UFLB Franchises Feeling Optimistic, Anticipating Parity for Inaugural Season Following Veteran Play

780 players. 30 Franchises. 26 Rounds. 2 Days. Add up all the numbers and it equals a terrific Veteran Player Draft for Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball, with parity becoming the word of the weekend.


The event kicked off live on UFSN’s YouTube channel with Head of Baseball for UFFS Dean Millard hosting the first round from IKS Studios in Regina, Saskatchewan, with co-host Clark Munroe, who is also the GM of the Wheat Sox franchise that selected 17th in every round.

“I couldn’t believe how fast the first round went,” said a very pleased Dean Millard, who is also co-commissioner of UFLB. “Matt Soren (fellow co-commissioner) did a great job making sure we didn’t fall behind and there was a wide variety of picks from straight up vets to guys with barely any experience and everything in between.


“After the first 13 rounds, I was amazed at how much talk there was about parity, which you don’t usually see in a non-snake draft, but that’s the thing about baseball, if you’re really smart, you can build a contender from almost every spot in the draft.”


Things got a little tougher on Day 2 with rounds 14-26, as the pickings became a bit slimmer, but there were still gems to be had.


Below is a recap of the top 5 picks from each franchise (listed in the draft order from 1-30), plus a favourite pick from each franchise as chosen by Millard.



Reapers

1 Shohei Ohtani – SP/DH

2 Max Muncy – 1B

3 Austin Meadows – LF

4 Joe Musgrove – SP

5 Justin Turner – 3B


Millard Fav – Tough choice between Jose Abreu in the 7th round and Charlie Blackmon in the 12th round, but Blackmon’s walk-up song in the Rockies tilts the scales here for me, even though the Reapers picked up 100 RBIs in the 7th round.

Also, a big fan of the Joe Kelly pick in Round 20, sort of fits the brashness of the Reapers.


Arctic Eagles

1 Juan Soto – RF

2 Josh Hader – RP

3 Whit Merrifield 2B/RF

4 Liam Hendricks – RP

5 Yasmani Grandal – C



Millard Fav – This was an easy one for me, it’s Clayton Kershaw in the 7th round, certainly for the Legends League appeal, but I also think despite some injuries Kershaw will still provide a lot of fantasy points for the Eagles — and as long as he’s in Dodger blue, he’ll provide playoff value too. I also really like what they did with their bullpen by picking some excellent relief pitchers, including a guy like David Price who can bounce back and forth from being a starter to a relief role.









Scorpions

1 Fernando Tatis Jr. – SS

2 Sandy Alcantara – SP

3 Manny Machado – 3B

4 Cody Bellinger – CF

5 Luis Garcia – SP


Millard Fav – Tarik Skubal is a young, up-and-coming pitcher for the Tigers and I like how the Scorpions grabbed him early. He was a 9th round pick for Detroit and has spent the past two years on the Tigers’ staff. His K/9 last year was 9.9 and if he cuts down on his walks, Skubal could be a stinger for the Scorpions.







Panthers

1 Vlad Guerrero Jr. – 1B

2 Robbie Ray – SP

3 Trevor Bauer – SP

4 Chris Sale – SP

5 Wilson Contreras – C


Millard Fav – I really liked the Panthers picking up Brandon Crawford in the 8th round after the Giants’ shortstop finished fourth in MVP voting last year. But the pick that I think could really be great is KC Royals SP Carlos Hernandez in the 13th round. Hernandez throws a ton of heat among his 5-pitch arsenal and at times looked like the Royals’ ace last year.





Circa Sports Swingin’ Trout

1 Ronald Acuna Jr. – RF

2 Bryan Reynolds – CF

3 Jesse Winker – LF 4 Anthony Rendeon – 3B

5 Nick Madrigal – 2B


Millard Fav – I can’t believe the Swingin’ Trout didn’t take Mike Trout, but Acuna Jr. is a stud and much younger. Swingin’ Trout grabbed a couple of Astros’ potential starters. Jake Odorizzi in the 14th round after previously selecting Jose Urquidy in the 7th round, who I think could be a great back-end starter. He won’t rack up the Ks but his changeup is excellent, as is his command. Urquidy might end up battling Odorizzi for a starting spot.




