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A. L. East

“Alluhring Strategy” 2019 MLB Draft Takeaways: AL EAST

Welcome back, Baseball Fans!

We are back for week two of the Major League Fantasy Sports MLB Draft Coverage. We are breaking down each division and discussing key takeaways of your favorite teams as well as players to keep on your radar for fantasy leagues. Like I mentioned last week, these players will likely take several years before they truly impact the Major Leagues, however, shrewd dynasty and keeper league owners should get a leg up on the competition by having a few of these guys on their radar. Now that the signing period is coming to an end, we have a better idea on which teams had their strategy work.

With all that being said, we will take a look at each team in the National League West and breakdown their strategy and key picks. In order to do this, it is important to view this through the lens of their organizational depth chart. Major League teams generally do not draft based on the need of their 25 Man roster. Rather, they want to add the best talent possible and address needs in their farm systems. 

 

Boston Red Sox

Although the Red Sox have a solid core on their 25 Man roster that should keep them competitive for the foreseeable future, they have no prospects left in the Top 100 and arguably the weakest Farm system in the league. To add insult to injury, they lose their first round pick due to their $40M luxury tax penalty dropping them down 10 slots from #33 to #43 overall. Boston is notorious for drafting well on Day two or later but the deck is definitely stacked against them. After reviewing their draft, I can’t figure out what their strategy was. They were all over the place. They took four college Seniors in their first nine picks, but have not signed any of them yet as of this publishing. They reached pretty far on their first pick and did save some money there but there wasn’t enough upside picks in the bonus slot rounds that required this many savings. They clearly were looking for a SS, but did they get one that can stick there? The only consistency is all the picks where “up the middle” players with a Catcher, two SS, and four pitchers in their first seven picks.

Rd Pick # Name School Pos. B/T Class Vitals Bonus Slot Value Bonus Signed
2 43 Cameron Cannon Arizona SS R/R 4YR-J 5’10”, 196 lbs, 21 yrs $1,730,000 $1,300,000
2 69 Matthew Lugo Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (PR) SS R/R HS-SR 6’1″, 185 lbs, 18 yrs $929,800 $1,100,000
3 107 Ryan Zeferjahn Kansas P R/R 4YR-J 6’5″, 225 lbs, 21 yrs $543,500 $500,000
4 137 Noah Song Navy P R/R 4YR-S 6’4″, 200 lbs, 22 yrs $406,000 Unsigned
5 167 Jaxx Groshans Kansas C R/R 4YR-J 6’0″, 209 lbs, 20 yrs $304,200 $304,200

Their first picks, Cameron Cannon is a head-scratcher. He’s a nice player, but he seems way too high to select what to projects to be a utility infielder at the Major League level. He does have great plate discipline and makes good contact resulting in a plus hit tool. I’m not sure anything else translates at the higher levels. He is versatile and can play all of the infield positions, but after investing such a high pick, Boston intends to play him at SS until he proves he can’t stick there.

Their best pick was their “other” second-round pick when they selected prep SS, Matthew Lugo. Although draft 26 spots later than Cannon, Lugo was ranked much higher as a draft prospect. He has the bloodlines (nephew of Carlos Beltran) but a strong commitment to Miami likely caused him to slide to the end of the second round. They used the savings they got from signing Cannon toward getting Lugo signed and redeemed themselves for the questionable first pick. The teenager is still a bit raw, but the potential is there for a plus hit, power, and run tools. The downside is that his lowest grade is his defense and he may not be able to stick at SS. His greatest upside could be his advanced approach and plate discipline for a teenager.

Their most intriguing pick is the 7th round pick, Brock Bell. The reliever received nearly a $300K above slot bonus. He was a 3rd-year JUCO pitcher/player. He was scouted for his bat and potential at 3B, but Boston announced him as a pitcher so they are likely committed to him as a quick moving reliever. 

Overall this draft seemed a little “mailed-in” but I think they will get something out of Lugo who should be their top one or two best bats in their system.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays have one of the best farm systems in baseball. They are stacked with position players at all levels and a few upside arms as well. They have the luxury to take risks to hit home runs due to this depth. They grab two upside arms with their first two picks and then grabbed four consecutive bats (including three college under-classman) prior to adding to college Seniors to save bonus money. Overall, kind of a “blah” draft after the two 6’6” RHPs taken on Day 1.

