Mock drafts are going to start heating up in a big way and soon. For an early look at how things are shaping up, I popped on over to Mock Draft Central and came up with these quick initial observations.
Catcher: I know Mike Napoli has an amazing 2011 season, but right now it looks like he’ll cost you a fifth or sixth round pick. That’s a bit too rich for my blood and I’m a big Napoli fan. He’s going to regress in 2012, it’s just a matter of how much. I’ll buy 25-30 home runs again, but his high whiff rates mean that his AVG could fall further than many expect. Right now some potential late round values look to be Devin Mesorasco (225 ADP) and Chris Iannetta (240 ADP).
First base: Right now four first basemen (Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votto) have first round ADPs. I was surprised to see Eric Hosmer at 56, or the fifth round. I’m a big fan, but between him and the next guy, Mike Morse is almost 50 draft spots. Morse has proven himself capable for at least 30 home runs while Hosmer needs to prove he can make the adjustment against left-handed pitching (.237/.282/.303 vs/ lefties in 2011). Ike Davis looks like a steal of a pick at 216 (round 18). Keep tabs on his ankle injury in spring training.
Second base: How Ben Zobrist, a 20/20 candidate, has a current ADP of about round nine is beyond be. I’d be ecstatic to land him there. After Zobrist (100 ADP) and Howie Kendrick (101 ADP), things start to look a bit dicey in the 2B market.
Third Base: The two potential values that stick out to me at first are Pablo Sandoval (72 ADP) and Kevin Youkilis (77 ADP) both look like solid values in round six or seven. David Freese could be a decent value at 136 (round 12), but be sure to have a solid back-up plan by the end of the draft due to his injury history. Martin Prado in round 15 seems like a great buy. Mike Moustakas (212 ADP) looks like the late round flier I’d go after.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez in the second round, especially since he’ll gain 3B eligibility soon as well? Yes please. Starlin Castro in round four seems quite steep. He seems like a lock to hit .300 and steal 20 bases, but his current ADP puts him well ahead of Asdrubal Cabrera (75 ADP), Jimmy Rollins (91 ADP), J.J. Hardy (123 ADP) and Alexei Ramirez (156 ADP). It’s that group of names that I’d most like to target if I can’t land Troy Tulowitzki in round one.
Outfield: Carl Crawford drops to the end of the third round based on his terrible 2011. I’d take a chance on him there. I think Nelson Cruz, because of his injury history, is a bit of a gamble in round four. Shin-Soo Choo in round six seems like a much wiser investment. Desmond Jennings also currently holds a sixth round ADP. He has all the potential in the world, but that price seems a bit steep given his lack of experience and injury problems in the minors. Jason Heyward was a top five round pick last season, now his ADP sits around round 9-10. I’d be very tempted to grab him if available there. Carlos Beltran (148 ADP) seems quite low, injury risk or not. Andre Either could be an absolute steal. if his current 181 ADP holds up.
Designated hitter: Jesus Montero looks to be a worthy investment around the12th round. I expect him to get enough starts behind the plate to gain catcher eligibility. Adam Dunn (224 ADP). Why wouldn’t you take a flier at that point?
Starting pitcher: I’d pass on Ian Kennedy (62 ADP). He’s a regression candidate and no one should be expecting 21 wins again. I will invest in Madison Bumgarner in round 6-7. He’s a candidate to go sub-two with his ERA in 2012. Adam Wainwright looks like a potential bargain at an ADP of 137. The success rate for pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery is very high. Matt Garza also looks to be a great buy with a 137 ADP. He’ll win more than the 10 games he won in 2011. Matt Moore chimes in at about round 14. His skills are so outstanding that I’d go for him there. No one seems fooled by Ryan Vogelsong’s 2011 season. His current ADP is 200. I’m still no buying him there, but I am buying Corey Luebke at 205. Last season, the hype machine pushed Brandon Morrow up to around the tenth round. His current ADP puts him in the 18th round. Very little risk there for ace upside.
Closer: Drew Storen chimes in as the number two closer according to ADP. He doesn’t feature the heavy whiff rate that’s I’d like to see from a closer ranked that high. His ADP puts him around rounds 6-7. Joakim Soria (159 ADP) will be a closer that I target in every league. Ryan Madson (172 ADP) has better stuff than most of the closers going seven or so rounds earlier. We’ll see if his ADP jumps after he signs. Addison Reed (227 ADP) could be the next Craig Kimbrel and it looks to maybe only cost you a 19-20th round pick to find out.