Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher David Robertson poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Round 9 is when an owner begins to for some high-value picks with low risk. Some of the players drafted in this round fit that category. On the other hand, there were some high-risk players drafted as well. There were four more starting pitchers drafted and a relief pitcher. The closer picked in Round 9 was not who I would expect to be the fifth closer selected. There might have been a couple of other closers I would have drafted. I was one of the owners who took a starting pitcher, making him my SP3.
9.81 SP Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
Gray’s true value was revealed in the 2014 season. He proved that he isn’t a big strikeout pitcher. In 2013, 10 starts, he had a 9.4 K/9 rate. Last season, in 33 sstarts, his K/9 rate fell to 7.5. He still finished the season as a reliable top-25 starting pitcher. He finished 14-10 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.192 WHIP. The loss of Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija opens doors for Gray, but the loss of Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson could hurt Gray’s value. He is a low-end No. 2 starting pitcher.
9.82 SP Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs
At the beginning of the 2014 season, Arrieta was not well known and an NL-only pitcher. By mid-season, he would be owned in 90 percent of mixed leagues. He went 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA, .989 WHIP and 167 strikeouts. He should move up to the No. 2 spot of the Cubs rotation, behind Lester, and reach 190 innings. He allowed two runs or fewer in 15 of his final 19 starts. While he may not be that dominant in 2015, he will quietly finish as a top-20 pitcher.
9.83 OF Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Blackmon was one of the hottest hitters in the first month of the season. He hit .374, five home runs and seven stolen bases in April. He surprisingly finished with 28 stolen bases, but the power declined throughout the season. From May 1 forward, Blackmon batted .271 with 14 home runs. With Michael Cuddyer out of the lineup, Blackmon has a clear path to playing every day. The lack of power will hurt Blackmon’s value, but will score some runs at the top of the Rockies’ lineup.
9.85 1B/3B Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
After a monster 2013 season, Davis let down a lot of fantasy owners. Going from 53/138 in 2013, he hit just 26/72 in 127 games last season. Things went off the rails by May. He hit .170 from May 24 until the end of the season. If Davis can cut back on his strikeouts, 372 in the last two years, he should see an uptick in batting average and on-base percentage. The only benefit to drafting Davis is that he has first and third base eligibility. There is a lot of risk of another bad season, so draft with caution.
9.86 OF J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers
Martinez had three average seasons with the Houston Astros before blowing up with the Tigers in 2014. He hit 23 home runs and .315 batting average. Having Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez has some benefits. The power could see an increase with a full season in the Detroit lineup, but the batting average could also take a hit. He fell just outside the top 20 in this mock draft and end the season that way as well, but should still be drafted in the top 100.
9.87 OF Jason Heyward, St. Louis Cardinals
Each year saw Heyward’s numbers decline which led to much disappointment. He hit 27/82/.269, 14/38/.254 and 11/58/.271 in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. He was able to reach 20 stolen bases, second time in his career. A change of scenery could benefit Heyward. With Matt Holliday and Matt Adams batting behind him, Heyward does not need to power hitter the Atlanta Braves needed him to be. This could be the season Heyward bounces back to his 2010 numbers. Then again, we’ve been saying that for a couple of years.
9.88 C Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
The fact that the Reds made us wait before seeing what Mesoraco can do is a shame. After getting very little playing time in his first three seasons, Mesoraco dominated in 2014. Despite missing the first quarter of the season, Mesoraco finished as a top-tier catcher. While he isn’t in the same class as a Buster Posey or Jonathan Lucroy, he’s close. If he can stay healthy in 2015, Mesoraco has 30/100 potential. Drafting a catcher like Mesoraco this late in the draft is a steal.
9.89 RP David Robertson, Chicago White Sox
Robertson was the New York Yankee’s set-up man behind Mariano Rivera for six seasons before taking over as closer in 2014. He recorded 39 saves and 96 strikeouts in 63 games with a 3.08 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. Now, Robertson will be the White Sox closer. Chicago has trouble establishing one man as the team’s closer, so Robertson easily inherited the starting job. He is a top-10 closer and is a safe pick to be your No. 1.
9.90 SP Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves
Wood was a relief pitcher before being added to the starting rotation in 2014. He posted a 3.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a 8.8 K/9 rate in seven starts before going back into the bullpen. It didn’t take long to bring him back into the rotation. He joined the rotation in late June and had a 2.43 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 8.6 strikeouts per nine over his final 17 starts. With the talent he showed when a part of the rotation, he could be drafted before Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel. While that wasn’t the case in this mock draft, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened in your real draft.