Round Overall Pick Name School Position B/T Class Vitals Bonus Slot Value Bonus Signed
1 11 Alek Manoah West Virginia P R/R 4YR-J 6’6″, 260 lbs, 21 yrs $4,550,000 $4,550,000
2 52 Kendall Williams IMG Academy P R/R HS-SR 6’6″, 205 lbs, 18 yrs $1,400,000 $1550,000
3 88 Dasan Brown Abbey Park HS (ON) CF R/R HS-SR 6’0″, 185 lbs, 18 yrs $678,600 Unsigned
4 117 Will Robertson Creighton RF L/L 4YR-J 6’2″, 215 lbs, 22 yrs $492,700 $422,000
5 147 Tanner Morris Virginia SS L/R 4YR-SO 6’2″, 190 lbs, 21 yrs $367,900 $397,500

The Jays added two high upside arms to their prospect ranks starting with #11 pick, Alek Manoah out of West Virginia. He was the top RHP in the draft class and second overall pitcher off the board after Cincinnati took LHP Nick Lodolo a few picks earlier. The power righty has a three-pitch mix featuring a plus fastball and slider and a potential plus changeup. He has fewer innings under his belt than most in this draft class as he worked as a reliever during his first two seasons before becoming the Friday night starter this season. The big jump this season was finding his command. He has the potential to be the best pitcher in this draft class. Only time will tell.

With their 2nd pick, they Jays grab another 6’6” giant righty, Kendall Williams. This time it is a prep arm that took his talents to Florida to improve his draft stock. Mission accomplished, he was taken high enough to earn a $1.55M signing bonus luring him away from Vanderbilt (a lot of Vandy commits in the draft class?). The prep star already has four legit pitches including a plus fastball and curveball. His command sets him apart for a teenager. Toronto definitely has a type and they hit on these first two picks. 

 

New York Yankees

After rebuilding their farm system in 2017, the Yankees have either promoted or strategically traded their top prospects to strengthen their 25 Man roster. This great depth has allowed them to stay on top of the AL East throughout this season despite a ridiculous amount of injuries to key players. They only have two Top 100 specs left in the organization and need to replenish all levels of their system. They didn’t pick until #30 but had another selection just eight picks later in the sandwich round as compensation for Sonny Gray. Cashman continues his bid for GM of the year with a strong overall draft. It was a unique strategy as they arguably reached on every pick during the first two days but somehow came away with seven Top 200 draft prospects. After selecting a high upside prep SS with their first pick, they go with seven consecutive college Juniors including four pitchers. In fact, they took college Juniors with nine of the eleven bonus slot round picks. Cashman loves his left-handed pitchers as he took three of them in his first five picks.

Round Overall Pick Name School Position B/T Class Vitals Bonus Slot Value Bonus Signed
1 30 Anthony Volpe Delbarton School (NJ) SS R/R HS-SR 5’11”, 180 lbs, 18 yrs $2,370,000 $2,740,000
CBA 38 TJ Sikkema Missouri P L/L 4YR-J 6’0″, 221 lbs, 20 yrs $1,950,000 $1,950,000
2 67 Josh Smith LSU 2B L/R 4YR-J 5’10”, 172 lbs, 21 yrs $976,700 Unsigned
3 105 Jacob Sanford Western Kentucky CF L/R 4YR-J 6’2″, 215 lbs, 21 yrs $554,300 $597,500
4 135 Jake Agnos East Carolina P L/L 4YR-J 5’11”, 207 lbs, 21 yrs $414,000 $411,500
5 165 Ken Waldichuck St. Mary’s (CA) P L/L 4YR-J 6’4″, 220 lbs, 21 yrs $309,500 $307,000

Anthony Volpe is their only prep pick in the first two days. The local star was considered a reach, but the Yankees love his upside. The had to pay him $350K above slot to sign him away from Vanderbilt. Beyond the tools, the Yankees love his approach, grinder mentality, and overall makeup. He likely won’t be a fantasy star, but there is a hint of Derek Jeter to his approach and tools. He has little power, but produced at all levels of competition and defensively get the job done. This is definitely a Cashman kind of guy. 

