League of Ruthless Gentlemen 2017 Draft Prospect Recap

Written by: Ray Butler

 

Now that LORG’s annual fantasy baseball draft is in the books, let’s take a look at each prospect drafted and the potential they might someday have for their league owner. With the Yahoo database expanding drastically, there were 35 total prospects drafted on Monday night. We’ll go in descending order based on the standings from the end of last season. Note: Overall and best available rankings are based on my personal composite prospect rankings compiled leading up to Monday’s draft. Along with each reflection, I listed which industry site/evaluator was highest on the prospect for the 2017 season.

John Morrison- Prospects Drafted: 3

Kyle Tucker- #23 overall prospect, 6th best available prospect in draft

The Astros have a plethora of outfield prospects, and Tucker is undeniably the best of the group. Only 20 years old, Tucker, a potential five-tool contributor, may not be as far away from the big leagues as it may seem, and he could eventually be a top 20 outfielder if he reaches his ceiling. Imaginary Brick Wall ranks Tucker as the 11th best prospect in baseball.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.- #57 overall prospect, 32nd best available prospect in draft

The legacy of a Hall of Famer, VGJ has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect drafted this year. Even if he eventually moves away from third base, Guerrero’s bat plays at any position on the field, and he has the ceiling of a top 10 (!!!) overall fantasy player. Baseball America ranks Guerrero as the 20th best prospect in baseball.

vlad-guerrero-jr
Guerrero was one of the few available prospects with the potential to be a true superstar.

James Kaprielian- #75 overall prospect, 48th best available prospect in draft

One of the most MLB-ready arms out of all draftees when he was taken by the Yankees in 2015, it would be a mild upset if Kaprielian didn’t make his big league debut sometime in 2017. Health is a mild concern, but the soon-to-be 23 year old made a mockery of High A batters when at full strength last season. Keith Law ranks Kaprielian as the 28th best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: John was able to add a prospect with a mega-high ceiling and two other prospects with really high floors. A solid prospect draft, without a doubt.

Matt Smith- Prospects Drafted: 3

Kolby Allard- #40 overall prospect, 18th best available prospect in the draft

The Braves seemingly have a million arms on the farm, but Allard’s is probably the best heading into the 2017 season. With some evaluators making Clayton Kershaw comps, if Allard can avoid a recurrence of lingering back issues, he has the potential to be a top 20 fantasy pitcher. Keith Law ranks Allard as the 32nd best prospect in baseball.

allard
Kolby Allard has the potential to be one of the best left-handed starting pitchers in all of baseball.

Isan Diaz- #50 overall prospect, 25th best available prospect in the draft

As a 19 year old, Diaz smacked 20 home runs for Single A Wisconsin in 2016. He needs to cut his K% down and he may project as a future second baseman, but Diaz was one of the more underrated prospects heading into the draft and has the potential to easily be one of the top 20 middle infielders in the fantasy world someday. ZiPS ranks Diaz as the 25th best prospect in baseball.

Adrian Morejon- #132 overall prospect, 104th best available prospect in the draft

Morejon may have been the lowest ranked prospect drafted this year, but I’d be fairly stunned if the southpaw wasn’t a top 50 prospect this time next year. Compared to fellow Padres prospect Anderson Espinoza but on a slower-moving path, the Padres believed in Morejon enough to give him an $11 million contract when they signed him in 2016. Keith Law ranks Morejon as the 80th best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: Matt drafted two pitchers who have the potential to be top 20 fantasy SPs and a middle infielder who is capable of someday hitting 30 HRs. Job well done.

Ray Butler- Prospects Drafted: 3

Francisco Mejia- #27 overall prospect, 8th best available prospect in the draft

With a higher floor but lower ceiling than other draftable catchers, Mejia hung around until the 21st round on Monday night. A high-OBP, low-K% receiver, Mejia immediately becomes the catcher of the future on a team that needs stability at the position. Keith Law ranks Mejia as the 18th best prospect in baseball.

francisco-mejia
Francisco Mejia made a name for himself during the 2016 season when he tallied a 50 game hitting streak.

Mitch Keller- #32 overall prospect, 11th best available prospect in the draft

Keller struck out 138 batters (and only surrendered 19 walks) in 130 innings pitched last season and ended the season with a 2.35 ERA. Some evaluators currently prefer Keller to both Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, but the 6’2 righty needs to prove himself against better competition before he cements himself as a consensus top-tier prospect. ZiPS ranks Keller as the 14th best prospect in baseball.

