My LABR Mixed Review – The Final 19 Rounds

On Tuesday night I partnered with Jason Collette for the LABR Mixed League Draft over at RTSports and aired on SiriusXM. We had the third pick in the 15-team league which uses the standard 5×5 categories and drafts a standard roster of 14 hitters and nine pitchers with six reserves. We didn’t need to have a full 23 before drafting reserves which can be interesting later in the draft when perceived talent at a position you’re full in ends up falling.

I’m going to take you through the rest of draft with my thoughts. Keep in mind that we are a team so there was give and take. I’m going to point out some picks that were more Collette than me*, but that doesn’t mean I dislike them or anything. If I was vehemently against someone, I told him as did he with guys I’d suggest and then we move on. It’s rare that we have vastly different notions on a guy, so we came to a consensus pretty easily in most cases.

*And I’m sure he has picks are more me than him. That’s just part of team drafting and ideally you wouldn’t partner with someone who plays the game way differently than you or you’d just have a hard time coming to agreement on picks.

Part 1 – The First 10 Rounds


11.153 – Melky Cabrera, OF, CWS – We were thrilled to get Cabrera here. He looked like himself last year after having a tumor removed from his spine and while he is leaving Toronto, he is still going to be atop a strong lineup and in a great park. The SBs are modest at age-30, but he’s a four-category contributor.

12.178 – Ken Giles, RP, PHI – :hops in bus: :drives over Jason: :backs up over Jason: :re-runs over Jason: This was basically Jason’s pick. However, like I said in the first part of this, if I was really completely against it, I would’ve said something so please understand that the tongue is planted firmly in cheek with the bus-driving business here. We took a gamble, but we feel confident that Philly will deal Papelbon and give our guy the closer’s role.

When that happens, we have another stud closer to go with Cishek. But let’s just say it doesn’t. Well, then we have an elite middle reliever who could be this year’s Betances or Wade Davis, both of whom earned $18 last year. Or maybe he isn’t quite historic like those two, but instead closer to an Andrew Miller or Brad Boxberger-type, then we have an $11 dollar player. An $11 player as a floor really isn’t bad with the upside to be much, much more. It was a gamble for sure and maybe we could’ve gotten him three rounds later, but we wanted him and we saw this as a perfectly reasonable price.

13.183 – Steven Souza, OF, TB – The only one more obsessed with Souza than Collette is BP’s PECOTA projection system. The often-pessimistic system put Souza’s 50th percentile projection at 25 HR/26 SB. Even if he only does the Steamer or Fans (they matched), we have a near 20/20 guy at 18 HR/19 SB. There is near-universal agreement that this guy can come up and be an impact rookie as a power-speed stud. Collette needed to do very little to sell me on this guy and frankly, I’m really glad he did. I’m also glad that Fred Zinkie took Michael Wacha right before us or else I’d have really lobbied for him and then we might’ve missed out on Souza.

14.208 – Erick Aybar, SS, LAA – After a pair of flashier gamble picks, we went with a reliable high-floor pick for our middle infielder. The 31-year old doesn’t do any one thing extraordinarily well, but he contributes everywhere and plays a ton. He hasn’t dipped below 556 PA over the last six years, averaging 589 per year. He bats atop a very strong lineup and he could realistically set another career-high in runs scored on the heels of last year’s 77.

15.213 – Brett Cecil, RP, TOR – If Giles was Jason’s, Cecil was mine in that I really pushed him and brought Jason aboard. Cecil is said to be in competition with Aaron Sanchez for Toronto’s closer role, but I really feel like he’s going to win and hold it. So again, if Giles doesn’t quite get the role right away in Philly, I still feel like we will have two stud closers to start the season. Cecil was a college closer and after a valiant effort by the Jays to make him a starter, they finally realized he is best in the short bursts.

16.238 – Scooter Gennett, 2B, MIL – We loved this pick. As 2B started to dry up we decided to make Gennett a target. Sure, he’s a platoon guy, but it’s the strong side and I don’t think he’s guaranteed to be a failure against lefties. He has just a .291 OPS against them as a major leaguer, but it’s been 83 PA. He had a .690 OPS against them in the minors so there is a tinge of hope that he can improve against them and at least get some playing time against southpaws. Now we didn’t bank this pick on that at all. We are completely fine with him as a platoon guy, but at 25 I don’t think his fate is written in stone.

17.243 – Mike Napoli, 1B, BOS – Nap labored through 500 PA last year and still managed 17 HRs and a 124 wRC+. He had nagging injuries and a legitimate breathing issue tied to his sleep apnea. He addressed the latter this offseason and I can see that helping the 33-year old jump back over 20 homers again in 2015. I love this pick.

