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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Adolis Garcia, Christian Walker, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jeimer Candelario

Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Adolis Garcia, Christian Walker, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jeimer Candelario

There are several iterations of LABR drafts. Using the trusty FantasyPros Draft Wizard, I went with a 15-team, 29-round snake draft, using classic 5 x 5 Rotisserie scoring. The offensive categories are batting average, home runs, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases. The pitching categories are wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. Each team is required to start two catchers and one other player at each infield position. Teams are also required to start a corner infielder (CI) and a middle infielder (MI). Each team starts five outfielders along with one utility hitter (UT). On the pitching side, each team starts nine pitchers weekly. There is no designation between starters and relievers, though there is a minimum inning requirement to keep in mind.

I chose my draft position at random and was given the fifth selection. While that takes Ronald Acuna off the table, I am confident I can make this work. Here are the results of the draft along with my notes throughout. Below we dive into a few notable picks.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

15-Team LABR Style Mock Draft

Round 3: Adolis Garcia (OF – TEX) 

One of the trickiest parts of deeper leagues is trying to anticipate positional runs. This is the 35th overall pick. My next pick is 56th overall. Recent average draft position (ADP) data suggests that this is when many of the next tier of starting pitchers come off the board. If I did not secure Strider in the first round, I would almost be forced to grab a starter here. I am confident enough in Strider I can forego a starter here and possibly grab another in round four or five. Bo Bichette is still on the board and he is my highest-ranked overall player. However, shortstop is rather deep. As good as Bichette is, I can grab another quality shortstop later in the draft.

For me, this pick came down to Adolis Garcia and Randy Arozarena, as Luis Robert and Michael Harris II were the two picks right before me. I ultimately went with Garcia. Over the past three seasons, he has averaged 91 runs scored, 32 home runs, 99 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. I do not expect 16 steals and his batting average is less than ideal. But in Albies and Garcia, I have consistency and coverage at two premium positions.

Round 7: Christian Walker (1B – ARI) 

Only three starters were drafted after I took Steele. But those included Ryan and Cole Ragans, my top two options. So even though there are some first basemen I am comfortable with later, I decided to go with Christian Walker. I find him to be a very interesting player. His 2023 Statcast metrics pale in comparison to those he posted in 2022. Yet, his surface stats were a touch better in 2023. While he may have gotten a bit lucky last season, it is hard to argue against a player who has posted back-to-back seasons of 30+ home runs and a sub-20% strikeout rate. Making a list of players who fit both criteria won’t take you long. Just 11 hitters accomplished that feat last season, including Walker.

Round 10: Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B – PIT) 

A humorous situation almost arose here for me because not 72 hours before I took part in this draft I was having a conversation about drafts and rankings. The person I spoke with asked how much I liked Riley Greene, specifically in comparison to Marcell Ozuna. I have ranked Greene slightly higher but Ozuna is listed as an outfielder in his league. I suggested under those conditions, he should take Ozuna. Fast forward to this draft and Greene and Ozuna are two of the top three overall-ranked hitters on my board. However, Ke’Bryan Hayes was the top hitter on my board.

I try not to go overboard with paying attention to how players perform in spring training. Players are often trying out new things and the level of competition is all over the place. However, I do pay attention when a hot spring follows a solid second half of the season, which seems to be going under the radar. Ke’Bryan Hayes batted .307 with a 129 wRC+ from June 1 through the end of the season. That timeframe included an injury stint but we are still talking about 71 games here. In that span, Hayes hit 13 homers, scored 39 runs and drove in 42. That is a sustained period of success. If he can perform at that level over a full season, Hayes will be a huge value in fantasy baseball drafts.

Round 14: Jeimer Candelario (1B, 3B – CIN) 

Welp. O’Hoppe and Alvarez were gone by the end of round 13. Bo Naylor and Luis Campusano went in round 14. At this point, Mitch Garver and Tyler Stephenson are the only backstops I have ranked in my overall top 300. Considering we are at Pick 216, that feels a bit steep for either option. I might have to live with my catchers being average or slightly below. Meanwhile, I have a few players at different positions ranked similarly, including Eduardo Julien, Lourdes Gurriel and Jeimer Candelario. There are some starting pitchers I like and grabbing a second closer is not the worst idea in the world.

This is when it helps to have tiered rankings at each position while also keeping in mind where you are in each category as the draft progresses. That way you can determine which players represent the best value. As for this round, I went with Candelario. I like him for a couple of reasons. First, the dual eligibility helps. The Cincinnati Reds are chock full of multi-eligible players. And with the recent suspension of Noelvi Marte, they should find their way into the lineup regularly. Candelario is a switch hitter who should hit in the middle of a potent lineup. He should also get a large bump playing in Cincinnati. Per Statcast, Candelario would have hit 30 homers last year if all his games were played at Great American Ballpark. He would not have hit more than 25 in any other park.

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