Ronald Acuna- #61 overall prospect, 35th best available prospect in the draft

Acuna is at least a couple of years away from The Show, but Baseball Prospectus’ 2017 PECOTA comps for the center fielder were Mike Trout and Carlos Correa. A thumb injury took away a large portion of Acuna’s 2016 season, so the righty needs to prove durability this year in order to become an elite prospect. Baseball Prospectus ranks Acuna as the 31st best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: Ray missed out on addressing needs he has on his active team, but he grabbed three solid prospects that combine to have a really good balance of floors and ceilings.

Caleb Stumpf- Prospects Drafted: 2

Yadier Alvarez- #45 overall prospect, 22nd best available prospect in the draft

Capable of hitting triple digits with relative ease, Alvarez perhaps has the highest ceiling of any pitcher drafted Monday night. There are concerns with the righty’s ability to repeat his delivery, but Alvarez’s ceiling is that of a top 10 fantasy starting pitcher. Baseball Prospectus ranks Alvarez as the 23rd best prospect in baseball.

yadier-alvarez
If he ever approaches his projected ceiling, Dodgers flamethrower Yadier Alvarez could be one of the most exciting players in all of baseball.

Willie Calhoun- #71 overall prospect, 44th best available prospect in the draft

Calhoun mashed an impressive 27 home runs as a 21 year old in AA ball last season. Perhaps equally impressive, he struck out only 65 times in 503 at-bats. Defense is a gigantic question-mark that keeps Calhoun from being an elite prospect, but retrospection could make him the steal of the draft if he can find a way to stick at second base. Imaginary Brick Wall ranks Calhoun as the 22nd best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: Caleb drafted two prospects with sky-high ceilings and near-basement floors. If Alvarez continues demonstrating adequate control and Calhoun can stick at second base, this was an AMAZING prospect draft.

Bobby Morrison- Prospects Drafted: 1

Christin Stewart- #101 overall prospect, 73rd best available prospect in the draft

Stewart slowed a little bit after being promoted to AA towards the end of last season, but the Tigers farm-slugger still totaled 30 home runs and an impressive .386 OBP in 2016. Depending on how Detroit fairs in the first half this season, Stewart could hypothetically prove to be a key piece in a potential playoff run for the Tigers down the stretch of the 2017 regular season. Imaginary Brick Wall ranks Stewart as the 48th best prospect in baseball.

christin-stewart
He may not be ranked super high on mainstream lists, but Christin Stewart has the chance to be a useful power source for fantasy owners as a big league outfielder.

The Bottom Line: BOBBY! Always a sure-bet for at least one shocker per draft. Stewart could be a 30 HR/year guy who has a .350 OBP or a 20 HR/year guy who has a .320 OBP. Let’s wait and see. For now, it’s a mediocre prospect draft.

Gregg Morris- Prospects Drafted: 0

The Bottom Line: With a team built to win now, Gregg decided to pass on drafting prospects and instead fill needs on his active team. He’ll likely add at least one minor leaguer thru the waiver wire, and only time will tell whether he should regret not taking a top-tier prospect in the draft.

Ben Roach- Prospects Drafted: 2

Mickey Moniak- #38 overall prospect, 16th best available prospect in the draft

The #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft, Moniak has as high of a floor as any prospect drafted on Monday night. A potential four-tool contributor with a chance to develop a little bit of power, Moniak should be a consistently rock-solid fantasy outfielder for the foreseeable future. Baseball America ranks Moniak as the 17th best prospect in baseball.

Juan Soto- #112 overall prospect, 84th best available prospect in the draft

A few LORG owners likely made their way to Google when Soto was drafted, but the corner outfielder has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect drafted on Monday night. Soto will play this entire season as an 18 year old and he has a ways to go physically, but some evaluators think that Soto will eventually be a better prospect than fellow Nat Victor Robles. Baseball Prospectus ranks Soto as the 57th best prospect in baseball.

juan-soto
As a 17 year old, Nats’ prospect Juan Soto finished the 2016 season with a .420 OBP and has the potential to be a fantasy monster.

The Bottom Line: Ben went with one high-floor prospect and one high-ceiling prospect in the draft. He’ll have fun keeping up with Moniak and Soto in the future, and I think we’ll look back and agree that this was a great prospect draft for Ben.