Defenders

1 Mike Trout – CF

2 Julio Urias – SP

3 Frankie Montas – SP

4 Jorge Palanco – SS

5 Lance McCullers Jr. – SP


Millard Fav – Oh Canada! This was an easy one as well. Joey Votto in the 11th round after 36 home runs and almost 100 RBI last year. Yes, he’s 38 years old, but Votto has some good seasons still in him and he brings nice Legends League appeal. Votto can play first or DH for the Defenders, depending on CJ Cron’s season whom they took in the 7th round.







Macaws

1 Trea Turner – SS

2 Lucas Giolito – SP

3 Jack Flaherty – SP

4 Daulton Varsho – C

5 Christian Yelich – CF


Millard Fav – The Verlander pick is a nod to the Legends League, but if he can bounce back from Tommy John Surgery, it could work for a year or two, but Akili Baddoo one round later (in the 8th round) is the opposite to the 39-year-old Verlander. At 23, he’s coming off a fine rookie season with 20 doubles, 7 triples, 13 home runs and almost 20 steals.









Northern Fury

1 Bo Bichette – SS

2 Freddy Peralta – SP

3 Jose Berrios – SP

4 Kris Bryant – LF

5 Ty France – 1B


Millard Fav – As long as he can stop punching walls, Devin Williams could be terrific for Northern Fury. The Brewers set-up man had 23 holds last year, along with almost 90 Ks in 54 innings. At 27 years old, Williams is entering his prime and should rack up points from the bullpen for Northern Fury.









Midnight Riders

1 Wander Franco – SS

2 Tyler O’Neill – LF

3 Jonathan India – 2B

4 Ian Anderson – SP

5 Jared Walsh – 1B


Millard Fav – A terrific youth movement right off the bat for Midnight Riders, building for the long term. Getting Josh Donaldson in the 8th round was nice given his Legends League appeal, however Taijuan Walker in the 12th round could work out great for Mooch and the Midnight Riders, especially if he has a full year like his first half and gets rotation protection from the Mets’ big offseason signing Max Scherzer.






Cavalry

1 Bryce Harper – RF

2 Xander Bogaerts – SS

3 Trevor Rogers – SP

4 JT Realmuto – C

5 Edwin Diaz – RP


Millard Fav – If Padres starter Chris Paddock can regain his rookie form, then taking him in the 11th round could be huge for Cavalry, but Tyler Rogers in the 13th is who I really like. 13 saves and 30 holds last year in San Francisco. The submarine throwing set-up man could be in line for more saves this year, as Gabe Kapler isn’t afraid to go with the hot hand in the 9th.







Central Caiman

1 Jose Ramirez – 3B

2 Tim Anderson – SS

3 Casey Mize – SP

4 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – 1B

5 Logan Gilbert – SP


Millard Fav – Jarren Duran in the 6th round is a pick I liked, but deeper on Day 2 the Caiman grabbed Zach McKinstry of the Dodgers in the 22nd round. He might not be a superstar, but he plays four positions, and the Dodgers hope he is the second coming of Kike Hernandez, meaning a very versatile player for LA and the Central Caiman.








Moonshots

1 Ozzie Albies – 2B

2 Ryan Mountcastle – 1B

3 Andrew Vaughn – LF 4 Zac Gallen – SP

5 Tyler Stephenson – C


Millard Fav – The Moonshots have a speedy club and, in the 10th round, grabbed Isiah-Kiner Falefa of the Texas Rangers, who had a career-high 20 swipes last year, only struck out 90 times and hit .271. With the injury to Josh Jung, Falefa will get a chance to start at third for the Rangers, who retooled their infield this offseason, and it could be the head start he needs to stay there when Jung is healthy.






Wild Boars

1 Luis Roberts – CF

2 Ketel Marte – 2B

3 Randy Arozarena – RF

4 Pablo Lopez – SP

5 Ranger Suarez – SP


Millard Fav – Depending if he gets the closer role back in Boston, Matt Barnes could work out really well for the Wild Boars after taking him in the 12th round. He was an All-Star in the first half last year, but COVID derailed his second half. The Red Sox have some decisions to make, but if Barnes is the guy, the Wild Boars will be loving it.


