Six rounds is one thing, but a full 23-rounder is something else. As it turned out, my second mock draft for the 2017 season was of the 15-team, 23-round variety, conducted Wednesday night and completed in less than two hours. There really wasn't a whole lot of time to think in between picks. But fortunately, I did most of my thinking in the days leading up to the draft. And this was an important mock, as it's the mock that will be featured in Rotoman Peter Kreutzer's annual Fantasy Baseball Guide Professional Edition, which should be available in newsstands everywhere by mid-January. So, just to whet your appetite, I figured I'd share some thoughts on a handful of early-round picks that caught my attention.
Brian Dozier (Round 1, Pick 15) - I get it, the guy hit 42 homers last year. Still, I can't get around the fact that his previous single-season high was 28. It is true that Dozier's home run and RBI totals have steadily increased over the past four seasons, so maybe we're looking at a player who is simply reaching his true potential. Or maybe his 2016 stat line will end up being the clear outlier. Drafting him at #15 overall seems like a reach to me, but that might be an accurate guess as to his draft day cost come March. If that's the case, the Twins second baseman will not be on any of my fantasy squads.
Wil Myers (Round 2, Pick 12) - Finally, Myers put together the kind of year that many envisioned he would eventually put together, though the 28 steals were a pleasant surprise. The oft-injured former Rookie of the Year managed to stay healthy for a full season, and fantasy owners who invested a mid-round pick on the 25-year-old were rewarded with an All-Star campaign. One cause for concern is that Myers faded in the second half, batting only .223 with nine homers and 34 RBI after hitting .286 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI prior to the All-Star break. But Myers is still young, so there's time for him to work on becoming a more consistent run producer. I'm not quite ready to spend a top-30 pick to draft the Padres first baseman, but at the same time, I wouldn't be shocked if he turns in a top-30 season in 2017.
Yu Darvish (Round 3, Pick 4) - Darvish's long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery was an overwhelming success, as the Rangers ace proved that he is indeed still an ace. His draft position in this mock suggests that Darvish will not be available at any sort of injury-related discount, so if you're planning on targeting him, be ready to pay accordingly.
Billy Hamilton (Round 4, Pick 14) - Only nine players swiped more than 30 bags in 2016. Yes, stolen base totals are down throughout baseball, so it's no wonder that Hamilton (58 steals in just 119 games last year) will carry a premium price tag. I've never been one to spend heavily on any single stolen base specialist, preferring to spread out my speed sources among multiple players. But considering this trend of disappearing steals, maybe it's time to rethink my approach.
Eduardo Nunez (Round 5, Pick 13) - Speaking of steals, Nunez was one of only five players (along with Hamilton) who registered at least 40 thefts last year. Merely a utility player until last season, the 29-year-old has developed into a highly productive everyday guy, hitting for average with some pop to go along with the elite speed. And he's entering a contract year, so Nunez will certainly be motivated to prove that 2016 wasn't a fluke. But grabbing Eduardo in the fifth round is a bold move. I wouldn't do it, but how am I going to acquire enough steals?
The good news? I have four months to think about this.
Follow me on Twitter @ZachMLB