Recently I created a new dynasty baseball league customized around the basic game of Ottoneu. The more you play Ottoneu the more you come to appreciate how deep the player pool really is, and the longer I play fantasy baseball the more interested I become in the minor league development process. While there is still plenty of luck involved, the satisfaction of “discovering” the next Rhys Hoskins before everyone else is a feeling that keeps me coming back to the game over and over.
In addition to the standard economics of Ottoneu where each league consists of twelve owners and 480 rostered players (minors and majors), our league will roster an additional 180 minor leaguers (15 extra per team) in an attempt to “develop” successful franchises for years to come. Since the regular MLB season is wrapping up soon and many fantasy owners are starting to look towards 2018, I thought it might be helpful to review our prospect draft over the next several posts to give you some insight into the valuation of these minor league lottery tickets. If nothing else, this draft should help you “discover” a few names to keep an eye on going forward. If you have specific questions about players or the thought process of why they were selected, fire away in the comments section, as I’ve asked each owner in the league to be on standby to provide feedback as we review the rounds.
Before I review my own thoughts on the draft, you should know this Ottoneu league uses the “FanGraphs Points” scoring system based on linear weights, so offense is heavily slanted towards wOBA skills (and speed is almost a non-factor). We also somewhat arbitrarily removed the Top 12 overall offensive prospects to save them for the standard 40-man auction next spring. Otherwise, any minor league player without one (1) MLB PA or IP is eligible to be drafted. You can read more about the custom rules of this dynasty league here, and follow along with the draft here.
Many of the prospects below are also featured on the 2018 Top 100 Fantasy Prospects list.
|1.1||MILE HIGH CLUB||Kevin Maitan||SS||ATL|
|1.2||SPRINGER TRAINING||Luis Robert||OF||CHW|
|1.3||SONNY GRAY REAL ESTATE||Bo Bichette||SS||TOR|
|1.4||THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SS||SD|
|1.5||ORLEANS PANTS FACTORY||Dustin Fowler||OF||OAK|
|1.6||BLACK LOTUS||Forrest Whitley||RHP||HOU|
|1.7||LUCKY STRIKES||Mitch Keller||RHP||PIT|
|1.8||WAR HORSE||A.J. Puk||RHP||OAK|
|1.9||RUBBER DUCKIES||Juan Soto||OF||WAS|
|1.10||OVERWHELMING UNDERDOGS||Michael Kopech||RHP||CHW|
|1.11||THE MARINE LAYER||Triston McKenzie||RHP||CLE|
|1.12||SNEEZE BALL||Brent Honeywell||RHP||TB|
|2.1||SNEEZE BALL||Brendan McKay||LHP||TB|
|2.2||THE MARINE LAYER||Luis Urias||SS||SD|
|2.3||OVERWHELMING UNDERDOGS||Estevan Florial||OF||NYY|
|2.4||RUBBER DUCKIES||Royce Lewis||SS||MIN|
|2.5||WAR HORSE||Tyler O’Neill||OF||STL|
|2.6||LUCKY STRIKES||Jesus Sanchez||OF||TB|
|2.7||BLACK LOTUS||Hunter Greene||RHP||CIN|
|2.8||ORLEANS PANTS FACTORY||Isan Diaz||2B||MIL|
|2.9||THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH||Scott Kingery||2B||PHI|
|2.10||SONNY GRAY REAL ESTATE||Yordan Alvarez||1B||HOU|
|2.11||SPRINGER TRAINING||Corey Ray||OF||MIL|
|2.12||MILE HIGH CLUB||MacKenzie Gore||LHP||SD|
|3.1||MILE HIGH CLUB||Adrian Morejon||LHP||SD|
|3.2||SPRINGER TRAINING||Matt Manning||RHP||DET|
|3.3||SONNY GRAY REAL ESTATE||Danny Jansen||C||TOR|
|3.4||THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH||Keston Hiura||2B||MIL|
|3.5||ORLEANS PANTS FACTORY||Kyle Lewis||OF||SEA|
|3.6||BLACK LOTUS||Austin Beck||OF||OAK|
|3.7||LUCKY STRIKES||Jo Adell||OF||LAA|
|3.8||WAR HORSE||Michel Baez||RHP||SD|
|3.9||RUBBER DUCKIES||Kyle Wright||RHP||ATL|
|3.10||OVERWHELMING UNDERDOGS||Alec Hansen||RHP||CHW|
|3.11||THE MARINE LAYER||Mike Soroka||RHP||ATL|
|3.12||SNEEZE BALL||Kolby Allard||LHP||ATL|
Nearly all the names here in the first three rounds will be recognizable, and it’s probably clear as you run down the list that some owners were struggling to balance future upside (talent) with near-term contribution (ETA). There were eight middle infielders drafted in the first three rounds, and twice as many pitchers. These early rounds are also a good indicator of the depth of various minor league systems (the Atlanta Braves are well represented here, for example).
Round 1 best value: Michael Kopech (1.10)
Kevin Maitan (1.1)
Despite the pedigree, hype, and extreme youth (Maitan is the only player taken in the first half of the draft with a birth date in the year 2000), I was a bit surprised to see Maitan go first overall. There is no doubt the upside is immense, and in a league that heavily rewards wOBA-type offensive skills, that upside is well worth waiting for. But with an underwhelming rookie league start to his career (.220/.273/.323) on his resume, that waiting game may require extreme patience, too. That said, elite offensive players often don’t develop the way we expect, and a breakout can happen at any moment. The 2018 season will be an important one in determining the direction of Maitan’s prospect hype indicator.
