Mock drafting in October? Crazy, right? Well, I do it every year, organizing and participating in the annual MLB.com October mini-mock, lasting six rounds and is now complete. Click here for the pick-by-pick results plus commentary from each of the owners.
The reality is that it's never too early to start thinking about next season, the player pool at the various positions and most importantly, the newcomers to the early rounds. These are the guys who likely resided on the rosters of most championship fantasy squads, as the cost to draft them last spring was minimal yet the reward was great. So, before we turn our full attention to 2017, let's take some time to recognize a handful of these 2016 high-profit earners, and let's plan on drafting the 2017 version of this group. Easier said than done. Note that all of these players were selected in the six-round mini-mock and were purchased for no more than five dollars in the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars league.
Jonathan Villar - This $1 auction buy is now a consensus top-50 player, and he was valued even higher (#27 overall) in the mini-mock. With reliable speedsters in short supply these days, third round doesn't seem like much of a stretch. Still, while 50-plus steals is well within reach for 2017, I'm not expecting another 19-home run campaign. For owners who like to invest heavily in one dominant stolen base source, Villar is your guy. I prefer to spread out the risk when addressing steals, so Villar is unlikely to reside on any of my fantasy rosters.
Trevor Story - Story missed the final two months of his rookie campaign due to injury, but fantasy owners of the Rockies shortstop still got more than they expected from him over a full season (27 HR, 72 RBI). This was a case of a rookie actually living up to the hype, and judging from his draft position in the mini-mock (Round 4, Pick 1), owners hoping to obtain Story's services for 2017 at an injury-related discount can forget about it.
Jean Segura - Heading into the 2016 draft season, Segura piqued my interest as a potential breakout candidate who might benefit from a fresh start with the Diamondbacks. I figured he could bat .260 with 30 steals, 8-10 homers and a decent number of runs should he hit near the top of the order. But a .319 batting average with 20 home runs, 33 steals and 102 runs scored? I didn't expect that. No one did. I wouldn't mind owning Segura in 2017, but 47th pick? That's pushing it. Do note that speed came at a hefty cost in this mock (see Jonathan Villar). Let's see if this trend continues as the mock draft season progresses.
Kyle Hendricks - Drafted as a back-end of the rotation mixed league starter last spring ($4 in Mixed Auction Tout Wars), Hendricks turned in a career year in 2016, going 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Although it is hard to see him matching that stat line in 2017, it would be unfair to dismiss this past season as a fluke. There's clearly a lot to like about the soon-to-be 27-year-old, particularly his pinpoint control (2.1 BB/9 in '16). But honestly, it was strange to see him drafted before David Price.
Aaron Sanchez - Speaking of strange, it is very strange to remember that Sanchez entered spring training in a competition for Toronto's final starting rotation spot. Well, the young righty won that competition and quickly established himself as the club's most reliable starter, finishing the season with a 15-2 record to go along with a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
From $1 auction purchase to 64th overall pick in the span of seven months.