Round 1 Of The ABA 2018 Draft -------------------------------------------- 1. Mississippi Mudflaps - Cody Bellinger 2. San Jose Hammers - Rhys Hoskins 3. Albuquerque Roadrunners - Ian Happ 4. Tucson Banditos -1. Mississippi Mudflaps - Cody Bellinger. Has to be the consensus #1 pick. Twenty two years old and a 5 tool player for years to come. Will start at a corner outfield position for The 2018 Mudflaps as Ryan Zimmerman is at first base. The selection of Bellinger may open up the possibility of GM Sherwood trading one of his young outfielders, Mazara or Polanco.
Matt Olson- Not start-eligible, Steve withdraws pick. 5. Fort Lauderdale Mimosas - Luis Castillo 6. Memphis HoundDogs - Ahmed Rosario 7. Fairbanks Double-Scoops - Rafael Devers 8. Fairbanks Double- Scoops, Traded By The Miami Waves - Yoan Moncada 9. Manhattan Mammoths - Ozzie Albies 10. Hudson Highlanders - Tommy Pham 11. Fairbanks Double-Scoops, Traded By The Indianapolis Atomics - Jesse Winker 12. Raleigh-Durham Bulls - Chris Taylor 13. New Orleans Outlaws - Matt Chapman 14. Mississippi Mudflaps, Traded By The Alberta Dragons - Paul DeJong 15. Hartford Dark Blues - J. P. Crawford 16. Buffalo Wings - Clint Frazier
2. San Jose Hammers - Rhys Hoskins. GM Gary Eshbaugh loves The Phillies and Hoskins has a minor league resume of contact, on base percentage and power that I predict will continue in the major leagues. Plus he is start eligible for ABA 2018! San Jose long term could use starting pitching, second base (Although I think Merrifield will be a poor man's Pedroia.) and a shortstop (Although Eugenio Suarez can play there for ABA 2018.) but there is not a stud rookie or prospect starting pitcher that I know of that I would take here. Ian Happ or Yoan Moncada with me leaning towards Happ for Gary is what I like or perhaps shortstop propect Ahmed Rosario but for Gary this pick will be a no brainer. Some will view Hoskins as a reach but I think long term he will prove to be a very good selection here for Gary's Hammers.
3. Albuquerque Roadrunners - Messaging with new GM Rob Stomp, I know he is not a Cubs fan but I think he believes his Roadrunners have a chance to compete in ABA 2018 (I do!) and will select Ian Happ to play second base as an improvement over another aging Ian, Kinsler. Yoan Moncada for his tools and long term projections will be tough to pass on but Happ helps The Roadrunners in ABA 2018 and also future seasons. With Maddon as his MLB manager, Happ should be played at a few positions annually and be rated to play them in the ABA. If Rob is going to compete in ABA 2018, he will also need to find a replacement for Maikel Franco at thirdbase and perhaps even determine if long term Franco will be his thridbaseman. But at least a one year rental at thirdbase should be highly considered if he is looking to make a first year splash in ABA 2018.
4. Tucson Banditos - As I have shared, this is my ABA 2018 team to beat. Tom has a GREAT starting pitching staff already in place and quite a few position players set. Happ would be a great fit for Tom here at #4 to play second base for Jason Kipnis' down MLB 2017 season and then move into the outfield for future ABA seasons but if Happ has been selected, then Matt Olson at DH with his huge MLB 2017 I believe is the way to go. Olson should hit around 60 homeruns in ABA 2018 and with Tom's starting pitching staff, that is a strong compliment. Olson will be considered a reach at 4 but with this being Tucson's year (There are not too many if any ABA preseasons that can be said are to be Tucson's year.), I believe worth it. And Olson does have a minor league resume of walks and power so he should be able to contribute for The Banditos in future ABA seasons.
One thing The 2018 Banditos do not have are base stealers and Ozzie Albies to play second base would be a consideration but if I am Tom and with Tucson's franchise history, I go with Matt Olson and all that homerun power he brings for ABA 2018 and most likely future ABA seasons. As an aside, Tom and I traded some emails on Friday October 20, 2017 when I mentioned I had put this together and Matt Olson nor Ozzie Albies were names Tom mentioned but he hadn't started scouting.
OLSON is not start-eligible, so Steve withdraws this projection.
