Minor League Free Agent Draft: 2021 review

It’s that time of year again. After the “success” of the 2021 Minor League free agent draft, the Bat Flips & Nerds team will again pit themselves against the boundless wisdom of the Effectively Wild podcast.

Success is a relative term. As we will discover below, one Bat Flip boy picked so shrewdly, it could be argued that he matched the EW duo. We will also see that another team member was outscored by a randomly-drafted roster.

Minor League free agents

Players can become free agents if not added to the 40-man after spending at least seven seasons on a minor league roster, or if they were previously released or non-tendered and their present contract expired.

And as this is baseball, there are plenty of other rules and regulations, but you get the gist.

Premise of the Minor League free agents draft

The draft in 2021 was the ninth annual Effectively Wild MLFAD. Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley made alternating picks to select 10 players each, with the aim of seeing whose roster would accumulate the most combined MLB playing time that season.

Playing time is determined in point form with one point for each plate appearance or batter faced.

The Bat Flips & Nerds Twist

We conducted our own draft a few days later, but as we like a twist here at Bat Flips & Nerds, we attempted to compete against Meg and Ben, despite the potential that the top 20 players were already off the board.

To be fair, this was a no-lose situation. If any of us outscored either of the EW duo, then it would prove our superior knowledge [Editor’s note: cough, cough]. If our rosters finished below Meg and Ben, then this was only to be expected.

For clarity in the rest of the article, Effectively Wild’s Ben Lindbergh is Old Ben (sorry!), and Bat Flips & Nerds’ Ben Carter is Young Ben.

Effectively Wild rosters

Mike Foltynewicz586Jason Vosler82
Sam McWilliams0Sam Clay216
Pedro Strop10Joe Gatto0
Dwight Smith0Michael Ynoa0
Nabil Crismatt362Anthony Gose24
Alexander Guillen0Connor Joe211
Scott Schebler34Michael Hermosillo38
Rafael Ortega330Gerson Bautista0
Tzu-Wei Lin0Yunior Marte0
Luis Avilan27Tyler Heineman0

Old Ben had the first pick, and his selection of Mike Foltynewicz almost made it a non-competition. The right-hander signed with the Texas Rangers, and although his 5.44 ERA wasn’t the result hoped for by the Arlington faithful, he pitched 139 innings (586 batters faced = 586 points).

Meg’s pick of Connor Joe was inspired. The journeyman catapulted himself from minor league obscurity to become the Rockies lead-off hitter and starting left fielder.

Bat Flips & Nerds rosters

Matt Duffy323Tom Pannone0Felix Hernandez0
Jake Jewell52Shelby Miller63Jose Martinez0
Hunter Wood19Welington Castillo0David Hess106
Dawel Lugo0Zack Granite0Anthony Bender249
Edubray Ramos0Fernando Abad82Alejandro Requena0
Jason Martin154Nicky Delmonico0Christian Bethancourt0
Montana DuRapau0Nick Ciuffo6Claudio Custodio0
Pablo Reyes87Frank Schwindel259Max Moroff16
Joe Odom2Brandon Leibrandt0Tim Dillard0
Nick Martini45Cameron Rupp0Zach McAllister0

With Meg and Old Ben having taken the cream of the talent, Matt Duffy was the clear number one pick for the Bat Flips & Nerds section of the draft. Darius duly selected the Cubs infielder and constructed a solid roster around him.

When I checked in July, Rob’s rotten roster was dead last with just 15 points, but then Mitch Moreland stepped in. The roster crunch created when the first baseman returned from the IL forced the A’s to DFA Frank Schwindel. The Cubs pounced, and the rest, as they say, is history. The 29-year-old posted 165 OPS+ (that’s 65% better than league average!) in 56 games for Chicago.

With the greatest respect to Russell, he seemed a little smug when King Felix fell to him in the first round. Seattle’s greatest pitcher signed a deal with the Orioles the following week, but alas, Hernandez failed to break into the Orioles rotation. Apropos of nothing, Baltimore starters led MLB with 5.99 ERA in 2021.

Jose Siri49Yohander Mendez0Richard Urena0
Socrates Brito0Drew Ferguson0Kevin Steen0
Jorge Bonifacio12Jaycob Brugman0Adonis Uceta0
Domingo Acevedo44Forrest Wall0Jonathan Lucroy23
Dylan Cozens0Mitch Horacek0Stone Garrett0
Trey Supak0Eric Campbell12Dan Otero0
Jose Godoy40Mike Gerber0Nick Williams13
Andrew Velazquez68Ryan Buchter78Andrew Burns0
Mark Zagunis0Michael Gettys0Malquin Canelo0
Travis Jankowski157Mikie Mahtook0Seth Frankoff78

I loved my first pick of Jose Siri. And I loved it even more when he signed with the Astros, a team with a massive void in centre field. The former Reds prospect had to wait until September for his shot at the big time, but he excelled and even appeared in the World Series. My plea for a 500-multiple to be applied to postseason plate appearances was ignored.

What can we say about Young Ben’s selections? Actually, the fact that he was outscored by Tom probably says all that you need. Tom didn’t personally make one single pick himself. When I was close to a computer, the program randomly selected a player for him, and when I was working off my phone, my wife would shout out a number between 1-500 to make the selection. Perhaps Young Ben will adopt this method to improve his 2022 draft.

JOHN The Very Expendables (Darius v.2)
Keon Broxton0Trevor Hildenberger14
Jerad Eickhoff112Bo Takahashi0
Derek Law67Jesus Linarez0
Zack Littell256Sal Mendez0
Jacob Rhame0Collin Wiles0
Jarrett Parker0Tim Federowicz0
Josh Thole0Jay Jackson91
Robinson Leyer0Dario Agrazal0
Terrance Gore0Joey Rickard0
Cristhian Adames0Jason Krizan0

The phrase “quality over quantity” sums up John. Only three of his selections scored points, but that was sufficient to secure second spot among the Bat Flips & Nerds team. In a highly-competitive Giants’ bullpen, Zack Littell not only pitched more innings than closer, Jake McGee, but he also pitched to an impressive 2.37 ERA.

After all nine rosters were drafted, Darius picked a tenth team from the dregs (sorry, that’s a horrible word), from the remaining unclaimed Minor League free agents. Jay Jackson dragged the final roster’s points tally above Young Ben’s but below Tom’s randomly-selected team.

Final scores

DARIUS (V2)105

The verdict

There is a lot of luck involved in these selections, although Meg and Old Ben obviously have brains the size of Wales. To veer off on a tangent for a moment, my neighbour gets Brains from Wales delivered by the pallet load. Until the lorry driver attempted to deliver to us in error, I was unaware that Brains is a Welsh beer brand. And as it is a tricky ale to locate in our part of Suffolk, the thirsty fella bulk buys.

Back to the draft; with seven successful picks out of his 10 choices, Darius did Bat Flips & Nerds proud.

Take Folty’s score off Old Ben, and suddenly Darius is the champion. Although, before Darius gets too carried away, if you take Duffy’s score off Darius, then Baseball Prospectus’ stolen base guru slips to seventh overall.

Effectively Wild conducted the 2022 MLFR draft this week’s podcast. Meg and Old Ben were joined by another Ben (Ben Clemens) – that’s going to pose problems for the next article – and the Bat Flips & Nerds draft will commence shortly. Stay tuned.

Photo by Mitchell Layton

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