My NFBC Draft at the Arizona Fall League: Rounds 9-23

Last week I wrote up the first 8 rounds of my NFBC draft from the Arizona Fall League and I did say rounds 9-23 would come on Wednesday… it is technically Wednesday so even though I clearly meant last Wednesday, let’s count it. It’s not like I didn’t write in the meantime, I did profiles on David Dahl (here), Harrison Bader (here), and Ronald Acuña Jr. (here), so feel free to check those out, too. At any rate, it’s time to finish up this draft recap so let’s roll!

Rounds 1-8:

  1. Bryce Harper, OF
  2. Aaron Judge, OF
  3. Clayton Kershaw, SP
  4. Ozzie Albies, 2B
  5. Matt Chapman, 3B
  6. Zack Wheeler, SP
  7. Matt Olson, 1B
  8. Luis Castillo, SP

What a team!

I tried to get cute in the 9th round. I was eyeing Rafael Devers, but decided to wait until the 10th in favor of my first closer, Kirby Yates. Yates has a 3.01 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 37% K rate in 120 IP the last two seasons. There is some trade risk, but I can worry about that in the second half of the season. Four picks later, Devers was taken. I was torn because I don’t regret that Yates pick, but I really did want Devers.

Since I played myself with Devers, I decided to go back to the mound in round 10 with Ross Stripling. I understand the concerns with Dodgers starters, particularly one like Stripling who isn’t that well established, but I love the skills and I’d gladly take a repeat of his 122-inning campaign. Since 2017, Stripling has a 3.30 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 196 innings with a 26% K and 5% BB.

I nabbed my second bad team stud closer in round 12 with Jose Leclerc. I could see him going ahead of Yates in drafts so to get him two rounds later felt good. He took over the closer’s role on August 1st and put up a 0.00 ERA (not a typo) and 0.50 WHIP in 18 innings with 12 saves in 12 tries. He also had a filthy 45% K rate during the run. His 9% BB was a little high, but when you allow 3.7 H/9 (his season mark… he was at 1.5 during the closer run) you can afford a few walks.

In the 12th round I picked up Garrett Hampson from the Rockies. I’d love to regularly get Hampson in this range (pick 170), but I could see him rising up over the winter. The uber-speedster averaged 52 SB per 600 PA in the minors and has a strong chance at getting the full time 2B role in Colorado with DJ LeMahieu entering free agency. Plus, he can play some outfield if necessary, so I think he’s definitely going to get a real shot at playing time.

OK, get ready to laugh at my next pick. I goofed. I had outdated news when I selected Yoenis Cespedes. I knew he was getting the heel surgery that was going to cost him some time, but I thought it was more like a month to 6 weeks, not half the season. When a pick feels too good to be true, it probably is so be sure to make sure you have the most up to date news. This is a 50-round Draft & Hold so if I’m actually in contention in August, it will be nice to have a bat like Cespedes coming off the bench since there are no pickups.

I made up for the Cespedes flub with my next pick. Or at least I think so. I got Ramon Laureano at pick 200. If you’ve read me or listened to the podcast, you’ve heard this a billion times, but I love defensive studs. They lock in their playing time with the glove and give themselves a chance to grow at the dish with the regular reps. And it’s not like Laureano is Kevin Kiermaier at the dish, either. His 129 wRC+ in 176 PA is already better than anything Kiermaier has ever done. He had 5 HR and 7 SB in that time and averaged 16 HR and 36 SB per 600 PA in the minors, too.

So here’s the team through 14 rounds:

  • IF: Olson 1B, Chapman 3B, Albies 2B, Hampson MI
  • OF: Harper, Judge, Cespedes, Laureano
  • P: Kershaw, Wheeler, Castillo, Stripling, Yates, Leclerc

I went with a pair of stable picks in rounds 15 and 16 before stepping out for some more high upside assets. I got Kenta Maeda and Marcus Semien with those picks at 221 and 230, respectively. I feel like any sort of overpayment for Stripling is covered by the bargain of Maeda. The Dodgers aren’t shy about managing his innings partly because of his health, but I’m sure it’s also to keep him from cashing in too many of his playing time incentives. You can see all the incentives on Cot’s here.

