The NL West has been an interesting division for drafts and in general. The Padres lead the way in prospect talent and it is not close. They have tons of talent led by Fernado Tatis Jr who is living up to expectations at the major league level. The best part is they have tons more talent coming over the next few years to get this club even better. The second best system in this division is the Dodgers. They typically do most of their damage in the international pool, but Gavin Lux along with others show they can do well in the FYPD (first year player draft) as well. The Rockies are a confusing and frustrating organization for those that follow prospects. They draft so well and are seemingly loaded with talent year in and year out, but at the major league level there are logjams at almost every position. Then the struggle of being a pitcher in Coors Stadium is well documented. Diamondbacks have a middle of the road system. They have some prospects that draw interest, but the talent gets thin beyond the top 5 prospects. Last are the Giants, with one of the weaker systems in the league. Last years first round draft pick Joey Bart is the shining star in this system, but there is not a lot to look forward to. It’s the beginning of a rebuild in San Francisco, therefore more talent will hopefully fill the system as they trade major league talent away.
This year the Diamondbacks spent took a big emphasis on pitching in 2019. In fact over half of their first ten picks were pitchers. Looking just the pitchers taken in their first 10 picks, four out of the six pitchers were college arms. To me when I see so many college arms taken, it means that they are looking for pitchers who can move quickly through the system and impact the major league club quicker. Of all those pitchers, Brennan Malone is probably my favorite of this group. He was their third selection and taken 30th overall. The 6’3″ right hand pitcher has two plus pitches already in his fastball and slider. He also has a curveball that is currently graded average and is working on developing a changeup. His fastball has reached 96 mph on a regular basis. The 18 year old may take a few years to polish as a starter, but I think the Diamondbacks made a great choice and I will be keeping my eye on Malone’s development.
Honorable mention for spotlight: Corbin Carroll (OF RD: 1 Pick: 16)
Rockies build most of their system from the FYPD. They really focused on college players this year, it wasn’t until the 31st round that they took their first high school player. It’s been since 2016 the Rockies took a high school pitcher in the first round and that was Riley Pint. This year, the Rockies had an underwhelming draft in 2019. There was a pretty even split overall between pitchers and position players, though it is obvious that the organization needs long term pitching help at the major league level. Their first pick was not until the back end of the first round at slot 23 and they took Michael Toglia. The 6’5″ switch hitting first basemen out of UCLA. Michael shows more power from the left side, and more of a contact approach from the right. He is graded with 60 power right now, but could develop more as he continues to grow into his big frame. The defense is above average already. He can play some outfield, but the Rockies have a lot of outfield talent for the future and no long term answer at first base. Therefore I would view him as mainly a first basemen for now. It could be a longer timeline to see Toglia in a Rockies uniform and hopefully by then the logjam at first will be cleared.
Honorable mention for spotlight: Karl Kauffmann (RHP RD: CBB Pick: 77)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Overall I would say the Dodgers had the best draft. They had the most guys I wanted to talk about and the players I think could eventually play a roll on the major league club. The Dodgers went pitching heavy early in this years draft, including a 4 round streak from rounds 11 to 14 of taking pitchers. With that, the Dodgers did take 3 college bats within the first 5 picks of the draft. One to note for me is Brandon Lewis 3B out of UC Irivne. Right handed bat coming in at 6’3″ and weighing 215lbs Lewis shows a lot of power already and room for more. This season he hit 14 HR in a park that is pitcher friendly while also hitting with a .315 average. The swing can get long as he does drop the bat head slightly as it comes through the zone, but if he can shorten up and tap into his potential he can become a big offensive bat in the future. As for his position, that is a little up in the air. Currently he was drafted and played third base, but there is talks of him moving to first base based on his below average arm. Lewis is a below average defender, but the bat will be what carries him.
Honorable mention for spotlight: Ryan Pepiot (RHP RD: 3 Pick: 102)
San Diego Padres
The Padres started out the draft taking four straight position players, then turned around and took 8 straight pitchers. After that it ended up being pretty even between hitters and pitchers to finish up the draft. One of those pitchers taken was Vanderbilt’s starter Drake Fellows. Drake has been the friday night starter (or number 1 starter) for the past two seasons and while may not be as flashy of a starter as other Vanderbilt alumni, I think he has the potential to be a solid useful starting pitcher. Fellows is someone with low 90’s velocity, but lots of movement on his pitches. He probably would’ve been drafted earlier if it wasn’t for his command taking a dip this season. The sinker is the best pitch, and is combined with a solid slide, then he is working on a changeup as well. I do not think Mackenzie Gore’s role as future ace of the Padres is in danger (you heard me Chris Paddack fans), but Fellows can become a back of the rotation dependable starter. This past season Fellows has pitched over 110 innings, so stretching him out towards 200 IP will not be that much of a stretch for the 21 year old.
