Is this what the card looks like for next year’s No.1 draft pick???

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge set the all-time American League home run record for rookies this year, with 52.

Did you know the National League record was also set this year, by the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger? The 22-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder with the lightning-quick uppercut clubbed 39 (second in the NL behind Giancarlo Stanton), in just 480 at-bats. That’s just one of the many reasons he’s our lead-pipe lock projection as our No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 I-75 League Draft.

Bellinger looks to be a 2e8 first baseman who can also play the outfield and not embarrass you. He can run a little bit (10 steals in 13 attempts) and he hits both lefties and righties (OPS marks of .903 and .948). No available player had more extra-base hits than Bellinger’s 69 (26-4-39). Yes, he whiffed a lot (146 times) but whiffing just doesn’t have the bad smell it used to. Just think how good he’ll be once he learns how to hit breaking balls, as we saw his struggles in the World Series. And did we mention he’s just 22, and won’t turn 23 til next year’s all-star break? Fangraphs War: 4.0. Previous rank: 1.

Here’s the rest of our updated non-mock draft:

2. Tommy Pham, OF, St. Louis, 29, R/R. Pham’s spectacular second half catapulted him from unranked in our July rankings to No. 2.  Pham boasts an on-base number over .400 against both lefties and righties (.412 and .411). He hit .306 overall with 22 doubles, 23 homers and 25 stolen bases. He’s limited to 444 at-bats, but projects as a 2e1 left fielder, and he notched eight outfield assists. In four years as a big leaguer he has one error. Leadoff hitter, anyone? Fangraphs War: 5.9. PR: Unranked.

3. Yoan Moncada, 2B, Chicago White Sox, 22, S/R. Ranked as the top prospect in baseball by some scouting services, Moncada joined the White Sox in July and played 54 games at second base. He got off to a very slow start, hitting .105 in July, then .238 in August, and in September cracked five homers while hitting .274 and recording an .806 OPS. “Few middle infielders can match Moncada’s huge offensive ceiling, which earns him comparisons to Robinson Cano with more speed,” wrote “He’s a switch-hitter with outstanding bat speed who makes consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate.” In the minors he had back-to-back years with 45+ stolen bases. Expect Strat to give him a 3 rating at 2b. Fangraphs War: 0.9. PR: NR.

(Click picture to watch: Moncada homers in ninth to tie game; singles to walk it off in 11th)


4. Marwin Gonzalez, UT, Houston, 28, S/R. The ultimate everthing-man. Plays seven positions. Bats left, bats right. Hits for average (.303). Hits for power (23 homers in 455 at-bats; .530 slugging average). Can run a little bit (eight steals). Stronger against righties (.325 / .394 / .552 / .946). Fangraphs War: 4.1. PR: 4.

5. Chris Taylor, UT, L.A. Dodgers, 27, R/R. Taylor’s versatility, speed, and consistency versus both righties and lefties make him an attractive pick; his defensive ratings may determine how high he goes. Plays 2B, 3B, SS, LF and CF. Had seven outfield assists. Had 60 extra-base hits in 514 at-bats, and stole 17 bases in 21 tries. Hit .288 overall (.297 vs. lefties and .285 vs. righties). OPS numbers: .837 and .855. Fangraphs War: 4.7. PR: NR.

6. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington, 33, R/R. We were way wrong about what Zimmerman would do in the second half. Although his July and August were pedestrian, Zimmerman finished with a flourish, a 7-homer, 1.027 OPS September that gave him these season totals: 33-0-36 (69 XBHs ties Bellinger for most available); a .303 average and .931 OPS. We know we said there’d be too many good first basemen available to bother picking one high in the first round, but Zimmerman’s offensive numbers force us to reconsider. Fangraphs War: 3.3. PR: 12.

7. Chad Green, RP, N.Y. Yankees, 26, RH reliever. Chad Green is just about the right-handed equivalent of a 2017 Andrew Miller card. The guy struck out 103 in 69 innings with a 0.74 WHIP and .147 batting-average against. He was brutal against both lefties and righties with on-base-plus-sluggings of .411 and .476. Fangraphs War: 2.4. PR: 10.

(Click picture to watch Green win Pitcher of Month honors in July)

8. Travis Shaw, 3B, Milwaukee, 27, L/R. With 66 extra-base hits on the year, competent fielding ratings at both corners, and a career year at age 27, Shaw is a finally-blossoming pick at No. 8. He is unlimited by virtue of plate appearances, knocked 31 homers overall and owns a favorable split against righties (.891 OPS on that side). He also stole 10 bases without being caught. Fangraphs War: 3.4. PR: 3.

