After two days with little sleep, the Illowa APBA League’s Draft weekend is over. In that time, the IAL postseason was played, we had our annual league meeting, we conducted our 2014 rookie draft and lastly, we started the 2014 season with each team playing their first 30 games of the season.
World Series winner Chuck Lucas (left) accepts his trophy from IAL vice-commissioner Rob Moore
First of some congrats are in order. Chuck Lucas (yes, the one who just finished his 1959 replay) took home the 2013 IAL championship. His Northside Hitmen defeated Marcus Bunch’s 102 game-winning Moline Upperdeckers in seven games in the IAL World Series. Congratulations, Chuck!
Don Smith announces the first pick of the 2014 IAL rookie draft
The draft had its own set of mini-dramas. Not only was who Don Smith’s Molly Putts Marauders would pick with the first pick in the draft but IF they would have that pick at all. I feel safe in saying this now since it was announced by Don at the weekend but Don and I had been discussing a Stephen Strasburg for the #1 pick deal for about a month. A half hour before the draft started, I asked Don, “Can we take a walk?” Ears perked up around the room but no one followed us as we went to the hallway to discuss this deal.
I won’t reveal the details of the discussion but I will say that the deal wasn’t made. We even shook on it. Who turned it down? Well, I won’t say and neither will Don. We’ll take that to our grave.
Rattlesnakes manager John Brandeberry assisted by Dan Bunch make their move to trade the second pick
Now that Don still had the first pick of the draft, it was his choice. I assumed that he would probably pick Puig but it turned out I was wrong. Molly Putts picked Jose Fernandez. The newly renamed Missoula Rattlesnakes manager John Brandeberry and his assistant manager Dan Bunch immediately went into action. I knew that Brando had wanted Fernandez too. As soon as Don announced his pick of Fernandez, he announced to the league, “Anyone who wants this for a later first round pick and a B starter, talk to me now!” Keep in mind, the clock was ticking. There were at least two managers lined up ready to deal with Brando. Three Rivers Gamblers skipper Todd Ventresca even threw four pitcher’s cards down in front of Brando eager to make a deal. Before Brando’s time was up, he had pitcher Mike Minor and the Gamblers’ first round pick in exchange for the second pick and a very late draft pick.
I admit it. I was impressed. I talked to Brando later and he told me that he and Dan had planned this out in the eventuality that Fernandez was gone. It worked out great. Not only did Brando get Minor but they picked Julio Teheran with the Gamblers’ first pick. Well played, Rattlesnakes management! That said, it’s a foregone conclusion that Todd picked Yasiel Puig.
As for me, I went in with a solid plan for my early draft and thought I’d wing it after that. The results pretty much show that. I got exactly what I wanted for my first two picks. Hyun-jin Ryu went to the Thunderchickens in the first round and we finally solved our catching issue with Yan Gomes in the second. In third round, we picked Tanner Roark who I sincerely believe will be a solid pitcher though it was somewhat of a sentimental pick too (Go Illini!). With our fourth pick, we covered our outfield with Darin Ruf. With my two expansion picks, I picked two relievers. I couldn’t resist Kevin Siegrist’s A&B grade and Alex Torres A&C will come in handy.
Here is the full 2014 IAL draft listing here.
Honestly, looking at my team after the draft, I started to wonder if we had enough offense to even compete. I wondered if we had made a major mistake somewhere along the line. Should I have offered a third round pick to Chuck for Colby Rasmus? Would he have even taken that? I don’t really have a cleanup hitter and I was starting to panic.
Then the season started.
With my move to the Chicago Division aka the “City Boys”, I got to face my former division mates at a convention for the first time. I split a series with Brando then went 4-2 with the new guy, Nick Tegeler who has renamed his team the Iowa Oinkers. After another 3-3 split against Don Smith, we faced the commish, Mike Bunch. In that series, my team could do no wrong. Actually, Mike just couldn’t roll dice. We swept him 6-0. When I pitched Scott Diamond a DZ, he gave up just one run and we won on a walkoff homerun by Ryan Zimmerman.
By that time, I was sitting pretty with a 16-8 and wondering if my team was really that bad after all. Marcus Bunch’s Upperdeckers put me in my place a little though. In our six game series, I could only take one game and just barely. It took fifteen innings and all of my bullpen to win that game.
So I ended up with a 17-13 record for the weekend and I’m not complaining. I haven’t done my stats yet but I know Ryan Zimmerman played a big part in my success. I also know Strasburg and Homer Bailey are going to help my team lead the league in strikeouts this year. Both have a couple 10+ strikeouts games already.
Nick Tegeler: the new guy
Finally, I’m glad to have Nick Tegeler on board as a new manager. I asked him how he was doing and he said his team wasn’t doing so good but as for him, he was having a blast.
More photos from the weekend here. Thanks to Mike (the best commissioner in the world) for organizing another great weekend!