Mock drafts and preview magazines are useful draft preparation tools, but there’s nothing like the real thing. For as long as I remember, the annual Fantasy Sports Trade Association draft has held the distinction of being the first non-keeper industry draft of the season, so after months of fantasy baseball hibernation, I’m always eager to dig into the FSTA results. This year, the majority of the proceedings have been conducted via a slow draft format, which explains why this 14-team, 29-round mixed league draft which began in early-January is still in progress. But don’t worry, there’s more than enough data for us to sift through. CLICK HERE to follow the draft in real time,
Where was I? Oh, right. When studying draft results, I’m not too interested in the early rounds. Mike Trout is good. So is Chris Sale. Even Christian Yelich and Carlos Martinez can help their owners quite a bit. The middle and late rounds are more interesting. This is where profit can be found, and isn’t netting as much profit as possible the primary goal of this whole draft thing? I certainly think so. On that note, let’s take a look at a handful of hitters, all drafted outside of the top-150 players, who carry substantial profit potential.
Carlos Santana (Round 13, Pick 6) – If you happen to miss out on the elite first basemen, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing the quietly consistent Santana. Maybe he will never duplicate the 34 homers he launched in 2016, but 20-plus longballs to go along with steady contributions in the runs and RBI departments are near certainties. Moving from Progressive Field to the more hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park should help him, and while the Phillies lineup isn’t at the same level as the Indians offense, most of Philadelphia’s hitters are young and on the rise. Note that Santana carries added value in OBP leagues (career .365 OBP).
Marcus Semien (Round 15, Pick 14) – Lost in Semien’s injury-plagued 2017 campaign is the fact that he registered ten homers and 12 steals in just 85 games, this after tallying 27 home runs and ten swipes in 2016. He does strike out at a high rate, a trait that hurts him from a batting average standpoint. Still, a 27-year-old shortstop with legitimate 20/20 ability at pick #210? Sign me up.
Michael Conforto (Round 16, Pick 7) – Conforto will likely miss the entire month of April after undergoing major shoulder surgery last September, but the injury risk is factored into his FSTA draft price. Investing in players coming off serious injuries has never been my thing, but I might make an exception if Conforto, who slugged 27 home runs while collecting 68 RBIs in only 109 games last year, is available at this point in any draft.
Delino DeShields (Round 17, Pick 9) – Placing a premium on stolen bases seems to be all the rage these days. I get it, steals are scarce. But I’m wary of spending a third-round pick on Dee Gordon or Billy Hamilton. DeShields racked up 29 steals in 120 games last season while getting on base at a .347 clip and scoring 75 runs. He will be squarely on my radar in the middle rounds. DeShields isn’t assured everyday playing time, but he doesn’t need everyday playing time to be well worth a 17th round pick. If the 25-year-old does win a regular job, he’s a legitimate top-100 player.
Stephen Piscotty (Round 21, Pick 5) – Last season sure was ugly, but I refuse to believe that the 27-year-old Piscotty, who posted a .273-22-85-86 line in 2016, is all of a sudden done. Can a fresh start in Oakland do the trick? If the cost to find out is a 21st round pick, taking a chance on Piscotty is truly a no-brainer.
Zach Steinhorn is the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars champion. Follow him on Twitter @zachsteinhorn