The Big 4-0: Arizona convention to kick off milestone season

Well, we’re about to officially turn 40.

On March 2 the I-75 League will conduct its annual convention and draft that will precede the start of our 40th season of Strat-O-Matic baseball. Thirty-nine years after we held our first draft over a telephone hookup between a kitchen in Detroit and a newspaper office in Tampa, I-75 League managers will convene in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a face-to-face draft among eight managers and via an internet connection to seven more. This time around, the stars being sought are Acuna, Soto and Ohtani, instead of Seaver, Ryan and Winfield.

Five of our current 15 managers weren’t even born yet back in 1980. Another five — Dave and Mike Renbarger, Steve Hart, Steve Bizek and Gary Kicinski — are still skippering squads as they were in 1980.

We’re no longer rolling dice in a box, no longer keeping score by hand, no longer using “stooge” managers, no longer enduring 10-game series and having to mail results back to our opponents.

Now we click a mouse to roll dice, a computer keeps score for us, all 1,200 of our games per season are played mano-a-mano over the internet, and we celebrate our ability to play a five-game series in the shortest time possible.

Managers assemble for 1981 draft at Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in Knoxville, Tenn.

But the amazing thing is merely that we have persevered, through job changes and family raising and expansion and format shifts. As best we can assess, our little league is no worse than the seventh-longest-running active Strat Netplay baseball league in the country.

Oldest active Strat Netplay baseball leagues (year founded):

1. Greater United States Strat-O-Matic Organization (1971)
2. Fly-By-Night Baseball Association (1974)
3. Capital Baseball League (1975)
4. United States Baseball Association (1977)
5. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Ivy League League (1979)
6. Delcal Strat-O-Matic Baseball League (1979)
7. (tie) North American Strat-O-Matic Association (1980)
7. (tie) I-75 League (1980)
7. (tie) Ferndale (Mich.) Strat-O-Matic League (1980)

Source: Strat-O-Matic baseball league registry research

As we embark on our 40th season, we could be seeing a changing of the guard. After a season in which four of the league’s wily veterans advanced to the Final Four, this year the league’s younger crowd is jockeying for position among the league’s anticipated elite teams. With returning strong teams, high draft picks and a freewheeling front office, teams like Boulder, Tatooine, Dyersville and New New York could be setting stakes in the ground.

Destin dealt ace Chris Sale to move into the No. 1 pick, presumably to select Brave fave Ronald Acuna Jr. Juan Soto, two-way star Shohei Ohtani, and young pitching studs Walker Buehler, Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas are expected to soon follow.

The draft will likely then quickly descend into a free-for-all for relief aces, setup stars and lefty mashers. St. Louis pitchers and Tampa Bay hitters will be prized acquisitions.

It’s only our second visit ever to Arizona for this group of Florida lovers, but it presents a chance to check out some teams we don’t usually see, with so many camps bunched around the Phoenix area. The convention will also feature the drawing of teams for the divisional realignment that will take effect in the 2020 season.

Let’s draft!

The Trade That Changed Everything spices up 2017 draft

Years from now, if Andrew Benintendi and Dansby Swanson have become superstars, teams like New New York, West Atlanta, Tatooine, Applegate, Savannah and Dyersville will look back at The Trade That Changed Everything the day before the draft. And either thank their lucky stars or wonder what might have been.

Andrew Benintendi

West Atlanta manager Jeff Richards and Tatooine manager Nick Calderon, early arrivals to the 38th annual I-75 League convention, were enjoying an Atlanta-Boston exhibition game where hotshot Red Sox prospect Benintendi was in the midst of a 4-for-4 day that featured two doubles, an RBI single and a solo homer that prompted a standing ovation in the Braves’ home park.

At that point, Tatooine owned the second overall pick, and was thought to be interested in Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer as its choice, with New New York counting on taking Braves shortstop Swanson with the third pick, and Applegate playing its cards close to the vest, but secretly intending to take Benintendi.

Dansby Swanson

But Tatooine was hurting for pitching. West Atlanta was enamored with Swanson. The sun was blazing down on the seats on the third-base side of the field, and West Atlanta had a hot idea: White Sox lefty ace Chris Sale for Tatooine’s No. 2 pick overall. Calderon pondered, then pounced, knowing there were no established starting pitchers the likes of Sale available in the draft.

The reverberations began almost immediately, as text messages flew fast and furious across the country. Most impacted: New New York’s Jason Renbarger, who was devoid of shortstops and had traded up to the No. 3 pick in the hope of landing Swanson, believing catcher Gary Sanchez would go No. 1 to Margaritaville and a starting pitcher No. 2 to Tatooine.

