique asset.
12. Matt McLain, SS, Reds (Ben)
Pick Rationale: After JJ grabbed Harry Ford one spot before I was about to pick him, I’m calling an audible to take McLain. He’s a middle infielder and a steady college performer in a draft class that was light on college hitters at the top of the class.
13. James Wood, OF, Padres (Carlos)
Pick Rationale: I viewed McLain and Wood as the best two bats in the tier of players available here so would have taken either Ben left me with. Wood has more upside than some of the players who have already gone off the board thanks to his massive raw power, unique athleticism and hitting track record over the showcase circuit. He also had a promising pro debut.
14. Trey Sweeney, SS, Yankees (Geoff)
Pick Rationale: I thought about Sweeney at nine overall due to the combination of on-base ability and projectable skill-driven power. A combination of advanced pitch recognition and plus bat speed has led to an increase in in-game power over the last 12 months. While he may not stick at short, he has the athleticism, arm and infield actions to stick in the dirt without being a detriment.
15. Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox (Matt)
Pick Rationale: I went with a third high school shortstop in three picks. Montgomery was old for his draft class, but I give him the benefit of the doubt based on his multi-sport pedigree, cold-weather background and projected ability to stay on the infield. Power potential and plate discipline complete the picture.
16. Gavin Williams, RHP, Guardians (JJ)
Pick Rationale: I was really impressed with Williams at East Carolina, and the fact that he was drafted by the Guardians—a team that consistently develops pitchers—adds to my comfort in adding a power arm to the club.
17. Jackson Jobe, RHP, Tigers (Ben)
Pick Rationale: I’m generally averse to high school pitching prospects before we see any professional track record from them, but getting Jobe this far down the board is value that’s too good to pass up. He has frontline starter upside, with an electric fastball/breaking ball combination that should lead to plenty of whiffs.
18. Jordan Wicks, LHP, Cubs (Carlos)
Pick Rationale: Ben picked my pocket on this one. I was hoping to get Jobe in this range because I view him as the most talented pitcher of this entire group. Wicks is more of a safe bet given the college lefty profile, and I think his stuff is better than he gets credit for, with solid fastball velo and life and a legitimate 70-grade secondary in his changeup.
19. Jay Allen, OF, Reds (Geoff)
Pick Rationale: Allen ranked 15th overall on my personal rank, so I was more than happy to select the projectable prep outfielder here. Due to his multi-sport background his athleticism may be overstated, as he’s likely headed for a corner outfield profile long term. I’m betting on the continued development of his hit tool, game power and approach as he sees more time on the diamond.
20. Will Bednar, RHP, Giants (Matt)
Pick Rationale: Mississippi State won its first College World Series championship in 2021, largely because of the Omaha heroics of Bednar. I like his pro outlook not only for his fastball shape and slider command, but also because he is in the capable hands of Giants player development.
21. Sam Bachman, RHP, Angels (JJ)
Pick Rationale: I think there’s a good chance that Bachman ends up as a reliever. But he could be a fast-moving one who provides value much quicker than many of the players in this draft. And he should produce strikeouts and saves thanks to a diabolical slider.
22. Connor Norby, 2B, Orioles (Ben)
Pick Rationale: There’s a wave of pitching that’s going off the board here, but I already snapped up the top two pitchers in the draft with Jack Leiter and Jackson Jobe. With high school shortstop Kahlil Watson leading the way for my hitters, now I’m balancing my roster with college hitters who could get to the big leagues in the next couple of years, with Norby one of my favorite polished hitters from the 2021 draft.
23. Tyler Black, 2B, Brewers (Carlos)
Pick Rationale: It feels like the board should open up quite a bit in this range. Many of the prep bats available have real hit risk despite solid tool sets. I have long been high on Black’s lefthanded bat and approach at the plate. I also considered Ty Madden and Andrew Painter.
24. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Blue Jays (Geoff)
Pick Rationale: Prior to Hoglund’s elbow injury he was pitching his way into the top 10 of the draft. He features a high-spin arsenal led by a low-90s fastball with plus vertical ride and a swing-and-miss slider with average spin rates north of 2,800 rpms.
25. Michael McGreevy, RHP, Cardinals (Matt)
Pick Rationale: I like the wide repertoire and command shown by McGreevy, with the expectation that the Cardinals have a good chance to build off that foundation as he develops.
26. Cooper Kinney, 2B, Rays (JJ)
Pick Rationale: Kinney was the Rays’ second-round pick, but his bat is appealing enough to sway me to pick him while Rays’ first-rounder Carson Williams is still on the board. I’m not sure where Kinney will end up playing, but there’s a good chance he’ll hit.
27. Carson Williams, SS, Rays (Ben)
Pick Rationale: Williams has a lot of arrows pointing in the right direction. There are some promising young international shortstops who could fit into this value band of players too, but there’s a lot more certainty on recent information with Williams, which is why I leaned toward him with this pick.
28. Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies (Carlos)
Pick Rationale: There’s not a real hole in Painter’s scouting report unless you want to bang him for being a prep righthander. He has the size, command, fastball, breaking stuff and changeup to profile as a mid-rotation starter or better. I would have liked a bat, but at this point none excite me enough to pass on Painter’s upside potential.
29. Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres (Geoff)
Pick Rationale: Projectable lefthanded power with strong foundational bat-to-ball skills are Merrill’s primary selling points. A cold weather high school prospect out of Maryland, Merrill added nearly 30 pounds of muscle leading up to the draft, hinting to untapped raw power.
