The commish of our league has built a simulation engine from the ground up. It’s not based just on stats, but the characteristics of the player (line drive rate, etc). The current season in the league is based on the previous MLB season. A player is capped at the number of plate appearances or batters faced he had in MLB. 20 team league, 50 man roster, with no more than 10 prospects. Players acquired from free agency mid-season are not kept; players acquired via draft (or drafted players whom you acquire via trade) are kept.

My Team

My team is the Colorado Rockies. In the initial draft (2013), I went all-in with prospects. I ended up with a very talent-rich pool of prospects, but not much MLB-ready talent. I had to scrounge to fill out my roster to ensure that I had enough PAs and BFs to get through the season.

Not surprisingly, I finished last in 2013 and second to last in 2014. I haven’t just been standing around waiting to collect high draft picks, though. I’ve been the most active trader in the league. In the past two seasons, I’ve acquired these players via trade: Chris Iannetta, Nick Hundley, Hector Sanchez, Nick Swisher (bought low in hopes that knee surgery allows him to bounce back), Scooter Gennett, Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Conor Gillaspie, Jon Jay, Christian Yelich, Nate Eovaldi, Carter Capps, Dan Jennings, Andrew Bailey, Austin Hedges, and last but not least, Lucas Giolito.

Catcher is always a position of need. At most positions, you need two players to accumulate the 700ish PAs you’ll need for that position. At catcher, it’s common to need three. Each season, I’ve made an effort to trade for a catcher so that I don’t have to dumpster dive for one during the draft.

2015 draft

I’m well set up for 2015. I should be a playoff contender, and I have all my positions covered. I have two decent/good players at many positions, and a favorable platoon situation at many.

I traded away several of my picks, leaving me with seven picks in the ten round draft. In the first five rounds, I have two second rounders and a fourth rounder.

My goals in the 2015 draft are to acquire three prospects, two pitchers, and two position players.

Prospects – there are a handful of guys on the BP top 101 who are not owned in the league. None of them are higher than #29, and most are in the back end of the list. The only in whom I have significant interest are Andrew Susac and Kyle Schwarber. Susac because he could inherit the starting catcher job if Posey gets bumped off the position and Schwarber because I’ve been hearing great things about his bat.

I work the international market as much as anyone in the league. I have guys like Yoan Moncada, Yasmany Tomas, Yadier Alvarez, and Yoan Lopez on my list, of course, but I also have some really young guys. The top prospect I have listed is Venezuelan Kevin Maitan, who made waves as a 14 year old last season. Vlad Guerrero Jr is also high on the list, as are high school senior Brendan Rodgers and high school junior Riley Pint. As you can see, patience is the name of my game. I’d rather grab a 14 year old with a cathedral ceiling than the leftovers on the top prospect list – even though I’ll have to wait many years for payoff.

Pitchers – I like to chat with several of the others GMs. As a Rockies fan, it’s been hard to keep from talking about Tyler Matzek. He had several very good performances last year, and he’s the sleeper on my list. Unfortunately, other sites have started talking him up as a sleeper, with some giving specific reasons for the problems he had in the minors. If he’s the top player on my list in the fourth round, I probably have a 50-50 shot of getting him. However, if I’m able to nab a higher ranked player in the 4th and have to wait until the 6th for Matzek, I doubt I’ll get him. I want Matzek, but I don’t want to reach for him too much – I want to get the best available talent.

I’m also targeting several relievers – Betances (not likely to get), Ken Giles, Cam Bedrosian, Mike Morin, and a few others). I’m currently very strong in my rotation, but could use a few more good bullpen arms.

Position players – the top available position player is Danny Santana. He’ll likely go very high.

Draft Results

So, what happened in the draft (first week of March)?

Well, before the draft, I acquired a 4th round pick in exchange for my 4th and 8th round picks next year. It was the seventh pick in the 4th round, and I’ll likely be picking around 15th next year, so it’s a good value move.

