Kris Bryant – Bryant climbed the ADP ladder all the way up to 105, but he’s been going in the 6th round in recent drafts. Surely, the black hole of third base scarcity is partially to blame. While I understand that, I also know the history of other shiny new, unproven toys at the hot corner. Anyone remember Brandon Wood, Dallas McPherson or Brett Lawrie? What did Hank Blalock do his first year? How many years did it take for Aramis Ramirez to put things together? Bryant has displayed more patience than free-swinging Cuban teammate Javier Baez, but Ramirez was the Heinz Ketchup poster child his last full season in Nashville, with 73 walks against 56 strikeouts. Despite Ramirez’s elite selectivity with the Sounds, in 163 games and 561 at-bats over his first three MLB seasons, his plate discipline evaporated, generating 34 walks. He produced a paltry 44 runs, 12 homers and a nifty .238 batting average.
Javier Baez – Elite bat speed and legitimate 30-20 potential. The sky is the limit…for his strikeout totals. 95 punch outs in 52 games projects to 296 whiffs over a full season. Unless he changes his approach, he might have to rent storage space to keep all of his golden sombreros. The long-term prospects remain bright, but he has a low floor for someone with a 106 ADP.
Jorge Soler – With an ADP of 118, “hip-hip” Jorge’s price is only slightly easier on the fantasy wallet. Though he only received a cup of coffee in the Windy City last year, he displayed effortless power, as if casually poking one out to center was as easy as eating a sandwich. He’s had good pitch recognition when I’ve seen him and I think he will be able to adjust quicker than the Cubs violent swinging second baseman.
Anthony Rizzo – I usually like to see two full years of production at a certain level before paying a premium for it. That being said, Rizzo figured out how to hit lefties last year. Package that with patience and discipline at the plate and owners are probably safe investing an early pick on the young slugger. Probably.
Jon Lester - Can the lefty from Boston coming off a career year return another $25 in 2015? An elevated 80.5% strand rate and an average fastball that lost a tick on the radar gun speak caution. A 2.82 FIP and 3.10 xFIP against a 2.46 ERA confirm his good fortune, but also that he was still pretty darn good. A move to the NL replacing the DH with a pitcher and turning over opposing lineups just a hair less should ease the concern of potential investors.
Hector Rondon – This blurb is not for the sabermetrically minded. Rondon gained 2 mph on his average fastball. His K/BB ratio is elite. He induced more ground balls, and more infield popups. So why would anyone avoid this star on the rise? I watched him try to preserve a few wins for me in 2014. I didn’t see most of his games, just a few, but every…single…time it was unnerving: a diving catch against the wall, a line smash right at the third baseman with runners at the corners, an infielder picking a scorching grounder and making a miraculous throw to first to quell a rally. He got lucky every time I watched. His line drive rate is 23.2%, which is right there with David Robertson and Craig Kimbrel. Perhaps Schroedinger’s Cat is playing tricks on me. Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound when nobody watches? What does Hector Rondon do when I don’t watch? How did I become so powerful?
Obviously, this does not mean that these Cub hitters are undraftable, but one should try to minimize the number of low-floor players in the early rounds. If you take a chance on Bryant, I’d recommend a backup plan, one that doesn’t include Juan Uribe.