As promised, throughout the week, I went through and picked myself an expansion organization using the protection list that I made. One important thing to note is that, during expansion drafts, while teams aren’t technically at liberty to disclose information regarding their or other teams’ protection lists, deals are frequently made beforehand. That being said, while I did not use that method, there are a number of players who I would certainly pursue via trade based on the automatic protection rule, or the “one player per team, per round” rule. Potential targets include, but are not limited to: catcher Deon Stafford (Pittsburgh), shortstop Esteban Quiroz (Boston), second baseman Will Maddox (Detroit), JP Sears (New York Yankees), Ernie Clement (Cleveland), Zach Schellenger (Boston), and Raimfer Salinas (New York Yankees).
Without further ado, here is my draft:
In round one, there were very few surprises regarding certain players that I took. I started off taking prospects who were left unprotected. My first pick was LaMonte Wade out of the Twins organization. The grossly underrated outfield prospect remains my second-favorite prospect in the minors (behind Domingo Acevedo) and was a no-brainer at first overall. The succeeding three picks were Albert Abreu of the Yankees, Rogelio Armenteros of the Astros, and Josh Ockimey of the Red Sox.
If you can recall my piece suggesting a J.T. Realmuto trade to Houston, last month, I spent some time discussing Armenteros. This was my profile on him:
“While many would consider Bukauskas to be the prize of the deal, Armenteros is one of my favorite players in the minor leagues. At 23 years old, Armenteros made the Pacific Coast League look easy posting a 2.16 ERA over 58.1 innings pitched with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings and just 2.9 walks per nine. While those numbers would be good anywhere, the fact that he posted statistics like that in the Pacific Coast League is mind-blowing. Some analysts have him as a middle reliever long-term, which I think is absolutely insane. He looks to me like a 2018 rookie of the year candidate.”
As the first round trudged on, I began adding some proven major league talent, including Cubs infielder Addison Russell; Indians third baseman/outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall; a quartet of intriguing starters in Andrew Moore, Zack Godley, Jerad Eickhoff (who has since gotten hurt), and Kenta Maeda; a trio of relievers in Jared Hughes, Tyler Lyons, and Ryan Tepera; and a collection of guys who look as if they could be on the outside looking in with their organizations, including Jesus Aguilar, Hunter Renfroe, and Jurickson Profar.
Aguilar has been among my top players for years, and while I knew that he may not have been protected in the next round, he was a high enough priority for me that I wasn’t going to risk it.
I finished off the first round selecting Preston Tucker, Wily Peralta, Gerson Bautista, Ian Clarkin, Tony Wolters, Christopher Bostick, Mac Williamson, and Brian Goodwin.
Tucker is what happens when a great team has to make a cut. Back in January, Tucker hit DFA limbo and was snatched up by Atlanta. Now 27, Tucker has been trapped in Triple-A for years and has absolutely nothing left to prove. He is a strong candidate to start for the Braves in left field on Opening Day.
Rounds Two and Three
At this point in the draft, most top prospects and major league regulars are protected; however, on talent stuffed organizations such as the Yankees or the Cubs, there are always a few left open.
My first two picks in round two were catcher Victor Caratini and reliever Tommy Kahnle. Both of these players have shown signs of being amazing players, and can be controlled for a long time.
The third pick that I made was Aledmys Diaz of the Blue Jays. I have been a fan of Diaz’s since he defected back in 2012. To this day, he remains one of my favorites, and I see a rebound on his horizon.
For me to go through each pick in the second and third rounds would take days. If there are any players that you are curious about my rational, I will answer any questions in the comment section.
These are my final rosters:
Starting Pitchers: Eickhoff, Maeda, Godley, Doug Fister, Peralta
Relief Pitchers: Tepera, Lyons, Miguel Castro, Pedro Araujo, Chase Whitley, Kahnle, Hughes
Catchers: Caratini, Wolters
Infielders: Aguilar, Profar, Russell, Diaz, Joey Wendle, Bostick
Outfielders: Chisenhall, Williamson, Goodwin, Tucker, Renfroe
Starting Pitchers: Moore, Taylor Guerrieri, Joan Gregorio, Jayson Aquino, Armenteros
Relief Pitchers: Chasen Bradford, Mauricio Cabrera, Mark Montgomery, Sam Moll, Victor Arano, Adam Conley, Phil Bickford
Catchers: Chad Wallach, Spencer Kieboom
Infielders: Edwin Espinal, Andy Ibanez, Melvin Mercedes, Jake Peter, Sandber Pimentel, Rosell Herrera
Outfielders: Mason Williams, Mark Zagunis, Jake Cave, Kyle Wren, Kevin Kaczmarski
Starting Pitchers: Abreu, Dedgar Jimenez, Ranger Suarez, Clarkin, Travis Ott
Relief Pitchers: Bautista, Hildemaro Requena, Gerson Garabito, Rob Kaminsky, Brusdar Graterol, Rodolfo Martinez, Matt Custred
Catchers: Seby Zavala, Joe DeCarlo
Infielders: Ockimey, Leonardo Rivas, Kevin Kramer, Wander Javier, Jamie Westbrook
Outfielders: Wade, Mike Papi, Gilberto Celestino, Wadye Ynfante, Wuilmer Becerra
I’m curious about the protection list that you used for this draft from each team. Also what was your thinking and process going into the draft
In making the lists, the question that I asked was:
“Which players can this team not afford to lose”
Most of the best players left unprotected were not on the list based on the fact that their team had other guys ahead of them on the depth chart, such as how the Brewers had Eric Thames over Jesus Aguilar, the Rays had Daniel Robertson over Joey Wendle, the Diamondbacks had Greinke, Walker, Corbin and Ray all ready to go going into the season. Others were minor leaguers who were either blocked or far enough away where teams may not have thought to protect them: Rivas, Graterol, Suarez, Javier and Ynfante strike me here.
As for how I selected the team, over the past few seasons, I have done an exercise where I built a team from nothing at the start of the offseason and built it off of free agents, waiver claims etc. a lot of the guys who I picked up (or at least the less notable names) are guys who stumbled onto my radar when they were (for some) inexplicably made available by their former teams, and I was more than happy to take a shot on. I have been doing the exercise since 2013, but restarted it every season. This year (beginning with last year’s draft), I intend to make it a multi-year thing but Aguilar, Wendle, Tucker, Wolters, Hughes, Fister, Diaz and a vast majority of the minor league guys are guys who I had on my sim team at one time or another. Other guys I picked up are just guys who I love as players, who fly under the radar: for example, LaMonte Wade is my favorite offensive prospect in baseball, and has been for about two or three years now.