Here at Beyond the Box Score, we pride ourselves on writing a lot about baseball and statistics, on enjoying the game from an objective analysis standpoint. Sometimes, though, we just want to have a little fun.
What you're about to read is both incredibly long and an exercise in fun. Sparked from a Tweet by Sky Kalkman -- and a Reddit discussion -- we decided to play a game behind the scenes here at Beyond the Box Score.
The idea: to perform a simulated expansion draft, as if two teams were entering MLB, effective immediately. The gents over at The Platoon Advantage (RIP) did something like this back in 2011. We thought we'd try something similar here at BtBS.
So a plan was set, and ground rules were discussed. We decided to operate as if the draft was happening *immediately* -- which meant mid-season, as this project started near the end of July. This is obviously an occurrence that would never happen in the real world, as an expansion draft would only happen in the offseason. Nevertheless, we started operating under the assumption that players drafted would immediately move to their new teams, that contracts would carry over as currently structured, and that if a player with pending free agency was drafted, that team could re-sign the player at market value after drafting.
Beyond that, we tried to run the draft as much like the Devil Rays / Diamondbacks expansion draft of 1997. Each team would pick 35 players (over three rounds), with each team having the same number of choices in each round. During each round, the existing major league teams could protect a certain number of players -- it starts with 15 protected players in Round 1, and then teams could protect three additional players in Round 2, and three more in Round 3. By the end of the draft, each existing MLB franchise would be out two or three players, and our expansion teams would have 40-man rosters of 35 players.
So, how do we decide which players would be protected by each team? We first suggested some ground rules, closely based on the rules for the 1997 draft. We eventually ended up deciding that draftees and international free agents from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 signing periods would be automatically protected by each team -- with the exception of IFA signings from Cuba / Japan / Korea. So that meant that Jose Abreu would not be automatically protected, but Kris Bryant would.
When it came time to pick the 15-plus players manually protected by each team, we went out to the population of BtBS writers, and had our writers act as the front office for all 30 teams, and draft protected lists. About 15-18 of our staff participated, and they all manually selected players to protect throughout the three rounds of the draft. You can find out more about their protections later in the article, but most everyone did an excellent job of protecting their teams' interests.
Before the first round of the draft, 15 players could be protected (not counting those automatically-protected players) for each team. After the first player was drafted from each team, an additional three players was protected before Round 2. Then, after the Round 2 draft, each team could protect a final additional three players for Round 3, the final round.
Each team could only be plundered once per round. So that means that if, say, a team selected a Red Sox player first overall in Round 1, then no Red Sox player could be drafted again until Round 2.
We froze the rosters on July 28, 2014 -- so some of the pre-deadline deals didn't happen, in terms of our drafting. Jon Lester is still a Red Sox, David Price a Ray, etc.
The New Teams
Now we had to create our new teams. First, I decided to place our two new expansion franchises in the two cities former BtBS author Ken Woolums had declared most likely to be the "next" MLB city. (#RIPKen) That left Charlotte, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon as our two teams. Then, I set payrolls (each team would operate on a $95 million payroll) and set about realigning the leagues. Portland would land in the updated AL West division, while Charlotte would land in the new NL South division.
Here's the new alignment, for anyone interested:
|AL North||AL Central||AL South||AL West||NL North||NL Central||NL South||NL West|
|Baltimore||Chicago (AL)||Houston||Los Angeles (AL)||Cincinnati||Chicago (NL)||Atlanta||Arizona|
|Boston||Cleveland||Kansas City||Oakland||New York (NL)||Colorado||Charlotte||Los Angeles (NL)|
|New York (AL)||Detroit||Tampa Bay||Portland||Philadelphia||Milwaukee||Miami||San Diego|
|Toronto||Minnesota||Texas||Seattle||Pittsburgh||St. Louis||Washington||San Francisco|
Not bad. Now we need to hire each of our new teams a front office. We settled on myself (Bryan G.) as the GM of Portland, and Ryan P. Morrison as the GM for Charlotte. Then, we each "hired" a front office. Portland's FO consisted of John Choiniere, Jeff Long (#RIPJeff), and Jeff Wiser. Charlotte's much more expensive front office included Neil Weinberg, Stuart Wallace, Jeff Bellone, Chris St. John, Stephen Loftus, Bryan Robinson, and Justin Perline.
On a completely impartial note, hiring Charlotte's FO would probably be a pretty great analytics department for a *real* major league team. I mean, Portland's FO isn't chopped liver, but jeez.
