Updated: Feb 25, 2022
The future of UFLB was on full display over the past three days in the one-and-only Top Prospects Auction. Franchises and scouts bid on 142 spots for the right to select baseball’s budding stars, combining to invest a grand total of $146,675 USD worth of SCORE Coin (SCO).
When the dust settled, 21 of the 30 franchises in Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball walked away with at least one prospect and seven scouts also got into the game by targeting players on the cusp of MLB stardom as their initial acquisitions.
Each winning bidder was able to select a prospect from the player pool provided by Director of Scouting Bryan Hernandez, and the competition was intense from the outset. Circa Sports Swingin’ Trout came out swinging early and often, putting up $7,010 for the honour of selecting the first-ever player in UFLB history, Bobby Witt Jr. — a shortstop in the Kansas City Royals’ organization and the second overall pick from the 2019 MLB Draft. That set the tone for a frantic bidding pace, with more than $111,000 invested on Day 1.
“The overall auction went great. There were a few surprises with players dropping,” Hernandez said after hosting a terrific three-day event.
The biggest bidding war took place for the No. 3 spot, with the Arctic Eagles paying $7,015 for the right to select outfielder Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers. Ahead of next weekend’s 26-round Veteran Player Draft, where they will be drafting second overall, the Arctic Eagles only grabbed two prospects here — also landing San Diego Padres shortstop CJ Abrams at spot No. 20 with a winning bid of $2,000.
Swingin’ Trout, backed by Circa Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, spent the most in this auction — shelling out more than $31,000 for eight players as a franchise, but combined with their affiliated scout Sammy Stevens, that number jumps to almost $65,000 on 41 total players. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene and Texas Rangers hurler Jack Leiter highlighted the haul for Stevens, while Swingin’ Trout also selected high-profile prospects such as Adley Rutschman, a catcher with the Baltimore Orioles and the first overall pick from that 2019 MLB Draft, Detroit Tigers infielder Spencer Torkelson, and Orioles pitcher Grayson Rodriguez.
The only franchise to fill up all 14 prospect spots was the Woodpeckers, who did the trick in two days and were able to take Monday off and enjoy the holiday. The birds started filling their cupboard with New York Yankees infielder Anthony Volpe at the No. 13 spot for $2,760 en route to spending a total of $19,945.
Hernandez has experienced auctions in the past from a bidding point of view, but this one was quite a bit different.
“It was a little more stressful than other ones, just because I put it together and was trying not to stress over the hiccups,” said Hernandez, who endured mixed emotions from the sidelines in his admin role. “I love baseball and not being able to get any of these prospects was a little painful.”
The Defenders wound up selecting the second-most players with 10 for $5,230 — taking Boston Red Sox first basemen Triston Casas with their top selection at spot No. 30 on Day 1.
As with any player auction, there were different strategies deployed by franchises and scouts, but certain selections stood out to Hernandez in the immediate aftermath.
“I loved Bobby Witt going first overall since he has been one of my favorite prospects to watch, and Ryan Pepiot and Bobby Miller as homer picks because the Dodgers develop really great pitchers and I’m excited to see them. But the most surprising one was James Triantos dropping to Day 3 because I’ve heard a lot of good things coming out from the Cubs’ scouts and, in my opinion, he was a steal.”
Catch all three days of the Top Prospects Auction on the UFSN YouTube channel. Day one is above
Some new faces in scouting also got in on the action and made their presence felt as the auction progressed. Tyson Roblin, affiliated with Central Caiman, finished second among scouts with 6 players, while Dana Kerford, with ties to Northern Fury, and Harrison Fallow of the CanWest Fantasy Sports Group, affiliated with the CanWest Warhawks, each selected 4 players.
“I thought it was an amazing three days with some familiar and new bidders, and all the franchise owners have to be excited about the prize pools going forward,” said Dean Millard, the Head of Baseball Operations for UFF Sports. “It was great to see how smoothly things went, which is a great sign for things to come in UFLB.”
Following next weekend’s Veteran Player Draft, the Futures Auction and International Free Agent Auction will run from March 26-29 — both events are for scouts only — with the Open Market commencing shortly thereafter, where the best of the rest can be registered by scouts for a flat rate of $20 USD worth of SCO on a first come, first serve basis. Finders keepers!
For more information, email infoUFBL@UFFSports.com.
Follow on Twitter: @TheUFLB and @UFLB_Scouting @TheLLB_
Follow on Instagram: @UFLBOfficial
Join our UFFS Baseball Chat on Telegram: https://t.me/UFLBaseball