Will the draft impact Fantasy leagues?
With the MLB draft in progress, teams are already adding the stars of tomorrow. Does that matter in Fantasy leagues?
Does the MLB Draft matter to Fantasy owners? Roughly 98 percent of the time, the answer is no. Amateur baseball players typically need time to adjust to the minor leagues. Hitters have to get used to wooden bats, while pitchers rarely have an advanced approach on the mound. This often leads to long wait times for prospects to reach the majors. In most leagues, it's not worth it to take that plunge. But, every so often, players find themselves up in the majors much sooner than expected. Who are some possible candidates who can make the jump quickly?
I should stress before we even start that I'm far from a draft expert. I'm relying on the information I've read over the past couple days and relating it for Fantasy leagues.
With that out of the way, there's probably not going to be a 2014 draftee who is worth picking up in re-draft leagues. The most likely candidates to get the call immediately after being drafted, and this applies to every draft, are college pitchers. The most "major-league ready" college pitchers in the draft, according to experts, were White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon, Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola and Twins second round pick Nick Burdi. Keep in mind that, if promoted, all of these players would likely pitch out of the bullpen. Both Rodon and Burdi are known for throwing hard, and having one wipeout secondary pitch, which is why it's conceivable they would be promoted. Nola was considered one of the closest players to the majors heading into the draft, and could fit in the same role. It's worth noting that the White Sox have done this thing before with Chris Sale, and pitching coach Don Cooper said he thought Rodon was close to the majors prior to the draft.
Even with all that in mind, there's still probably less than a five percent chance any of them are promoted this year. The Twins and Phillies aren't good, and wouldn't pull up a raw prospect just because. The White Sox could maybe make the case if they are in the race, but it's tough to depend on that. On top of that, these players will likely slot into middle reliever roles if called up. That means they probably aren't going to produce value in leagues that only reward saves for relievers. These are probably the three players most likely to come up, but it's tough to see them having immediate value.
Fantasy owners can pretty much rule out all other types of players. The Astros and Marlins have have grabbed high school pitchers with the top two picks, and may be in need of immediate help, but Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek won't move quickly. It will likely take years before either is ready to contribute. The upside is high, but you can't look past their inexperience/age. Neither player will have a ton of value in keeper leagues, unless your rosters go extremely deep. In dynasty formats with large enough rosters, these guys are must-own.
Hitters also typically need time to develop. Bryce Harper was a rare case of many things going right. He was considered a once in a lifetime-type prospect, played at a college with wooden bats and ran into some luck with his callup (he was filling in due to injury). Most hitters require at least a year in the minors, if not more. Hitters may move more quickly than high school pitchers, but it still takes a year or two before they reach the majors. Keeper league owners can take shots on hitters now, but it might be better to wait until March. At that time, you can see how a guy performed in the short-term, react to what prospect evaluators are saying and determine whether their team would actually bring them up.
So, after all that, we've come to the conclusion that the draft means little for Fantasy leagues. Rodon, Nola and Burdi could see time sooner than other players, but they probably won't be used in desirable Fantasy roles. Keeper league and dynasty league owners need to be more aware of players drafted Thursday, but even some of those player will require 3-4 years before they are ready.
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