Isotop

es

1 Kyle Tucker – RF

2 Will Smith – C

3 Luis Arraez – 2B

4 Dylan Carlson – CF

5 Jesus Sanchez – LF


Millard Fav – Marco Gonzales was dominant in the shortened 2020 season for Seattle and while he started slow last year, he finished really strong and taking him in the 12th round could be huge for the Isotopes. Robbie Ray joining the Mariners will give Gonzales some rotation protection and he can get after it.








Aviators

1 Mookie Betts - RF

2 Logan Webb – SP

3 Dylan Cease – SP

4 Tyler Mahle – SP

5 Dansby Swanson – SS


Millard Fav – The Aviators quickly filled out 3 starting pitching spots in their first 5 picks after getting a stud in Mookie Betts as their first-rounder. With their 10th round pick, Adam Frazier was a solid choice. Joining a Mariners team on the rise, he’s a hit machine and stole 10 bases last year.










White Walkers

1 Yordan Albarez – LF

2 Starling Marte – CF

3 Kevin Gausman – SP

4 Ke’Bryan Hayes – 3B

5 Sean Manaea – SP


Millard Fav – In the 10th round, the White Walkers grabbed Detroit second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who bounced back with his fifth 20-plus home run season last year, along with 84 runs driven in. If he can cut down on the Ks, it will be a solid 10th-round pick.










Wheat Sox

1 Corbin Burnes – SP

2 Salvador Perez – C

3 George Springer – CF

4 Paul Goldschmidt – 1B

5 Lance Lynn – SP


Millard Fav – The Sox solidified their bullpen with closers in the 6th, 7th and 9th rounds with Raisel Iglessias, Will Smith and Alex Reyes, respectively. In the 12th round, they went and snagged speedster Raimel Tapia of the Rockies. Not only does he swipe bags, but he doesn’t strike out a lot and drove in 50 runs last season.









Black Bears

1 Rafael Devers – 3B

2 Jacob deGrom - SP

3 Aaron Nola - SP

4 DJ LeMahieu – 2B

5 Josh Bell – 1B


Millard Fav – Maybe it was out of sight, out of mind for some, but the Bears took Tyler Glasnow in the 8th round and it could be huge. The Rays’ starter was on fire last year until an injury ended his season. In 14 starts, he had 9 Quality Starts, and 123 Ks over just 88 innings with a WHIP of .932. Massive production in the 8th round.









MTB Orbit

1 Walker Buehler – SP

2 Eloy Jimenez – LF

3 Byron Buxton – CF

4 Yoan Moncada – 3B

5 Gleyber Torres – SS


Millard Fav – Taking a future HOFer in Madison Bumgarner in the 15th round screams Legends League, and for that I applaud MTB Orbit, but I really like the pick of Miguel Sano in the 11th round. In the last two full MLB seasons, he has 64 HR. If his strikeouts come down after a career high last season, this will be an excellent pick.









Space Sluggers

1 Jarred Kelenci – LF

2 Alek Manoah – SP

3 Trevor Story – SS

4 Fancisco Lindor – SS

5 Michael Kopech – RP


Millard Fav – I like the pick of Jorge Soler in the 9th round, even though he’s a few years removed from his 48 home run season. I really like picking The Machine in the 22nd round. Like Soler, Albert Pujols’ better days are behind him, but full marks for getting a guy late that will have massive Legends League appeal.




Wolfpack

1 Shane Baz – SP

2 Brandon Lowe – 2B

3 Nick Castellanos – RF

4 Blake Snell – SP

5 Chris Taylor – CF


Millard Fav – I loved their first pick in Shane Baz and really liked Tylor Megill in the 9th round. He was excellent last July for the injured Mets and although he struggled later in his rookie season, Megill could be massive for the retooled Mets with Scherzer and a healthy deGoat in New York.




Music City Smash

1 Aaron Judge – RF

2 Max Fried – S