As we navigate away from the American League and toward the National League, I’m reminded of how much fun this journey has been this Spring of 2018. My first foray into writing about the sport that I have loved so passionately for nearly four decades.I hope you have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
Today’s draft review is the National League East. The MLB Amateur Draft wrapped up nearly three weeks ago on June 6, 2018, and over 1,200 players were selected. Nearly two-thirds of those 1,200 (805 to be precise) were college players with 304 (25.0%) coming from high school, 103 (8.5%) from junior college, and 2 (0.2%) other.
A reminder on the article format: I’ll detail a little about team, but I’ll also have a few special picks:
- 7th Heaven Pick – I’ll make a selection for each team that I deem the “7th Heaven Pick,” or best pick. This does not necessarily mean the best player or the best value; it is a subjective selection on a combination of the two, or any other variables. It is simply a pick worthy of mention.
- Table Setter Pick – I’ll also make my “Table Setter Pick,” which is my definition for the first person to arrive in the majors. Or, another definition, the first person to arrive at the party to help you finish “setting up your tables.”
And I’m still not a fan of the large paragraph modeled story; so I’m hoping you can stay with me on this journey through the National League East as we touch on some highs, lows, and players to watch for each team, presented in an incredibly ordered format – because my OCD still demands it (perhaps I should see a doctor about this?). With no more ado, let’s jump right in. (Please note, the Farm System Rankings are courtesy of Bleacher Report.)
Last Championship: 1995
2018 Draft Picks: 39
2018 Lost Picks: 1 (3rd round pick as punishment from MLB)
Pre-Season 2018 Farm System Ranking: 1st NL East; 1st MLB
Post-Draft 2018 Farm System Ranking: 1st NL East, 1st MLB
With a combination of the Braves’ major league lineup and their upper Farm System ready to go, particularly from the pitching perspective, I would have thought that they might have gambled a little more on prep picks in this year’s Amateur Draft. In the end, the Braves only selected five prep players out of their 38 draft selections. Five of their first nine picks were pitchers, as the Braves look to reload their minor league teams as their pitching talent begins graduating to the major leagues.
Round 1 (Pick 8) – RHP Carter Stewart (Eau Gallie HS, FL) | 6-6, 200
Pre-ranked #5, Stewart slid to the Braves at #8 and as of this post, still remains unsigned. One of the few prep pitchers that entered the draft with two plus-offerings, Stewart’s fastball sits between 92-94 and can touch 98. The second plus offering is a wicked curve, that is delivered in the mid-80s. His third pitch (changeup) and control need to progress, but he’s only 18 and that’s what the minors are for. Top-end talent nabbed by the Braves with their 1st pick of the draft.
Round 2 (PIck 49) – 1B Greyson, Jenista (Wichita State) | 6-4, 220
At 6-4 and 220, you might not think Jenista to be fleet of foot. While he’s not Ender Inciarte-fast, he’s got quickness that add to his overall skillset. A decent hit-tool that propelled him to a 0.318 career average as a Shocker (0.309 in 2018), he has great eye and if he doesn’t hit his way on, can draw walks as well, as he walked in 19.16% of his plate appearances (0.446 OBP in 2018, 50 walks to 41 strikeouts). As he develops in the minors and adds strength to that 6-4 frame, he’ll realize his power and those barreled line-drives will begin clearing fences.
Round 4 (Pick 112) – RHP Tristan Beck (Stanford) | 6-4, 165
Having missed all of 2017 with a stress fracture in his back, there were some injury questions about Beck. After starting for Stanford on Opening Day in 2016, he returned to the mound in 2018, but the year off did show some rust. The record was better (8-4), but every other metric ticked downward, which I would attribute to that year away. As he gets into the Braves’ system and begins working on perfecting his craft, I ultimately expect Beck to be a top-end prospect for this team.
7th Heaven Pick – RHP Zack Hess (Louisiana State) | 6-6, 200
Selected in round 34 (pick 1012), Hess is a draft-eligible sophomore. As a high school senior, his firm commitment to Louisiana State led him to be drafted in the 35th round (2016). That commitment likely led to another slide in 2018, despite his 91st draft pre-ranking. With projections mixed on his starting (2018 for Louisiana State) or relieving (2017), I look for him to return to Louisiana State for his junior season, to up his draft stock (and work on his control). The Braves could still offer him a substantial signing bonus to forgo that Louisiana State commitment, and that’s the reason he’s my pick here.
