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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 10-Team, Early Pick (2023)

Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 10-Team, Early Pick (2023)

My longest-running home league began when two of my favorite kids in the world were ages 12 and 10 and wanted to play for fun. They invited some of their similarly-aged friends, and a smattering of adults joined in to get the league to 10 teams. I joined a couple of years later as some players dropped out for various reasons. Now, one of those kids is 28, and we’re still at it.

Once a year, we gather in a living/dining room and have a literal live draft. We have a giant board with stickers, pencils, paper, and various levels of trash-talking. (A math professor lives in that house, hence the omnipresent pencils.) Draft day will forever be my favorite day of the year, even now when I play in a dozen leagues of varying skill, difficulty, and scoring.

I used the Draft Simulator and linked to this league with the My Playbook function on FantasyPros, and voila! We’ll go through the results of my 10-team, mixed, 5×5, H2H categories league mock draft, and I’ll explain my thought process for each.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

10-Team Mock Draft: Third Pick

Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, 1 UTIL, 3 SP, 2 RP, 4 P, and 3 bench players.
Categories: R, RBI, HR, SB, AVG | K, W, SV, ERA, WHIP

Pick 1.03: Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF – ATL)

The mock drafts that I have been happiest with are the ones in which I draft an outfielder in Round 1. Earlier in the year, I was adamant that I would stop the underrated madness and draft Jose Ramirez if he were available, and I believe he is still extremely valuable. But I was happy that Acuna fell to me as I think he has the potential to be a Top 5 overall fantasy player at the end of the year.

Pick 2.08: Mike Trout (OF – LAA)

Later in this draft, I’ll probably yammer on and on about how I wanted to be picky with regard to injury risk in certain positions, but apparently, in Round 2, I’m perfectly happy assuming all sorts of injury risk. Because I had Acuna and his SBs in the first round, I had no problem picking the projected 40 HR, high-OBP, high-average guy here. He may have more rest days going forward to keep him healthier, but the production should still be there when he is in the lineup.

Pick 3.03: Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)

While I see first base as deeper than we think it is, it’s not bottomless when it comes to 40/100/90 guys. Alonso cut down his strikeout rate in 2022 and raised his batting average to a career-high .271. He has a solid top of that Mets order to help him knock in copious runs, and unlike the first two picks, he has played 150+ games every year of his career.

These first three hitters have a combined ATC projection of 109 HR, 300 RBI, and a .270 batting average. I’ll take that, thank you very much.

Pick 4.08: Francisco Lindor (SS – NYM)

Speaking of players for Alonso to bring home, Lindor bounced back in 2022 after his abysmal 2021 season and is projected to hit 23+ bombs while scoring 90 runs and stealing 15 bases. He also played in 161 games last year, which served my need to find a “high-floor” guy in Round 4. I find Lindor to be a “boring” pick while still being a Top 5 shortstop in a very deep pool at the position.

Pick 5.03: Kyle Schwarber (OF – PHI)

Since I was so excited about protecting my batting average through four picks, I thought it was definitely time to balance that out. Sticking with my power theme, I picked last year’s leader in homers in the NL (46). Schwarber had his lowest OBP of his career in 2022, but his xwOBA was 52 points higher. He also scored 100 runs and drove in 94. Assuming Trea Turner will now be on base ahead of him, I expect the RBIs to cross the century mark while he continues to Hulk Smash.

Pick 6.08: Kevin Gausman (SP – TOR)

The sixth round has become my target to begin looking at starting pitching. I had my choice of Gausman, Luis Castillo, and Max Fried here, and honestly, those three are a dart throw for me. I slightly prefer Gausman for innings and a higher strikeout rate. He also was decimated by a ridiculous .363 BABIP in 2022, which should improve this season.

Pick 7.03: Jordan Romano (RP – TOR)

I would have taken Josh Hader had he lasted in Round 6, but I’m perfectly happy with Romano in this slot. I wanted one closer with 30+ projected saves in the first 10 picks so I could basically ignore the category for the rest of the draft, knowing that a 10-team league leaves a lot of waiver options for saves.

Pick 8.08: Yu Darvish (SP – SD)

Back to my “draft SP who will rack up innings” plan, Darvish is an oft-ignored starter who keeps kicking along at the age of 36. He will protect my WHIP, strike out plenty of batters, and plays for a team that should provide an abundance of run support to grab a few wins along the way.

In all honesty, I would have grabbed Cristian Javier with this pick if he’d fallen two more spots, and I may have cursed a bit that he didn’t.

