It’s the last round or two of your fantasy baseball draft. Your pick is up, the clock is ticking, your short list of sleepers are all gone and now you have absolutely no idea who any of these guys are. So in a panic you pick a name you recognize from years ago, who later you find out is hurt, is still a free agent, or is no longer starting. Have you been here before? I know I have. It sure isn’t fun.
With most drafts coming up this weekend or soon after, I wanted to provide you with some advice for what is often the hardest part for fantasy managers: those last few picks. These rounds won’t destroy your season, but if done well they have the potential to put you over the top. It’s a time in the draft that separates the good from the elite. The prepared from the unprepared.
It’s also a time in the draft where rankings and ADP are completely out the window. There’s no risk associated with these picks because your team is largely in place. The only thing you should be looking for is upside. Players that, if things fall right into place, can return value found in much earlier rounds. If that player is available, go for it. And because your team is largely in place, you should have a good handle on the type of upside player you need. Below, I have provided all the likely scenarios you might encounter with your last few picks on draft day. It’s assumed these are standard 12-team leagues that have between 19 and 24 rounds, so about 217 to 288 players deep into the pool.
It’s End of the Draft And You Need…
…a starting CATCHER.
If he’s still there: Gabriel Moreno
A big prospect obtained in a trade from the Blue Jays, Moreno was all set to be the strong side of a platoon for the DBacks. But Carson Kelly just broke his forearm on Tuesday and now Moreno figures to see the large majority of time behind the plate.
If he’s made the Opening Day roster: Logan O’Hoppe
The Angels’ top prospect might start the year in AAA despite a good spring. His power will soon make him a fantasy asset and his knack for getting on base will particularly make him useful in a points league.
If both those guys are gone: Shea Langliers
He might fall under the radar because in most leagues he won’t be C eligible until the second week of the season. He’s got a starting job, though, and a whole lot of power potential.
…a 3B/Corner Infielder.
If they’re somehow still there: Jordan Walker, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Alec Bohm
Their ADP and their popularity right now will probably mean they’re gone, but maybe in some of your leagues, word hasn’t gotten out. Walker is a potential five-category contributor and had a wonderful spring. Hayes, a former first round pick, has been disappointing in two full seasons, but his underlying metrics (like exit velocity and plate discipline) have seen steady improvements. Alec Bohm’s stats won’t blow you away, but his good exit velocity metrics and elite xBA give you a high floor this late in a draft.
If you want a top prospect with a starting job: Josh Jung
After getting his feet wet last season with 26 games, he seems primed to tap into some of that power he displayed throughout the minors. His injury history seems to be keeping his ADP down, but they’re still talking rookie of the year in Texas.
If you want to take a stab at injury risk: Anthony Rendon
We all know what he can do. The dude was a fantasy stud for years, especially in points leagues. He’s red hot this spring and more importantly, he’s currently healthy. If it stays that way, this could be one of those picks that puts you over the top.
If you need a points league guy: Brendon Donovan
Check your platform for eligibility. Some leagues only have him as a 2B. Others give you way more positions to choose from. He’s a true utility man, should get regular playing time, walks a bunch, and will likely be available for your last pick.
If all these guys are gone: Brett Baty and Spencer Steer
No guarantee that Baty starts with the big club on Opening Day, but if he does, he’s got legit power and the Mets aren’t going to keep it on the bench. Steer has all but wrapped up a starting job with the Reds and he plays in a ballpark suited well for his offensive strengths.
…a 1B/Corner Infielder.
If they’re still available: Miguel Vargas and Tristan Casas
Vargas has power, speed, plate discipline, and a starting job at 2B so he’ll have 1B/2B eligibility. Pick him up even if you don’t need help at those positions. Casas has power and plate discipline, but also might benefit greatly from shift bans. Plus he’ll hit at the top, or near the top, of the Red Sox order.
If those two are gone but you still want upside: Spencer Torkelson
A disappointing rookie season has removed the luster from this former first-overall pick. But his exit velocity numbers are near elite, he’s having a good spring, and he’ll play every day. Worth a shot if you ask me.
If you’re looking for decent floor veterans: Trey Mancini and Brandon Belt
Mancini’s underlying numbers suggest he still has the ability to hit more home runs than he has in the last two seasons. Belt was pretty steady for years until he ran into knee troubles. He’ll DH against righties for his new team, the Blue Jays, so in daily leagues, he could be a nice bench option.