Table Setter Pick – RHP Brooks Wilson (Stetson) | 6-2, 205
Converted to the bullpen as a senior, Wilson took to it like a fish to water. The Braves selected Wilson in round 7 (pick 202) based on that strong performance, which consisted of 20 saves in 32 appearances, pitching to the tune of a 2.08 ERA with an 11.07 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, and surrendering only 2 HR in 56.0 IP. Wilson is my pick to debut first from this class because I believe his talent, maturity, and position align well. His debut in Danville hasn’t been ideal (already surrendered his first home run in just 1.2 IP), but as he settles in, I think he’s the first to get the call.
Last Championship: 2003
2018 Draft Picks: 41
2018 Lost Picks: 0
Pre-Season 2018 Farm System Ranking: 3rd NL East; 18th MLB
Post-Draft 2018 Farm System Ranking: 4th NL East, 23rd MLB
As we all know, the Marlins changed ownership this winter. Then they traded their entire All-Star outfield, Giancarlo Stanton (to the Yankees), Marcell Ozuna (to the Cardinals), and Christian Yelich (to the Brewers) in an effort to trim payroll. They did hold on to another prized-asset in J.T. Realmuto, but one is left to wonder just how long Realmuto will still be playing for the Fish. Thus, the Marlins addressed this in their draft, selecting four catchers as well as seven outfielders. They acquired several prospects in return for the three aforementioned trades, but really began the work of rebuilding with this draft. Unfortunately, from a prospecting perspective, the “graders” weren’t impressed, as the Marlins’ Farm System dropped from 18th (March) to 23rd (June). Obviously, grading is an imperfect science, but the regression of the Farm System coupled with on-field issues really leave you wondering about the future of this franchise.
Round 1 (Pick 13) – OF Connor Scott (H.B. Plant HS, FL) | 6-4, 180
The Marlins drafted one of the OF replacements, but unfortunately, Scott won’t be able to help for at least 3-4 years. That said, Scott has great wheels (70-grade speed), a solid arm (60), and a decent hit tool (55). Scott lacks power (40), but that doesn’t mean that as he grows into his 6-4 frame he won’t develop power down the line. His speed and arm should allow him to remain in center long term, which will begin momentarily, as he’s already signed, receiving a $4,038,200 bonus.
Round 2 (PIck 53) – SS Osiris Johnson (Encinal HS, CA) | 6-0, 181
Pre-ranked #103, the Marlins reached here, drafting Johnson #53. While he had a great senior season (0.535 AVG, 0.588 OBP, 30 R, 15 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI in 26 games), I’m not entirely sure on his major league ceiling. The Marlins secured his services for the slot valued $1,318,500, getting Johnson to forego his Cal State Fullerton commitment. His skill set is diverse, but one doesn’t jump out over the others. Drafted 20 rounds earlier than his father (Marcel Johnson), his future is somewhere between his cousins: Tony Tarasco and Jimmy Rollins. My guess has it closer to Tarasco than Rollins, but it would still be a successful major league career.
Round 6 (Pick 177) – C Cameron Barstad (Junipero Serra HS, CA) | 6-0, 160
The third of four catchers selected in 2018 by the Marlins, the second prep player of the three. In 18 games as a senior in California, Barstad slashed 0.422/ 0.578/ 0.811 (19-for-45) with 5 2B, 1 3B, and 2 HR, adding 19 RBI for good measure. A lefty-bat (throws right), he committed to Oregon, but signed for $300,000 ($31,100 over slot value) to join the Marlins. Barstad’s swing is smooth and efficient and has the ability to easily go with pitches to the opposite field, not forcing the issue. Barstad has a good pop time and with development should do well in the future.
7th Heaven Pick – C Nick Fortes (Mississippi) | 6-0, 210
With Realmuto’s departure unknown (imminent or otherwise), the Marlins round 4 (pick 117) is my favorite pick as he could likely represent the Marlins’ catching future. While Will Banfield (the Marlins competitive balance Round B selection) is incredibly talented, he is a more defensive-minded catching prospect. Fortes is no slouch behind the plate, but offers a much better profile with the bat. For Mississippi this season, Fortes hit 0.319 with 11 HR and 49 RBI over 65 games. Impressively, Fortes also walked more than he struck out (46 to 25), leading to an OBP of 0.435. Great numbers for a historically gifted collegiate program. I look for Fortes and Banfield to drive each other as they compete for game-reps in the minors.
Table Setter Pick – RHP Cason Sherrod (Texas A&M) | 6-4, 205
A solid relief arm from Texas A&M, Sherrod was drafted in the 7th round (pick 207). In 40.2 IP as a senior, he surrendered only 2 HR and pitched to an ERA of 3.98 (a career ERA of 3.59 in 104.0 IP). He really progressed as a senior, bettering control (increasing strikeouts, lowering walks), and with his age and the Marlins bullpen needs, I felt that he would arrive the quickest. His debut didn’t go well (7 ER in 2.2 IP), but I’m not giving up on him yet. He’s still my pick to debut first from this class. Originally, I was thinking maybe even 2018, but now, 2019 is more my prediction.
