TDGX Experts League Draft: Rounds 34-40
The 2014 TDGX Experts League fantasy baseball draft is a wrap. Now, it’s time for a nap considering this was the most exhausting draft I’ve been a part of. Entering the draft, team ROTOscouting had two goals. First, avoid players past their primes. Second, find value every round
In looking back, both were accomplished — especially when it came to drafting players in TDGX who are in, or entering prime years (The oldest player is 30). On the flip side, there’s not a teenager in the group. In making a concerted effort to draft young Major League talent and upper level minor leaguers, every prospect has an ETA of 2015 at the latest.
Round 34, Pick 664: Robbie Erlin, LHP, San Diego Padres
Robbie Erlin was a personal favorite in 2010 as a member of the Texas Rangers organization. Few hurlers have made such a great first impression as he came in from the bullpen and carved up opposing hitters with ease. As he progressed through the system, it became apparent his command/control arsenal and high fly ball rates would be a poor fit at The Rangers Ballpark In Arlington.
Erlin being dealt at the trade deadline to the San Diego Padres was a blessing. PETCO’s friendly confines allow his arsenal to play up leaving little doubt Erlin will develop into a solid number three starter. 664 picks into the TDGX draft, I’ll take it. Plus, if rumors about his pitching out of the Padres bullpen are true, Erlin can be as productive as former Hickory Crawdads teammate Robbie Ross this season.
Round 35, Pick 697: Chris Withrow, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
It wouldn’t be a Double-A Dodgers affiliate without Chris Withrow, or so I thought. After spending four seasons at the level, Withrow opened 2013 in Triple-A and finished the year in Los Angeles. Ultimately, a move to the bullpen did wonders for the right-hander and his power fastball/slider mix became weapons.
Withrow will open 2014 in the Dodgers bullpen. And while he has closer upside, it will be difficult for Withrow to break through with Los Angeles considering the dominance of Kenley Jansen and the free agent signing on Brian Wilson, a reliever with four seasons of 36 or more saves under his belt. But in TDGX, waiting for arms to develop is expected, and the soon to be 25-year old has closer stuff if the command continues to improve.
Round 36, Pick 704: Ryan Flaherty, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
Ryan Flaherty is a poor hitter with the ability to run into a pitch every now and then, as evidenced by 10 home runs in 271 plate appearances. At 27, Flaherty’s power is good enough for Oliver projections to expect 21 home runs from the second baseman in 600 plate appearances. he’ll eventually be out of a job thanks to Jonathan Schoop, but that may wind up increasing his value to Team ROTOscouting as Pedro Alvarez is the only third baseman on the roster. If shifted to a utility role, Flaherty has the ability to be second base, shortstop and third base eligible with 12-15 home runs annually. That’s a nice player in a 20 team by 4o man league.
Round 37, Pick 737: Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
Mike Zunino, Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt. team ROTOscouting has three of the top young catchers in the game — at least defensively. In Rome, Bethancourt was a player scouted frequently across multiple seasons. And while he never flashed in game power, or the ability to drive the baseball, Bethancourt presented with elite athleticism and above average power in batting practice sessions.
In recent years, I’ve been in the minority in terms of Bethancourt’s offensive potential. He still has a long way to go, but 12 home runs and 11 steals in 90 Double-A games was comforting considering I’ve been steadfast in his ability to develop offensively. And with Evan Gattis and Ryan Doumit keeping the position warm in Atlanta, Bethancourt’s ETA isn’t far off.
Round 38, Pick 744: Stephen Lombardozzi, 2B, Detroit Tigers
By the end of 2014, Lombardozzi may be 2B, 3B, SS and OF eligible. Yes, please. ZIPS projects him to bat .267 with four home runs and 10 stolen bases this season — certainly better than playing an empty slot. Not much to say about this pick other than I needed a player with position flexibility and Lombardozzi fits the bill. Plus, he’s 25, so I’ll be able to pencil him into a reserve slot for the next decade.
Round 39, Pick 777: Alex Colome, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Mid-20′s? Check. Big fastball? Check. Athletic frame? Check. Command issues? Check. In many ways, the Rays right-hander is similar to Withrow, a pitcher drafted 80 picks earlier. At present, Colome is a three pitch guy, but his fastball/slider mix has power reliever possibilities if starting doesn’t work out.
Using “Last Player Picked” dollar values from DraftBuddy.com, six of the top-20 pitchers in 5×5 were closers. In TDGX, the goal was to find big arms with command issues late and speculate on future saves given most shutdown relievers today were starters at the MILB level. Between Colome and Enny Romero (taken earlier), it’s an attempt at cornering the market on the Rays’ closer of the future.
Round 40, Pick 784: Ryan Lavarnway, C, Boston Red Sox
When Ryan Lavarnway leveraged a 34-home run 2011 into top-100 rankings, I wasn’t buying. Having scouted the catcher in 2009, it was difficult to believe in the bat or glove behind the dish. Apparently, the Red Sox weren’t drinking the Kool-Aid either as Lavarnway has combined for less than 250 MLB plat appearances in 2012-2013.
At the end of March, Lavarnway may be back in the player pool, but he was worth a speculative pick this late just in case he’s dealt to a lesser team. After releasing Brett Wallace and with Carlos Corporan serving as back up catcher, Lavarnway would be a nice fit with the Astros who love acquiring players with top-100 rankings on their resume.
TDGX 40-Man Roster
In reviewing the full roster post draft, the team is light on active roster players. While many of the players in red have already debuted at the MLB level, none are expected to break camp with the big league club. In TDGX, any injuries will hit this roster hard in 2014. Seasons never unfold perfectly, but team ROTOscouting’s best chance to win early is for the pitching staff to become dominant, while position players do just enough to remain in contention. Then, a second half filled with prospect promotions strengthens the starting lineup.
17 Mar 2014 / Mike Newman /