It's finally time for our draft. Charlotte won the coin toss, and with it a pretty great advantage. They chose between picking first overall, then fourth, sixth, etc. throughout the entire rest of the draft ... or they could choose second, third, fifth, and so on throughout the remainder of the draft. They chose to relinquish the first overall pick, and take the advantage for the rest of the draft instead. Wise choice, in my book.
Here are all of the protections made in a Google Sheets spreadsheet ... 1.1 through 1.15 are the folks protected in the first round, 2.1 through 2.3 are the additional players protected in the second round, and 3.1 through 3.3 are the protected folks in the third round.
Now, I'll go ahead and post each of the picks for each round, followed by some occasional commentary from myself (Bryan, remember?) and/or Ryan M. It may shed some light on our teams' choices.
Photo credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 1: Lucas Duda, New York Mets
Bryan: It was a tough decision for the first overall pick. Given my Mets fandom, it may be considered a homer pick ... but in fact, it was a homer pick. Looking at the players protected, it was going to be hard to find anyone who profiled as a middle-of-the-order bat. Duda is a guy with flaws, but his offensive potential was too great to be ignored, especially by an AL team where we can hide his bat at DH. Unfortunately, the rest of the draft didn't allow us to execute that plan, and Duda will (probably) land at first base for Portland. Maybe.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 2: Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox
Ryan: We liked Vazquez from the get-go, but at the time of the first round of our draft, he'd played just 12 games in the majors. Vazquez shot up our draft board, settling into our top two just after we officially ceded the top pick to Portland. While we had no idea that Vazquez would appear to be so spectacular a pitch framer, we believed his defense-first skill set would fit what was likely to be a young pitching staff very well. In addition, with just A.J. Ellis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia unprotected among MLB starting catchers, the position was thin enough to solidify Vazquez as an early pick. Another non-trivial factor: the deepest team in the majors in terms of players eligible for this draft was, in our opinion, the Red Sox — and it wasn't that close. We doubted the Red Sox would stay on the board for long in any round, and as it turned out, the first overall pick was the only time that Portland had a chance to pick from them.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 3: Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan: The order of Vazquez and Jimmy Nelson was merely academic, and we had targeted Nelson as a #1 overall pick after our first pass through the 30 organizations. As Bryan indicates below, the flawed-but-promising Nelson probably would not have been left unprotected in "real life," and we were thrilled to get him here after Neil Weinberg led the charge in convincing the rest of us that he wasn't so good as to warrant electing to take the first overall pick. We expect Nelson will help anchor the Charlotte staff in 2015 and into the future, with his repertoire a good fit for our planned pitching staff alignment.
Bryan: Charlotte gets their ace here, and it's my fault. I had to pick up the protections for the Brewers, and I left Nelson off the protected list in favor of guys like Taylor Jungmann and Will Smith. This was a flat-out mistake, as the Brewers would protect Nelson in that first round, I'd think. It's only fair that I pay the price.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 4: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
Bryan: Yes, picking up Cano is an incredibly expensive move, but it gives our team immediate impact and legitimacy. It's not likely that we could have picked up this kind of talent anywhere else. Also, it will add a little bit of fuel to a pending Seattle-Portland rivalry. Gotta love that aspect. At least one position will be locked down for the forseeable future.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 5: Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Ryan: In our FO, Andrus had some #1 overall support. As an MLB asset, I'm not convinced he's necessarily so valuable that it would take much to obtain him in trade. But just as Portland believed in taking Cano, legitimate major league talent was hard to come by in this draft, and (good) starting position players who play up the middle were very scarce. I can see why Texas left him unprotected, but with Andrus signed through at least 2018, selecting him gave Charlotte part of its middle-out foundation. We were poised to take Craig Gentry with our next pick, but found to our chagrin that the Athletics were busted by Portland.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 6: Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics
Bryan: We got "desperate" early. More than anything else, we worried about finding workable catching talent. Vogt is a platoon bat, and he's not a super-duper defensive catcher, but he seems like the best bet of a bad bunch. The trick will be finding a reasonable platoon partner for Vogt -- we really can't run him out there behind the plate if a lefty is pitching -- or some "real" catchers. We also presumed (rather rightly) that Oakland would be an early target for most teams.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 7: Luis Severino, New York Yankees
Ryan: At this point, the teams' draft paths started to diverge in a big way. When the Charlotte front office was born, we agreed at the very beginning that 1) our focus would be on 2017, not 2015; and 2) we would proceed as if we were going to use a starter-by-committee pitching staff for at least two seasons. Severino was one of the top prospects available in the expansion draft, and because the main knock on him as a prospect has been questions about whether he can start (which isn't as big a concern for us), we tapped him here.
