2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

2020 Fantasy Baseball High Upside Draft Strategies: 1st Pick

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Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Baseball High Upside Draft Strategies article. In this series, I will be tackling (sorry, still have the NFL Draft running through my veins) a variety of different Fantasy Baseball draft strategies for a redraft league.  I will be going pick by pick to give you detailed reasoning for my selection.

A few of us Fantasy Six Pack writers are drafting from different positions in a 12 team league using various Fantasy Baseball draft strategies. I have the first overall pick in these mock drafts, for the first time in my life mind you. We are all using the heavy-hitting and heavy pitching strategies along with a “wildcard strategy”.

This article will cover my “wildcard” strategy, which is going to aiming for high upside players.  Using this strategy I plan to put more value on guys with higher potential but risky picks for a variety of reasons.  These risks could range from health to job status, playing time, etc.

This is a strategy a lot of us employ at various times throughout a draft but never for the entirety of it.  I thought it would be fun to see what a roster would look like if you had this mindset with each pick as opposed to the more traditional strategies of focusing on pitching, hitting, or best player available.  With all of that in mind, let’s dive into some 2020 Fantasy Baseball draft strategies.

Make sure to check out the strategies for the last pick, the seventh pick, the hitting-heavy strategy and the pitching-heavy strategy for the first pick

For these drafts we are using the following settings:

  • 12 team league
  • Positions – C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OF (5), P (9), UTIL, Bench (5)
  • Scoring – R, HR, RBI, AVG, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

For each draft, we use the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator to create each of these fake teams.

2020 Fantasy Baseball High Upside Draft Strategies

As I mentioned in the introduction I plan to put more value on guys with a higher potential but come with more risk. These risks could range from health, job status or playing time. I will try to maintain a well-balanced team but keeping an eye on guys I think have the highest ceilings. While this draft is going to be a fun one to go through, I highly doubt anyone will ever have a team that looks exactly like this as it is going to get pretty wild!

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1.1 Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

In the other two drafts, I went with Acuna.  I think at least half of the redrafts this year will follow suit.  While I could argue Acuna has the most upside of anyone for the upcoming year, you could do the same about Yelich.  To mix things up a little bit I stray away from Acuna and take Christian Yelich.

Considered: Ronald Acuna, Mike Trout

2.12 Yordan Alvarez, OF, Houston Astros

Going for upside with this pick two names really were glaring to me, Rafael Devers and Yordan Alvarez.  Each one of these guys could easily go 100/40/100 and hit .300.  So screw it, being that I have back-to-back picks, I took both and started off with three MVP caliber hitters.

Considered: Rafael Devers

3.1 Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

See the pick above.

Considered: None

4.12 Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals

I was secretly hoping that Vlad Jr was going to fall to me here and I was going to add another MVP caliber bat but unfortunately that was not the case. After going for high powered bats with the first three picks I wanted to even out my bats or take a high impact pitcher. All of the stud pitchers are gone so I opt to go the other route. Mondesi adds a speed demon to my elite bats.

Considered: Keston Hiura, Nelson Cruz, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada

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5.1 Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox

While I think Nelson Cruz is probably the biggest impact player on the board I am more intrigued by a pair of teammates, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez.  Moncada had a breakout season in 2019 and I think 2020 is when Jimenez REALLY breaks out.  It’s not like his 2019 was anything to scoff at either after going 69/31/79 and hitting .267.  I think he improves those numbers and could go as high as 90/40/120 while hitting .280. Upside is the name of the game in this mock,  so I took my chances on Eloy.

Considered: Keston Hiura, Nelson Cruz, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada

6.12 Trevor Bauer, SP, Cincinnati Reds

Would it really be a high risk/high reward draft if I didn’t take Trevor Bauer?

Considered: None

7.1 Luis Robert. OF, Chicago White Sox

The safe and consistent pick here is Nelson Cruz, so of course, that is out the window.  The high upside plays right now are either Luis Robert or Corey Kluber and both for fantastically different reasons.  Let’s compare: Kluber could contend for a Cy Young and I need pitching, two big checkmarks. He is also coming off an injury and major decline year heading into the season at age 34.  Robert has 30/30 potential and will hit in a terrific lineup.  However, he has never even so much as seen a pitch at the Big League level. I decided to get flashy, and in the spirit of this mock, I took Robert.

Considered: Corey Kluber, Nelson Cruz

8.12 Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

This pick is much more of a high reward than it is risky, though it does come with plenty of risk. A guy that could be an impact bat and an impact arm…yes please!