McKinnon Ray- Prospects Drafted: 1

Tyler O’Neill: #44 overall prospect, 21st best available prospect in the draft

Playing half the season as a 20 year old before turning 21 in June, O’Neill hit 24 home runs, tallied 102 RBIs, and finished the 2016 season with a .374 OBP for AA Jackson (with 10 NSB to boot). He needs to improve on his 26% K-rate, but O’Neill has the ceiling of a top 15 fantasy outfielder. Imaginary Brick Wall ranks O’Neill as the 23rd best prospect in baseball.

oneill
If everything bounces right, Mariners prospect Tyler O’Neill could make his big league debut in 2017.

The Bottom Line: With a roster teetering on contending now and building for the future, McKinnon chose to only take one prospect during the draft. O’Neill should be a productive MLB player, but I do wonder if McKinnon should have taken one more prospect somewhere along the way. Either way, O’Neill will likely prove to be a wise addition.

Van Moore- Prospects Drafted: 7

Michael Kopech: #24 overall prospect, 7th best available prospect in the draft

Certainly a candidate for the #HYPEEEEEEE player of the offseason award, Kopech has the arm talent of a potential top 10 fantasy pitcher. Now a member of the White Sox organization after being included in a trade with Boston centered around Chris Sale, Kopech needs to avoid any more off field drama (he was suspended in 2015 for PED use and has been involved in at least one altercation with a teammate). However, as long as he stays out of trouble and can sustain his improved command on the mound, Kopech could be a big league ace by 2020. Keith Law ranks Kopech as the 7th best prospect in baseball.

michael-kopech
Michael Kopech recently drew rave reviews from White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper.

Kyle Lewis: #35 overall prospect, 13th best available prospect in the draft

The Mariners certainly won’t rush the 21 year-old Lewis back after the outfielder underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL last July, but the right hander is expected to be 100% healthy around the midway point of the 2017 season. As long as there’s no lingering issues, Lewis, who was drafted for his polish and MLB-readiness, could be fast-tracked and might make his MLB debut towards the end of the 2018 season. Fake Teams ranks Lewis as the 28th best prospect in baseball.

Jason Groome: #37 overall prospect, 15th best available prospect in the draft

There’s some skepticism surrounding the “character and makeup issues” that caused Groome to slide to the 12th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, but the gigantic southpaw landed in the perfect spot for a Boston team that needs to prove it can grow pitching talent in its farm system. Naturally compared to Jon Lester, Groome should be a mainstay near the top of prospect rankings until he’s ready for the big leagues. Keith Law ranks Groome as the 20th best prospect in baseball.

Blake Rutherford: #39 overall prospect, 17th best available prospect in the draft

Rutherford scorched Rookie League ball in 2016 before being shut down towards the end of the season with a nagging hamstring injury. He won’t be 20 until May, but the outfielder may find himself playing AA ball before the 2017 season comes to a close. Keith Law ranks Rutherford as the 22nd best prospect in baseball.

Zach Collins: #56 overall prospect, 31st best available prospect in the draft

The best hitting catcher in the minor leagues, Collins hit 6 home runs and had a .418 OBP in High A at the end of last season despite only appearing in 36 games after being drafted by White Sox in the first round of the MLB draft. There’s legitimate concern by some evaluators that Collins projects defensively as a future first baseman, but if he can find a way to remain behind the plate, the Miami Hurricane product has the ceiling of a top 5 fantasy catcher. Imaginary Brick Wall ranks Collins as the 24th best prospect in baseball.

Jharel Cotton: #90 overall prospect, 62nd best available prospect in the draft

As an elderly 25 year old, Cotton may have a slightly shorter window than the other 34 prospects drafted Monday night. However, Cotton, who’s already a big leaguer and will likely be the Athletics’ #4 starting pitcher to begin the season (hell, he posted a 2.15 ERA in 29.1 MLB innings last season), has a jaw-dropping change up that could make him fantasy relevant for years to come. ZiPS ranks Cotton as the 27th best prospect in baseball.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: #97 overall prospect, 69th (nice) best available prospect in the draft

Gurriel’s value is probably higher in the LORG than most other fantasy leagues, but the heir to Troy Tulowitzki’s throne at shortstop in Toronto has a sky-high ceiling and could be fast-tracked if he adapts well to the pitching in the United States. The disparity between LGJ’s ceiling and floor is such that I wouldn’t be surprised if the young Cuban was someday a top 5 fantasy shortstop. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he never fully adapted to MLB pitching and was nothing more than an average big league player. Only time will tell if Gurriel stays put with his current owner or is moved before his value begins changing. Dynasty Digest ranks Gurriel as the 49th best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: Now in year two of a massive rebuild, Van doubled down on drafting prospects in lieu of young players already in the big leagues. He furthered that effort by trading Julio Teheran for Kevin Maitan at the conclusion of the draft. If he’s patient, this could prove to be a golden plan someday. If.

