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Fantasy baseball 2014 draft prep: SI staff mock draft

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Fantasy baseball 2014 draft prep: Player rankings, position primers, burning questions and more

When it comes to drafting a fantasy baseball team, you can never study too much or get too much practice. With that in mind, 10 of Sports Illustrated's baseball and fantasy experts sat down and held our own fantasy baseball mock draft. Below, we break down the draft round-by-round, with a self-assessment from each owner, some observations and more. Be sure to check out the rest of our fantasy baseball draft prep content, including the Top 300, printable cheat sheets by ranking and position and more.

This draft is for a 10-team 5x5 mixed head-to-head league with 17 starters -- one catcher, one first baseman, one second baseman, one shortstop, one third baseman, one utility player, three outfielders, five starting pitchers and three relief pitchers. For this mock draft, we did not draft a bench, since we simply wanted to analyze starters.

Draft order

1. Bobby Clay
2. Bette Marston
3. Michael Beller
4. Gabriel Baumgaertner
5. Cliff Corcoran
6. Paul Forrester
7. David Gonos
8. Albert Chen
9. Jon Tayler
10. Joe Lemire

Observations

• Clayton Kershaw was the first pitcher off the board with the fifth overall pick, but as a whole, pitchers went relatively late in this draft. We were drafting for only a 10-team league, and with the depth of pitchers this year, that leaves quite a bit to go around. However, the No. 1 relief pitcher, Craig Kimbrel, was drafted with the first pick of the fifth round, No. 41 overall -- right around his average draft position. But remember, this is a 10-team league, and relief pitchers come cheap in fantasy.

• The first Miami Marlin (Jose Fernandez) was drafted in the third round with the 30th overall pick, while the first member of the defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals was drafted just one pick prior. However, by the end of the draft, nine Cardinals had been drafted, while only three Marlins were on rosters. But that's not the team with the most players or the fewest players drafted -- those honors go to the Washington Nationals, with ten players drafted, and the Minnesota Twins, with just two players drafted.

• Many fantasy owners have been wondering when to target Masahiro Tanaka. In our draft, the Yankees rookie went in the 11th round with the the 109th overall pick, after starting pitchers Alex Cobb, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Sonny Gray and James Shields, and before Andrew Cashner, Shelby Miller and Danny Salazar. Keep that in mind during your draft.