Considered: Kenley Jansen, Liam Hendriks

9.1 Liam Hendriks, RP, Oakland Athletics

Similar to the hitter heavy mock draft, I am sitting here debating between Kenley Jansen and Liam Hendriks.  Previously I went with Kenley because he was the safer choice.  Obviously here I then go with Hendriks because he has the higher upside but comes with more risk.

Considered: Kenley Jansen

10.12 Edwin Diaz, RP, New York Mets

Likely the easiest pick in this draft!  He is second on the board in terms of ADP and the second-highest ranked closer on my board.  Would you even respect me in the morning if I didn’t take him?

Considered: None

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11.1 Carlos Carrasco, SP, Cleveland Indians

I had half a mind to reach a little bit here and get one of my favorite young bats in Cavan Biggio.  Alas, I have a much riskier player higher on the board that provides more upside as well.  Having a greater pitching need as well I went with Carlos Carrasco in the hopes he can stay healthy and provide me with insane value at the 121st pick.

Considered: Cavan Biggio

12.12 Julio Urias, SP/RP, Los Angeles Dodgers

With no pressing needs heading into this pick, it was simply the highest upside player available.  While a starter was the preference I would have happily taken back to back bats as well. Ultimately, I settled on a player that has been in the league for a couple of years but has yet to be unleashed.  I think once he is taken off the leash he is going to excel into a premier pitcher.  With a position in the Dodgers, rotation assured, I think Julio Urias is about to have a major breakout campaign. This pick has a chance to be the best value in the entire draft.

Considered: David Dahl, Robbie Ray, Nick Anderson, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Kyle Tucker

13.1 Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

The need for an infield bat has presented itself at this point in the draft, though it wasn’t pressing. Gurriel’s impact bat potential while having 2B eligibility is too much for me to pass on.


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Considered: None

14.12 Mallex Smith, OF, Seattle Mariners

The board has fallen absolutely perfectly for these back to back picks.  There is no question at all whom I am taking.  I typically like to take as many well-rounded players as possible, especially early on in a draft.  I do have a fondness for specialty players as well.  Guys that excel in a particular category can be extremely valuable but they provide a lot of risk.  If you are banking on them to help change a particular category for your team and they get hurt or have a subpar year, you will suffer greatly.

Early in this draft, I took 3 consecutive MVP caliber power bats, then snuck Mondesi in there to round the offense out with speed a little bit.  The final piece to my speed puzzle is going to be Mallex Smith.  Between those two guys, and don’t forget Yelich is going to swipe some bags, I should be able to compete in SB’s without a doubt.  I already have the power departments well covered as well.  While I still have plenty of open slots on offense, taking Smith here sets my offense up to be well rounded and able to compete in all categories.

Considered: Lance McCullers Jr.

15.1 Lance McCullers Jr., SP, Houston Astros

I have taken Lance McCullers in this exact spot before.  He is the absolutely ideal pick in this high risk/high reward draft as well.  Normally I would be a bit worried about an innings limit with someone coming back from his injury.  With the season likely to be shortened, I can select him with some confidence and bank that he should provide me with more upside than I would expect to have available at this point and give me another arm with solid ratios to help build my staff.

Considered: None

16.12 Andrew McCutchen. OF, Philadelphia Phillies

A guy that is going to benefit from the season starting late, Andrew McCutchen should be good to go once the season finally gets underway.  He is risky because of the ACL that he tore last year but his upside is tremendous.  My OF is already filled so he is going to slide into the UTIL slot.  While positionally have greater needs, his potential in this lineup is too much to let go.

Considered: None

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17.1 Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

An infielder, at any position, would be ideal in this spot.  Joey Votto struggled last year and at age 36 it is fair to wonder if he is done.  Taking a truly professional hitter with the 193rd pick at a position of need seems like an easy call.  It is entirely possible that Votto continues his downward slide but if he can find some magic again this pick becomes an absolute steal.

Considered: None

18.12 Chris Archer, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

With holes at catcher, two infield spots, and two pitcher spots left to fill, I can go anywhere with this pick.  I have decided that I am going to wait until the last possible chance to get a catcher.  There is a list of guys that I will be happy with and I will ensure I get one of them, but I am forgetting about that position for now.  I am looking to go with an arm and a bat with these two picks and probably with the next two as well.  Chris Archer has Cy Young worthy talent but he can never seem to piece it together for long stretches.  Under the strategy of this mock draft, he feels like the right pick here.

Considered: Eric Hosmer, Mitch Keller, Joey Lucchesi, Dylan Bundy, Daniel Murphy

19.1 Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres

With a need for CI or MI and after taking Votto as my most recent bat I feel it is wise to provide a safety net at 1B in case Votto really falters, while still addressing an open roster spot.  While Eric Hosmer has never been what people have wanted him to be offensively you really could do much worse at the position.  I slide him into my CI spot and don’t think about it too hard.