Bryan: Ryan's right on. While we were looking for talent with years of team control, Portland was all about building a team that could contend soon, if not immediately. I'm of the opinion that (1) prospects may be a little overvalued these days and (2) when prospects aren't elite, they're not worth big-time investment. So yes, our two franchises had very different overall strategies -- something that probably worked out for both sides. I'm not knocking the Charlotte methodology, but I think ours wound up working pretty well because ...
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 8: Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bryan: When in doubt, draft an All-Star who gives your team great flexibility. Harrison was a questionable All-Star choice earlier in the year -- not so much so now with his .314/.346/.509 batting line. It may be presumptuous to predict this kind of performance in the future, but he's good enough to be a cornerstone-type piece on an expansion team. The big thing about Harrison is that he could settle in for us at RF, LF, 3B, or, in a pinch, maybe even SS. Though I'm not a fan of having him work at short, having the flexibility would be huge for us.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 9: Tyler Matzek, Colorado Rockies
Ryan: We had had Matzek in the top three on our draft board at one point, and considering his road success, the length of club control, and the idea that his stuff could play up in starter-by-committee — we were happy to add Matzek to our staff.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 10: Collin McHugh, Houston Astros
Bryan: So, we weren't thrilled about Matzek going here, because we were angling for Josh Rutledge as our team's shortstop. But, if our team is going to draft our first pitcher, it should be McHugh. McHugh's been absolute dynamite this season, and while we weren't sure if he projects out to be a consistent rotation force, he at least gives us a guy we're not embarassed about running out there on Opening Day. McHugh was in the early discussion about first starter in our rotation, but we knew we'd need more. And we also knew that we needed to go to Plan B for shortstop.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 11: Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres
Ryan: The next three players on our draft board were Michael Taylor, Cameron Maybin, and Taylor Guerrieri, but we hadn't really settled on their exact order. Taylor was next in the tentative order, but as Portland had already exhibited a preference for established major leaguers, we decided to gamble that Taylor would stick a bit longer to grab Maybin. Maybin could fit us well — Charlotte is modeling itself as a pitching-and-defense team with a park to match, and getting three years of Maybin at reasonable salaries left us a second baseman short of having MLB-ready players at all of the up-the-middle positions.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 12: Jacob Turner, Miami Marlins
Bryan: In hindsight, this pick may look a little sketchy. After all, Turner was released by the Marlins after they acquired Jarred Cosart at the July 31 trade deadline. But I still believe Turner has the ability to be an okay back-of-the-rotation starter. Starting pitching was a tough find in this draft (we eventually did alright), and Turner has the ability to get ground ball outs. I guess we'd better build a pitchers' park in Portland? After it's all said and done, we would've rather pulled the trigger on the guy who went next.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 13: Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals
Ryan: We breathed a collective sigh of relief when Taylor was still here at #13. Prospects man Chris St. John and Nationals insider Stuart Wallace helped convince us that Taylor would be a particularly promising investment among the prospects available. Whether Taylor fits in with us in center field or in right is an open question, but Charlotte will have to make room for an extended tryout at the MLB level soon.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 14: Gregor Blanco, San Francisco Giants
Bryan: Taylor was literally the next pick on our agenda. This threw us off, and the end result was maybe reaching a little bit to grab Gregor Blanco, a guy we'd want, but maybe not as a starter. If his 2014 is any indication, he's a great piece. If he loses a bit of offensive juice, and the defense goes downhill, he's just a guy -- but at least he's a big league regular.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 15: Taylor Guerreri, Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan: Although we seemed alone in the wilderness at this point picking prospects, we stuck with our draft board here. In popping the recently-returned Guerrieri at #15, Charlotte got its top three available prospects.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 16: Joe Kelly, St. Louis Cardinals
Bryan: Guerrieri was certainly in the mix for us, and perhaps the first Ray that would've come off our board, but we were thrilled the Cardinals still had talent available. Rotation spots are at a premium, and drafting Joe Kelly gives us a guy who isn't as good as his ERA, but good enough to at least hold down a rotation spot. And at 26, there's probably still a few bullets left in the arm. (We hope.)
