At this point, you're probably thinking, "Well what about pitching!?!". I've had success with picking high upside pitchers fairly late in both points and roto drafts. Looking at the pitching numbers, the only SP that stands out to me is Tim Lincecum. He was drafted in the 1st Round, and was the only pitcher in my Top 20. With only 40 SP going off the board, I felt that I could put together a very strong pitching staff even if I watied. Plus, there's always a guy on the waiver wire that busts out a great season (Andrew Bailey, Randy Wells, Happ, Randy Wolf, etc.). So...I waited until the 7th Round to pick up my first pitcher. Because this was such an early draft, my goal was to find young pitchers with very good skill sets and much room for improvement, as well as high strikeout rates. I picked up Yovanni Gallardo in the 7th Round, who I think can rival Lincecum next season for the NL Cy Young. While my first choice was Felix Hernandez, Gallardo has put together similar improvements in a shorter time, as well as maintained a high K-rate this season.
Following Gallardo, I had to go for positional depth again. Third Base has unfortunately been much shallower this season, and apparently going into next season, than it has in the past. I took Michael Young at 3B in the 8th Round. Though I'm not very happy with this pick--and probably would rather have had another high-K pitcher--Young has had a resurgent season after moving to 3B for the Rangers. He's almost a lock for a .300 average, and will score runs and drive them in with such a loaded Texas lineup. Still, I give this pick a B-.
My next pick was probably the best value I had in the entire draft. Though I wanted to slant my staff toward younger pitchers, I could not pass up Jake Peavy in the 9th Round. With much of the SS depth taken (as mentioned earlier), there was not a large dropoff at that position for the rest of the draft, so I made Peavy my #1 Pick for this round of autodrafting. The 2007 Cy Young winner has been injured much of the season, but still had one of the highest K-rates before being injured. The questions lie within Peavy's ability to return from injury, pitch in the American League, and pitch outsdie the spacious Petco Park. I'll take my chances with the stuff Peavy has, and maybe I'll have 2 frontrunning Cy Young candidates on my roster without picking a pitcher before the 7th Round.
I took Soto with my 10th Pick and will be brief here. Though he has been horrendous this year, he has an extremely low BABIP and a lot more power potential than most catchers (as well as a starting job almost gauranteed). I can afford a low-average catcher with my other high-average players, and I think Soto is due for some rebound (though he won't ever repeat his 2008 campaign).
I finally went for a SS in Round 11. Gordon Beckham has shown immense improvement in his skills since being called up to the White Sox. Since SS is listed as his primary position, he was eligible for SS in our draft. I think his power will continue to improve, and he's going to be an everyday player for the White Sox. I look for a .285-15-80 season from Beckham next year, which warrants a pick here in my opinion.I felt like there were only a few 'sure thing' (if there is such a thing) closers available.
Because we only have 1 Closer slot, and saves are 100% dependent on 1 player, I felt that this was the time to take one, and only one. Jonathan Broxton has shown an incredible strikeout rate this season. Because we only have 5 pitchers, a difference of 40 strikeouts from my closer could be very important in a Roto league. That's not to mention playing for the NL Leading Dodgers and in the spacious NL West parks. I was extremely happy with this pick at Round 12. Broxton's ERA has seen a jump late this season, but I think it has more to do with an unlucky HR rate (more than 3 times what it was last season) than a decrease in skill or command. I look for a sub-2.5 ERA, 90 K's, and 35-40 Saves from Broxton next season.
The final rounds and draft summary will follow in my next Prince of Slides post.