Round-by-round breakdown

Round 1
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (1)Mike TroutOFLos Angeles AngelsClay
2 (2)Miguel Cabrera3BDetroit TigersMarston
3 (3)Paul Goldschmidt1BArizona DiamondbacksBeller
4 (4)Carlos GonzalezOFColorado RockiesBaumgaertner
5 (5)Clayton KershawSPLos Angeles DodgersCorcoran
6 (6)Andrew McCutchen CFPittsburgh PiratesForrester
7 (7)Robinson Cano2BSeattle MarinersGonos
8 (8)Jacoby EllsburyOFNew York YankeesChen
9 (9)Hanley RamirezSSLos Angeles DodgersTayler
10 (10)Chris Davis1BBaltimore OriolesLemire
Round 2
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (11)Ryan BraunOFMilwaukee BrewersLemire
2 (12)Joey Votto1BCincinnati RedsTayler
3 (13)Prince Fielder1BTexas RangersChen
4 (14)Adam JonesOFBaltimore OriolesGonos
5 (15)Yasiel PuigOFLos Angeles DodgersForrester
6 (16)Bryce HarperOFWashington NationalsCorcoran
7 (17)Evan Longoria3BTampa Bay RaysBaumgaertner
8 (18)Adrian Beltre3BTexas RangersBeller
9 (19)Edwin Encarnacion1BToronto Blue JaysMarston
10 (20)David Wright3BNew York MetsClay
Round 3
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (21)Justin VerlanderSPDetroit TigersClay
2 (22)Jayson WerthOFWashington NationalsMarston
3 (23)Troy TulowitzkiSSColorado RockiesBeller
4 (24)Buster PoseyCSan Francisco GiantsBaumgaertner
5 (25)Ian DesmondSSWashington NationalsCorcoran
6 (26)Jason Kipnis2BCleveland IndiansForrester
7 (27)Yu DarvishSPTexas RangersGonos
8 (28)Jose BautistaOFToronto Blue JaysChen
9 (29)Matt Carpenter2BSt. Louis CardinalsTayler
10 (30)Jose FernandezSPMiami MarlinsLemire
Round 4
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (31)Joe MauerCMinnesota TwinsLemire
2 (32)Carlos GomezOFMilwaukee BrewersTayler
3 (33)Jose ReyesSSToronto Blue JaysChen
4 (34)Adam Wainwright SPSt. Louis CardinalsGonos
5 (35)Jean SeguraSSMilwaukee BrewersForrester
6 (36)Giancarlo StantonOFMiami MarlinsCorcoran
7 (37)Jay BruceOFCincinnati RedsBaumgaertner
8 (38)Freddie Freeman1BAtlanta BravesBeller
9 (39)Stephen StrasburgSPWashington NationalsMarston
10 (40)Felix HernandezSPSeattle MarinersClay
Round 5
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (41)Craig KimbrelRPAtlanta BravesClay
2 (42)Matt KempCFLos Angeles DodgersMarston
3 (43)Max ScherzerSPDetroit TigersBeller
4 (44)Chris SaleSPChicago White SoxBaumgaertner
5 (45)Carlos SantanaCCleveland IndiansCorcoran
6 (46)Jonathan LucroyCMilwaukee BrewersForrester
7 (47)Shin-Soo ChooOFTexas RangersGonos
8 (48)Dustin Pedroia 2BBoston Red SoxChen
9 (49)Matt HollidayOFSt. Louis CardinalsTayler
10 (50)Madison BumgarnerSPSan Francisco GiantsLemire
Round 6
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (51)Hunter Pence OFSan Francisco GiantsLemire
2 (52)Brian McCannCNew York YankeesTayler
3 (53)Josh Donaldson3BOakland AthleticsChen
4 (54)Mark Trumbo1BArizona DiamondbacksGonos
5 (55)Adrian Gonzalez1BLos Angeles DodgersForrester
6 (56)Cliff LeeSPPhiladelphia PhilliesCorcoran
7 (57)Wilin Rosario CColorado RockiesBaumgaertner
8 (58)Justin UptonOFAtlanta BravesBeller
9 (59)Starling MarteOFPittsburgh PiratesMarston
10 (60)Wil MyersOFTampa Bay RaysClay
Round 7
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (61)Elvis AndrusSSTexas RangersClay
2 (62)Ben Zobrist2BTampa Bay RaysMarston
3 (63)Alex RiosOFTexas RangersBeller
4 (64)David PriceSPTampa Bay RaysBaumgaertner
5 (65)Joe NathanRPDetroit TigersCorcoran
6 (66)Ryan Zimmerman2BWashington NationalsForrester
7 (67)David OrtizDHBoston Red SoxGonos
8 (68)Zack GreinkeSPLos Angeles DodgersChen
9 (69)Domonic BrownOFPhiladelphia PhilliesTayler
10 (70)Pedro Alvarez3BPittsburgh PiratesLemire
Round 8
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (71)Everth CabreraSSSan Diego PadresLemire
2 (72)Kyle Seager3BSeattle MarinersTayler
3 (73)Matt CainSPSan Francisco GiantsChen
4 (74)Yadier MolinaCSt. Louis CardinalsGonos
5 (75)Anibal SanchezSPDetroit TigersForrester
6 (76)Aramis Ramirez3BMilwaukee BrewersCorcoran
7 (77)Yoenis CespedesOFOakland AthleticsBaumgaertner
8(78)Ian Kinsler2BDetroit TigersBeller
9 (79)Shane VictorinoOFBoston Red SoxMarston
10 (80)Albert Pujols1BLos Angeles AngelsClay
Round 9
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (81)Michael WachaSPSt. Louis CardinalsClay
2 (82)Jose Altuve2BHouston AstrosMarston
3 (83)Mike MinorSPAtlanta BravesBeller
4 (84)Matt Adams1BSt. Louis CardinalsBaumgaertner
5 (85)Chase Utley2BPhiladelphia PhilliesCorcoran