Considered: Mitch Keller, Joey Lucchesi, Dylan Bundy, Daniel Murphy

20.12 Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers

I have to say, I did not expect Omar Narvaez to make it to me at this pick.  As tempting as it is to take him here I have decided to wait on a C until the last possible moment.  Narvaez wouldn’t be a sexy pick in this type of mock anyways as the risk/reward factor isn’t really there with him. Rougned Odor, on the other hand, fits that bill and he just so happens to be a guy I can place in my MI slot.

Considered: Omar Narvaez, Michael Kopech, A.J. Puk

21.1 Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox

If not for injuries it is entirely possible that Michael Kopech might well be the ace of the White Sox staff and been taken 150 picks ago.  Injuries have derailed him but the upside is still there.  With the need for an arm present, I reach a little bit and get a guy that, if healthy and given the innings, compete for the strikeout lead.

Considered: A.J. Puk

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22.12 Francisco Mejia, C, Sand Diego Padres

With only 3 C’s left on the board that I would be happy having as my starter, I must take one with these next two picks. Otherwise, I risk not getting one of them. There is risk in all of these players because none of them are expected to perform at a high level.  I think the biggest upside in the group belongs to Mejia.  Worst case I think that all three are likely to perform fairly similar so I had no qualms about going with the guy I think could at least provide me with a solid average.

Considered: Sean Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud

23.1 MacKenzie Gore, SP, San Diego Padres

Now that every starting slot has been filled, the possibilities for this pick were wide open. Everything is on the table so a lot of names were considered. I feel comfortable with how I have attacked all categories to this point so it comes down to the highest upside pick left in my eyes. I reach way down into my bag of tricks and pull out MacKenzie Gore, the No.1 pitching prospect in the game.  The Padres have proven with Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2019 that they are not afraid to call a prospect up at the beginning of the season.  You cannot tell me that Gore isn’t one of the Padres five best SP.  With a short season ahead it makes it more likely to me that Gore is on the roster right from day one.

Considered: Forrest Whitley

24.12 Carter Kieboom, SS, Washington Nationals

It is not very long ago that Kieboom was considered one of the absolute top prospects in Baseball.  After hitting just .128 with a measly 39 AB’s in 2019 the luster on him seemed to evaporate.  With a wide-open competition for the third base job in Washington, it would make sense that Kieboom is given a chance there.  It is entirely possible that he explodes given the opportunity and provides an impact bat that dwarfs the production of others that are available with this pick.  I will take my chances on his talent.

Considered: Forrest Whitley, Sam Hillard, Josh Lindblom, Dylan Carlson

25.1 Dylan Carlson, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

I really want to take Forrest Whitley here but I just don’t see him getting enough innings in the 2020 season to play enough of a factor.  His upside is tops on this board, just not for the 2020 season, unfortunately.  Sam Hillard is interesting here and while I think he will be a fine player I don’t think he has the 2020 upside of Josh Lindblom or Dylan Carlson.  Simply because I think there is a much better chance that Lindblom falls to my next pick I take Carlson here.

Considered: Forrest Whitley, Sam Hillard, Josh Lindblom

26.12 Josh Lindblom, SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers

With my final two picks, my team is well rounded and I am able to go anywhere I want.  I was hoping that Josh Lindblom was going to fall to me here and he did. I take him without hesitation.

Considered: None

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27.1 Nate Pearson, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

The final pick presents a lot of opportunities for me. Again, I think the shortened season really changes things for a lot of young players that normally would have to wait to be called up.  I took a chance earlier on Gore because I truly feel there is a chance he makes their rotation right out of the gate.  I am not so confident in Nate Pearson making the team on Opening Day but the chances are certainly there.  He is without question one of their top five starters for the 2020 season.  Even if he doesn’t break camp with the team he might not wait very long to get his shot.  With ace upside, I happily take him here and hope for the best.

Considered: Nick Solak



My roster is as follows:

C – Francisco Mejia
1B – Joey Votto
2B – Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
SS – Adalberto Mondesi
3B – Rafael Devers
CI – Eric Hosmer
MI – Rougned Odor
OF – Christian Yelich, Yordan Alvarez, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Mallex Smith
UTIL – Andrew McCutchen
P – Trevor Bauer, Liam Hendriks, Shohei Ohtani, Edwin Diaz, Carlos Carrasco, Julio Urias, Lance McCullers, Chris Archer, Michael Kopech
Bench – MacKenzie Gore, Carter Kieboom, Dylan Carlson, Josh Lindblom, Nate Pearson

About Dave Eddy

Dave covers the Detroit Tigers over at Prospects1500.com Feel free to reach out to him anytime on twitter @CorporalEddy

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