In the same vein, #38 overall pick goes to TJ Sikkema, LHP from Missouri. He was actually ranked higher than Volpe but still is considered a reach at #38. Cashman continues to march to the beat of a different drum with Sikkema who is not known from his stuff but has the highest floor of any pick in the AL East. He’s not a flame thrower but just passed Matt Scherzer’s strikeout record at Missouri. With three potential plus pitches (fastball, slider, changeup), he could stick as a middle to back of the rotation pitcher. He throws strikes and is aggressive with his pitch selection. He has also worked effectively out of the bullpen in college so the Yankees could fast track him through the system as a left-handed reliever. 

The Yankees took some fliers in round 9 with 1B, Spencer Henson out of Oral Roberts and Jack Leiter in the 20th. There is pretty much no shot at signing Leiter away from Vanderbilt, but they got Henson under slot. He could develop into a plus hit/power tool 1B.

The biggest sleeper in this division has to be Jacob Sanford, CF out of Western Kentucky. He had no scholarship offers, walked on at a JUCO in Nebraska and after shattering records there won the triple crown in Conference USA at Western Kentucky. He is unique in the fact he has plus raw power and speed. It may be too soon to tell if the hit tool will translate, but the power and speed will. With a weak arm, he is likely to move over to LF in pro ball, but he is an exciting new toy for the Yankees to develop into a trade chip or the next sleeper sensation.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

I’m not used to seeing Tampa selecting so low in the first round, but we should get used to it. This organization can’t get fans in the seats but it is second to none in developing a killer farm system. Despite picking at #22, the Rays are aided by two sandwich picks that allowed them to grab six Top 200 draft prospects in this draft. Like the Yankees, they stocked up but the difference here is that they got value at each pick grabbing players ranked much higher than their draft slot. They are known for developing their pitching talent and they grab eight more arms in the first nine rounds including seven college Juniors (they other a prep arm). This draft class looks like another huge win for the Rays front office.

Round Overall Pick Name School Position B/T Class Vitals Bonus Slot Value Bonus Signed
1 22 Greg Jones UNC Wilmington SS S/R 4YR-SO 6’2″, 175 lbs, 21 yrs $3,030,000 $3,020,000
CBA 36 JJ Goss Cypress Ranch HS (TX) P R/R HS-SR 6’3″, 185 lbs, 18 yrs $2,050,000 $2,050,000
CBA 40 Seth Johnson Campbell University P R/R 4YR-J 6’1″, 200 lbs, 20 yrs $1,860,000 $1,720,000
2 61 John Doxakis Texas A&M P S/L 4YR-J 6’4″, 215 lbs, 20 yrs $1,130,000 $1.130,000
3 99 Shane Sasaki Iolani HS (HI) CF R/R HS-SR 6’0″, 165 lbs, 19 yrs $587,400 Unsigned
4 128 Graeme Stinson Duke P L/L 4YR-J 6’5″, 250 lbs, 21 yrs $442,900 $440,400
5 158 Ben Brecht UC Santa Barbara P L/L 4YR-J 6’7″, 215 lbs, 21 yrs $330,100 $297,500

Their first pick is their only real reach with Sophomore eligible SS, Greg Jones. He has 80-grade speed and gets on base as a switch-hitter. The downside is the lack of power and legitimate hit tool. He also projects as a CF rather than a SS due to range and accuracy issues in the infield.

The best prep arm in the division goes to #36 overall JJ Goss. The tall, lanky prep arm hits 96 on his 4-seamer and sits in the low 90s. He already possesses a 60-grade slider which is arguably the best breaking pitch in the prep draft class. The slider has a late bite in the low 80s. He also shows an MLB average changeup to complete a solid three-pitch mix. He is extremely aggressive yet throws strikes using a repeatable delivery. These mechanics and command are rare for a prep arm. He will need time to develop but should remain a starter especially after adding strength and fills out his lanky frame. The Rays are a perfect fit.

