Once again, the NL had to be different. The AL had several “Wow!” picks and a few teams with Grade A drafts. The NL seemed to reach more and gravitate toward high-reward, high risk prep kids or safe college players.
Not that this is a bad thing per se, but it was much more difficult to separate the NL teams as they all seemed to be straight “B” students. Before we jump into the NL, I would like to take a moment and catch up on what has happened with some of the AL draft picks that were discussed in the last piece. Two weeks have now passed since the conclusion of the MLB Rule 4, Amateur Player Draft, but much has happened. The two best college arms, Carlos Rodon and Jeff Hoffman, remain unsigned as of the time of this writing. Cleveland struck gold as they have signed a top 3 college bat, Bradley Zimmer, at $100K below slot at #21. They also surprisingly signed LHP Justus Sheffield under slot which should give them enough money to sign polished college slugger, Mike Papi, who is likely holding out for an above slot bonus at #38 in the competitive balance round. Seattle spent a combined $1.8M over slot to sign their top two picks, stud prep power hitters, Alex Jackson and Gareth Morgan. Tough to sign many other draft picks with so much of your bonus budget tied up in two players, but the Mariners wanted power bats and they got them.
So what about the National League. I wasn’t in love with any of the drafts by the Senior Circuit, but there were still some notable names that you should stash away who will impact the big leagues and your fantasy teams in the future. I would prefer to focus on college players as they will in most cases impact the fantasy baseball world sooner, however, the NL teams seem to love that raw talent that top high school prospects offer.
Highest Ceiling Fantasy Impact
Grant Holmes, RHP (LAD) – As far as prep arms go, Holmes might be the most advanced. He had an advantage playing all year around in Southern California and made the most of it. High School talent tends to overpower with their plus fastballs and develops one out pitch that the average high school batter can’t touch. Not so with Holmes. He can touch the high-90s if necessary, but will sit around 92-93 mph with a little sink. He has a nasty curve ball which may develop similar to Jeff Hoffman (see piece last week) after he has a few more ice cream seasons to hone his craft with pro pitching instructors. In addition to a plus fastball, plus curve, Holmes has an above average Change up that could develop into a 3rd plus pitch by the time he reaches the majors. He has solid command for a prep arm due to consistent delivery mechanics. I was shocked Holmes fell to the Dodgers as he was a top 10 pick in my opinion and the 3rd best prep arm in the draft after Aiken and Kolek. Los Angeles was happy to pay $500K over slot to secure a future front of the rotation starter that should slot in right behind Clayton Kershaw as early as 2016.
Quickest Path to the Show
Nick Howard, RHP (CIN) – I could have easily went with the Cubs 2nd Round pick, Jake Stinnett, here (RHP out of U. of Maryland) for the same reason as I’m offering Howard. Nick was probably a little bit of a reach at #19 overall as a closer for the University of Virginia in 2014. I think they might have a game plan with him that was similar to what they did with Tony Cingrani. Howard could be MLB ready to pitch out of the bullpen within a calendar year and they may do that. Ultimately, spending a 1st round pick would indicate they see him long-term as a starter. This would take longer to develop, but a taste of the bigs might help the club and give the polished college arm some critical experience before stretching him out and seeing if he can develop into a quality starter. He boasts a plus fastball with good movement that will change batter’s eye level. He has an above average curve that has a nice 12-6 bit if he can control it consistently. This is why he was moved to the bullpen as this pitch combination was nasty as a closer. He does have a change-up that he throws 12-15 mph slower than the fastball but it average at best right now and would have to be developed in pro ball to have serious consideration to start. Either way, he should be grubbing on Skyline Chili as early as 2015.
