If you have been doing drafts so far this year, I wonder if you are seeing the same thing I am.
Well, I guess there are many things you could be seeing, but what I am referring to is the dearth of good options at the corner and middle infield positions. We are living in a draft environment where the top third basemen are flying off the board in the first two or three rounds, leaving less than delectable choices in the middle rounds.
I always argue that decisions you make in drafts have consequences for how you build your team. For example, let’s say you have the twelfth pick in the first round. And with that pick, you decide to fill your third base need and grab Manny Machado. A great choice when you consider the scarcity of talent at the third base position.
But let’s say that you have the fifth pick, Jose Ramirez is off the board, and you decide to take outfielder Aaron Judge. When you get your next pick, the top four third sackers are off the board: Ramirez, Machado, Witt, Devers and Riley are all gone. You pivot and draft Pete Alonso. Or do what I did and climb up and get Marcus Semien.
These are just silly scenarios, but you can see my point: if you fail to get a big piece at a corner spot or middle infield spot, you could be left lacking if you wait too long. Something has to give in a draft. My thought process this year was to try and get one outfielder, one third baseman, and one second baseman in the first three rounds. That being said, let’s take a look at some players going later in drafts that might be able to help you fill some stat categories at the middle and corner infield positions.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
Late Round Draft Targets
Adalberto Mondesi (248): Mondesi seems to be forgotten about in many drafts, lasting past pick 300 often. His ADP of 248 in NFBC represents a dart throw for you. If healthy, and that is one of the biggest ifs in fantasy baseball, Mondesi could almost singlehandedly win you the stolen base category. What intrigues me most about him is that he has zero competition for the shortstop job in Boston…when he is healthy. He is coming back off a major knee injury. Think about what you might have here if he were somehow able to give you 110-120 games. Commence salivating like a Pavlov dog. A small investment could pay off. As of the first week of March, Mondesi was hitting and taking grounders, so he is getting closer to being ready, even if he is not ready for Opening Day. The last, and only, time that Mondesi played 100 games (in 2019), he stole 43 bases.
Nick Gordon (295): Don’t let the sprained ankle news dissuade you. Gordon does enough of everything to be a middle infielder on your roster, and he has second base and outfield eligibility. Gordon chipped in nine home runs and six stolen bases while hitting .272. This may sound foolish, but if we take his two partial years in MLB and put them together, we get this: 13 home runs, 16 stolen bases, 73 runs batted in, 64 runs scored and a .261 batting average in 659 plate appearances. Would you like to have that at your middle infield slot? I would. Gordon is getting forgotten about in drafts and devalued because of the ankle injury that has slowed him this spring, but I think he’s good enough to play himself into daily at-bats for the Minnesota Twins.
Chris Taylor (328): Very quietly, Taylor has a full-time job in Los Angeles again. After a down year in 2022, it’s easy to forget that Taylor had 20 home runs and 13 steals in 2021, when he received almost 600 at-bats. manager Dave Roberts mentioned in his press conference that Taylor would see about 25% of his time at shortstop now with the season-ending knee injury to Gavin Lux. This should perk you up as now Taylor may also gain SS eligibility on top of his 2B/OF right now. At pick 328, this could be a steal for you.
Elvis Andrus (362): Andrus signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox to play second base opposite Tim Anderson. Andrus has never played second base before, but the consensus is that he will adjust well to playing the right side of the infield. Cut by the moribund Athletics, Andrus subbed for the injured Anderson and cranked out nine home runs and 11 steals with a .271 batting average after the All-Star Break. He’s 34 and may still have some gas in the tank. At pick 362, why not take a shot? He’s also going to have SS and 2B eligibility eventually.
Michael Massey (507): Massey is quietly flying under the radar which represents an opportunity for you. Massey looks like he will be the starting second basemen for the Kansas City Royals; his only real competition appears to be Nicky Lopez. Massey has some power and could hit double-digit homer runs and chip in 8-12 steals too. At pick 507, he could be among the first guys you cut at the end of April if he is unsuccessful. But…if he is playing every day or close to it, you could get some positive production here.
Anthony Rendon (228): Yes, Rendon has been injured for years. Literally. This is the first time he has been healthy in three years, and he is still only 32 years old. The Angels have paid him an exorbitant sum of money and you know if he is healthy, he is going to play. He might even get some time at first base. Rendon should hit around 20 home runs and could knock in a bunch of runs hitting behind two guys named Ohtani and Trout. The ADP is creeping up slightly, but you could do far worse than have Rendon as your corner infielder or bench depth at this point. I would not be surprised at all if he rebounds to a .270 average, 20 home runs and 80+ RBIs. Keep him in mind later in your drafts.
Justin Turner (237): Unfortunately Turner suffered a gruesome injury this week when he was hit in the face by a pitched ball. Luckily, he only required stitches and did not break anything. Essentially he was signed to replace JD Martinez at designated hitter; Rafael Devers is firmly entrenched at third base. But manager Alex Cora mentioned that Turner could see some time to spell Devers at third, and also get some reps at first base as well. Turner is 38 but still a quietly productive bat when he is healthy. The power is not so apparent anymore, but a .275-.280 average and solid RBI numbers could help you at this point of your draft.
Yoan Moncada (303): Yes, I can hear you now: White Sox homer. All Moncada has largely done in most seasons is disappoint fantasy players. But hear me out: he’s the starting third baseman on a team that should be better than last year. Manager Pedro Grifol is tinkering with the lineup this spring, and that has involved Andrew Benintendi batting third. If he decides to go that route, Moncada could easily be the number two hitter. He’s fought health issues the last few years: Covid, an oblique, lower leg injuries and soft tissue injuries. And yet he’s only 27. The White Sox have Jake Burger in reserve but really no other options to play third base. Looks like they ride or die with Moncada another season. At pick 303, it might be worth a speculative pick to see if he can tap into his tremendous abilities with a new manager and better approach. I’m willing to roll the dice on the former number one prospect in baseball at this price.
Eduardo Escobar (399): Escobar is battling it out with rookie Brett Baty for the third base job in New York. You may recall that Escobar carried the Mets on his back in September 2022: eight home runs and 24 RBI while hitting .340 after getting his job back. He’s an almost forgotten player at almost pick 400. A modest late round pick could get you 20 home runs.
Brandon Belt (405): Belt is part of a DH platoon in Toronto, but he’s famous for going on power binges when he is healthy, which is usually an annual issue. He could get 350-400 at bats and is he does so, could get you 20 home runs. A name to remember late.
Who are your favorite late round draft targets? Drop some names in the comments below. For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!