Pick 26 (second round, pick 6) – I popped Maitan. I’m happy to have him, but need to be very patient. I’m 39 years old – if Maitan has a productive MLB career (a BIG if) I could be pushing 65 by the time he retires. Obviously, I have confidence in the commish’s ability to keep the league together over the long term. If the league falls apart within the next seven years, this pick is worthless, even if Maitan turns into a Hall of Famer. Also, there’s a chance I could have gotten Maitan in the tenth round, as it’s possible that others aren’t aware of him – but I don’t want to take that risk. Thanks for the heads-up, Kiley McDaniel.

My next pick is at #39. Schwarber keeps falling – probably because of concerns about his ability to stick at catcher – and I get a bit excited. He’s got a stick that will play at other positions, so it doesn’t concern me that he might not be a catcher.

Alas, the guy picking four spots ahead of me grabs Schwarber.

So I’m at pick 39. At this point, a lot of the top foreign guys (Moncada, Tomas, Alvarez) are off the board, along with a smattering of prospects. People are targeting MLB-ready guys. I make the decision to push back the prospects and pick Matzek. Time will tell if this is a homer move, or if the sleeper analyses I’ve been reading are correct.

At pick 62 (4th round, pick 2) I grab Brendan Rodgers, a high school kid who’s in the conversation to be the top pick in the draft.

At 67, I grab another high school kid, Riley Pint. Pint is a junior in the Kansas City area and is the best pitcher in the class of 2016.

Rodgers and Pint were the top two prospects on my list when I picked at 39, so my decision to grab Matzek there ends up costing me nothing, as I get both of them anyway.

At this point, day one of the draft ends. The next five rounds are two days later.

I really don’t have a great DH option against lefties, so I try to trade for some guys. I try a prospect-laden deal for Mike Trout that goes nowhere. I have an agreement to trade for another guy, but it falls apart. So there’s not progress on the trade front.

I have the second pick on day 2, pick 102 overall. It’s time to firm up the bullpen, so I grab Cam Bedrosian. Cam got knocked around a bit for the Angels in a brief stint, but he’s been a K monster in the minors.

At pick 122, I grab Cam’s teammate, Mike Morin. Morin had a good 2014 and is trying to grab the 7th inning role for the Angels.

I don’t have and 8th round pick, so my next pick is at 162 in the 9th round. Catchers are quite valuable in the league, as nobody ever has another PAs for the catcher spot. I grab JR Murphy, who has a shot at a backup role for the Yankees (and did eventually beat out Austin Romine for the job). If he can get 150 PAs (which could then be used in the sim league in 2016) he could be a nice trade chip.

I go back to the catcher well in the 10th round, getting Tucker Barnhart. He’s probably the odd man out in Cincy and will be sent to the minors. However, strange things can happen. It’s worth a flyer.

Now we reach the supplemental round, which is done via email. At this point, I notice that Dillon Tate has escaped detection. He was slotted as a late 1st / early 2nd round pick for the 2015 MLB draft going into the season. However, he has been pitching well, and could now be a top 5 pick – he has been getting quite a bit of Twitter buzz in February. I can’t actually roster another prospect, since I’m at the cap. However, I’m going to try to do a draft and trade to get that DH who can hit lefties. I’ll find a way to shoehorn Tate onto my roster.

I submit exactly one name for the supplemental draft: Dillon Tate – and I get him.

Post-draft

After the draft, I went shopping for another bat. At first, it was just for a guy who could hit lefty. Eventually, I decided to go after Nolan Arenado. I haven’t made many Rockies homer moves in the league, but Arenado’s defense gives him a pretty high floor (in a sim league, defense counts). I have some initial conversations about Arenado. Arenado’s owner comes back and offers Arenado and Nelson Cruz … but the cost is Lucas Giolito, Jurickson Profar, and Miguel Sano.

This is a tough decision. It’s a steep price – most likely an overpay. However, I think that I can be a strong title contender for several years if I made the move. Finally, I decide to live with the likely buyer’s remorse and make the deal. It’s my Flags Fly Forever trade.

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