Kodi Medeiros, LHP (MIL) – The Brewers were so desperate to add high-ceiling talent to arguably the worst farm system in the MLB. This kid out of Hawaii does have potential, but at #12 overall, there is too great a risk that he won’t be able to maintain as a starter due to an unusually low arm angle on his delivery. He has a plus-plus slider, best in the prep class. This pitch could develop into a Carlos Rodon quality slider at some point. He has an above average fastball which might develop into a plus pitch., It just has the feel of a dominant relief pitcher coming at you with a decent fastball, serviceable changeup and untouchable slider. If he can develop a third pitch and adjust his mechanics he could be a future ace. Too much risk in my opinion to go #12 when ESPN’s Keith Law lists him at #50 in his June 4th, Mock draft.
Erick Fedde, RHP, (WSH) – The UNLV ace would have been a Top 10 pick if he had been healthy. If not for the ever popular, Tommy John surgery, he might have gone as high as #4 to the Cubs. As it happened, the Nationals were thrilled to see him drop to them at #18. As of this writing, he had not signed yet. Fedde and Hoffman appear to want bonus money equivalent to their talent and not their slot due to their health. I have to believe this will get worked out and Washington will have a top of the rotation talent if he returns to full health. He has a plus fastball with life that plays faster than the low-mid 90s that it runs. He has a plus slider that sits in the low 80s which he can throw for strikes or out of the strikes zone to put away hitters. He also as a decent changeup to keep batters honest. None of these pitches are singularly as dominant as some of the other prep arms discussed earlier in this piece. However, with his experience and command at the college level, he projects, if healthy, to be a future #2 starter with a much higher fantasy floor impact.
Best Team Draft
Chicago Cubs – Just let this sink in for a moment. I could have easily said that the Cubs made the biggest reach with their 1st pick of Kyle Schwarber at #4. I saw him ranked prior to the draft anywhere from mid-teens to mid-twenties. When I saw the Cubs took him at #4, I had to clean my glasses and clean the wax out of my ears to make sure I wasn’t mistaken on this pick. The Cubs have tons of power bats in their farm system. They don’t have room for another guy without a natural position. They need top of the rotation arms. I know the big three arms were gone as expected, but wouldn’t it have been worth taking a Top Flight injured college arm that had ace potential like a Hoffman or Fedde? What about the next best prep arm, Grant Holmes? As the draft progressed, it was clear that the Chicago brass had a plan and in hindsight, it was freakin’ brilliant. Yes, they needed high ceiling arms. So why settle for one that they would have to pay above slot, when they could select a huge power bat who they obviously like, pay him well below slot bonus, and use that money to overpay high ceiling prep arms that dropped due to signability concerns. Theo, Jed and gang, saved just under $2M in bonus cap space by selecting Schwarber, 2nd round pick Jake Stinnet (Great Value here) and slight reach in 3rd round at #78 with offensive minded catcher, Mike Zagunis out of Virginia Tech. What this did is allow them to draft AND potentially sign, three high school standouts, LHP Carson Sands, LHP Justin Steele and RHP Dylan Cease in the 4th, 5th and 6th round respectively. All three have strong college commitments, but as of this writing, Sands and Steele already came to terms with above slot bonuses. I should also mention the Cubs picked up a quality, polished college arm in RHP, James Norwood out of St. Louis University in the seventh round. So let’s review…
#4 Schwarber – $1.5M bonus savings, huge raw power and already raking in pro ball. He went an insane 12 hits in 20 at-bats in short season, Boise, in his first 10 days that he already got promoted to full-season A-ball. Probably ends up in LF or 1B but has the power to contribute wherever.
#45 Stinnett – $250K bonus savings, polished college pitcher who should see Wrigley as early as 2015.
#109 Sands, #139 Steele and #169 Cease – High Ceiling prep arms that should replenish the pitching talent in the Cubs farm system.
All in all, Chicago managed to draft 6 of the Top 100 college prospects in the first 7 rounds. Maybe not an A grade with Top 10 talent, but B+/A- as they had a plan and executed it better than any other team in the National League.
Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Creator & League Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball Writer http://www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Major League Fantasy Football Radio starts on Sunday July 13th and will run every Sunday for the rest of the season at 11:30am – 12:30pm EST until the season is finished on Sports Palooza Radio Network.
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