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 17: Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Ryan: We liked Ramirez — a lot. And had we missed out on Andrus, Ramirez may have come off the board much earlier. We didn't have anyone else high among possible White Sox picks, leading us to believe that there was low risk that the organization would get busted for non-Ramirez reasons by Portland. Second base seemed to be an area of relative weakness in the pool of expansion draft eligibles, with Joe Panik probably the next-best available, but we were pleased to force Ramirez back to the keystone, with the understanding that his presence on the roster could allow us to eschew another shortstop in favor of a backup second baseman.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 18: Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bryan: Parra was having a disaster season with the D-backs, but the change of scenery in Milwaukee has helped him out. We didn't know this when we drafted him, but we did love the potential for Gerardo to return to being a two-win outfielder with skills that don't decline in a hurry. Outfield defense matters, yo. Also, we'd hoped that this might throw Ryan off, as he's a known Parra supporter and Diamondbacks expert.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 19: Miguel Almonte, Kansas City Royals
Ryan: This pick found Charlotte unsure of itself for the first time in the draft. We hadn't planned to have a clear path to the prospects we liked more than Almonte, and we did need to get an MLB team prepped to play actual games; at the same time, we wondered if playing Portland's game would be a mistake, what with them getting a headstart. Honestly, we froze up a little bit here. But pitching prospects are the most fungible asset in baseball, because they fit every team, and in the end, we decided to turn the #19 pick into the asset that most closely resembled cash.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 20: Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Bryan: It was time to go back to the starting pitching well, even though we were finding that Charlotte didn't seem to have much interest in starters. At the time, we saw Shoemaker as a guy who could eventually land in the bullpen, if we could get a few other starters that might hit. As it turns out, Shoemaker is continuing to roll in SoCal, and today he's the team's No. 2 starter.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 21: Juan Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan: We were hoping to get a crack at Shoemaker either at this pick or at our next pick, and in hindsight his selection at #20 looks like one of the draft's best. We had targeted Francisco over exposed Blue Jays prospects like Dalton Pompey because of that need to field a team in 2015. As a platoon man in what we tentatively hoped would be a four-men/three-position time share in the infield, we liked the left-handed-hitting Francisco a lot; and having gone with the prospect with the previous pick, we made Francisco our part-time third baseman here.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 22: J.R. Graham, Atlanta Braves
Bryan: I'd identified Graham early on as my target if a Braves player was on the docket. As a team, we didn't target too many minor leaguers, but Graham has potential to be a nice piece as a starter. After we picked up Graham, the Braves moved him to the bullpen. That wasn't in the plan.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 23: David Murphy, Cleveland Indians
Ryan: The Graham pick smarted a bit — we were big fans of Jordan Walden, but just couldn't justify taking him before the last third of the first round. With Murphy, we filled out a possible starting outfield with a player who could fit into a time share relatively easily. We also had the money to spend for this kind of established veteran, with no real stars left available; and given the relatively short length of Murphy's contract, we felt we wouldn't be tied up when Michael Taylor and the other outfield prospects we were eyeing were ready to contribute.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 24: Cameron Rupp, Philadelphia Phillies
Bryan: I guess Rupp is the other side of the catching platoon we were shooting for, though he's hardly an ideal fit. But the good news, is that he's one of the few Phillies we found appealing. And though his offense has stalled out completely this season, we can send him to the minors if needed (options!), and we can keep working with him to see if he can improve.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 25: Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs
Ryan: We bungled this pick a bit, aiming first for a pitcher that wasn't actually available. The pickings had become very slim in the first round at this point, and Wood seemed likely to be able to lock down a starter-by-committee slot without needing to be replaced.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 26: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bryan: We were hoping Kemp would stick until Round 2, and that we'd have enough money to spend it on the wildly expensive outfielder with a serious fielding problem. Bats are tough to come by, and by angling for Kemp in addition to first overall pick Lucas Duda, we made the decision to wipe out any hope of using a DH by committee. Either Kemp will recover enough defensive value to play left field, or he'll man the DH spot -- more likely the latter.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 27: Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins
Ryan: The last 5-7 organizations to be picked from in Round 1 didn't really offer too much, and we had limited interest in any player from the 4 orgs that were yet to be picked from at this point. That left us with Hicks, our fourth outfielder and a less than ideal fit with CF types Maybin and Taylor. Still, we could do a lot worse as fourth outfielders go, and because Hicks sports a significant platoon split (career, 55 wRC+ vs. RHP, 112 wRC+ vs. LHP), he seemed to be a good candidate for a time share situation.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 28: Robbie Ray, Detroit Tigers
Bryan: We'd rather have Doug Fister. But, on the bright side, Ray gives us something we didn't have -- a potential left-handed starter. He's likely a guy we'd want to let simmer in the minors for another year, especially if we were to snag a few more starters later, but he's what we saw as the best from a shallow Tigers bunch.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 1, Selection 29: Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Ryan: It was down to the Orioles and the Reds, and beyond Brayan Pena as a catching backup, we saw no one helpful that was unprotected on the Reds. The protected-heavy Orioles weren't much better, but we liked Brach as someone who might flourish in starter-by-committee if given the chance.