Pick 9.03: Tim Anderson (SS – CWS)

I had every hope and dream that Gunnar Henderson would slip into this pick, and of course, he went one before it. I’m not in love with him, but Anderson slides into my MI slot to continue floating my batting average while picking up some steals. He hasn’t been overly durable the past few years, but I don’t mind him as a second SS with a 20/20 upside.

Pick 10.08: Nathaniel Lowe (1B – TEX)

Three 1B went in Round 10, and I was happy to have Lowe fill my CI roster spot. I’m expecting a big bounce-back year from Corey Seager, so Lowe should flirt with the 80-90 RBI mark batting behind him and Semien. While this isn’t an OBP league, it never hurts to have a guy who is on base a lot.

Pick 11.03: Luis Severino (SP – NYY)

I’ve been targeting Severino in a lot of leagues for his strikeout upside and low WHIP. The injury risk exists, but he is a perfectly acceptable SP3 for this team.

Pick 12.08: Jake McCarthy (OF – ARI)

I have to start five outfielders, and my first three are power guys. McCarthy supplements them with speed, speed, and more speed. The Diamondbacks stole the sixth-most bases in MLB last season, and I’m hoping McCarthy unabashedly runs whenever he wants to.

Pick 13.03: Charlie Morton (SP – ATL)

I’m not exactly thrilled that Morton is 39 years old, but he struck out 205 batters last year and should approach that number again if he stays healthy and doesn’t start acting his age all of a sudden.

Pick 14.08: Jhoan Duran (RP – MIN)

I think the Twins know that Duran is their best reliever, but that could work against my hope that he will eventually be named closer. Chances are good the 25-year-old will be used in the highest-leverage situations, but I’m rolling the dice that he will still get 15-20 saves while boosting my strikeouts and ratios.

Pick 15.03: Matt Chapman (3B – TOR)
Pick 16.08: Ryan Mountcastle (1B – BAL)

These two corner infielders are so similar in my mind that it’s kind of eerie. Chapman will have a bit more power and plays in a better lineup for counting stats, whereas Mountcastle will have a balanced batting average and could surprise us with increased power this season as well. I’m not particularly happy with Chapman as my first 3B, but I’m not devastated either.

Pick 17.03: Joe Ryan (SP – MIN)
Pick 18.08: Jeff McNeil (2B, OF – NYM)
Pick 19.03: Drew Rasmussen (SP – TB)

With only six pitchers on my squad, I began drafting SP depth with a couple of guys who are built to be rotation fillers and have displayed some upside in the past year. And McNeil continues my pattern of protecting batting average while beginning to look toward multi-position eligibility.

Pick 20.08: Cal Raleigh (C – SEA)

I hate drafting catchers, and I usually look for a guy who isn’t going to actively hurt my squad. So I’ll take a flier on the guy with 20+ HR power and just hope he doesn’t do too much damage elsewhere. If I’d missed out on him, my target would have been Jonah Heim with my last pick.

Pick 21.03: Thairo Estrada (2B, SS – SF)

My McNeil/Estrada duo is pretty much my entire plan for approaching 2B this season.

Pick 22.08: Andrew Heaney (SP – TEX) 

While I won’t be drafting Jacob deGrom anywhere this year, I will have plenty of pieces of the rest of the Rangers’ rotation. Since HR isn’t a negative pitcher stat in this league, Heaney has all the strikeout upside I want at this point in the draft.

Pick 23.03: Seranthony Dominguez (RP – PHI)

The Phillies bullpen is messy, but I have zero faith that Kimbrel is going to stick as their full-time closer, so I took a stab at the guy who got chances last season and has a 30% K rate.

Pick 24.08: Ramon Laureano (OF – OAK)

The 24th round feels like about the right time to start drafting players from Oakland. Laureano has 20/15 potential, which I’m totally good with as a fifth or sixth outfielder. Plus, he’s making $3.55 million this year, which might be too high for the A’s front office so he could be gone at the deadline.

Pick 25.03: Jon Gray (SP – TEX)

I’m a pretty big fan of Jon Gray this season, so I was excited to draft him with my last pick. I think injuries derailed his success last year, and I hope that will correct if he stays healthy.

This mock draft received an A+ grade, and I really honed in on my strategy this season with it. Contrary to previous years when I couldn’t wait to overdraft every pitcher I liked, I won’t have any issue holding off on pitching while loading up on power in the first 4-5 rounds. In a 10-team league, you can make up for most mistakes on the waiver wire.

I hope you all have a league where you get to draft in person with life-long friends. And, as always, good luck!

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Kelly Kirby is a featured writer and the lead copyeditor at FantasyPros. You can check out her archive here and follow her on Twitter at @thewonkypenguin.

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