2018’s Unconventional Convention a Hit Nonetheless

Mike Renbarger (red shirt) and Sons during the 2018 draft.

Mike Renbarger (red shirt) and Sons during the 2018 draft.

The new, (Joel) young blood that has been added to the league in recent years had its first significant impact on the outcome of a draft as we conducted the 2018 I-75 League convention, marking the start of our 39th season.

The Joel reference may be lost on the young whippersnappers, who are seemingly feeling their oats now that they have a couple of years of Strat play under their belts.

Incessant wheeling and dealing of draft picks continued right up to the moment before the first selection was called out, and even continued throughout the draft, primarily orchestrated by millennial managers like John Renbarger, Jason Renbarger, Ryan Renbarger and Nick Calderon, all of whom have joined the league in the last few years.

A total of 68 draft picks changed hands this year, leaving swaths of yellow splashed across the draft board, including 10 of the first 13 picks, keeping “mock draft” predictions a constantly moving target.

2018 Draft Grid

And John and Jason Renbarger in particular weren’t making those deals to put themselves in better position to select great players. They were putting themselves in better position to select great unproven players, leading to a major run on prospects among the very earliest picks.

Tatooine’s Nick Calderon gave away present-day talent for prospective superstars, acquiring Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies with the second pick and Cincinnati pitcher Luis Castillo with the seventh pick. John Renbarger’s Boulder team maneuvered its way into the fourth and fifth picks, selecting prospects Rafael Devers and Yoan Moncada. And New New York’s Jason Renbarger jumped up to the sixth spot to take all 24 at-bats offered by Washington outfielder Victor Robles.

Steve Hart, left, dealt the No. 1 pick to Steve Nieroda, right, who selected Cody Bellinger

Steve Hart, left, dealt the No. 1 pick to Steve Nieroda, right, who selected Cody Bellinger.

The No. 1 “prospect” though went as expected to Satellite Beach, where Manager Steve Nieroda snagged slugger Cody Bellinger (following a trade with Savannah) as expected to kick off the six-hour festivities, which began in the 3 o’clock hour, as there were no spring training games locally to attend that normally would have had us starting in early evening.

Twelve of the league’s 15 managers made their way to Florida for the league’s 39th draft, although three made their selections unconventionally from a Draft Central annex five miles away, connected to Draft Central via cell phone and Google doc draft grid. Three other managers drafted remotely from their home locations.

The 15-round affair was at times tense, at other times jovial. There were the usual faux pas of a couple of picks being spent on players already drafted or who had been retained. But there seemingly was something for everyone, as an abundance of attractive cards seemed to be available whether you were looking for offense, or relief pitching, and there were even a handful of starting pitchers worthy of first-round selection for a change.

Commissioner Dave Renbarger, left, makes award presentation to 2017 World Series winner John McMillan.

Commissioner Dave Renbarger, left, makes award presentation to 2017 World Series winner John McMillan.

We made our usual outings to spring training games in Lakeland, with bonus ballgames in Tampa and West Palm Beach for early arrivers or late stayers. We endured Kissimmee’s penchant for traffic backups and poor restaurant service. And we honored our 2017 champions during a pre-draft presentation of hardware (watch on our league Facebook page if you’re a member of the group).

Some wise guy suggested the B in Joe's Crab Shack be replaced with a P after it took more than an hour to get our food.

Some wise guy suggested the B in Joe’s Crab Shack be replaced with a P after it took more than an hour to get our food. We found ways to keep ourselves entertained however.

When it was over we also conducted video interviews with each of the nine managers who participated from Draft Central, and you can enjoy their thoughts on how things went either from this YouTube playlist, or by watching individual clips below.

 

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