Portland Beavers -- Round 1, Selection 30: Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Bryan: We had to pick a Red. Had to. I'd been planning on Iglesias from the jump, even though he's a fairly expensive wild card, he could probably slot into an ML bullpen right away. And, frankly, the Reds gave us very, very few options to work with. A Cuban pitcher isn't a bad deal here.
Ryan: Portland took advantage of a Charlotte mistake here. Had we actually considered Iglesias, I'm sure we would have taken him — two plus pitches and a questionable third makes for an excellent starter-by-committee candidate. Kudos to Portland on this pick.
Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 1: Daniel Nava, Boston Red Sox
Ryan: It's a little absurd that by ceding the first overall pick, an organization in an expansion draft could gain this kind of advantage for the remainder of the draft's picks. If two expansion franchises played the "I cut, you choose" game with one org setting the rules and the other taking its pick, you can be sure neither team would get rules this favorable. In Round 2, the distribution of top talent was flatter than in Round 1 — that increased our confidence that we could get a hefty share of the players we really liked. To help ensure that happened, we decided to pick early from Boston, Oakland, and Washington, the organizations that we thought were deepest. Daniel Nava is a flawed player that could fit into a good outfield time share, and maybe even be marketable for a trade late during the 2015 season; we also really liked Boston's Manuel Margot, but reasoned that he might be available in Round 3.
Bryan: So, from the jump -- from Round 1, actually, our eyes (really, John Choiniere's eyes) were on Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot. It was our intent to take him with the 2-2 pick after Charlotte took anyone else here. When the Divide took Nava, we were bummed, but also breathed a sigh of relief. Margot was still probably likely to be unprotected in Round 3, and we slid our potential 2-2 pick back to a 3-2 choice. At least we'd have a good shot at him later.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 2: Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bryan: That left us with one of the few relievers we really wanted to target: lefty Tony Watson. Watson checked all the boxes we were looking for in an expansion draft reliever: years of team control left, good peripherals, and some ability to get out hitters on both sides. Watson could immediately slot in as our closer, so he'd be a fine fit for a young, 80-win team.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 3: Drew Pomeranz, Oakland Athletics
Ryan: Pomeranz was high up on our starter-by-committee wish list, and even got some first round support in our FO — Craig Gentry was just more valuable to us. We knew that one of Gentry, Josh Reddick, Tommy Milone or Pomeranz would fall, and with our outfield stocked, we were happy to snag Pomeranz here instead of Milone.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 4: Jace Peterson, San Diego Padres
Bryan: Welcome to Plan B. Jace Peterson had all the qualities we were looking for in a shortstop: young, cost-controlled, and he had at least one powerful skill. In Peterson's case, he's an on-base machine. In our eyes, Peterson can hold down the heavy side of a shortstop platoon, or hopefully take on more responsibility as an everyday guy. All we need to do is find another guy who can handle short and hit lefties.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 5: Steven Souza, Washington Nationals
Ryan: Had we drafted this round strictly on need, chances are we would have picked up Ike Davis with the first pick. As it was, we had him fourth on our board, behind Nava, Pomeranz and Blake Treinen of the Nationals. Our backup first baseman pick? Tommy Medica of the Padres. And so while we had a clear runway to get all three of the top guys on our draft board, the fact that Portland busted both Pittsburgh and San Diego made us promote Steven Souza back ahead of Treinen as our Nationals guy. Souza has been old for his levels recently in the minors, but has performed well. Is it an age mirage? We don't know. But Souza has played some first base in the past, and he's likely to get the lion's share of starts there for Charlotte in 2015.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 6: Dan Straily, Chicago Cubs
Bryan: I've always had a soft spot for Straily, and selecting him early in the second round was kind of a no-brainer for us. Though his HR rate will probably always be a problem, this is another example of our "acquire a number of guys who can throw 180 innings and see who pans out" rotation strategy. Straily's 2013 is what we want, and our fingers are crossed that with a full season in the big leagues, as a No. 4 starter from the jump, he can go back to that.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 7: Robinson Chirinos, Texas Rangers