But the Trade Changed Everything. Now after Sanchez and Swanson, a lot of unknowns. What would New New York do? It still had a hole at shortstop, and Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story was an option, as well as Fulmer, and Benintendi. Benintendi was secretly coveted by Applegate at No. 4 and openly by Savannah at No. 5, and the Scorpions cooked up a contingency deal with Dyersville that had originally seemed like a sure thing — it would go through as long as Benintendi and Fulmer were taken or about to be taken, and Contreras was available — and suddenly was up in the air.  Continue reading

This Just In

Keep your pants on.

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2017: The draft that’s nearly impossible to mock

How do you mock a draft when you have a draft with so much uncertainty?

Last year’s mock draft was filled with just-on-the-scene phenoms, top-10 prodigies who were no-brainers for the first round.

This year… practically a total crapshoot.

But we’re trying anyway.

But first, this public service announcement. Remember that in February, we voted in a new rule pertaining to how the first round of the draft is conducted; that rule takes effect next season:

The first three picks of the first round will be determined by a random draw among the nine non-playoff teams.  Picks 4 through 9 will be assigned to the six remaining non-playoff teams based on most wins from the prior season.

So as you finish your July games and ponder your trade deadline posture, remember that there is nothing to be gained in the first round by dealing away present talent for future potential. Every non-playoff team has the same shot at earning the No. 1 overall pick. And if you fail to get one of the first three picks, the more wins you get, the earlier you pick in the first round.

Now, on to the mocking. One important factor here is that there are several players — Lucas Giolito, Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, to name a few — who do not yet have enough appearances to earn a card, but they quite possibly will by the end of the season. Thus they are not included in this version of the mock draft, but could very well appear in an end-of-season revision.

In past years, there have been clear-cut superstars who were indisputably worthy of being drafted No. 1, if not a lock. This year… let’s just say there’s plenty more room for debate.

For drama purposes, we’ll count them down backward…

15. Ryan Dull, RP, Oakland (Bats R/Throws R, age 27 on March 1, 2017) – Setup reliever already has 47 innings to his credit and foes are hitting .144 off him. Has averages of .144 (BAA) / 1.94 (OBA) / .287 (SLG) — .482 (OPS), fanning 48 batters, giving up 24 hits (five of them homers) and 10 walks. WHIP of 0.72. Particularly tough on righties, striking out 39 of 118 batters, with split averages of .127 / .154 / .288 — .443. Late-round draft pick and only 5-9, 175 pounds. Stranded all 36 of his inherited runners until July 9, longest streak by any player in the expansion era; starting to get save opportunities.

14. Seung Hwan Oh, RP, St. Louis (R/R, 34) – Has become Cardinals closer with Trevor Rosenthal’s struggles, and deservedly so after striking out 61 in 46 innings to open the year and posting a 0.88 WHIP, along with averages of . 166 / .230 / .225 — .454. Has allowed 28 hits (just one homer) and 13 walks. Very balanced. Only 5-10, 205. Nickname in South Korea: The Final Boss. Continue reading

Mega-prospect rookies dominate updated non-mock draft

We’ve had exciting drafts in the past, but it’s hard to identify one where there is as much first-year talent available as the draft we’ll enjoy in 2016. Since our midseason analysis, even more young stars have come on the scene. Our updated projections below, based on season-ending stats, anticipate that the first nine players taken in the draft will all be rookies. Most of those names were also in our midseason non-mock draft, but later in the round, there’s also been a big shakeup, with previously unranked players filling seven of the last eight slots.

A fun debate looms for the first overall pick too. Shortstops Carlos Correa (Houston) and Francisco Lindor (Cleveland) are the probable 1-2 choices, but in what order? Both are 21, with similar at-bat totals. Correa represents the rare chance to land a power-hitting shortstop; Lindor hits for average from both sides of the plate and is rated as the better fielder.

And that presumes the top two teams decide to pass on the likely NL Rookie of the Year in Kris Bryant, the best available starting pitcher who happens to be a rookie in Noah Syndergaard, and a five-tool outfielder who’s been rated the No. 1 prospect in baseball by many rating services for the last two years in Byron Buxton.

For comparison to previous years, there are 16 rookies available who had an OPS of .800 or more in 2015. That compares to five in 2014, eight in 2013, eight in 2012 and five in 2011.

It’s a deep draft for shortstops and third basemen; a shallow one for second basemen, catchers and starting pitchers. But every team should come away happy with their first-round pick. Will some team do a major talent dump to accumulate as many high draft picks as possible, and start building a dynasty?

1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston, 21, bats R: Correa finished the season as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup for a team that made the playoffs, with a stunning 22 homers in 387 ABs. He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 draft. His MLB.com scouting grades (scale of 20 to 80) shake out impressively as Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 50 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 70. Previous ranking: 1.

2. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland, 21, bats S: Ended up hitting a lot better than expected, including .370 in August and .362 in September to finish at .313 with an .835 OPS. Chosen eighth overall in the 2011 draft.  Hit: 60 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 70 | Overall: 65. PR: 5

3. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs, 23, bats R: Slugged 26 homers, got on base to the tune of .369, and slugged .857. Was the overall No. 2 pick of the 2013 MLB Draft. Hit: 55 | Power: 75 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 70. PR: 2 Continue reading

Photos from 36th annual convention!

Check out some of the action from Draft Central during the 36th annual I-75 League draft, held March 5-10, 2015 in Kissimmee, Fla.

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For videos, check out the post below this one.

Best draft ever, 36th year running! Check out post-draft video recap

In a record time of four hours and 40 minutes, including a 33-minute pizza break, the I-75 League kicked off its 36th year with an 18-round draft on March 7, with eight managers selecting at Draft Central in Kissimmee, Fla., and seven more making choices remotely. Chatfield manager Phil Roselli opened the affair with the expected selection of Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, and South Grand Prairie wrapped it up with Mr. Irrelevant, Aaron Hicks. The season game file with updated rosters has been distributed, so check out your rosters and get ready to start your March games. Updated rosters will appear on the league Web site here over the next few days, but for now you can rely on the draft grid plus the winter rosters. After the draft we conducted post-mortem interviews with managers on site in Florida. Part One features recaps with managers Phil Roselli, Ken Crawford and part of an an interview with Mike Renbarger; subsequent videos feature individual interviews with Mike Renbarger, Mark Gergel, Dave Renbarger, Gary Kicinski, Steve Hart and John Renbarger.
 

 

 

 

 

 

With just hours to go, presenting the consensus Mock Draft!

With just hours to go before our 36th annual I-75 League draft, the managers in attendance in Kissimmee came up with this consensus mock draft.

1. Chatfield: 1B Jose Abreu. Best player available.

2. Michigan: 3B/OF Josh Harrison. Because manager Ken Crawford is a big Beatles fan.

3. Hickory: P Masahiro Tanaka. Best upside.

4. Superior: SS/CF Danny Santana. Fills two needs.

5. Springfield: 1B Steve Pearce. The lock of the draft.

6. Destin: OF J.D. Martinez. Club needs offense.

7. Chatfield: P Jake Arrieta. The rebuilding begins. Needs pitching desperately.

8. Applegate: OF Joc Pedersen. Best non-pitching prospect.

9. Bushwood: OF George Springer. Great power vs. righties.

10. Chatfield: P Carlos Carrasco. The rebuilding continues. Still needs pitching desperately.

11. Margaritaville: OF Gregory Polanco. Prospecting.

12. Margaritaville: OF Jorge Soler. More prospecting.

13. Bismarck: RP Dellin Betances. Best available.

14. South Grand Prairie: SP Collin McHugh. Desperate for starting pitching.

15. Chatfield: P Jacob deGrom. All of a sudden Chatfield is back in contention after three stud pitchers and the best available hitter in one round. And the Choos own pick No. 16 too.

Best (ballgame seats at a) convention yet!

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In the 34 years of the I-75 Strat-O-Matic league, many annual conventions have competed for title of Best Convention Yet.

But to kick off our 35th season, there’s little doubt that this year’s convention featured one element that topped all previous: Best Seats at a Ballgame Yet.

Former league manager Ken Kuzdak secured four front-row seats to Astros-Nationals in Viera, immediately behind the visitors dugout, about 60 feet from home plate, and in an unprotected screen zone. Fortunately, no screaming line drives came off the bats of left-handed hitters, and so the five I-75ers in attendance enjoyed the rare treat of being up close and personal with major leaguers for 3-plus hours.

That outing set the stage for another classic convention, marking the start of our 35th year. Ten of our 15 managers made their way to Kissimmee, Fla., this year. Kuzdak, who claims to have just bought those Nationals tickets on StubHub like anyone can just log on and buy front row seats, returned to serve as draft moderator. Destin manager Mark Gergel brought along son Keith to assist with the drafting process. Five other managers drafted remotely.

The tension built throughout the weekend as managers tried to unearth others’ drafting plans. Deals were swung just prior to and during the draft, but ultimately the draft played out almost precisely the way mock draft prognosticator Phil Roselli said it would, starting with Hickory’s selection of Marlins starter Jose Fernandez. Phil nailed 14 of the 15 first-round picks, missing only on Wisconsin’s selection of Ervin Santana, a pick borne out of a last-minute trade that sent Jordan Zimmermann off to Savannah.

