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Monday 22nd May 2017

I always kind of crack up when my friends suggest that with the baseball season over, with the fall comes some down time. Surely, there is football to distract me from the respite suggested. But, those of us in the industry know that the span between now and the crazy culmination of travel and drafts that accompany spring training and the start of the season is not long.

Aside from writing profiles (if you ever want to prep for a draft or auction, try writing a few hundred!), this is the time of year that articles and projections and analysis and mock drafts with comments are all coordinated and sent off for publication. So far, I have participated in a couple.

Since we are essentially four months from the chaos of March, there have been surprises in the mocks I have witnessed. So, in order to whet your appetite a bit, as well as get your brain moving for the spring, here are indeed some of the surprises.

Carlos Correa (SS, Astros): Correa was a top five pick in both mocks, which makes him the hottest rookie I can remember. (Yes, Mike Trout did make a splash, jumping to being a top pick in 2013, but remember he lost some luster with a rugged first show in the Show in 2011). Such is the path of a 21-year-old shortstop with an .857 OPS. I guess we better get used to it.

Charlie Blackmon (OF, Rockies): Two mocks, and in both Blackmon was grabbed in the second round. Huh? It was Rotowire's Derek Van Riper who pointed out the .797 OPS with 31 doubles, 43 swipes, 17 homers, and 93 runs that make Blackmon pretty good across the board. Seems like he is getting better, too.

Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs): Not a big surprise, but Bryant is now more sought after than Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Not sure if that makes sense just yet, but for sure he is a first rounder thus far.

Kyle Schwarber (OF/C, Cubs): Qualifying at backstop boosts Schwarber some, but he was grabbed by the third round in both leagues, ahead of picks like Brandon Crawford (20 homers at short is not bad) even though steals are not out there in Schwarber's crystal ball. I do love the guy, and have no issue with this in a way, though I would like to see a full season before I can figure out whether Schwarber is Matt Stairs or Adam Dunn (neither meant as an insult at all).

Miguel Sano (DH, Twins): Again, taken in the second round in both mocks, which is a lot of stock and upside faith to put on a kid with just 80 games under his belt, but what can you say?

Mookie Betts (OF, Red Sox): If Betts and his .291-18-77-21 line warrants a first-round selection, suddenly Blackmon, maybe a round later with equal power and extra steals, seems to be a steal.

Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox): 196 hits last year, and nowhere to go but up, in theory. Bogaerts did slip to the third round. But again, that is a nice jump from last year.

Brian Dozier (2B, Twins): Dozier was a third-round pick last year in at least one mock, and repeated that with his return to mid-20's homers out of the keystone slot. Call me doubtful, but that looks like drafting out of scarcity to me, but reality is reality.

George Springer (OF, Astros): With Springer, as with just about everyone listed above not surnamed Dozier or Blackmon, a lot of stock in drafting early on is rooted in upside.

Since no wave of prospects like those who emerged in 2015 has ever occurred in baseball with the volume of last season, it is hard to assess which of these young guns will earn their draft price. They all could, but my guess is some will fall, suffering the Sophomore Jinx.

However, if you are indeed looking for some bargains as you begin to think about drafting in the spring, nominating the young guns early might leave some solid cheap vets for you to feast upon.

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