5. Fort Lauderdale Mimosas - I did not have The Mimosas as competing in ABA 2018 but GM Jim Frank has me rethinking that and if he can get some starting pitching, there is a good possibility his Mimosas just may make the ABA 2018 playoffs. The only problem is the starting pitching that is available is a reach at 5 and I think Jim can trade down and still get the starting pitching that is available along with further considerations. Right now I am not very detailed on the starting pitching that is draft eligible other then knowing there is not a super pitching prospect available that is ABA 2018 start eligible but I like Luis Castillo the most (And future research has me rating Castillo as the best combination of ABA 2018 performance, youth and success going forward.) as he is young and I believe will be pretty reliable. But again, I think Jim can trade down to select him or someone similar.
The position players already on the Mimosas roster are young and VERY GOOD! Starting pitching needs to be the focus if they are going to compete in the ABA 2018 post season and while again a stretch, I think Luis Castillo is the right selection for GM Frank here. Although if Ian Happ has not been selected, Jim will take Happ over Castillo. There may be a match here for Jim to trade The Roadrunners a thirdbaseman as Jim has an abundance of them. The Mimosas may hit over 300 homeruns but may not have the runs to show for all those homers as they will also have a low on base percentage.
6. Memphis HoundDogs - Another team that I believe can compete in ABA 2018 but this pick is a fork in the road for GM Chuck Shipman. He needs a shortstop and starting pitching but there is not from what I know a good, young, start eligible shortstops or starting pitchers to be selected here with the fifth pick of the ABA 2018 draft. Chris Taylor and Paul DeJong can play shortstop but defensively, and that is important for me at shortstop, both will not be rated very good defensively at shortstop for ABA 2018. Amed Rosario is the selection here to be The HoundDogs long term future shortstop but for ABA 2018, Chuck should consider trading for Zack Cozart as Indianapolis has Cozart and Bogaerts and only needs one with Bogaerts being the long term keeper at shortstop for Scott.
7. Fairbanks Double-Scoops - Rafael Devers. 20 year old who held his own in MLB 2017 although a very strong start faded. Did MLB pitching figure him out? I am willing to find out but hope MLB pitching has not solved him nor ABA pitching, also.
8. Fairbanks Double - Scoops (Spot obtained in a trade with the Miami Waves.) - I will select Yoan Moncada and hope he turns out to be "All That!".
*** Notes only : Miami Waves - This is another very strong roster and should be a very good team in ABA 2018. A very good starting staff (Second behind Tucson's.) and a couple of relievers already in place, they just have some position players that need to be addressed such as catcher, first base, third base (This is the least of the four concerns I have identified as they have Tim Beckham on their roster.) and perhaps centerfield (Currently Jon Jay is the only eligible centerfielder on the roster and while not horrible, for a team with ABA playoffs and success in their hopes, centerfield will need to be upgraded.). It would be a HUGE roster improvement if GM Jeff Burt could somehow obtain draft eligible Tommy Pham to be his ABA 2018 starting centerfielder but I do not foresee that happening. There are a couple, maybe even a few, draft eligible centerfielders that would be an improvement over Jay in later, early rounds.
9. Manhattan Mammoths : GM Graham Haas' current roster does not have me believing The Mammoths will be a good ABA 2018 team and that GM Haas also sees it the same way. There are a lot of concerns such as a long term replacement at first base for Joe Mauer or a third baseman as Miguel Sano long term will probably not stay there. Devon Travis, who I like, at second base has a history of injures. There's quite a lot of options GM Haas can go. Trade up to select more of an impact player. Trade down for more picks. Or keep this spot (Which I think Graham will do.) and select the best prospect available and not necessarily by grade but believed projections along with tools. I'll say Ozzie Albies here for Graham as he is 20 years young,has a lot of tools, should continue to improve and will provide insurance for an injury plagued Devon Travis if not just outright supplants him at second base. As a follow up note, Graham did email me if Didi Gregorious was draft available as he needed a shortstop for ABA 2018 so maybe Graham will try to compete in ABA 2018 but I think it would be a mistake on his part if he drafts to compete in ABA 2018 versus drafting for the Mammoth's future.
