The mock continues. You should be familiar with the set-up by now: Six fantasy experts, 12 teams, one round per day, public league settings.
We haven't been especially bold so far . OK, there was some boldness in that last round, mostly from Brad.
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox – Round 6, Pick 1. I can't guarantee he'll be better than Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Brad Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez or Joakim Soria, and generally I'm a penny-pincher when it comes to saves. But when you're positioned at the end of a serpentine draft, it's never a bad idea to start a run. If at least four closers go in the next 20 selections, I'll feel justified paying top dollar for a one-category player. That said, when I'm in the middle slots, it's all about saves on a budget. (Scott Pianowski)
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers SP – Round 6, Pick 2. On a different day I might opt for a Cliff Lee, Ervin Santana, or Francisco Liriano in this spot – it's a very full, interesting tier (Roy Oswalt and James Shields also belong in the argument). But given that this team waited so long to take anyone for the mound, it's all about shooting for the highest upside, the potential No. 1 who comes at a No. 2 price. A likely 200 strikeouts, the friendly NL environment, the Chavez Ravine backdrop, it all steers me to Billingsley. (Pianow)
Jay Bruce, Reds OF - Round 6, Pick 3. Time to address that power need I mentioned last round. Bruce, who'll turn 22 just prior to opening day, oozes upside. He's still got kinks to iron at the plate, especially against lefties, but he's expected to be a quick study. And his 21 home runs in 108 games as a rookie point to 30-35 home run potential in a full season follow-up.
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies SS - Round 6, Pick 4. He went .291/24/99/104/7 as a rookie before a quad injury laid to waste his sophomore campaign in '08. Only 24, there's no reason to believe he can't return to his '07 form - he had an .858 OPS post break last season after his return. At pick No. 64, I'll take my chances.
Geovany Soto, Cubs C - Round 6, Pick 5. Among qualifiers Soto ranked 1st(t) in homers (23), 3rd in RBIs (86) and 4th in batting average (.285) at the catcher position. He could whiff less, but catching is hard enough, so if you're going to make an out, why waste the breath on running to first.
Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks SS - Round 6, Pick 6. He made a leap in his second full season, and even showed growth within that sophomore campaign: .326, nine homers in 64 games after the All-Star break He was a double-digit steals guy in college and went 9-for-9 in 2007. It would be nice if he ran again (only six attempts in 2008), but he's being drafted here to rake.
Brian McCann, Braves C - Round 6, Pick 7. McCann has hit .300/.360/.513 since 2006, and he's averaged 22 HR and 91 RBIs per season. He's actually a year younger than Soto, too. McCann was the No. 1 catcher on this owner's draft board, so he's tough to pass up here. (Andy Behrens)
Joe Mauer, Twins C - Round 6, Pick 8. There's a strong case for Mauer as the No. 1 catcher as well. In fact, the reason we all waited so long to draft the position is that the first tier is rather crowded (and the second tier is loaded, too). Mauer doesn't offer significant power, but the batting average is exceptional (.328 in '08, .347 in '06). He also he lives on base, so you'll get a pile of runs. (AB)
Hunter Pence, Astros OF - Round 6, Pick 9. Pence's growing power is reason enough to draft the bushy-haired outfielder before Round 7. Last season, the 25-year-old's absurdly low 13.9 LD%, the lowest among qualifying hitters, and propensity for flailing at outside pitches plummeted his BA from .322 in '07 to .269. About to enter his third full year, Pence is poised to reverse course. He should be a solid OF3 in mixed leagues capable of .280-25-90-85-10. (BE)
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 3B - Round 6, Pick 10. This may be a reach considering Zim's 98.1 Mock Draft ADP, but Zimmerman's age, experience and health are too enticing to ignore. The Nationals boast an improving lineup with Lastings Milledge and buzz snoozer Elijah Dukes at the top of the order. Combine that with Zimmerman's ascending contact rates (83.6 CT% in '08) and adequate power, and he's a near guarantee to be top-10 at his position. Remember in '06-'07, Zimmerman averaged 22 homers and 100 RBIs. (Brad Evans)
Mariano Rivera, Yankees RP - Round 6, Pick 11. Rivera is getting better with age, posting a 77:6 K:BB ratio and allowing just 41 hits in 70.2 IP last year. He had minor shoulder surgery in October that revealed no structural damage, so if anything his arm should actually feel better this season. (Chris Liss)
Joe Nathan, Twins RP - Round 6, Pick 12. Closers are a fickle bunch, but Nathan's had 36 or more saves in each of the last five years, and his ERA hasn't been above 2.00 since 2005. And his peripherals were as good as ever last season.
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