New York Mets
Last Championship: 1986
2018 Draft Picks: 40
2018 Lost Picks: 0
Pre-Season 2018 Farm System Ranking: 5th NL East; 29th MLB
Post-Draft 2018 Farm System Ranking: 5th NL East, 28th MLB
The Mets are a dumpster fire all the way around. They claim they can’t spend money and then they do. And when they do, those players/ contracts don’t seem (recently) to work out. Yoenis Cespedes re-signing (he’s been injured, missing 81 games last year and already missing 39 games this year), Jason Vargas (has been nothing like pre-All-Star 2017, and has spent months on the DL), and Jay Bruce (who they tried to shoehorn into 1B, and now is also on the DL). And now, unfortunately, Sandy Alderson is taking a leave of absence for undisclosed health reasons. (Are those health reasons that after going 11-2, they’re one of the worst teams in baseball at 20-43?) Who would have thought that on June 27th the Mets would be battling the Marlins for 5th place in the East? The 2018 draft didn’t do much to move the franchise toward the top-tier of talent in the minor leagues.
Round 1 (Pick 6) – OF Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West HS, WI) | 6-1, 196
The first Wisconsin prep player to ever be drafted in the top 10, Kelenic possesses a great feel for hitting. Signed for $4.5M to bypass his commitment to Louisville, the lefty hitting/ throwing Kelenic has used that 60-grade hit tool and above-average speed to jumpstart his career in the Mets organization by going 8-of-13 at the dish, with two XBH (one 2B and one 3B). Of concern is that four of the five outs have been by strikeout. I know, sample size. (And while anyone is happy with a 0.615 AVG, there still has to be concern that he’s K-rate is already 30.77%.) Of course, I’m visualizing that both numbers will come down, but really hoping the K-rate drops significantly.
Round 2 (PIck 48) – RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (Kempner HS, TX) | 6-3, 210
Round 6 (Pick 170) – C Nick Meyer (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo) | 6-1, 200
7th Heaven Pick – RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (Missouri) | 6-7, 265
Round 9, pick 260
Table Setter Pick – RHP Ryley Gilliam (Clemson) | 5-10, 170
Round 5, pick 140 (small, but so was Billy Wagner and Tim Lincecum)
Last Championship: 2008
2018 Draft Picks: 38
2018 Lost Picks: 2 (for signing Carlos Santana [2nd round] and Jake Arrieta [3rd round])
Pre-Season 2018 Farm System Ranking: 2nd NL East; 6th MLB
Post-Draft 2018 Farm System Ranking: 2nd NL East, 11th MLB
Round 1 (Pick 3) – 3B Alec Bohm (Wichita State) | 6-5, 225
Round 4 (PIck 98) – RHP Colton Eastman (Cal State-Fullerton) | 6-3, 185
Round 5 (Pick 137) – OF Matt Vierling (Notre Dame) | 6-3, 205
Off to a tremendous start
7th Heaven Pick – RHP Dominic Pipkin (Pinole Valley HS, CA) | 6-4, 160
Round 9, pick 257
Table Setter Pick – SS Seth Lancaster (Coastal Carolina) | 6-2, 208
Round 8, pick 227 (combination speed and power, at SS no less)
Last Championship: None
2018 Draft Picks: 40
2018 Lost Picks: 0
Pre-Season 2018 Farm System Ranking: 4thNL East; 22nd MLB
Post-Draft 2018 Farm System Ranking: 3rd NL East, 17th MLB
Round 1 (Pick 27) – RHP Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island HS, FL) | 6-4, 195
Round 4 (Pick 131) – RHP Jake Irvin (Oklahoma) | 6-6, 225
Off to a tremendous start
Round 10 (PIck 311) – 2B Carson Shaddy (Arkansas) | 5-11, 185
7th Heaven Pick – OF Gage Canning (Arizona State) | 5-10, 175
Round 5, pick 161 (pre-ranked #106)
Table Setter Pick – LHP Tim Cate (Connecticut) | 6-0, 185
Round 2, pick 65 (one of, if not the first, top round pick selected to make the majors first in his class). Reasonsing because clubs are extra careful with bigger investments. No empirical data to support this.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday June 24th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #126 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live June 21st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything AFC North!
Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com going on his 5 th year. He focuses primarily on baseball, but is a fantasy football fan and analyst as well.