10. Hudson Highlanders - Another team I like for ABA 2018 (Common theme!) but has needs. I think GM Steve Irvin is the first GM who does not draft a prospect or rookie and goes with Tommy Pham to play centerfield over Jackie Bradley Jr. and Billy Hamilton for The Highlanders in ABA 2018. Pham posted very good splits and will help advance The Highlander's ABA 2018 playoff cause.
11. Fairbanks Double - Scoops (Spot obtained in a trade with the Indianapolis Atomics.) - I will select Jesse Winker and hope that he develops into the second coming of Paul O'Neill when he was on the Yankees.
*** Notes only : Indianapolis Atomics - I think they will be competitive in ABA 2018 but like all teams, they do have needs. Regardless, I would strongly consider selling Zack Cozart high and trading him as mentioned earlier to The HoundDogs as a perfect fit.
12. Raliegh-Durham Bulls - Another strong team for ABA 2018 but is VERY weak on the corner outfield positions. I'll say GM Andrew Edelsberg will select Chris Taylor and hope his MLB 2017 newfound success continues but at least Taylor will be a big contributor for his successful ABA 2018 season.
13. New Orleans Outlaws - Another strong ABA 2018 contender based on their current roster. First base production with Pujols is a big concern and while I initially thought GM Tom Rosendale should trade down to address this concern and gain more assets in the process, I do not foresee him doing that. Justin Bour would be a huge upgrade here but Tom could drop down and easily get someone comparable such as Smoak or Thames in later rounds. I will mention I do strongly prefer Bour's splits to the others so staying here and ensuring Bour is not too disagreeable. Now having said all that, Bour or another, similar first basemen will be there in round 2. Tom should use this spot to focus on his long term replacement for Adrian Beltre and select Matt Chapman who can even help his Outlaws in ABA 2018. I would seriously consider selling Elvis Andrus high and trading him as there are competitive teams that need a shortstop and The Outlaws have Seager there long term.
14. Mississippi Mudflaps (Spot obtained in a trade with the Alberta Dragons.) - GM Ryan Sherwood was hoping shortstop Dansby Swanson would produce in MLB 2017 and while he is still slotted as The Mudflap's shortstop of the future, Ryan selects Paul DeJong to at least play shortstop for his ABA 2018 team and most likely will have a shortstop/thirdbase defensive rating in the future. DeJong brings power to the shortstop position for ABA 2018 and I believe beyond based on his minor league numbers.
*** Notes only : Alberta Dragons - GM Doug Cuomo has a very strong roster for a successful ABA 2018 season. Maybe the third best starting pitching staff with just Kluber and Verlander being part of it. I would strongly consider trading Jake Lamb or Justin Turner (Most likely Lamb due to an extreme split differential but at least his strength is hitting righties versus lefties.) as The Dragons do not have a first or second round draft pick and could use some more power such as drafting Paul DeJong to play shortstop or trading for Zack Cozart. A Jake Lamb for Zack Cozart straight up deal between Alberta and Indianapolis would help both teams as neither has a first round selection and it addresses needs for both rosters. Scott could place Bryant in the outfield and have a third base platoon of Lamb versus right handed starting pitching and Escobar against left handed starting pitching while Doug could start Cozart at shortstop with his defense, hitting and power for ABA 2018. I do not believe The HoundDogs would be willing to part with their resources in an attempt to have Cozart come to Memphis while they groom Rosario.
15. Hartford Dark Blues - GM Dave Basler is on record as saying ABA 2018 will be a rebuilding year for his franchise. His current roster has some young talent that was hurt and/or under performed in MLB 2017 (Aaron Sanchez, Greg Bird, David Dahl and Joc Pederson.). I predict Dave will go with a rookie prospect and will select J. P. Crawford.
16. Buffalo Wings - For the first time since I have joined the ABA, I do not foresee The Buffalo WIngs being such a dominant team going into the draft or ABA season. In fact, I predict Fairbanks, Manhattan, Hartford and Buffalo will be the bottom four ABA 2018 teams record wise. I believe Greg will go with a projectable rookie prospect and select outfielder Clint Frazier. This selection is a little hazier for me now with the Yankee's recent acquisition of Stanton and now a really crowded Yankee outfield but I think Frazier gets enough at bats to be ABA start eligible with the Yankees giving Judge and Stanton time at DH or perhaps Frazier even traded where he can play everyday elsewhere.