Honorable mention for spotlight: Hudson Head (OF RD: 3 Pick: 84)
San Francisco Giants
As we stated above, there is not too much to love about the San Francisco Giants system. Over the next few seasons the Giants will hopefully acquire some prospects via trading major league talent. Through that, there will be many losses which equates to higher draft picks and (hopefully) better talent. We saw the start of this with the selection of Joey Bart. This season the Giants went position player heavy and selecting a hitter 9 out of the first 10 rounds. Their first round pick, Hunter Bishop was taken 10th overall and is my favorite FYPD prospect of this division. A quiet simple approach at the plate, and yet has plus raw power and is an average runner. He has an average arm to probably play left or center. The 6’5″ frame shows there’s potential for more power to come, I just hope he does not sell out for power as he grows. This past season Bishop really made a turn around on his game and is starting to put it together. If he can continue to go down that path I think we will have a prospect people will be talking about and targeting. Of course San Francisco kills the power of most players, if he can hit around 20-25 HR with a good average and steal some bases then we have a top outfield option.
Honorable mention for spotlight: Logan Wyatt (1B RD: 2 Pick: 51)
Now for the divisional awards segment of the article. If I did not cover the player given the award, I will give a quick profile of the player.
Highest Ceiling: Hunter Bishop (SF RD:1 Pick:10)
Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 5
As I said before, Bishop is my number one guy in this division of prospects. He could probably win the award of highest ceiling as well, but he clearly has the best tools here.
Highest Floor: Kody Hoese (LAD RD: 1 Pick: 25)
Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Kody was the first round draft pick of the Dodgers and similar to the aforementioned Brandon Lewis, Hoese plays third base. Hoese is a solid player coming out of Tulane and his tools are solid, but none are stand out. All are either average or slightly above average. I believe this helps him be at the worst a solid utility player with the potential to be a top 12 third basemen in fantasy baseball circles. He has an advanced approach to where this past season he had more walks than strikeouts. As for his swing, it is a simple approach though his hands do start a little low. He also does not have much of a leg kick or step. Actually, if you watch Hoese and his now teammate Justin Turner, you can see similarities in the swings except for the leg kick.
Best Arm: Jimmy Lewis (LAD RD: 2C Pick: 78)
Scouting grades according to Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Lewis is a 6’6″ RHP out of high school and his fastball is already reaching 95. Lewis is a small for his frame weighing in at 200lbs, but as he continues to grow into his body, it can be pretty impressive of the potential for him. Right now, the fastball is the only plus pitch. The curve and changeup are average and it is said that the curve has a chance to become a plus pitch if it can be more consistent. It may take him a few years to reach the majors, but I think in this next year or two it will be a big indicator of the plans. As for where he will rank in the system, I think he could find himself in the top 10, but if not then he will not be far off. Long term if everything comes together we may have a #2 or #3 starter in real life and in fantasy, as always strikeouts are king. If he can rack up a ton of strikeouts he could be a SP 2/3 as well.
Best Stuff: Brennan Malone (ARI RD: 1C Pick: 33)
Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Went over him in the Arizona preview, but he could become the best pitcher of this group. I have been following him for about two years and I will continue to watch his development through the minors. I think he can be a #3 type starter in real life and a SP 3/4 in fantasy depending on strikeouts.
Best Tools: CJ Abrams (SD RD: 1 Pick 6)
Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 75 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 60
Abrams like many in the Padres system are loaded with tools. The biggest tool for the first rounder is obvious the elite speed. As the 18 year old matures, he will most likely move from elite to plus speed as starts to add muscle and develop as a player in general. He was drafted as a shortstop, but unless there is a trade it would be extremely unlikely that we see him play there at the major league level. To be fair, most of the infield has a logjam for Abrams, unless he can slide into the outfield or becomes a utility type player.
Fastest Path to Majors: Jack Little (LAD RD:3 Pick: 107)
Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Jack is a college pitcher coming from Stanford. During his days in college he had experience closing and being in the bullpen. This is why I am selecting Jack over other options. I believe we could see Jack in the Dodgers bullpen sooner rather than later and there would be no reason that he could move quickly through the system if successful. If the Dodgers decide to try Little out as a starter, then this prediction will be incorrect. While Little does not blow away hitters with velocity, he has decent speed on his fastball (sits 90-92) and has three other pitches to get hitters out. The curveball is ahead of the other pitches, though some believe that long term the slider can become the better pitch of the two. Jack Little may not help your fantasy teams right away, but he could be the first to reach that level.
Biggest Reach of Draft: Blake Walston (ARI RD: 1 Pick 26)
Scouting grades according to MLB.com: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
The Diamondbacks are receiving their second award,though I’m not sure its one they wanted. Blake is a 6’4″ left hander that was drafted in the first round out of high school. The big left hander was also a quarterback for his school, and that resulted in him not being in many showcases or getting much attention. The reason this won the reach award is the time it will take for Walston to develop. Right now he weighs about 175lbs and his fastball usually sits high 80’s but can reach up to 93mph. Hopefully once he fills out there will be more speed on the fastball and the 93 will be where it sits with the ability to reach back and get a higher velocity. If you play in a long term league and don’t mind waiting for multiple years for Blake to make it to the majors then grab him in your deep dynasty leagues, but if you aren’t drafting for 5 years in advance then I would wait and see on this one.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.