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Hurry Up and Wait - Fantasy Prospects in the 2018 MLB Draft

Every year the baseball community gets together to draft high school and college players who will not see the majors, at best, for three or four years. And yet, if a team fails to make an impact at this meeting, the ramifications can be felt for years. The list of failed picks or sleepers who emerged to be Hall of Famers is longer than most can remember.

For fantasy purposes, the MLB draft is unusual for a few reasons. First, some play in dynasty leagues like Ottoneu where owners are drafting players who were taken in this draft and will be rostering them as they develop. Second, some of these players will be in the majors within the year based on their track record. Mostly these are college pitchers who are advanced for their age and need less time in the minors. These players might be stashes this year or into next. Finally, there are hybrid leagues were a short list of minor leaguers are kept as the roster turns over. No matter how owners play the chance to get talent in this draft means good things for both fantasy and real life squads.

This article will highlight a few players to keep on the radar no matter where owners are drafting. At the same time, with the draft, most of the top players are well known or accessible to research. For that reason, this article will not feature Jory Bart, Alec Bohm, and other top 10 picks. Instead, look to the later picks and players that might have landed in the spot that help support their fantasy chances.

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Players to Target

Connor Scott, Plant H.S. - #13 to Miami

Taken a bit earlier than some mocks had anticipated, Connor Scott was both a pitcher and hitter in high school, but all reports show him sticking to the field. Drawing comparisons as broad as Christian Yelich to Preston Tucker, Scott looks to be a contact first bat with power that should develop. The critical piece in this profile is that the pitching arm plays in the field, and some reports have the arm as a 60+ grade. Overall athleticism should keep him in center, and with the bat, his upside could be a .280 hitter with 15+ homers per season. The speed should play, and the overall package gives him a solid floor with room for more.

Brady Singer, University of Florida - #18 to Kansas City

While this article is staying away from most of the big names at the top of the draft, an exception was made for Singer as he “fell” all the way to Kansas City. Most expected him to go in the top five, so this is excellent value for a team in the process of rebuilding. Potentially the most pro-ready pitcher in the draft, Singer is expected to move quickly through the Royals system and should be in the majors near the middle of the rebuild. The issue for fantasy owners will be the fact that the high school bats that have been the focal point of Kansas City drafts in the past years might not be ready to provide support for Singer until 2021 or beyond. Still, he perhaps is already the top pitching prospect in the system, and any player who should be in the majors early is worth a look for fantasy owners. With the team context, this might not be a wins producer soon, but should have an SP3 floor with good ratios. According to Jim Callis from MLB.com, his fastball has a ton of movement, and a slider to complement, with a good overall approach to attacking hitters.

Seth Beer, DH, Clemson University - #28 to Houston

Another play who “shocked” most by going in the first round, Beer is the biggest upside bat in the draft, but the defensive questions will follow him as he moves through the minors. That being said, the ability to DH with Houston should up his value, and if he hits this is an impact fantasy bat sooner than later. While not saying this is a good comp, he should profile like an Edwin Encarnacion regarding a Utility play that might be drafted higher than most in the grouping. The short porch in Houston also plays well for this profile, and there should be no limit to his power. The high power potential is coupled with a controlled K rate, which again only looks good for the player moving forward.

Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep, #38 to San Diego

Edwards could end up being the steal of the draft for the Padres, as he has first-round talent, but fell all the way to the Competitive Balance picks. Profiling as a plus defender with speed and contact, Edwards should play with the glove alone, and this offers fantasy owners a nice floor and projection to playing time. Dan O’Dowd comped him to Jimmy Rollins which is probably more realistic than Harold Reynolds’s Ozzie Smith comparison, but at the end of the day, this is the type of fielder owners are looking to draft. If he can hit close to .280 Edwards should be a top of the lineup hitter, and with that young prospect base in San Deigo, when he is ready, he should be surrounded by other good players. Perhaps the best fantasy player in this draft if it all clicks. Expect 30+ steals if the team lets him run, which will happen as long as Andy Green is managing the club.

Grant Lavigne, 1B, Bedford HS, #42 to Colorado

Might be an overplayed fantasy piece, but anytime owners can add a power hitter at Coors it should be worth more than the player at other parks. Hit first player should stick at first with some practice, and if he does, look for the bat to carry him to a decent MLB career. The game power has been rated anywhere between 55 and 70, and if splitting the difference, this looks like a Seth Beer type player with a bit more glove and fielding ability. He might not reach the same heights, but if Beer goes early this is a good backup option. Left-handed power is always a plus, and with Lavigne only being 18 at the time of the draft there is still room to project. While the project might take a bit compared to other prep bats, when he gets to the majors expect a fantasy contributor.


Players to Avoid

Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi, - #22 to Colorado

Another polished pitcher to make the list, the knock on Rolison is the lack of secondary pitchers. He has a good fastball and decent breaking pitch but will look to develop a third, perhaps a changeup, to complete the package. The other concern here is the obvious issues at Coors, and control is not Rolison’s strength. A high walk rate is murder at Coors and should keep fantasy owners interested if that improves. Without this improvement, which to be honest could happen in development, owners should stay away. At best this looks like an SP3, but if the walk issues continue, pitchers like Kyle Freeland and company are relatively cheap in drafts. Do not waste a minor spot on this pitcher just yet.

Noah Naylor, C, St. Joan of Arc HS, #29 to Cleveland

Naylor has split the expert opinions as some have him as a catcher first, bat second, and others have him as the second coming of Fransisco Mejia. In the case of the latter, if the bat plays, he might be without a position if the catching ability does not develop as planned. In this case, it would be interesting to see where and if he can play on this team. The power numbers look real, but in this case, the Canadian player might not have faced top pitchers outside of some showcase time. Cleveland tends to prefer defensive catchers, and if this is the reason he was picked they seem to like the potential. If he moves away from catcher, there are doubts if the bat will allow him to play a corner, and he does not seem to the have the fielding to move to second. Naylor could be a decent fantasy player but not worth taking without seeing how the defensive profile comes around.

J.T Ginn, RHP, Brandon HS, #30 to Los Angeles Dodgers

While appearing on the avoid section of this piece, Ginn has a ton of upside as a closer or backend reliever where most projections place him. The reason he is so low here is that with high picks and stashes the chance of being a closer are mitigate by a late-inning leverage arm pitching in the 7th and 8th. Still should have some value, but not that much in redraft leagues. Ginn should be drafted like A.J. Minter concerning the stuff playing, but not worth the investment of others on this list. Callis at MLB.com likes him to stay as a starter, but with only two protected plus pitches the projection there is a bit harder to see.

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis


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