In this article, I will show you my suggested team build for when you get an earlier pick in the draft, and that is to build a dominant offense led by an MVP candidate. Our free mock draft simulator is my go-to for preparing for my fantasy baseball drafts. This simulator allows custom league settings to be imported and provides insight as to why the rankings are the way they are, instead of only placing players in order.
The reason that I chose the second pick, is because early on in the draft, you are looking for a player that is so good, that they are worth having over the opportunity to have two of the players picked in the large number of spots between Pick 2 and 23. There is a lot of talent in the game today, but looking at this in a practical light, the teams with the best players are always the ones that are in the best positions to succeed when everything out of their control is going according to plan.
12-Team Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft Results
The lineup for this 12-team draft is C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, UTIL, 2 SP, 2 RP, 4 P, 5 BN, and it was conducted using FantasyPros’ Draft Simulator.
1.2: Aaron Judge (OF – NYY)
I was quite honestly surprised to see him available for me to take with the second pick, but there was no hesitation that the Yankees’ do-it-all MVP outfielder was the selection here. He has refined his hitting to such a masterful level, and there are very few in the game that can come close to the prodigious power numbers he has put up and is capable of putting up on a regular basis… all while hitting at or near .300.
2.11: Austin Riley (3B – ATL)
The National League leader in total bases is a player who has been steady in terms of his average for the last two years and has started to realize his power potential. That average is .288 over the last two years, and he seems poised to have another great year in Year 1 of his extension. With a loaded lineup and 71 homers over the last two seasons, there may not be a run producer set up better than Riley in the N.L. for 2023.
3.2: Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)
Following up an N.L. MVP candidate with the previous winner of the award does not happen too often. To be able to have an early focus on hitting, and to get both MVPs from the year prior feels almost like stealing, but we will definitely take it. Goldschmidt had the best year of his incredible career, with a .981 OPS, 35 HRs, and 115 RBIs. Look for Goldy around this spot in the draft, and take it to the bank!
4.11: Cedric Mullins (OF – BAL)
While we are drafting to build a dominant offense, it is vital that the speed aspect is not forgotten about. Being a dominant offense means crushing all categories, and Mullins will certainly help with that! He is a true threat in steals and runs with the potential to be impactful in average and homers. This is great value for the Orioles’ stud outfielder!
5.2: Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI)
Wheeler is coming off of another stellar year in Philadelphia, and he has really turned the rotation into a 1A/1B with another stud pitcher in the likes of Aaron Nola. In 69 starts as a Phillie, Wheeler has pitched to a 2.82 ERA. He has struck out 463 hitters in 437.1 innings and has had a stellar 1.045 WHIP. It is rare that you find a career strikeout-per-inning guy that improves as his career progresses. Snag Wheeler here and look for him to give you dominant stats on a per-inning basis.
6.11: Eloy Jimenez (OF – CWS)
The “Big Baby” shed some weight this offseason, and I expect his durability to increase significantly if he can maintain this 25-pound lighter frame. Eloy was an absolute stud in the 84 games that he played last year, slashing .295/.327/.504 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs. His 162-game average in his career is 36 HRs, 108 RBIs, and a .276 average. This is unreal value for a guy that I think can do that in a season if he can just stay on the field. Draft Eloy and pray the injury bug’s away for potential first-four-round results!
7.2: Zac Gallen (SP – ARI)
Coming off of what was by far the best year of his career, Gallen looks really strong heading into 2023. In 31 starts, he pitched to a 2.54 ERA, with 192 strikeouts in 184 innings and a league-leading 0.913 WHIP. Think about it — he allowed 121 hits in 184 innings; that is bonkers. I think there is a little room for growth in the wins department, as he was 12-4, but this was on a 74-88 fourth-place team. I anticipate that they will improve somewhat over last year and a 15-16 win season is very possible. Great value this late.
8.11: Byron Buxton (OF – MIN)
The former top prospect showed what he could do in 2021, hitting .306 with 19 homers, 23 doubles, and 32 RBIs in 61 games. But that number of games should be what stands out to everyone. He still managed to hit 28 HRs in 92 games last season, so the power per game is among the league’s best, but he may hurt you in the average department if he can’t get into a rhythm of playing games, as was shown with his .224 average last season. Look for the power, and a guy who has speed but hasn’t been able to use his legs to steal you a few bags. This is a move that doesn’t have much downside this late but could bring you to a championship.
9.2: Nestor Cortes Jr. (SP – NYY)
Nasty Nestor has been one of the most underappreciated pitchers in the league over the last two years. In 50 games (42 starts), he pitched to a 14-7 record, with 266 strikeouts in 251.1 innings and a .979 WHIP. The majority of those wins came last season, where he was 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA, and pitched in his first All-Star game. Nasty Nestor deserves some love, and I think that four straight years over a strikeout per inning, combined with the best defensive catcher in baseball, should help you see returns on this investment.
10.11: Hunter Greene (SP – CIN)
Speaking of championship moves, Hunter Greene has a right arm sent from the gods. His 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings may stand out to you, but to me, his 1.02 ERA in his final six starts of the season signals that there is something there that could be unleashed in a big way in 2023. I think in the 10th round, there is no reason not to take a shot on one of the liveliest arms in our game today.
11.2: David Bednar (RP – PIT)
12.11: Alexis Diaz (RP – CIN)
13.2: Jhoan Duran (RP – MIN)
14.11: Hunter Renfroe (OF – LAA)
15.2: Vaughn Grissom (2B – ATL)
16.11: Jon Gray (SP – TEX)
17.2: Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL)
18.11: Joey Meneses (1B, OF – WSH)
19.2: Kyle Finnegan (RP – WSH)
20.11: Gabriel Moreno (C – ARI)
21.2: Esteury Ruiz (OF – OAK)
22.11: Yoan Moncada (3B – CWS)
23.2: Edward Cabrera (SP – MIA)
24.11: David Robertson (RP – NYM)
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