Remember when Semien was a horrific defender? It was impressive to see him work so hard and wind up as a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop this year. I didn’t draft him because of his defense, but I like that he’s no longer an automatic liability there which might’ve cost him time if he hadn’t improved. Who knows, maybe I can spike another mid-20 HR season like his 27 from 2016.

Dipped into the prospect pool for my next two picks, selecting Kyle Tucker at 251 and Keston Hiura at 260. Tucker was another snipe job as James Anderson was locked in on taking him with his next pick… or so he thought. The 22-year old outfielder put up his second straight 20-20 season and despite an uninspired showing in 72 MLB plate appearances, I’m excited about what he could do with a chance to play in 2019. I don’t think Tony Kemp is a real impediment to Tucker’s playing time once the Astros deem him ready.

Hiura probably won’t be up for a little while as the 22-year old hasn’t reached Triple-A yet and only put up a .272/.339/.416 line his 73 games at Double-A. Hiura is tearing up the AFL with a .326/.378/.539 line, including 4 HR and 7 SB in 95 PA. If he goes down and holds his own in Triple-A, I think I can get 4-4.5 months of time.

Anthony DeSclafani only had a 4.69 (nice!) ERA in the second half, but his 19% K-BB and 3.42 xFIP kept him on my radar and I selected him at pick 281 in round 19. There was some real excitement about him back in 2015-16 before injury ate up his entire 2017 and the first couple months of 2018. He needs to keep the ball in the yard if he’s going to get anywhere near that xFIP (1.9 HR for the year, 1.5 in the second half), but I like the base skills here.

I probably got a little aggressive in the 20th round when I took Trevor Rosenthal. Sean Doolittle isn’t going anywhere, but his health track record has been rough with an average of 37 innings the last four years. Rosenthal is returning from Tommy John and a missed 2018 himself, but he was really good in 2017. He had a 28% K-BB and 16% swinging strike rate. Even if I don’t get a ton of saves, I think I’ll get around 80 strikeouts in 60 innings. If he’s healthy enough to go 70+ IP and maintains his insane 2017 rate, I might get 100+ Ks.

In round 21, I went with Jake Lamb for my corner. He had a busted season in 2018, playing just 56 games, but I saw a 30 HR hitter available this late and decided it was a worthy dice roll. Next was another Trevor I probably could’ve gotten a little later, but I was ready to jump on Trevor Richards after he posted 130 Ks in 126 IP this year. His elite changeup will keep his strikeouts strong and if he’s able to improve either the fastball or curveball, I could get a sub-4.00 ERA, too.

I went back out to Colorado for my last pick with Raimel Tapia. Charlie Blackmon is locked in and David Dahl will definitely play when healthy, but there should be an outfield spot open with both Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez becoming free agents. Tapia’s speed can pay off even in a fourth OF role. He stole 28 bases per 600 PA in the minors and I think I can get ~20 SB in 400-450 PA.

I decided to pass on catcher in the main part of the draft and I’ll secure all four of mine in final 27 rounds starting in January. There were only 13 taken so I wasn’t the only one comfortable just waiting. So here’s the crew through 23:

50 Rd Draft & Hold Thru 23
1B Olson 7
3B Chapman 5
CI Lamb 21
2B Albies 4
SS Semien 16
MI Hampson 12
OF1 Harper 1
OF2 Judge 2
OF3 Cespedes 13
OF4 Laureano 14
OF5 Tucker 17
UT Hiura 18
P1 Kershaw 3
P2 Wheeler 6
P3 Castillo 8
P4 Stripling 10
P5 Maeda 15
P6 DeSclafani 19
P7 Rosenthal 20
P8 Leclerc 11
P9 Yates 9
R1 Richards 22
R2 Tapia 23

Let me know what you think! Who is your favorite pick of mine? Least favorite (besides Cespedes!)?

Here are the pictures of the draft board, too. You should be able to zoom in to read the write-in stickers, but if you have a question on one, let me know.

We hoped you liked reading My NFBC Draft at the Arizona Fall League: Rounds 9-23 by Paul Sporer!

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

newest oldest most voted
Sam Yost
Sam Yost

I will literally eat a shoe if Yates out earns LeClerc next season

Sam Yost
Sam Yost

but I love the pairing