2017 HBL Dynasty League Prospect Draft – So Deep You’ll Love It

The HBL is what many around here would call a “home league”, though I generally take that comment to mean the level of skill is lower than that of an expert level league, which in this case would do a disservice to describe the talented owners we have. Over the course of 18+ years this group has been together, we’ve honed something I now refer to as “Hampshire-style dynasty”. The key components to this style of fantasy baseball are: 25 man roster (1C, 3OF, DH, 9P, 7 Bench), $217 salary cap (25-man only), 10 man minor league roster and an annual “prospect draft” each year during the All-Star break. While many of you fantasy players are getting twitchy, accidentally clicking on your live scoring 6-10 times a day for the four day break, we’re enjoying a glorious, leisurely-paced live draft for our future man-crushes.

Hampshire-style dynasty actually shares a few similarities with the Ottoneu-style keeper leagues, but the minor league portion of the roster is set to mimic real-life baseball. Minor league player salaries, upon promotion, are set based on the round they are selected. $4 for a first-rounder, $3 for a second, $2 for a third and $1 for a fourth. This ensures that you’ll be able to keep most players a minimum of 3 years before their salaries become a decision point, and for super-star players it’s common to see them kept for 6 to 9 years before being released back into the auction. The feel is something very similar to the arbitration salary escalation process.

I share the background because I feel this feature is a fantastic one for those of you playing or creating dynasty leagues. The reason I wrote the article, though, is because I’m hoping to share the names of some further-off prospects to drive discussion. Because we roster 120 minor league players, we’re pretty well clear of the Baseball America Top 100 list, but both The Dynasty Guru’s Top 300 Prospects and the FG Consensus prospect rankings list are a useful base from which to begin monitoring prospect names. Both midseason prospect updates from BA and BP come out the week before our draft, and the new MLB draft class along with the J2 signings make for a really interesting first two weeks of July for us prospect hounds.

2017 HBL Prospect Draft
# Owner Player Team Pos Highest Level
1 O’Connor Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blue Jays 3B A+
2 Helmers Francisco Mejia Indians C AA
3 Vonderharr Mitch Keller Pirates SP A+
4 Duginske/Pelto Luis Robert White Sox OF R
5 Beyler Bo Bichette Blue Jays 2B R
6 Woody Walker Buehler Dodgers SP AA
7 Jabs Michael Kopech White Sox SP AA
8 Kummer Triston McKenzie Indians SP A+
9 Jabs Forrest Whitley Astros SP A+
10 Rogers Scott Kingery Phillies 2B AAA
11 Kummer Brendan McKay Rays 1B/SP 2017 Draftee
12 Biesanz Hunter Greene Reds SP/SS 2017 Draftee
# Owner Player Team Pos Highest Level
13 Kummer Rhys Hoskins Phillies 1B AAA
14 Rogers Mike Soroka Braves SP AA
15 Jabs Kolby Allard Braves SP AA

The first round of the draft normally consists of a few staple “types”. The guys we missed on last year that were fast movers (Guerrero Jr., Kingery, Bichette, Mejia), the new high-profile international signees (Robert), and whichever pitchers we missed last year that progressed quickly and now have industry hype around them (Kopech, Keller, Buehler, McKenzie, et al). Depending on the year, the current MLB draft class may get some love in the first round as well (McKay, Greene)

Though I didn’t myself have a first round selection, I had Vlad Jr. as the number one player available. There are some players like Hoskins or Mejia who are closer to having a fantasy impact, but we’re generally drafting for ceiling here. Among the top arms available Mitch Keller has been my favorite for going on a year now. Both Guerrero Jr and Keller were on my list as possible fourth round selections last year, but I didn’t pull the trigger (Delvin Perez, SS, STL was my sole 4th round selection in 2016 because I’m a sucker for shortstop prospects).

The Competitive Finish Round, which are picks awarded to those teams who finish in 4th through 6th place (just outside “the money”) kicked off what forever shall be known as the “holy cow the Braves have a lot of starting pitching prospects” draft.

2017 HBL Prospect Draft
# Owner Player Team Pos Highest Level
16 Jabs MacKenzie Gore Padres SP 2017 Draftee
17 Helmers Willie Calhoun Dodgers 2B AAA
18 Duginske/Pelto Chance Sisco Orioles C AAA
19 Helmers Kyle Wright Braves SP 2017 Draftee
20 Beyler Sixto Sanchez Phillies SP A
21 Woody Franklin Perez Astros SP A+
22 Melichar Derek Fisher Astros OF MLB
23 Melichar Ryan Mountcastle Orioles SS A+
24 Melichar Juan Soto Nationals OF A
25 Rogers Dominic Smith Mets 1B AAA
26 Todosichuk Royce Lewis Twins SS R
27 Beyler Carson Kelly Cardinals C AAA

Round 2 featured a couple players I had pegged as first round talents on my board with Calhoun and Fisher. It didn’t hurt that their proximity to impact is < 1 year. I’m also biased against selecting many pitchers, especially prior to AA. The probability of them washing out, having arm/shoulder injuries, or taking the [insert pitcher name who flew through the minors, was called up, didn’t fare well for three years, but you owned him in parts of all three seasons only to see a league-mate hit the lotto after you dropped him for the fifth time name here] and having to live with that shame/guilt.

Juan Soto was an interesting case. I’d honestly not heard his name before the BP midseason list came out and they ranked him #12. Once I started hearing things like “Victor Robles” I took notice and decided he was likely worth the gamble. My other picks in this round included Derek Fisher who I concluded was a safer high-ish ceiling guy with both speed and power (and currently nowhere to play in Houston, nor a decent lineup slot if he did), and Ryan Mountcastle who by all scout accounts won’t actually stick at SS but I’m hoping for a Brad Miller type. Mountcastle can’t take a walk, but we use AVG and Total Bases, so you can guess how many [poops] I could give so long as he can make it to the Show. Maybe he can learn from Adam Jones . . . or really any Orioles player, they really don’t seem to value OBP in that organization, do they?