9. Zack Godley, SP, Arizona, 27, RH starter. Key thing here is Godley has just 155 innings, which is not as many as you’d like to have for a starting pitcher, but by sacrificing 25 innings or so, you gain a decent amount in opponent batting average and WHIP over the best available “full-time” starter candidates. Opponents hit .221 against Godley and he has nice balance both ways (OPS of .648 and .664).  Had a 1.14 WHIP. Bonus: Only allowed one stolen base all year, should have a good hold. Fangraphs War: 3.5. PR: 9.

10. Chase Anderson, SP, Milwaukee, 29, RH starter. Very similar to Godley in value except 14 fewer innings (141). A better WHIP than Godley (1.09), nearly identical batting average against (.220), but his splits are less balanced (OPS of .607 and.679). A better fielder but he allowed 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts. Fangraphs War: 3.3. PR: 8.

11. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland, 23, L/R. WHO??? Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Matt Olson. Not seeing many hands… Well folks, Matt Olson smacked 24 home runs in 2017. So did a hundred other players, you say? Actually, only 82 other players did. Well, Matt Olson did it in just 189 at-bats. That’s a homer every 7.875 at-bats. That includes 20 homers in 143 at-bats against righties, against whom he slugged .713. He’s gonna have some kind of craaaaaaazy card. Played first base and right field; projects as a 3e8 first sacker, only 23 years old. Fangraphs War: 2.0. PR: NR.

(Click picture to watch: MLB Network interviews Matt Olson; season highlights)

12. Justin Smoak, 1B, Toronto, 30, S/L.  You can lay in the weeds on regular first basemen, or you can make a pre-emptive strike and snag this switch-hitting first sacker whose 560 at-bats makes him one of the few full-time players available. With 68 extra-base hits, only Zimmerman and Bellinger had more, among available draftees. Expecting a great fielding rating, with .998 fielding percentage and just two errors in 145 games started. Downside: Skews more favorably against lefties (OPS of .978 vs. .856), and his career batting average is just .232, so 2017 could have been an aberration. His 38 homers are 18 more than he’s ever hit before. Fangraphs War: 3.4 PR: NR.

13. Paul DeJong, SS/2B, St. Louis, 24, R/R. Nice numbers in just 417 at-bats: 26 doubles and 25 homers; and an .857 OPS. Balanced hitter for average (.288 / .285) but has significantly better on-base and power numbers against lefties. Projects as a 2e18 shortstop. Fangraphs War: 3.0. PR: NR.

14. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston, 21, L/R. First time I saw this guy play, the left-handed-hitting rookie homered off of left-handed flamethrower Aroldis Chapman the first time he ever faced him. On a 103 mph fastball. That was impressive. Had terrible fielding stats, projects as a 4e41, so he’s a DH/pinch-hitter til he matures. Has reverse splits too, with an OPS of 1.074 vs. lefties and .743 against righties in 222 total at-bats. Played well defensively in the minors though, and is expected to be a power-hitting third baseman for years to come. Fangraphs War: 0.9. PR: NR. (See 5 Amazing Facts About Devers’ Homer Against Chapman)

(Click picture to watch: MLB Network breaks down Devers’ homer off Chapman)

15. Scotter Gennett, 2B, Cincinnati, 27, L/R. Also played 3B and the outfield, hitting .295 from the left side with extra-base hit numbers of 22-3-27 in 461 at-bats. Favorable splits versus righties: .310 / .359 / .571 / .930. Projects as a 3e11 second baseman though, so you get the power but sacrifice some fielding. Fangraphs War: 2.4. PR: 13.

Next Five: 16. Avisail Garcia (lefty masher). 17. Rhys Hoskins (two-way limited power beast). 18. Yuli Gurriel (43 doubles, 529 ABs, better vs. RHPs). 19. Austin Barnes (limited catcher with .400 on-base average, including .444 vs. RHPs). 20. Ozzie Albies (20-year-old Braves 2B prospect).

Top Five if he gets a card: Victor Robles (24 ABs).

Dropped out: 2. Clint Frazier. 5. Ian Happ. 6. Bradley Zimmer. 7. Jacob Faria. 11. Greg Holland. 14. Trey Mancini. 15. Aaron Hicks.


3 Responses

  1. Gary – Did you consider Jimmy “the Big Sweat” Nelson? (dang – am I revealing some valuable intel here?)

  2. Your article has me considering trading my (likely) early first round pick to move down in the round. Thanks, Gary. Am eager to see what Taylor’s rating is in CF (including his arm).

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