…a 2B/Middle Infielder.
If they’re still available: Ketel Marte and Nico Hoerner
For your sake, I hope two bad seasons have made your league-mates pass on Marte. He’s healthy so far this spring and is going way later than he should be. Hoerner is likely gone too, but if not, pounce on him. He’ll have 2B eligibility after Week 1.
If you want a high floor veteran: Elvis Andrus
At age 34 Andrus might still have it, going 17 HR/18 SB last season. He’s got a starting job for the White Sox, too. You can do worse.
If Marte is gone and you want upside: Michael Massey and Brice Turang
Massey put up some really good numbers in the minors last season (.312/.371/.532 with 16 HRs/13 SBs in 87 games), and he’s got a starting job. Turang’s job isn’t certain yet, but it’s trending that way.
…a SS/Middle Infielder.
If he’s still available: Nico Hoerner
Talent has never been the question for Hoerner. He’s healthy this spring and will be hitting at the top of the Cubs’ lineup. I’ve seen him passed over in some recent mock drafts, so the word might not be totally out.
If you’re searching for upside: Oswald Peraza/Anthony Volpe, Ezequiel Tovar, CJ Abrams
Peraza or Volpe will win the SS job for the Yanks. You want the winner. Right now that’s seriously trending towards Volpe. Tovar already has a job, has some pop, likes to steal bases, and plays in hitter dreamland Coors Field. CJ Abrams is a burner whose taste of the majors last year was as you might expect for a 21-year-old.
If you want some veteran stability: Elvis Andrus
17 HRs and 18 SBs last season. Maybe he’s not done?
If all those upside guys are gone: Brice Turang
He hasn’t locked up the starting 2B job for the Brewers yet, but it seems to be going that way. If he does, you’re looking at another power/speed bat with both middle infield eligibility.
If they’re still available: Riley Greene, Brandon Nimmo (points league), Jarred Kelenic
Greene was another 21-year-old rookie with a great pedigree (5th overall pick in 2019) whose stats underwhelmed in his first major league season. He hit the ball pretty dang hard, though, and the Tigers should be a little more functional in 2023. Nimmo’s stock has dropped with his spring injury, but the points league stalwart is already playing in minor league games again. Kelenic is back to Spring Training All-Star form and if that ever carries over to the regular season, look out.
If those guys are gone: Esteury Ruiz, Garrett Mitchell, Oscar Colas, Bryan De La Cruz
It was just announced yesterday that Ruiz, the speedster with 85 SBs in 114 games last year in the minors has made the A’s Opening Day roster. Mitchell is an absolute burner too (99% sprint speed) and should make the Brewers’ roster as the Opening Day center fielder. He’s got a little pop also. Colas breezed his way through the minors last year, showing off power and a solid .314 average. He still looks to be the favorite for the right field job. It’s been reported recently that De La Cruz will make the Opening Day roster for the Marlins. The metrics suggest his stats could have been a lot better last season and that he hit the ball very hard.
If even those guys are gone: Jake Fraley
He’s showing off the power speed combo this spring. He’ll hit in the middle of the Reds’ order in a great offensive environment. He may not play all the time against lefties, so it would be ideal if you had him in a daily lineup league.
…an extra Starting Pitcher.
If they’re still available: Kodai Senga and Patrick Sandoval
If you haven’t heard of Senga, a 30-year-old rookie, it’s because he’s been in Japan all his career. Maybe you’re not alone and he’s been passed by in your draft room. Sandoval was pretty good last season, even better this spring and during the WBC, and should be gone by this point. If not, snatch him up right now.
If those guys are gone: Trevor Rogers and Matt Boyd
I’d prioritize Rogers here. His change-up is working this spring and if he returns to form from two years ago, you might have a front-end starter for really cheap. Matt Boyd looks like he has a change-up working too. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s collecting strikeouts this spring.
If you’d like a solid, high-floor starter: Jameson Taillon
We don’t know for sure if Taillion’s new slider is a put-away pitch, but his 18 Ks in 13 spring innings is a good sign of improvement. He’s always been solid in points leagues, but this could make him roto-relevant.
