2013 draft will be unlike any other

In past years, the talent pool for the I-75 league draft equaled all available cards minus 216 protected players.

This year, for the first time, the talent pool will equal all available cards minus 260 protected players.

The difference will be noticeable. There will be fewer “this-year” help cards, resulting in more prospects going faster, and possibly relief pitchers going even more quickly than in recent years.

It’s the effect of expanding from 12 to 15 teams. So, contenders and hopefuls might want to look at the trade market instead of banking on bulking up their lineup or pitching staff for a 2013 run.

Thus, without further ado, we present the latest installment of a 2013 Mock Draft — a hefty overhaul from the midseason mock draft:

1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington — Power, speed, howitzer. About to turn 20 years old. One of the game’s best prospects ever, and more than useful for 2013 to boot: .869 OPS vs. righties, including a .360 on-base number; 18 steals and eight outfield assists. Previous rank: 1.

2. Kris Medlen, SP/RP, Atlanta — The 27-year-old righty set the league on fire once he moved into the Braves rotation in the second half of the year, finishing with a 10-1 record and 1.57 ERA. He made 12 starts in 50 appearances, with a nice opponents’ batting average balance of .208 vs. lefties and .207 vs. righties. More remarkably, foes slugged just .259 and .288 against him. He’ll offer 138 innings of starting firepower, relief dominance or both. PR: Not ranked.

3. Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox — Yep, he’s 31, but you’ll be able to count on one hand the number of position players available in this draft who might finish in the top 20 in slugging in the league. Rios hit .304 with 25 homers and an .850 OPS each way. He raked for 70 extra-base hits and threw out nine runners. And he’s unlimited. PR: 4.

4. Yeonis Cespedes, OF, Oakland — The Cuban import is 27 and had a well-rounded year, although not quite a full-timer with 487 at-bats. He hit .292 with 23 homers and 16 stolen bases, stroking 69 extra-base hits in a big ballpark. He had an .850 OPS each way and only three outfield errors with nine assists. PR: 10.

5. Fernando Rodney, RP, Tampa Bay — The top available relief pitcher keeps getting snapped up earlier and earlier each year. This year it’s Rodney, who despite his 35 years had a mind-blowing 48-save season, but more pertinent to Strat players was his 0.70 WHIP and only four extra-base hits in 74 innings of work. Check out these numbers: .194 and .164. Those aren’t his BAA or OBA numbers, they’re his slugging-against numbers. PR: 13.

6. Yu Darvish, SP, Texas — In his first year in the majors, Darvish led the AL in strikeouts with 221 in 191 innings. His fireballing nature comes with the typical wildness though as well, so his on-base numbers are not dazzling at .322 and .302. But he’s as good as is available among this year’s starting pitcher crop, especially considering his potential to improve and his already-mature age of 26. PR: 8.

7. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore — After the top six players you can pretty much throw 6-30 into a bag, shake them up and let them fall out in any order. Machado gets an edge here because he’s just 20 years old and showed some eye-popping potential at the plate in his 191 at-bats with the Orioles. His final numbers won’t provide much of a contribution toward a 2013 playoff chase, but the former first-round pick (third overall) will be a star in the very near future. PR: NR.

8. Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego — Top switch-hitting catching prospects don’t come along very often, so when they do, someone will jump on them. The 23-year-old Grandal offers 192 at-bats and good on-base numbers (.356/.407), so he can contribute in a backup role, but is expected to mature into a top-notch receiver. PR: NR.

9. Brandon Moss, 1B, Oakland — He only offers 265 at-bats, but his numbers against righties are going to be hard to overlook — .290 / .363 / .643 (1.006), thanks to 21 homers in those limited at-bats. PR: NR.

10. Jarrod Parker, SP, Oakland — The 23-year-old offers 181 useable innings and terrific upside. He’ll offer a nice balanced card (.247/.248 batting average against). He’s a former first-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, ninth overall. PR: 7.

11. Ryan Cook, RP, Oakland — The run on Oakland players continues with relief ace and future star Cook, 25, who posted a 0.94 WHIP and .166 batting-average against in 73 innings. He walks a few batters but still offers an appealing combination of future stardom with right-now effectiveness. PR: 9.

12. Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay — Pass up Moore and run the risk of him having a David Price-type performance in 2013, so grab him now. He walked a lot of guys and has high on-base numbers of .343 and .320, but he struck out 175 in 177 innings. PR: 15.

13. Jacob Turner, SP, Miami — Tiger fans in the league know him as the former first-rounder who was traded down the stretch to the Marlins for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. National Leaguers know him as a pretty tough cookie, although his debut stats will reflect he’s a reverse righty for this year (.189/.274 batting average against). Only 42 innings to work with as well, but you’re taking him in anticipation of the future success of this 21-year-old. PR: NR.

14. Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Baltimore — We love him, we hate him, we love him again. In Camden Yards’ friendly confines, the 26-year-old slammed 33 homers and hit .270. He boasts a .836 OPS against righties and seemingly has finally figured things out after years of disappointment. PR: NR.

15. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston — So many middle-of-the-road options here to wrap up the first round. There’s a 32-year-old first baseman out there with 33 homers and 69 extra-base hits. There’s a 35-year-old catcher who had a career year with 27 homers and an .874 OPS against righties. But we don’t want anyone sticking any forks in their eyes, so we’ll go with Middlebrooks, whose .509 slugging average is tops among draft-eligible rookies. And if we get a Red Sox player on the list we’ll make Steve Hart happy. PR: NR.

Dropped out: No. 2 James McDonald, No. 3 Tyler Colvin, No. 5 Ryan Dempster, No. 6 A.J. Pierzynski, No. 11 Trevor Plouffe, No. 12 Wade Miley.


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