Ryan: Catching? Scarce. First base situation? Shaky. Chirinos can't platoon with Souza, but in our moving-parts roster, he fits well as Christian Vazquez's backup and will probably grab 20-30 starts in 2015 at first base. We may also experiment with the switch-hitting Nava working with Souza at first, but that's a project for spring training.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 8: Marcus Semien, Chicago White Sox
Bryan: Voila, here's the other side of our shortstop platoon. I was surprised at the time that Semien still wasn't protected, and he fits one of two possible roles for this team. If Jace Peterson isn't the offensive-and-defensive starting shortstop we need, we can platoon him with Semien. If Peterson does rule the six with an iron fist, Semien becomes our jack-of-all-trades, picking up time at three infield positions and some outfield as needed.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 9: Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan: In preparing for the second round, one of our main missions was to find someone who could 1) platoon with Juan Francisco at third and 2) fill in at second base. Forsythe seemed to be the best candidate to do both, and so he's likely to get most of the third base starts against southpaws, while scoring another 30 starts or so at second base. Why 30? Because we plan to have Alexei Ramirez back up at shortstop. In the three-position, four-man rotation, Forsythe will supplement his third base starts by covering the rest days of both Andrus and Ramirez. This part of the round seemed to be about filling in major league needs; we had considered Marcus Semien for this role, and Danny Valencia was strongly considered as well.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 10: Danny Valencia, Kansas City Royals
Bryan: Mmm. Platoon bats. Valencia is another example of our two-pronged approach striving for flexibility and platoon hitting ability. The team needed someone who could back up Duda at first base, slot in at third base, and hit left-handed pitching. The fact that Valencia was still on the board, and that the Royals didn't have anyone else who jumped out at us, made this an easy pick.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 11: David Carpenter, Atlanta Braves
Ryan: Here comes our man! Relief pitchers were not in high demand in this process. Decent relievers were still left off of protected lists after the three-man extensions, and Carpenter was the first true short reliever picked by either expansion team. We aren't 100% sure what we'll do with Carpenter -- we might try to stretch him out for starter-by-committee, but we're open to him claiming a roving "relief ace" role similar to the one he's in right now.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 12: Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers
Bryan: Fiers is a lot like Dan Straily, and if you're going to build a rotation out of guys like that, you best sign a bunch of them. Fiers had a very sharp 2012, a less-than-stellar 2013, and we're happy slotting him in as a possible rotation option, despite his lack of an out pitch. Beggars can't be choosers.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 13: Adam Ottavino, Colorado Rockies
Ryan: I really like Adam Ottavino (the draft title for this piece was "Adam Ottavino: BAMF"). And as a guy with so-so results as a starter but excellent results as a reliever, he fits the mold of Wade Davis types who might see their usefulness maximized in starter-by-committee.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 14: Tyler Austin, New York Yankees
Bryan: So, Charlotte is obviously going relievers here, and we were faced with a choice -- we'd narrowed our choices down to prospect OF Tyler Austin, or RP Adam Warren. Since Charlotte was taking relievers that we'd identified as possible choices for us (Ottavino, Carpenter), we figured a player like Warren might be next on the wish list. But we also guessed that we could prevent them from taking Warren while adding to a position of weakness for us: minor-league talent. Austin still has some upside, and he won't hurt our 25-man flexibility.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 15: J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Ryan: Again: catching was scarce in this draft, especially with the sought-after Red Sox owning about half of all of the best catching prospects in baseball. Realmuto is a depth move, who might be ready for a cameo next season but who might languish in Vazquez's shadow for a few years.
