This column is my favorite to write during draft season. I love talking about players that I love to draft, especially the guys in the later rounds.
Leagues are won in the late rounds and on the waiver wire. As conservative as I am in the early rounds, I’m extra aggressive in the late rounds and on the waiver wire. I try and hit home run after home run late in the draft because I know I can just out work the rest of the league on waivers. Not because I think I’m smarter, but because I’m a loser and check every game and meaningless stat possible because this is my escape from reality and I love it.
This list of players are guys I’m targeting in every draft. Their value and upside is too good for me to pass up. The best part about most of these players is, if I’m wrong and they aren’t as impactful as I’m anticipating, they’re an easy cut with where you drafted them at. Try and stay patient and give them at least four weeks before you make any irrational cuts, however.
German Marquez (ECR 104) and Nick Pivetta (ECR 141)
I’m pairing both German Marquez and Nick Pivetta since I’ve already discussed them in my players to buy column. In the later rounds, I try and focus on strikeouts and K/9 more than ratios and these two guys are going to be near the top of the league in that category.
Eloy Jimenez (ECR 123)
After signing a six-year contract extension, service time is no longer an issue for the White Sox. There is still some speculation that Jimenez still will start in the minor leagues, but I feel that to be a little far fetched. With the idea that Jimenez is going to be with the team for the entire season, or at least the majority of April onward, his ADP is going to skyrocket and I would draft him ahead of Vlad if I had to make that call right now.
Robbie Ray (ECR 119) and Chris Archer (ECR 124)
I’m pairing Robbie Ray and Chris Archer because in all the mocks I’ve done, I’ve gotten at least one of the two in pretty much every one. I love the value they provide in the 120 range. By this time in the draft, I try and have three starting pitchers already, so it lessens the risk of drafting Ray or Archer as their WHIP can be a killer. We’ve seen both pitchers provide top ten seasons and their ability to strike out batters is just something I can’t pass up, especially as my SP4.
Billy Hamilton (ECR 190)
I don’t think anyone gets excited to draft Billy Hamilton anymore, but if you miss out on steals early in the draft, I have no issue reaching a round or two for Hamilton. He will likely kill you in all the other categories, but 40 steal potential at this point in the draft is more than worth it. The Royals run, run and run some more and there’s no reason to think Hamilton won’t get his chances to swipe as many bags as he wants.
I try and not make Hamilton my prime source of steals as he does carry some downside and there is a chance he loses his job. You don’t want to have to cut a guy in May while not having any other source of steals on your roster. However, we’ve seen Hamilton provide top 50 value and getting that at 150 is worth it if you miss out on Trea Turner, Whit Merrifield or Adalberto Mondesi.
Jesse Winker (ECR 194)
My favorite late round pick this year is Jesse Winker. With a career .299/.397/.405 triple slash, it looks as if Winker is going to be the leadoff hitter on what has become a very good Reds lineup. Everything about Winker’s profile says he’s going to be an impact bat in the bigs. He had more walks than strike outs last season. His hard hit rate ranked 32nd in baseball among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances. And while his power numbers might not be exactly what you’re looking for — 14 home runs in 136 career games — his home run to fly ball rate went from 23.3% in 2017 to 8.9% in 2018. That number should go back to normal now that he’s a year removed from his shoulder injury. Winker is the guy I’m getting on every team this year.
Chris Paddack (ECR 274)
Chris Paddack has become everyone’s little spring training darling. Paddack has been absolutely dominate in the minor leagues and his success has carried over into spring training. It looks as if he has pitched his way into a rotation spot and while he’s likely going to be on an innings limit, he has the potential to be a top 40 starting pitcher on a per inning basis.
Paddack owns a career 11.7 K/9 in the minor leagues while possessing elite ratios as well — 1.82 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP. While never being considered an elite prospect, Paddack is my pre season pick to win National League Rookie of the Year.
Brandon Lowe (ECR 450)
The literal definition of no risk, high reward is Brandon Lowe. He’s basically free in leagues and he’s my last pick in damn near every draft I have done.
Lowe is the second player I was in the middle of writing about when the news of a contract extension broke. With an amazing spring, it looks as if Lowe has hit his way into a regular role with the Rays.
Lowe posses immense power, as he’s shown this spring. His plate discipline isn’t the best as he strikes out at a 25% rate, but he has legit 30 home run potential and to get that with your last pick, especially for someone that is second base eligible, is basically unheard of.
Good luck and go dominate your drafts!
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