Luis Robert (1.2)
Another international prospect with a lot of hype ($26 million, plus tax), Robert’s debut couldn’t have gone much better (1.027 OPS, 12 SB in 28 games). Robert’s speed, athleticism, and heritage will inevitably link him to Moncada comparisons, and they might not be far off as Robert has the physique to be a 20 HR, 20 SB player, at least. I can see several scenarios where Robert finds his way into many Top 10 prospect lists next summer. He was the 3rd highest overall offensive player on my board, just behind the following two shortstops.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 12, 2017
Few players have rocketed up the ranks as quickly this year as Bichette and Tatis, Jr., and with good reason. At just age 19, Bichette led the minors with a .362 AVG and was a clear Player of the Year contender all season. He has more than justified the 60 grade hit tools you’ll find in most scouting reports, and it’s starting to look like there may be enough power to play at other positions (2B, 3B, LF) if he can’t handle shortstop long term. Bichette looks like he could be a cornerstone player.
For as good as Bichette was 2017, Tatis was arguably even more impressive since he’s excelled at a younger age (18) and made his way to AA to finish the season. Tatis is probably a better bet to stick at SS because of his strong arm (though at 6’3″ he could outgrow the position), and his excellent approach (14.5% BB%) is a separator when it comes to placing confidence in his ability to thrive at the majors soon after arrival (likely 2019).
Tatis would have been my pick here for #1 overall, and his breakout season will likely push him into many Top 10 prospect lists heading into 2018.
I chose Keller 7th overall but had he been available, Whitley would have been my guy. Whitley (6’7″ tall) ended the season thriving (15.95 K/9 & 6.5 K/BB) in AA as a 20 year old, and he will end 2017 as my #1 pitching prospect in the game (and it’s not particularly close). With a perfect storm of size, stuff, control, and youth, I see ace fantasy potential in Whitley and believe he finishes next season in a Houston uniform. Surprisingly, he is owned in just under 60% of Ottoneu leagues, so there’s a good chance he can still be scooped up before the wave of hype reaches it’s crest when “new rankings” hit the interwebs in January.
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) November 10, 2017
Ultimately I went a bit “safe” by choosing Keller over the rest of the players that followed in the first round, but I do think he offers one of the highest floors of any pitching prospect in the game right now. Partly due to his plus control (and friendly NL ballpark), but mostly due to his excellent fastball/curveball combo, I can see Keller having an Aaron Nola-type debut in the game as a rookie next season. Keller finished the season pitching some of his best baseball (helping his AA team win their 2nd Eastern League championship), and even a half step of further development (especially with the changeup) could make him a valuable fantasy contributor as early as next summer.
Michael Kopech (1.10)
No player taken in the first round combines as much upside with ETA value as Kopech, and that includes Honeywell, who could potentially break camp with the Rays next spring. Kopech was a steal here at #10 overall, and while his stuff screams Thor 2.0, I think Kopech’s developing command will give him some growing pains early on. I also think it’s just as likely that Kopech is a Top 10 overall starting pitcher as early as 2019.
Round 2 best value: Scott Kingery (2.9)
Jesus Sanchez (2.6)
I was thrilled to nab Sanchez (.305/.348/.478, age 19) midway through the 2nd round as I didn’t want another starting pitcher and was looking specifically for a player with the most long term upside available. Personally, in early rounds I want to marry strong scouting grades with high performance (stats) demonstrated on the field, and Sanchez was the perfect fit. That said, I really liked Scott Kingery at 2.9 and may regret passing on him when, like several other Philly debuts this season, he hits the ground running next spring in PHI. Similar to my reasons for selecting Keller, I like the high offensive 2B floor Kingery offers in a good ballpark, and the fact that he’s MLB-ready right now is a major factor. I debated taking Kingery in the first round, too.
Hunter Greene (2.7)
Latest dispatch from Arizona. https://t.co/JWoyMO5W62
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) October 4, 2017
MacKenzie Gore (2.12)
If you haven’t seen Gore pitch yet, you should stop reading and take a look. He’s got an incredible leg kick in his delivery but he makes it work without issue because he’s so athletic that he projects for plus command. More importantly, his stuff is borderline elite, so Gore gets my pick as the most buzz worthy prospect of 2018, and may find himself comfortably in many top 10 lists this time next year.
Round 3 best value: Kyle Lewis (3.5)
Danny Jansen (3.3)
I said initially that most of the names in the first three rounds were probably familiar, but that might not actually be the case with Jansen (just 9% owned in Ottoneu). One revelation through this entire draft is how few impact offensive catchers there appear to be in the minors right now, so Jansen is a justifiable risk in round three if his gains (big ones) this year form the foundation for the player he will be going forward. Jansen (age 22) finished the season in AAA after walking more than striking out and increasing his ISO, which is always something that will cause evaluators to take notice. As David Laurila pointed out recently, Janen’s eyes are a big reason for his development this season.
Kyle Lewis (3.5)
Lewis’ prospect stock has fallen a bit recently due to injury (knees), but he still scouts better (60 power) than almost any player in this round, and his offensive profile could make him a top 15 overall outfielder in the not so distant future. Don’t forget about him as a prospect stash next year.
Jo Adell (3.7)
I really like Jo Adell, and I was so afraid he might not make it back to me in the fourth round that I reached here, most likely. Still, his athleticism reminds me a bit of (early) Matt Kemp, and even though he is years away from making a big league impact, he’s exactly the type of offensive player I want to be holding if those skills ever translate to punishing baseballs consistently.
I’ll be reviewing the next few rounds soon. Thoughts on these early dynasty picks?
If you have specific questions about players or the thought process of why they were selected, fire away in the comments section, as I’ve asked each owner in the league to be on standby to provide feedback as we review the rounds.
Trey is a 20 year fantasy veteran and a five time Ottoneu champion, including the 2015 winner of the Ottoneu Champions League. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,200 fantasy baseball and football fans talking trash daily. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com