Bryan: I very much wanted Realmuto as a minor-league stash for our catching depth, and seeing him go off the board here stung. I like Realmuto's defensive profile, and going Vogt-Rupp doesn't really scream solid catcher defense.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 16: Kevin Siegrist, St. Louis Cardinals
Bryan: Alright -- now we're ready to start moving on relievers. Siegrist was an easy choice for me, given how badly I wanted another lefty reliever with team control and strikeout stuff. Teams didn't protect a lot of relief pitchers, so our team of front office personnel was confident that nabbing relief pitchers late in this round would be good enough to build a competent bullpen, while "wasting" the picks from teams where we didn't have a definite target.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 17: Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Ryan: Like David Carpenter, Bedrosian is a short reliever who we might stretch out for starter-by-committee. Unlike Carpenter, Bedrosian started in the minors as recently as 2012 (and a little in 2013), and we're betting more heavily that he'll fit in.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 18: Danny Hultzen, Seattle Mariners
Bryan: This pick is certainly a wild card. Hultzen could be awfully good, but his injury situation makes him a risky proposition. My front-office compatriots talked me down from taking Hultzen very early in Round 2, and the patience pays off here as we're able to land a guy we'd targeted early.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 19: Vincent Velazquez, Houston Astros
Ryan: With no pressing position player needs, we stretched a bit to grab another prospect instead of filling out our MLB pitching staff. Chris St. John touted both Velazquez and outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, and our FO was really torn between the two guys. This brought up an interesting debate: in an expansion draft, MLB players can and probably should be drafted based on need. But what about prospect hunting in an expansion draft? Here, we let the fact that our current and future outfield was stocked push us toward Velazquez as a kind of tiebreaker.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 20: Jean Machi, San Francisco Giants
Bryan: We chose Machi because he gives us another cheap, cost-controlled bullpen arm, while also bringing a different look: he's a groundballer. He's not young, but he's been good enough over the past two seasons to be worth a pick late in the second round.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 21: Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Ryan: I happen to really like Hudson on many levels, and there is still some doubt about his future, if less so than at the time of this draft about a month ago. Last week, Hudson made his 2014 relief debut, and I was in awe. The question now is about whether to let him be a reliever, whether to give him a chance to help prop up the Arizona rotation, or whether to have him start the year in relief before transitioning long term back to the rotation. Here in Charlotte, we have none of these problems. Great starter-by-committee candidates generally look like 1) pimp relievers who didn't work out as starters, or 2) pitchers whose third pitch is way behind their first two (or both). But there's a third kind, and it's Hudson, who might be limited from a starting role because of health concerns, but who could thrive if asked to pitch three innings every third game.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 22: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
Bryan: More than any other guy, we consider Cabrera our "luxury" pick. He can hit a little (from both sides of the plate), and he's a not-so-great defensive shortstop. So where do we play Cabrera? Wherever we damn well please. He's an option at third base for us, but I see him as an outfield conversion prospect, or a Ben Zobrist-type at third base and right field. If nothing else, he gives us another capable fallback plan at shortstop, though I'm much more inclined to go with Peterson/Semien there. More flexibility!
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 23: John Stilson, Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan: I had the Blue Jays as a protected-list GM, and made the grievous error of considering Danny Valencia a Blue Jay for purposes of this draft; the fact that he was properly considered a Royal was something that couldn't have made me happier. See, I really like Stilson for Charlotte, but Valencia was too good for our FO to pass up. With him off the board (and no one better available from the Jays), we invented something brand new: the starter-by-committee prospect. Stilson is no guarantee, but he profiles better in the starter-by-committee system than as an underutilized reliever or overexposed starter.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 24: Vic Black, New York Mets
Bryan: Yet another bullpen guy, Black is a favorite with nutty minor league strikeout numbers and potential to be a late-inning weapon. He needs to control his walk rate, but we're adding another setup-level guy with options to our bullpen, with most other positions filled.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 25: Aaron Altherr, Philadelphia Phillies
Ryan: With the pickings really starting to slim, Charlotte popped another outfield prospect here. We like Altherr for down the road, and he's a prospect that could actually benefit from additional seasoning in the minors while waiting out the Maybin-Hicks-Murphy-Taylor-Nava traffic jam in the majors.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 26: Al Albuquerque, Detroit Tigers
Bryan: Basically, see Vic Black above. Strikeouts. Team control. A knack for stranding baserunners. Al^2 has questions about his health and durability, but if he's somewhat healthy, he's another powerful bullpen piece.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 27: Travis Harrison, Minnesota Twins
Ryan: We had no one we really wanted among these last four organizations' unprotected players; Harrison, at least, has some down-the-road promise, especially since his impressive walk rate hasn't taken a hit year despite a significant drop in strikeout rate. But, yeah. We have young outfielders for days.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 28: Darren O'Day, Baltimore Orioles
Bryan: O'Day's been SO solid ever since making the big leagues, and the sidearmer gives us yet another look out of the bullpen. Expect us to sign him to a long-term (three year) deal instead of picking up his option for 2015. He gives our team veteran presence, but more importantly, he's awfully good and awfully consistent.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 2, Selection 29: J.P. Howell, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ryan: Is Howell all the way back from the shoulder issues? I don't know. But the price is right, there's an outside chance he could be more in our system, and at worst a trade match should be easy to find.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 30: J.J. Hoover, Cincinnati Reds
Bryan: We really, really did not want to have to draft a Dodger, but the Reds (last again!) weren't much better. We chose to take a flyer on big J.J. Hoover, a potentially electric relief arm with a recent performance problem. At this point, you take what you can get.
