Tomorrow evening the FSTA Experts Draft concludes as part of the organization’s annual Winter Conference, with coverage live on Sirius-XM.
Thus far, we have drafted through eight rounds within a 14-team configuration, thus 112 players are now on teams. And, though I have some targets for the middle rounds, I am also looking ahead towards the final rounds and just whom I might be able to grab who can provide some production.
Well, here are a few names for now, and remember you can view and follow the draft here. The numbers in parenthesis represent the ADP per the NFBC (which you too can explore) and based upon 15-team set-ups, so remember that context.
Orlando Arcia (195): 15 homers and 14 steals to go with a .277 average for a 23-year-old following a first full season in The Show is pretty good. Arcia’s 36 walks to 100 strikeouts is indeed manageable (.324 OBP) and with seven caught stealings, Arcia is certainly likely to continue running and ideally to get better all around. A late shortstop with 15/15 potential is nice!
Austin Barnes (204): If you are wondering about playing time in deference to the presence of Yasmani Grandal, Barnes collected 46 post-season at-bats last year as compared to Grandal, who was up just eight times. Barnes, who ran a .289-6-38 line over 201 at-bats, is the new sheriff in town, and he earned the gig via defense and framing skills. If those OBP numbers are real, this guy will be a steal.
Tucker Barnhardt (338): The Reds backstop almost defines benign backstop, having posted a quiet .270-7-44 line over 370 at-bats with a good enough .347 OBP (42 walks to 68 strikeouts) last year, on the heels of a .257-7-51 mark in 2016 over 377 at-bats. Barnhardt pushed his OBP by 24 points last year and should be there for a cheap second catcher pick when I need him.
Daniel Mengden (403): OK, manlove, but this is — for now — legit. In the minors, Mengden was a solid 22-10, 2.93 over 286 innings with 286 whiffs and a 1.17 WHIP (247 hits, 87 walks, and just 13 homers). Up until his 2017 fall appearances, he struggled as most young arms do. But, second half, over six starts starting in the beginning of September, the righty was 3-1, 1.54 over 35 innings with 26 whiffs and an 0.829 WHIP. The Athletics are kind of fun and while the team might be up and down, Mengden should be pretty good.
Kevin Kiermaier (145): OK, this is kind of cheating, as I picked Kiermaier with my eighth-round selection, making the Rays flychaser the 99th player taken. There were a lot of other very good outfield options available, but Kiermaier was hurt last year, only able to play in 98 games. But if the 27-year old can stay healthy for 150 games, he projects to 23 homers and 24 steals.
Gio Gonzalez (139): Now 32, I am not sure I expect Gonzalez to repeat his stellar 2017 (15-9, 2.96), nor drop to his 2016 level (11-11, 4.57), but in the Ervin Santana tradition, I think Gio is much better than given credit for. His 162-game start mean at Baseball-Reference suggests 14-11, 3.64, over 201 frames with 199 punchouts. I am quite good with something like that for my #3 starter.
Eugenio Suarez (191): Going into his third full-time season of play, Suarez is coming off back-to-back 20-homer seasons, having gone a very obscure .260-26-82 last year with 25 doubles and a solid 84 walks to 147 strikeouts, good for a .367 OBP. That was a nice little bump from the also successful 2016 numbers of .241-7-70 with 11 swipes and a ,317 OBP. For a 17th round target, those are nice numbers on which to build.
Walker Buehler (369): Don’t ask me why, but I like the Dodgers 2015 #1 pick with a minor league mark of 4-3, 3.17 with 131 whiffs over 93.6 innings better than Luke Weaver, who was taken in the sixth round. Buehler should make a great reserve pick, if he lasts that long.
Michael Conforto (152): For the second straight year Conforto was limited to 109 games, but he made the most of his time hitting .279-27-68, jumping his OPS from .724 to .939 last season. Underperformer and disappointment seem to be the kinds of words associated with Conforto, but I am thinking he is lurking, waiting for a monster 150 games.
Tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Sunday at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT, and you can follow me @lawrmichaels.