18.268 – Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/OF, CHC – After a handful of high floor picks, we went back to the high ceiling pool with AA. There was some offseason talk about him becoming the next Zobrist for Maddon which we’d be perfectly fine with, of course. He went 10 HR/8 SB in just 300 PA with the Cubs last year, despite a .205 AVG. He needs to make more contact, but he had just a 20 percent strikeout rate in the minors so I expect him to improve with reps in the majors. The playing time will be there as the only spots that are really locked in the Cubs lineup are Castro at short, Rizzo at first, and maybe Fowler in center, though he has back-to-back seasons of sub-.750 OPS against righties so there might even be some daylight there for some extra reps.

19.273 – Kevin Gausman, SP, BAL – Gausman is a popular breakout pick in 2015, but thankfully in this early-February draft his value wasn’t over-inflated just yet. The impressive righty allowed 5 ER in three of his first eight starts, but then allowed more than 3 ER just once in his final 12 starts (3.30 ERA in 71 IP). He has bat-missing stuff which started to poke through down the stretch as well, with 40 Ks in his final 40.3 IP spanning seven starts. If the slider can improve to simply average (1.015 OPS against in his two MLB stints), then he could be headed for a special season. I’m a huge fan of this guy.

20.298 – Nick Castellanos, 3B, DET – I had to get some Tigers flavor on this crew. We debated between Plouffe and Castellanos, eventually landing on Castellanos and opting for the higher ceiling. I’m thinking his .259 batting average has more growth than his 11 home runs at this point, but at 23 years old, it might just be a baby step to league average as opposed to a huge breakout.

21.303 – Jesse Hahn, SP, OAK – Hahn hit the ground running last year, jumping from Double-A and posting a 3.07 ERA in 73.3 innings with the Padres. He now moves to Oakland so he’s still in a great park and their penchant for developing arms is especially intriguing given some of the excellent stuff Hahn showed last year. The curveball was incredible and while the changeup was lightly-used at 7.3 percent, the results were off the charts with a .132 OPS in 23 PA. Talent has never been the question with Hahn, it’s always been about health. Those concerns still loom, but we don’t need 200 innings from our 21st round pick.

22.328 – Trevor Plouffe, 3B, MIN – Once Plouffe fell again, we decided to go ahead and get him, too. We have a bit of a surplus at 3B now with him, but talent is talent. He quietly pulled down 80 RBIs last year as that Twins offense was better than most realize. His 8.3 percent HR/FB was a career-low and a jump back to his 11.4 percent career rate could bring another 20-HR season.

23.333 – Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/OF, CWS – We wanted a late-round rabbit and Jarrod Dyson was our original target, but then he went in the 22nd round seven picks before us so we went with Plouffe and followed him up with Bonifacio. Bonifacio has the positional flexibility over Dyson which often leads to more playing time and thus more counting numbers.

24.358 – Tyler Flowers, C, CWS – We kept getting trumped on second catchers so we kept kicking that can down the road and eventually settled on Flowers. He’s not special and he strikes out entirely too much, but we’ll take another 15 HRs.

25.363 – Chase Anderson, SP, ARI – I’ll turn this one over to Eno, who has written about Anderson and his elite changeup. Collette and I are bought in so we decided to roll the dice on him improving upon on his solid rookie season.

26.388 – Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY – Why not? I don’t think they are going to get out of paying him so they might as well be playing him. Surely he found some cool drugz to beat the tests with his year off, right?

27.393 – Rubby de la Rosa, SP, ARI – I’ve been huge on DLR since his Dodger days. It’s still a raw profile, but elite velocity and a plus changeup are a great foundation.

28.418 – Garrett Jones, 1B, NYY – This was one of mine. I really think this park is tailor-made for Jones and there is a real chance he jumps back up to the 20-home run level. I think his 27 in 2012 will remain the high watermark, but 21-23 is in play with his first favorable home ballpark ever.

29.423 – Daniel Norris, P, TOR – This is a pure lottery ticket. He had a four-level season last year culminating with some MLB work in September. He might not even break camp this year after just 22.7 innings at Triple-A, but we can hang onto him for a little while and see how it goes. Maybe he hacks his way into the rotation or goes right to the minors and becomes our first cut.


Ready to hack his way through the competition


Looking over the whole draft, who is your favorite pick of ours? Who is your least-favorite? Let us know in the comments. My favorite was really the Donaldson pick in the second round and my least favorite was NONE OF THEM, WE ARE AWESOME!!!

Here’s the final crew:

C R.Martin
C T.Flowers
1B A.Gonzalez
2B S.Gennett
SS S.Castro
3B J.Donaldson
CI M.Napoli
MI E.Aybar
OF G.Springer
OF B.Gardner
OF M.Cabrera
OF S.Souza
OF A.Alcantara
U N.Castellanos
P C.Kershaw
P A.Cobb
P D.Smyly
P K.Gausman
P J.Hahn
P C.Anderson
P K.Giles
P B.Cecil
P S.Cishek
B1 T.Plouffe
B2 E.Bonifacio
B3 G.Jones
B4 A.Rodriguez
B5 la Rosa
B6 D.Norris

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Jon Lively
Jon Lively

Any chance you could make available the entire draft in a downloadable format?