Photo credit: Hannah Foslien
Charlotte Divide -- Round 3, Selection 1: Manuel Margot, Boston Red Sox
Ryan: Phew! Margot was the best player on the board. Our gamble that Margot would pass to Round 3 paid off. Upside was very hard to come by in this draft; only Luis Severino, Michael Taylor and Taylor Guerrieri offered ceilings as high as Margot's, in our view. We'll start printing the shirseys now.
Portland Beavers -- Round 3, Selection 2: Sam Fuld, Minnesota Twins
Bryan: We'd hoped that a decent fifth outfielder option might become available, and here sits Sam Fuld for us. At this point, Jeff Wiser had taken over the draft (I was on vacation), and he made the absolute right choice here with Fuld still on the table. Fuld is the absolute prototypical fifth outfielder -- he can run, field, and is almost a league-average hitter.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 3, Selection 3: Keury Mella, San Francisco Giants
Ryan: Why not another pitching prospect? We had Mella lined up in our queue in Round 2 when Portland busted the Giants with the Jean Machi pick. In the top 9 list we generated for Round 3, he was second.
Portland Beavers -- Round 3, Selection 4: Kelly Dugan, Philadelphia Phillies
Bryan: In short, Dugan's a lottery ticket. The idea is to promote him to Triple-A, and see what the bat can do -- because he's getting a little old for prospect status. He doesn't have the plate discipline I'd want, but there's a non-zero chance he could hit for power at the big-league level.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 3, Selection 5: Jose LeClerc, Texas Rangers
Ryan: Remember when we invented the starter-by-committee prospect with the Josh Stilson selection in Round 2? AGM Justin Perline plucked LeClerc from obscurity, noting (this is a theme) two plus pitches and a confused MLB organization that didn't know whether to push LeClerc as a starter or reliever. No worries, Rangers. We'll solve that puzzle for you.
Bryan: Justin deserves a lot of credit here, because we were eyeing LeClerc as a closer prospect all draft long. There was a decent chance we would've drafted him at the end of the third, had the Rangers fallen that far. Not exactly a guy I'd want to move to the rotation, but a very savvy choice.
Portland Beavers -- Round 3, Selection 6: Rene Rivera, San Diego Padres
Bryan: Bingo. Jeff's pick of Rivera here, the surprise hit of the 2014 Padres season, makes a number of things slide into place. Now, we not only have a lefty-righty catching platoon, but we have a bad-defense-good-defense platoon. Rivera's an awesome framer, and we'll keep him on long after his bat turns back into a disaster. We can now send Rupp to Triple-A to see if the bat will come around.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 3, Selection 7: Ike Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates
Ryan: Well, well, well. We thought we had fashioned a less-than-ideal first base situation with Souza and a dash of Nava and Chirinos, but here was our left-handed first baseman, available with our second-to-last pick. By picking up Davis, we're setting up a pretty effective pairing (with Souza) at first base; now all that remains to figure out is how to get Souza playing time in an outfield already bursting at the seams.
Portland Beavers -- Round 3, Selection 8: David Goforth, Milwaukee Brewers
Bryan: Is he a starter? Is he a reliever? We don't know. Charlotte has the right idea, as I think we'd try to stretch him out as a starter again. He has to strike out more guys in order to contribute at the big-league level, but he's an option.
Charlotte Divide -- Round 3, Selection 9: Teoscar Hernandez, Houston Astros
Ryan: In the mix for us here, actually, was Goforth, a decent starter-by-committee candidate who lacked the ceiling of LeClerc and Stilson, and Brad Boxberger, about whom we had some doubts regarding whether or not he could be stretched out. We lost out on Goforth (I hope he prospers in Portland, though), but the fact that Teoscar Hernandez was available here after being so strongly considered in Round 2 (and in Round 1, actually) meant that our stable of outfield prospects got all the deeper.
Portland Beavers -- Round 2, Selection 10: Brad Boxberger, Tampa Bay Rays
Bryan: Mr. Irrelevant? Hardly. Boxberger has turned into a legit relief ace in Tampa, with a filthy strikeout rate he's carried over from his time in the Cincinnati and San Diego systems. Were we surprised he was still on the table here? you bet. Tampa may be down, but they still have enough depth to make Boxberger an unprotected guy after the first 21 players they held. He's a great way to finish off our team.
So, there you have it. Many, many words on the 2014 fake expansion draft to end all fake expansion drafts. If you're interested, both teams will feature their own post on overall strategy, roster composition, etc. in the coming few days.
Drop us a line in the comments, and let us know what you think of this exercise. Click here for more on Charlotte's process.
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Bryan Grosnick is the Managing Editor of Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @bgrosnick.