6 (86)Jordan Zimmermann SPWashington NationalsForrester
7 (87)Aroldis ChapmanRPCincinnati RedsGonos
8 (88)Jason HeywardOFAtlanta BravesChen
9 (89)Trevor Rosenthal RPSt. Louis CardinalsTayler
10 (90)Gio Gonzalez SPWashington NationalsLemire
Round 10
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (91)Kenley JansenRPLos Angeles DodgersLemire
2 (92)Alex GordonOFKansas City RoyalsTayler
3 (93)Mat LatosSPCincinnati RedsChen
4 (94)Eric Hosmer1BKansas City RoyalsGonos
5 (95)Julio TeheranSPAtlanta BravesForrester
6 (96)Jose Abreu 1BChicago White SoxCorcoran
7 (97)Koji UeharaRPBoston Red SoxBaumgaertner
8 (98)Gerrit ColeSPPittsburgh PiratesBeller
9 (99)Homer Bailey SPCincinnati RedsMarston
10 (100)Salvador PerezCKansas City RoyalsClay
Round 11
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (101)Brandon Belt1BSan Francisco GiantsClay
2 (102)Alex CobbSPTampa Bay RaysMarston
3 (103)Allen Craig1BSt. Louis CardinalsBeller
4 (104)Hyun-Jin RyuSPLos Angeles DodgersBaumgaertner
5 (105)Sonny Gray SPOakland AthleticsCorcoran
6 (106)Greg HollandRPKansas City RoyalsForrester
7 (107)James ShieldsSPKansas City RoyalsGonos
8 (108)Josh HamiltonOFLos Angeles AngelsChen
9 (109)Masahiro TanakaSPNew York YankeesTayler
10 (110)Aaron Hill2BArizona DiamondbacksLemire
Round 12
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (111)Andrew CashnerSPSan Diego PadresLemire
2 (112)Shelby MillerSPSt. Louis CardinalsTayler
3 (113)Danny SalazarSPCleveland IndiansChen
4 (114)Martin Prado3BArizona DiamondbacksGonos
5 (115)Francisco LirianoSPPittsburgh PiratesForrester
6 (116)Sergio RomoRPSan Francisco GiantsCorcoran
7 (117)Hisashi IwakumaSPSeattle MarinersBaumgaertner
8 (118)Patrick CorbinSPArizona DiamondbacksBeller
9 (119)Glen PerkinsRPMinnesota TwinsMarston
10 (120) Jedd Gyorko2BSan Diego PadresClay
Round 13
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (121)Billy HamiltonOFCincinnati RedsClay
2 (122)Evan GattisOFAtlanta BravesMarston
3 (123)David Robertson RPNew York YankeesBeller
4 (124)Brad MillerSSSeattle MarinersBaumgaertner
5 (125)Carlos BeltranOFNew York YankeesCorcoran
6 (126)Desmond Jennings OFTampa Bay RaysForrester
7 (127)R.A. DickeySPToronto Blue JaysGonos
8 (128)Matt WietersCBaltimore OriolesChen
9 (129)Doug FisterSPWashington NationalsTayler
10 (130)Matt MooreSPTampa Bay RaysLemire
Round 14
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (131)Billy ButlerDHKansas City RoyalsLemire
2 (132)Jon Lester SPBoston Red SoxTayler
3 (133)Cole HamelsSPPhiladelphia PhilliesChen
4 (134) Jonathan PapelbonRPPhiladelphia PhilliesGonos
5 (135)Jered WeaverSPLos Angeles AngelsForrester
6 (136)Hiroki KurodaSPNew York YankeesCorcoran
7 (137)Daniel Murphy2BNew York MetsBaumgaertner
8 (138)Ernesto FrieriRPLos Angeles AngelsBeller
9 (139)Tony CingraniSPCincinnati RedsMarston
10 (140)Addison ReedRPArizona DiamondbacksClay
Round 15
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (141)Zack WheelerSPNew York MetsClay
2 (142)Jim JohnsonRPOakland AthleticsMarston
3 (143)Marco EstradaSPMilwaukee BrewersBeller
4 (144)Alex WoodRPAtlanta BravesBaumgaertner
5 (145)Jason GrilliRPPittsburgh PiratesCorcoran
6 (146)Rafael SorianoRPWashington NationalsForrester
7 (147)Jeff SamardzijaSPChicago CubsGonos
8 (148)Steve CishekRPMiami MarlinsChen
9 (149)Fernando RodneyRPSeattle MarinersTayler
10 (150)Grant BalfourRPTampa Bay RaysLemire
Round 16
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (151)Michael CuddyerOFColorado RockiesLemire
2 (152)Bobby ParnellRPNew York MetsTayler
3 (153)John Axford RPCleveland IndiansChen
4 (154)Drew SmylyRPDetroit TigersGonos
5 (155)Brandon Phillips2BCincinnati RedsForrester
6 (156)Kyle LohseSPMilwaukee BrewersCorcoran
7 (157)Neftali FelizRPTexas RangersBaumgaertner
8 (158)Nate JonesRPChicago White SoxBeller
9 (159) A.J. BurnettSPPhiladelphia PhilliesMarston
10 (160)CC SabathiaSPNew York YankeesClay
Round 17
PickPlayerPositionTeamOwner
1 (161)Casey Janssen RPToronto Blue JaysClay
2 (162)Jim HendersonRPMilwaukee BrewersMarston
3 (163)Wilson Ramos CWashington NationalsBeller
4 (164)Jose VerasRPChicago CubsBaumgaertner
5 (165)Ben RevereOFPhiladelphia PhilliesCorcoran
6 (166)Tommy HunterRPBaltimore OriolesForrester
7 (167)Andrelton SimmonsSSAtlanta BravesGonos
8 (168)Huston StreetRPSan Diego PadresChen
9 (169)Justin MastersonSPCleveland IndiansTayler
10 (170)LaTroy HawkinsRPColorado RockiesLemire

