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Rookie Draft Review

I’ll let you in on a secret – I actually play in one non-ottoneu league. I know, I know…crazy, right? But this did give me an insight into a format that I know many of you use, but that I have never done before: the rookie draft.

In this 12-team, 25-man roster, 13-keeper league, the only way to add prospects to your roster is via trade or a two-round rookie draft, held just prior to the annual auction. We just completed that draft and some analysis could offer insight to those of you doing similar drafts in your leagues, or even to those of you trying to figure out who to bid on in an ottoneu league.

Let’s start where you should almost always start – with context. The basics of the league are above, but you should also know that the guys taken in the draft don’t count against your salary cap or roster limits. Each guy gets a “salary” ($8 for the first four picks, $5 for the next four, $3 for the next four and $1 for each second rounder), but that doesn’t count as a cap number until you call the guy up. You can call the guy up as soon as he makes his MLB debut, but once called up, you can never send him back down. You get three minor league roster spots and if you keep a guy in the minors all year and he is still there as of the draft the following year, you lose the pick you used to get him.

Also, very important – Bryce Harper, Jesus Montero, and Mike Trout are all already owned an not draft eligible.

Now that we are all on the same page, here are the results:

Round 1
Team A Yoenis Cespedes
Team D (from Team B) Yu Darvish
Team C Matt Moore
Team D Julio Teheran
Team E Shelby Miller
My Team Trevor Bauer
Team F Devin Mesoraco
Team G Nolan Arenado
Team H Anthony Rizzo
Team I Wil Myers
Team J Jurickson Profar
Team K Manny Machado
Round 2
Team A Starling Marte
Team B Gerrit Cole
Team C Carlos Martinez
Team D Jameson Taillon
Team E Arodys Vizcaino
My Team Anthony Rendon
Team F Jarrod Parker
Team G Addison Reed
Team H Bubba Starling
Team I Taijuan Walker
Team J Jacob Turner
Team K Drew Pomeranz

For the most part, this draft went by-the-book, but there were a few surprises. My least favorite thing about this format was that someone was going to be handed an absolute gift in the form of an $8 Matt Moore. Instead, not one but two owners passed on the young Rays stud. I can see an argument for Darvish (although it is not an argument I would care to make) but Cespedes, particularly playing in Oakland, feels like a big reach. I picked sixth and am pretty sure I wouldn’t have taken Cespedes if he had been on the board there. Assuming all rookie-eligible players were draft eligible, I think Moore, Harper and Trout are a clear 1-2-3, and I can see taking them in any order, depending on league format and scoring rules. Without those three? Darvish, followed by one of Bauer/Miller/Teheran. Then I might think about Cespedes. But probably not take him.

Needless to say, based on the above, I was thrilled with Bauer at 6.

Mesoraco at seven is an interesting pick – probably a bit higher than most prospect-raters have him, but this format gives some added value to guys likely to make their debut this year (remember, you lose the pick next year if you never call the guy up), and Devin has a chance to be special at a position that is always tough to fill in fantasy.

I thought Myers was a steal in the midst of a slightly confusing end of the first round. Arenado and Rizzo are both slight reaches (Rizzo more than Arenado) but Rizzo’s owner, for one, wanted him for this year. And if your focus is 2012, it’s hard to argue with Rizzo over any of the four who went around him. The rough thing with a two-round draft is that if you want Rizzo, you basically have to reach, or hope no one drafts him (which I believe was a distinct possibility) so that you can get him during an in-season auction when he gets called up. But considering the young 1B options (Eric Hosmer, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Ike Davis) I can’t see taking him over the dual SS studs who went at the end of the round.

Team A again made a reach atop the second, grabbing Starling Marte when I am not even sure he was the best OF left to take. Michael Choice is closer to the bigs, Oscar Taveras, Gary Brown, and Josh Bell are all arguably more enticing in the long-run. And, especially having grabbed Cespedes in the first round, I think any of the pitchers who went behind him would be more appealing than Marte.

The whole draft was pitching-heavy. 14 of 24 picks, 9 of 12 in the second round. This is part of the reason I grabbed Rendon when I did. Forget the fact that, if healthy, he could be one of the top 2-3 prospects in baseball before long, he was one of very few bats worth grabbing in this two-round affair. The fact that he could move up fast and end up as a MI…well that is just gravy.

So, other than my team (I don’t want to be biased here!), I think I’d give my “best draft award” to Team I. Team D used a 2011 trade to grab an extra first round pick and walked away from this draft with a stacked, young rotation, but passing on Moore was a mistake. Team I, on the other hand, got great value despite drafting near the bottom – both Myers and Walker have high-ceilings and the potential to contribute in the near future.