I was happy to see so many pitchers and catchers go, because my draft strategy basically has me ignoring them.

2017 HBL Prospect Draft
# Owner Player Team Pos Highest Level
28 Melichar Jhailyn Ortiz Phillies OF A-
29 Helmers Austin Beck Athletics OF R
30 Vonderharr Luis Ortiz Brewers SP AA
31 Kummer Estevan Florial Yankees OF A
32 Beyler Riley Pint Rockies SP A
33 Woody Jack Flaherty Cardinals SP AAA
34 Vonderharr Shane Baz Pirates SP R
35 Duginske/Pelto Leody Taveras Rangers OF A
36 Melichar Taylor Trammel Reds OF A
37 Rogers Dylan Cease White Sox SP A
38 Helmers Luiz Gohara Braves SP AA
39 Todosichuk Fernando Tatis Jr. Padres SS A

I kicked off Round 3 with a player I decided I couldn’t wait on, even though I really wanted to get him in the fourth round so that his starting salary could be $1 someday down the road.

I love Jhailyn Ortiz. A lot. Probably too much. You may or may not remember him from the Vladimir Guerrero J2 class. Well I did, and I just started seeing some hype articles on the kid this week. I got scared and jumped to grab him. This is the type of player, the “fast movers”, that we generally miss in our draft (myself included) and end up being #1 of 1 the following year. His power potential is unmatched and I’m glad to own his ceiling.

My leaguemates all seemed generally bummed when Florial went off the board. I hadn’t read much on him but when there’s that much chatter when a single player goes off the board that’s generally a good sign for the owner who took him.

The other player of note in this round is Austin Beck, who was dubbed “future hall-of-famer” by his team. This is the type of crazy prognostication smack-talk that becomes lore.

I chose another player in this round, Taylor Trammel from the Reds. He’s your typical toolsy prep kid with speed and power. We all draft these guys every year. Sometimes they’re Monte Harrison and sometimes they’re Andrew McCutchen.

2017 HBL Prospect Draft
# Owner Player Team Pos Highest Level
40 Rogers Jesus Sanchez Rays OF A
41 Helmers Thomas Szapucki Mets SP A
Vonderharr **PASS**
42 Kummer JB Bukauskas Astros SP 2017 Draftee
43 Biesanz Colton Welker Rockies 3B A
44 Woody Kyle Lewis Mariners OF A+
45 Melichar James Kaprielian Yankees SP A+
Duginske/Pelto **PASS*
46 Melichar Yordan Alvarez Astros 1B A+
47 Melichar Cole Tucker Pirates SS A+
48 Helmers Jeren Kendall Dodgers OF 2017 Draftee
49 Biesanz Michael Chavis Red Sox 3B AA

The fourth round is where things really get fun. We’re really past all the highest ranked talent on the industry lists and now you’re just using your intuition to try and snag the guys who will become the 2018 1st round picks — a year early. I was lucky enough to have traded for a few extra fourth round picks and had 3 picks in a row near the back of the round.

One player, I was sitting on all draft was Yankees 55FV SP James Kaprielian. He’s had Tommy John surgery this year, but with any luck I was able to snag a 1st round talent at a 4th round price. Having elite $1 pitchers to call up and hitch your wagons to for 4-9 years is every owner’s dream in this league. I’m just hoping he can be another TJ success story. I believe that if he doesn’t get hurt he’s right up there with Keller and Buehler in the fist round this year.

My other two picks aren’t the most conventional draft choices, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Truth be told, Colton Welker was snagged infront of me, so I had to scramble for my last guy, who ended up being Cole Tucker. Tucker is ranked as the #5 Pirates prospect on MLB Pipeline and #7 here at FG by Longenhagen. I skipped rival Pirates SS prospect, Kevin Newman (#4 MLB, #5 FG) because I love the steals that Tucker has piled up in his time in the minors. I can see he doesn’t have 60 or 70 grade speed, but when you’re gambling on ceiling you have to throw up a few hail mary shots. I was able to watch some video on Tucker, and the scouting reports told me the same thing my eyes told me, which is that he’s awfully “slappy” for a 6’3 180lb former first round pick. Also, in the video I found, his hands are all over the place from the left side of the plate (he’s a switch hitter). I’m scared and excited all at once.

The last pick I made was Yordan Alvarez. I was so caught up hoping no one noticed him or was writing about him to notice that he made the Future’s Game roster. Much like Jhailyn Ortiz, Alvarez is a former J2 signee as well and also has big time power. He was just recently promoted to A+ after destroying baseballs in A to the tune of a .297 ISO. I like the sound of that.

I’ve had a great time writing up our league’s draft and I hope it’s given some of you dynasty league owners some more names to talk about. I’d love to see comments about who you think got great value in this draft, as well as anyone that wasn’t taken that you might have drafted.

I can tell you that the top players left from the BA Midseason list after we were done drafting were: Luis Urias, Anthony Alford, and pitchers Brandon Woodruff, Alex Faedo, Ian Anderson, Anthony Banda, Erick Fedde, Justus Sheffield, Tyler Mahle, Matt Manning, Beau Burrows, and Nick Niedert. I considered some of these arms with my fourth round picks, but as I said, I prefer to see most of them pitch at AA and spend a higher pick on them if I really like them.

We hoped you liked reading 2017 HBL Dynasty League Prospect Draft – So Deep You’ll Love It by Jim Melichar!

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Scoring system?


Also, do you allow unsigned players (e.g., rising college juniors) to be drafted?