Owner self-assessments

Bobby Clay -- Trout, Wright, Verlander, Hernandez, Kimbrel, Myers, Andrus, Pujols, Wacha, Perez, Belt, Gyorko, Hamilton, Reed, Wheeler, Sabathia, Janssen

After landing the No. 1 overall pick, taking Mike Trout was a no-brainer. In a larger format, I'd consider Miguel Cabrera ahead of Trout based on position scarcity, since the outfield position is much deeper than the third base position. When the draft came back to me, I was happy to draft David Wright and Justin Verlander. I was even happier that Felix Hernandez was still available in Round 4. I couldn't pass up Albert Pujols in the eighth round despite his injury risk, and drafting Michael Wacha, one of the young pitchers I targeted, was a boost to my team. Add in steals-specialist Billy Hamilton, and I'm very happy with this team.

Bette Marston -- Cabrera, Encarnacion, Werth, Strasburg, Kemp, Marte, Zobrist, Victorino, Altuve, Bailey, Cobb, Perkins, Gattis, Cingrani, Johnson, Burnett, Henderson

The second pick was obvious -- once Mike Trout was off the board, I snatched up two-time defending MVP Miguel Cabrera. In the second round, I knew I had to follow Beller's strategy of drafting a first baseman early, especially since Edwin Encarnacion was the only top-tier first baseman remaining. I drafted a pitcher a little earlier than I would have liked to; however, I wasn't impressed by any of the players on the board at the time, and I knew that with our snake-draft format, 16 players would be off the board before I was able to draft again. In Round 7, I reached a bit for Rays' Ben Zobrist, but I couldn't resist his eligibility at multiple positions. Like pretty much everyone else in this draft, I waited on drafting my pitchers, and may have waited even longer if we were drafting a full bench.

Michael Beller -- Goldschmidt, Beltre, Tulowitzki, Freeman, Scherzer, Upton, Rios, Kinsler, Minor, Cole, Craig, Corbin, Robertson, Frieri, Estrada, Jones, Ramos

I went into the draft knowing I'd prioritize offense. That's my default position, and that inclination only becomes stronger in a 10-team league where there will be plenty of starting pitchers to go around. That strategy paid off in my opinion. I think I lap the field in terms of offense. Eight of my nine hitters could conceivably end the season in the top five at their respective positions -- at least three are favored to do so -- and I was still able to build a staff fronted by Max Scherzer with tons of strikeout upside.

Gabriel Baumgaertner -- Gonzalez, Longoria, Posey, Bruce, Sale, Rosario, Price, Cespedes, Adams, Uehara, Ryu, Iwakuma, Miller, Murphy, Wood, Feliz, Veras

This team would stand a decent chance winning the league wrestling title, perhaps a weightlifting competition (though Uehara might bring our scores down), but the roster itself is going to need some tidying up. I was burned by "the pick before" in the first few rounds -- I wanted Goldschmidt, but I certainly can live with CarGo's versatility. I wanted Tulowitzki in the third, and ended up with Posey. The strengths of my team lie in the rotation, as I would likely be near the top of the league in ERA and WHIP. My money picks are in the middle rounds. Cespedes let fantasy owners down last year, but is primed for a breakout of his sophomore slump. Matt "Big Mayo" Adams has a full-time job at first now and could hit 30 HRs. I mean, haven't you seen him stand in the box?

Cliff Corcoran -- Kershaw, Harper, Desmond, Stanton, Santana, Lee, Nathan, Ramirez, Utley, Abreu, Gray, Romo, Beltran, Kuroda, Grilli, Lohse, Revere

There's age here, but serious breakout potential as well. I might have overdrafted Bryce Harper but figured that was a gamble I could live with. Carlos Santana's potential position flexibility (he's eligible at catcher and first base and could qualify at third during the season) and likelihood of playing 150 games boosted his value for me. Aramis Ramirez turns 36 in June but strikes me as a sleeper at third base. Kuroda and Lohse lack strikeouts but provide reliably low ERAs and WHIPs. Revere was purely a play for steals, drafted over Brett Gardner because he's five years younger and Gardner's injury history is problematic. I'm very happy with my pitching staff and feel as though I at least have a quality bat at every position, a good starting point for a long season.