There are many great value picks here, but the best value here is 4th round pick Graeme Stinson who is 1st round talent. In fact, he entered this season as the top LHP draft prospect. Unfortunately, the 6’5”, 250 lbs lefty only made it through five starts before injuries stole his season. He flashed a 70-grade fastball AND slider last year as a reliever, but they played down as a starter due to command and injury issues. If the Rays can right the ship and tweak his mechanics, this will be an absolute steal. Even if they can’t, he could be a nasty LHP arm out of the pen in high leverage situations.

 

Baltimore Orioles

You are always set up for a successful draft when you have the number one overall pick and four picks in the top 80. That being said, some teams play games and try and reach to save bonus money to grab a larger quantity of high upside guys that they need to give over-slot bonus money. The task at hand for the Orioles is that they need help everywhere in their Farm system. They only have three Top 100 prospects (Yusniel Diaz, Ryan Mountcastle, DL Hall) and only two of their Top 10 organizational specs are below AA. They need a real infusion of talent at all levels. They wisely took the best player available and arguably the best college prospect in a decade. They clearly value position players in this draft as the selected on with their first seven picks and all were college Juniors or prep Seniors. Like Boston, they specifically targeted “up the middle talent” selecting two Catchers, two Centerfielders and three Shortstops with these first seven picks. This is definitely the blueprint that new GM, Mike Elias, drew up and executed flawlessly. They managed to sign all eleven players selected in the first ten rounds that count toward their bonus allotment.

Rd Pick # Name School Pos. B/T Class Vitals Bonus Slot Value Bonus Signed
1 1 Adley Rutschman Oregon State C S/R 4YR-J 6’2″, 216 lbs, 21 yrs $8,420,000 $8,100,000
2 42 Gunner Henderson John T Morgan Academy SS L/R HS-SR 6’3″, 195 lbs, 18 yrs $1,770,200 $2,300,000
CBB 71 Kyle Stowers Stanford CF L/L 4YR-J 6’3″, 200 lbs, 21 yrs $884,200 $884,200
3 79 Zach Watson LSU CF R/R 4YR-J 6’0″, 160 lbs, 22 yrs $780,400 $780,400
4 108 Joseph Ortiz New Mexico State SS R/R 4YR-J 5’11”, 175 lbs, 21 yrs $538,200 $450,000
5 138 Darell Hernaiz Americas HS (TX) SS R/R HS-SR 6’1″, 170 lbs, 17 yrs $402,000 $400,000

It’s pretty much mandatory to breakdown the #1 overall pick. So why was Adley Rutschman the consensus #1 pick? The Oregon State Switch-Hitting Catcher is a polished bat with plus hit and power tools. He has a great approach at the plate with a high contact rate. Additionally, Adley sports a plus arm and defensive with a long-term projection to remain as a catcher. What sets him apart is his natural leadership qualities, quick path to the Major Leagues, with no red flags. He is truly a cornerstone franchise type player and the “surest thing” since Buster Posey. The cherry on top is the $320K they saved in bonus money that allowed them to sign a Top 30 draft prospect in the second round.

Gunnar Henderson was selected 42nd overall as a prep bat out of Alabama. The 18-year-old is 6’3” nearly 200 lbs and could move off SS to 3B due to his frame size. As long as his power continues to develop, this should still play at the hot corner. He flashes a plus hit tool with power coming. Great value in the 2nd round that signed at $130K over slot value. They wrap up Day 1 by grabbing a solid all-around CF with the floor of a 4th OF in the Majors. My favorite pick is probably their 5th round pick where they selected 17-year-old, Darell Hernaiz, prep star out of Texas. He is young and “toolsy” that may not have any plus tools but could contribute as a 5-tool player and stick at SS.

Overall, Baltimore had a great draft, arguably the best in the division and definitely the best player in Rutschman. Elias is off to a great start in the rebuild process.

 


Bryan Luhrs

Major League Fantasy Sports
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Real Deal Dynasty Sports
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Faith, Family and Fantasy Sports.These are the three words that best describe me. I am a faithful husband and father of 6 amazing children. I work to earn a living, but I live for every precious moment I can spend with my family and a passion for sports.

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