30. Zack Gelof, 3B, Athletics (Matt)
Pick Rationale: The A’s were blown away by what they saw from second-rounder Gelof in his pro debut, and his adaptability should help him pay off earlier than many picks in this FYPD class. Clarity is often an underrated attribute in dynasty leagues.
Favorite Pick From Each Team
JJ: Cooper Kinney: He’s not a steal at 26, but I did want to nab Kinney with my last pick if I could and that’s exactly what happened.
Ben: Kahlil Watson: I would be happy to get Watson with a top-five pick in this draft, even as high as No. 2. We’ve talked plenty about the strength of high school shortstops in the 2021 draft, so I get why he’s still on the board at 7, but I’m thrilled to get him here.
Carlos: Brady House: I was unsure whether or not House was going to make it out of the top two picks. Given the class of high school shortstops I feel like he might be undervalued by some, but his raw power truly is special and he’s a shockingly good athlete for his size. Most people don’t think he’ll stick at shortstop but I think he has the first-step quickness to stick and I think he has the hitting ability and power to turn into a middle-of-the-order masher.
Geoff: Trey Sweeney: I could have easily gone with Seiya Suzuki here, but I like the value on Sweeney. He fits squarely within the tier below the elite talents at the top and offers plenty of offensive upside in his own right.
Matt: Jordan Lawlar: I was pleased to land him at No. 5 overall. He might go 1-1 in some FYPDs.
Favorite Pick From Another Team
JJ: Connor Norby: Norby was one of the best hitters in college baseball in 2021. If he can adjust to pro competition, he could move quickly as an offensive-minded second baseman.
Ben: Harry Ford: This format can punish catchers, but Ford has a unique skill set. He has the athleticism and tool set to fit at catcher, third base, second or even center field with his speed. I’m also a big believer in his hitting ability, with an impressive swing, strike-zone management and contact skills. Can you tell I’m not happy that JJ took him one spot before I was about to pounce?
Carlos: Jackson Jobe: As Ben also mentioned when making the pick, I really like the value of Jobe at No. 17. In my mind he’s the most talented pitcher of this list of players, and yes that includes Jack Leiter. Outside of fastball perhaps, I think Jobe has better grades across the board. Sure, high school pitchers are risky and no one wants to touch them, but they also turn out to be 1 and 2 caliber arms and Jobe has the tool set to do that.
Geoff: James Triantos: I hoped he would be there at 14, but Matt was quick to take the 2021 second-rounder with the 10th pick. I think Triantos has the upside to be a fantasy star, as a bat-first third baseman with plus hit and above-average to plus game power. Great pick by Mr. Eddy.
Matt: Jay Allen: I really liked the value on Allen at No. 19 overall. He showed many promising attributes in a 19-game pro debut and could be the rare five-category hitter.
Too Rich For Me
JJ: Tyler Black: I wouldn’t have expected to see Black get picked in a 30-player draft. Carlos is right that the board opens up, but I would have taken a number of other bats first.
Ben: James Wood: I understand why Wood went at No. 13 overall here. The physical upside is tantalizing if everything clicks, but hitters with ultra long limbs and a track record of some scary swing and miss to their game make me uneasy this high up the board.
Carlos: Jack Leiter: I don’t view the gap between Leiter and the other arms as quite this large, particularly with some of the toolsy bats available on the board at this pick. If I’m picking No. 2 in a draft like this I would really not want a college arm but perhaps that’s more indicative of my personal taste than any failure on Ben’s part.
Geoff: Jordan Wicks: None of these picks stood out as massive overdrafts, but based on my personal rankings the Wicks pick by Carlos was the biggest delta in draft position versus my rankings. I prefer Jay Allen, Bednar, Hoglund, and too a lesser extent McGreevy more at this spot.
Matt: Jack Leiter: It’s not so much the player in particular—Leiter is the best bet among pitchers in this draft—as the opportunity cost associated with bypassing some of the high-upside hitters.
My Next Targets
JJ: At this point, it’s time to start taking chances on the international class. Roderick Arias is a logical pick. When an international pick clicks, it can provide a lofty return, especially for a pick in the 30s or 40s of a draft.
Ben: We generally have international players pushed further down our Hot 100 board this year, just because of the reality of how differently those players are scouted and how much more recent information there is with 2021 draft picks. Roderick Arias and Ricardo Cabrera are two exciting shortstops out of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, respectively, and their upside sticks out more as we get beyond the top group of draft picks.
Carlos: Ty Madden, Joe Mack, Aaron Zavala, Alex Binelas. I think Madden belongs with the group of college arms that started to go off the board at the end of this process and am probably one of the higher BA staffers on him, specifically. Mack was the lone hit tool among the top-ranked Northeastern preps that I felt confident enough to look at as well—I would have let others take Baez, White and Montgomery given hit tool risk despite the loud tool sets—but the catcher position scared me off. Beyond that I would feel fine going off the board for productive, non-first base college bats like Zavala and Binelas, who might be very underrated now given his stock prior to last spring, his pro debut and his exit velocity numbers.
Geoff: The group of positional talent after pick 30 is fairly deep. Names like Lonnie White Jr., Joe Mack and Joshua Baez from the prep ranks, Aaron Zavala and Ethan Wilson from the college ranks and the top three international free agents in Roderick Arias, Ricardo Cabrera and Cristian Vaquero would all be in consideration for me with my next pick. I like swinging for the fences late, and Lonnie White Jr. fits the sort of boom-or-bust potential worth rolling the dice on.
Matt: My next pick might have been Lonnie White Jr., Max Muncy or Roderick Arias, but I felt like there was a clear tier change circa the 25th pick.