Paul Forrester -- McCutchen, Puig, Kipnis, Segura, Lucroy, Gonzalez, Zimmerman, Sanchez, Zimmermann, Teheran, Holland, Liriano, Jennings, Weaver, Soriano, Phillips, Hunter

Generally, hitting is more reliable than pitching, so my strategy was to load up on offense and find just enough solid hurlers to stay competitive on the mound. Early, the focus was on best available talent, and with Andrew McCutchen and Yasiel Puig, my team started with a nice combination of power and speed -- and some wow factor in case things go bad. While the others hit upon the elite hurlers, I tried to account for the relative scarcity of elite options around the infield and grab proven producers. That left pitching, and while it's unlikely my club will finish atop any of those categories, the starting staff hopefully will keep things close across the board. Most veteran owners will rightfully wait on closers, but in getting Greg Holland and Rafael Soriano, as well as potential Orioles stopper Tommy Hunter, I'm feeling good about saves, and may even have some depth to trade.

David Gonos -- Cano, Jones, Darvish, Wainwright, Choo, Trumbo, Ortiz, Molina, Chapman, Hosmer, Shields, Prado, Dickey, Papelbon, Samardzija, Smyly, Simmons

I chose to snatch up some quality starting pitching earlier than I should have. With three lineup spots for relief pitchers, I knew I wanted a decent RP/SP in one of those slots, hopefully, helping me get the edge in four of the five pitching categories every week. In retrospect, I should've punted saves altogether and gone with ALL RP/SP-eligible pitchers, like Drew Smyly, Tyson Ross and Hector Santiago. I was also happy to draft David Ortiz, as other worried about position eligibility. His power, combined with a high BA and OBP, in place of runs, should be a huge asset to my team.

Albert Chen -- Ellsbury, Fielder, Bautista, Reyes, Pedroia, Doladson, Greinke, Cain, Heyward, Latos, Hamilton, Salazar, Wieters, Hamels, Cishek, Axford, Street

You could argue that Fielder and Bautista were reaches in rounds two and three, but both have real 40-home run potential, and in this day and age, that kind of power is extremely valuable. I also like that pair after taking Ellsbury as my first rounder. Love where I got Pedroia, Reyes, and Donaldson; hate that I didn't take Jose Abreu in Round 10. I'm glad that I waited on starting pitching: Latos, Cain, Greinke, Hamels (if healthy) all have a chance to be elite. Not quite as high on Salazar as some, but as a fifth starter, I'm happy to take a chance on him.

Jon Tayler -- Ramirez, Votto, Carpenter, Gomez, Holliday, McCann, Brown, Seager, Rosenthal, Gordon, Tanaka, Miller, Fister, Lester, Rodney, Parnell, Masterson

In a league this shallow, going for pitching early felt like a waste. I decided I'd rather lock up the shallow positions (shortstop and first base) with the top options in Ramirez and Votto. Hanley is a risky choice given his health issues, but so is the other best shortstop available in Tulowitzki, and with the second-to-last pick, top-flight players at either SS or 1B weren't going to be around on the second pass. I've bet heavily on Brian McCann bouncing back at Yankee Stadium, which is risky, but if he pans out, I'll have production matched only by Buster Posey at a cheaper price. One regret: Steals are going to be a problem, with only Gomez as a reliable base-stealing option. But power and RBIs will be in heavy supply, with enough surplus to move for pitching help or steals if need be.

Joe Lemire -- Davis, Braun, Fernandez, Mauer, Bumgarner, Pence, Alvarez, Cabrera, Gonzalez, Jansen, Hill, Cashner, Moore, Butler, Balfour, Cuddyer, Hawkins

After drafting Ryan Braun at No. 11 overall and snagging underrated shortstop Everth Cabrera in the 8th round, I nearly picked Nelson Cruz to finish my outfield trip, but that would have required a name change to the Biogenesis Bunch. In short, I don't think there'll be much loss in performance from that group. Overall, I was thrilled with my five-man, 28-and-under rotation of Fernandez, Bumgarner, Gonzalez, Cashner and Moore, as it's smart to bet young on the mound. I may be a little light on speed but should mash enough homers and RBIs to compensate.

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