Adam Stumpf- Prospects Drafted: 5

Ozzie Albies: #21 overall prospect, 4th best available prospect in the draft

Perhaps the most steady prospect drafted on Monday night, Albies may have the genuine floor of a perennial top 15 fantasy second baseman. While the Brandon Phillips acquisition may hurt Albies’ 2017 stock, the trade should also allow the 20 year old to mature a little more on the farm before arriving in the league for good. Braves GM John Coppolella promises that no one will stand in the way of Albies when he’s “ready”, so expect the high-average second baseman to be promoted to Atlanta before the end of the 2017 season. CBSSports.com’s Scott White ranks Albies as the 7th best prospect in baseball.

ozzie-albies
Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies will pair to make one of the most formidable middle infields in all of baseball over the next 15 years.

Brent Honeywell: #28 overall prospect, 9th best available prospect in the draft

Another high-floor prospect, Honeywell averaged around a strikeout per inning during stops at Advanced A and AA last season. The Rays are notoriously slow when promoting prospects and have a plethora of arms already, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the screwballer makes a spot start or two before the 2017 season is over. Fake Teams ranks Honeywell as the 21st best prospect in baseball.

Ian Happ: #30 overall prospect, 10th best available prospect in the draft

As famous as Cubs prospects have become over the past few years, Happ somehow still seems to slide under the radar. Consider this: there are industry people “in the know” who claim that the Cubs were more willing to trade Gleyber Torres than Happ to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman last season. Happ’s downside is his tendency to swing and miss, but the second baseman should eventually be a regular for the Cubs as long as Ben Zobrist moves on someday and Javier Baez continues to be utilized as a super-utility player. Dynasty Digest ranks Happ as the 8th best prospect in baseball.

Corey Ray: #33 overall prospect, 12th best available prospect in the draft

Consider an alternate universe where Ray takes on the personality of a LORG owner with the same last name and force-trades himself to each and every MLB team before eventually making his way back to Milwaukee. In all actuality, Ray could very well become the next big thing (certainly in the context of an outfielder) when the Ryan Braun Era comes to a close for the Brew Crew. Ray will be eased in to things this season following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, but the outfielder could enter the 2018 season knocking on the door of an MLB debut. If he ever finds a way to get on base more? Watch out. Fake Teams ranks Ray as the 23rd best prospect in baseball.

Dominic Smith: #48 overall prospect, 23rd best available prospect in the draft

Smith shed 25 pounds this offseason by cutting out “wet burritos” in hopes of becoming more athletic– especially as a defender. A high average first baseman who hit a career high 14 home runs last year, Smith has untapped potential to go along with his steady high floor. Even if the ceiling for the future Mets’ first baseman is only 20 home runs, the OBP and lack of strikeouts could be enough to make Smith a yearly top 12 fantasy first baseman. Keith Law ranks Smith as the 29th best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: Perhaps the best prospect draft relative to draft position, Adam addressed future needs while also adding a ton of talent and projection. All five of his prospect picks have a great chance to be productive, above-average MLB players.

Zach Gerhart- Prospects drafted: 1

Sean Newcomb: #60 overall prospect, 34th best available prospect in the draft

Love me some Sean Newcomb! The monster of a left hander finally put it all together down the stretch last season after the Braves tweaked a couple of things mechanically in the middle of the year. If he can pick up where he left off to begin this season, I don’t see how the Braves can keep him in Gwinnett until 2018. But beware, Newcomb’s floor is that of a starting pitcher who walks 5 guys per nine innings. CBSSports.com’s Scott White ranks Newcomb as the 36th best prospect in baseball.

sean-newcomb
Staffers within the Braves organization think Sean Newcomb has finally overcome his control issues.

The Bottom Line: Transitioning from rebuild to contention, Zach shored up his prospect pitching staff by adding a towering ceiling, basement floor guy like Sean Newcomb. I think LORG will look back and see this addition as a fantastic value pick for Zach.