If they win the 5th starter job: Jared Shuster/Dylan Dodd, Hayden Wesneski, and Ken Waldichuk
Shuster or Dodd will be the Braves’ 5th starter this season. They both look great this spring and each has one more start to prove themselves. The winner would be a great last pick. Wesneski’s minor league numbers won’t wow you, but he put together a good 33 innings last season in the majors and has looked really sharp this spring. He hasn’t officially won the 5th starter job yet, but you might have a solid extra pitcher if he does. Waldichuk hasn’t had a good spring and so might miss out on the 5th starter job. Gotta love that minor league K rate, though.
If all those other guys are gone: Clarke Schmidt and MacKenzie Gore
Clarke Schmidt is pretty much the 5th starter for the Yankees until Rodon gets back. He was pretty good in his 57 major league innings last year. Wasn’t so good in his latest spring start on Wednesday. Gore has the pedigree (3rd overall pick in 2017) and a good third of a season in the majors last year. Not much else, but the upside still exists.
…a Relief Pitcher who could get you some saves.
If they’re still available: Evan Philips and David Robertson
No doubt Phillips will help your ratios. The question is, does he take the fireman role and lose out on save attempts? Either way, he’d be a deal at this point. Robertson is the reliever most likely to see saves for the Mets after Edwin Diaz’s injury. He’s got the most experience, anyway, and the Mets ought to win a lot.
If those guys are gone: Alex Lange, Kyle Finnegan, Carlos Estevez, and Michael Fulmer
Lange is the most likely source of saves for a bad Detroit team. Finnegan could find himself in a fireman role, but at the end of the season should have the most saves for a bad Nationals team. Estevez was the presumed closer going into camp, but has not been effective this spring. He might have a very short leash. Fulmer is up to 7 scoreless innings this spring and is the favorite to win the job for an improved Cubs team.
If even those guys are gone and you need saves that bad: Jimmy Herget and Brusdar Graterol
Herget did some closing at the end of last season and was decent. If Estevez struggles, he could become the primary saves source for the Angels again. Graterol isn’t quite as good as Evan Phillips, but might benefit from him being in the fireman role. He certainly won’t get all the Dodgers’ saves, but if he pitches well, he could see a decent percentage.
…some late power.
Darick Hall – UTIL
A true DH now that Bryce Harper is out, Hall would have to be used in a Utility spot to start the season. But he should see a lot of at-bats against righties, he hit plenty of HRs in the minors, and his max exit velo was great last season (89%) at the major league level. With the recent news of Rhys Hoskins being out for the season, he could even see time at 1B.
Trey Mancini – 1B/OF
His exit velocity numbers say there might be more home runs coming this year. He’ll get lots of playing time and a better offensive park with the Cubs.
Jorge Soler – OF
His max exit velocity numbers are still eye-popping (99% last year). His wOBA was .411 without the shift. And he appears heathy to start the season. He could give you a lot of bombs.
…a player I can stash on the IL.
Aaron Ashby – SP
His ERA didn’t look so good last season, but he’s got lots of K upside and the metrics say he could take a step forward. Worth a stash if you like your roster already and have the room. He should be back in Mid-May.
Lance McCullers – SP
A strain of the forearm sounds bad, but McCullers and his team insist it’s very mild. He should be back at the start of May and can hopefully return mid-rotation value. Good stash if your pitching staff is a little short.
Trevor Story – 2B
Might be a while before we see the former star. Thinking after the All-Star Break. If you have the space on your IL and could use a middle infielder, go for it.
…a prospect to fill my N/A spot
Vaughn Grissom – 2B
Somehow he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. But it shouldn’t be long before he’s showing his power/speed combo in the bigs again.
Brett Baty – 3B
He might not be a stash if he makes the Opening Day roster, but if not he’s one Mets injury away from a starting job. We know how often those happen to the Mets.
Brandon Pfaadt – SP
After narrowly missing a roster spot, Pfaadt could get the call pretty soon. He’s got a great pitch arsenal and he’s one of the few guys who could put up good numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Might want to beat the waiver rush now.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand – 3B
The dude crushed spring pitching this month and almost made the roster. The 23-year-old crushed minor-league pitching too. He’s ready and just waiting for his chance. How does 32 HRs in 122 games in the minors last year sound? Worth a stash if you ask me.
Edouard Julien – 2B
Julien became a national hero for Canada in the WBC this spring. He also dominated the minors last year. Not enough to make the Twins’ Opening Day roster, though. He’s also just an injury away from his chance. His very high walk rate could especially play well in a points league.
AGot a different player you’re targeting in the last round? Drop some knowledge in the comments belowFor more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!