Frank Selesky- Prospects Drafted: 7

Eloy Jimenez: #12 overall prospect, 1st best available prospect in the draft

#HYPEEEEEEEEE! Along with Vlad Guerrero Jr., Jimenez has the highest ceiling of anyone who was drafted Monday night. A corner outfielder who officially busted onto the scene at the 2016 Futures Game, Jimenez could develop into a perennial 30 home run, .375 OBP player. Those don’t grow on trees. Not only could Jimenez become an elite fantasy player, but you get the sense that could he could eventually become one of the faces of the MLB. He’s still a ways away, but Jimenez is a player that the entire fantasy world will keep an eye on over the next two or three seasons. Baseball Prospectus ranks Jimenez as the 9th best prospect in baseball.

Nick Senzel: #17 overall prospect, 2nd best available prospect in the draft

Senzel may not have the Jimenez ceiling of a top 10 fantasy player, but he could very well have the floor of a top 150 fantasy player. A true five-category contributor whose rise through the Reds’ farm system should be quick and painless, Senzel could very well get a cup of coffee at the end of this season and enter the 2018 season as Cincinnati’s everyday third baseman. Baseball America ranks Senzel as the 9th best prospect in baseball.

Cody Bellinger: #19 overall prospect, 3rd best available prospect in the draft

BALLINGER! The budding superstar could begin his major league career as an outfielder before officially transitioning to first base, but Bellinger should be an every day fantasy starter regardless of position once he arrives in the big leagues. He may never hit for average, but Bellinger likely has a 20 HR rock-bottom floor and could develop even more power as he continues to fill out his frame. Sadly, word on the street is that the Dodgers will be as conservative as possible with Bellinger in order to preserve his service clock. ZiPS ranks Bellinger as the 4th best prospect in baseball.

Josh Hader: #36 overall prospect, 14th best available prospect in the draft

There would have been even more #hype surrounding Hader leading into Monday night’s draft had he not gotten to experience Colorado Springs at the end of the 2016 season. With the ceiling of a high-end #2 pitcher and the likely floor of an average #3 pitcher, Hader will likely get the call at some point during the 2017 regular season. Baseball Prospectus ranks Hader as the 19th best prospect in baseball.

A.J. Puk: #52 overall prospect, 27th best available prospect in the draft

Puk is the definition of a high-floor prospect whose ceiling may be an above average #3 pitcher. A southpaw whose frame compares to Jason Groome and Sean Newcomb’s, Puk needs to develop a better feel for his offspeed deliveries before becoming a top-tier pitching prospect. If he puts it all together quickly, though, Puk could be a darkhorse candidate to compete for a spot on the A’s rotation leading into the 2018 season. CBSSports.com’s Scott White ranks Puk as the 42nd best prospect in baseball.

Kevin Maitan: #70 overall prospect, 43rd best available prospect in the draft

Derek Jeter. That was the first comp I ever saw for Kevin Maitan. He’s also been referred to by industry folks as “the top international prospect in the last decade.” We’ll all either be balding or graying by the time Maitan makes it to the big leagues, but MAN does he have elite potential. He probably slides to 3rd base eventually, but Maitan has the potential to be a top 20 overall fantasy player someday. Heck, he already has the value of Julio Teheran (my 23rd-ranked starting pitcher for the 2017 season), who he was traded for just moments after Monday night’s draft concluded. Though he won’t be a legal adult until next February, baseball fans will obsess over Maitan’s progress over the next handful of years. Dynasty Digest ranks Maitan as the 26th best prospect in baseball.

kevin-maitan-2
If we’re lucky, Donald Trump will be an embarrassing footnote in US History textbooks by the time Kevin Maitan debuts in the big leagues.

Carson Kelly: #82 overall prospect, 55th best available prospect in the draft

There were likely better catchers available when Kelly was picked on Monday night, but the heir to Yadi Molina’s throne in St. Louis got a taste of the big leagues at the end of the 2016 season and figures to make an impact for the Cardinals sooner rather than later. A high average, low strikeout backstop who likely taps out at 15 HR a season at his ceiling, Kelly should be a serviceable yearly fantasy option once Molina hangs up the spikes someday. ZiPS ranks Kelly as the 37th best prospect in baseball.

The Bottom Line: He finally did it. Instead of continuing to wallow in his own dirty bath water, Frank decided to tear it all down and start over. He added guys with massive potential (Jimenez, Bellinger), guys with massive floors (Senzel, Puk, Hader), a guy who he immediately cashed in on (Maitan), and a guy who is the draft pick equivalent of the emoji that’s deep in thought while it has its hand on its chin. Frank will need to show patience like he’s never shown before, but overall, this was a draft that dreams are made of.

 

 

 

 

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