While some clubs clearly emerged from the draft as division-champ contenders, we may see some new blood making pushes for the top of their divisions this year, as clubs such as Iowa and South Grand Prairie have assemble talented teams. There seems to be more teams with a reasonable shot at making the playoffs than in recent past years.

Sunday saw many managers revive, or attempt to revive, long-lost softball glories, and some are still paying the price for those efforts. But the day was just too nice to waste on a Blue Jays-Astros game. Plus most of us slept in too late.

March play is under way and another successful convention is in the books!

Two words: LET’S DRAFT!!!

League managers pose after enjoying best-seats-ever at Saturday's Astros-Nationals game.

League managers pose after enjoying best-seats-ever at Saturday’s Astros-Nationals game. Pink-shorts girl is photo-bombing us.

OK, technically, “Let’s Draft” is three words, as “Let’s” is a contraction for “let us.”

But must we turn everything into a debate?

Through Friday, half of the managers who will be drafting Saturday night have already assembled in Kissimmee, and are ready for Saturday’s I-75 League draft, marking the start of the 35th annual season for the fourth-longest-running Strat-O-Matic baseball league in America. (Or fifth-longest running, depending on … OH STOP IT.)

Hickory will be on the clock at 6 p.m. sharp, and the Nuts will be picking both first and third, following a recent trade with Destin that shipped Evan Longoria to the Beach Bums. In-between, the resurgent South Grand Prairie Warriors will pick second.

Pre-draft prattle has a general consensus on top players to be selected including Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, Will Myers and Josh Donaldson. Some managers also favor Gerrit Cole; others like Shelby Miller. And Xander Bogaerts is in the mix too.

It all plays out Saturday night with 10 managers drafting in person and five drafting remotely.

Many hours of preparation have already been devoted to this year’s draft, including eyewitness scouting at Nationals-Braves and Astros-Nationals games — where on Friday we landed perhaps the best spring training seats in the history of I-75 League spring training games.

Other early topics of discussion include a prediction of 105 wins for Savannah (from Gary, not Steve), admiration for the beastly Chatfield lineup, and an educational exercise of a three-round simulation draft conducted Friday night among the managers who were already present.

There’s one more ballgame on tap before the draft — Mets at Tigers in Lakeland, then it’s time to get busy. Managers who are drafting remotely, make sure you have access to the draft grid, as that is the document we will be adding live picks to during the draft. Moderator: Former league manager Ken Kuzdak. Also in attendance will be Keith Gergel, son of Destin manager Mark Gergel .

Maybe Springfield manager Dave LaMont will give us a shoutout during his broadcast of Saturday’s Mississippi-Vanderbilt game on ESPN3 (2:30 ET).

Why I won’t be doing a mock draft this year

It’s become an annual tradition, this mock draft thing, in which I try to peer into the crystal ball to project or predict which players will be taken in roughly which order in the annual I-75 Strat-O-Matic League draft.

It’s been a fun exercise, sparked a lot of conversation, and helped inform the Clips as well as we mapped out our strategy.

But now that we are less than 30 days from Draft Day, we’re here to tell you we’re not doing a mock draft this year. Or perhaps any year going forward.

Here’s why. Continue reading

Mock draft 2014: Plenty of good cards available

If the 2014 I-75 League Draft were held today, we would be looking at one of the strongest player pools we’ve seen since converting to the retention league format.

Barring a total collapse in the final two months, a major pitching bonanza lies ahead for our 35th annual draft. Not only are there some top young pitchers available, they also happen to be among the pitchers having the best years in the majors this year.

On top of that, there’s a good selection of position-playing talent to salivate over as well. So as teams ponder their buy-or-sell mode with the July trading deadline approaching, let’s look at the top 15 players who await in March:

1. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: 22-year-old slugger with a bazooka for an arm is still hitting at a Roger Freed-like pace through 177 at-bats: .379 average, 1.012 OPS.  He strikes out a lot, but he can run, field, throw, hit for average and hit for power.

Continue reading

#TheREALMockDraft is finally here

The pretenders and wanna-bes have had their moments in the sun, but none of them dare to delve into the depths of mock drafting and actually try to match up available players with team needs. Only The Real Mock Draft ventures to do so.

And thus, for the I-75 Strat-O-Matic League’s 34th annual draft, which will commence on Saturday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET, live from Kissimmee, Fla., and televised on ESPNStrat, this is how we see the all-important first round playing out. Picks below are not predictions; they are who I would pick if I were you.

1. Superior: It’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of the I-75 League, the most obvious No. 1 pick since Mike Trout went No. 1 last year. (Oh wait…did Mike Trout not go No. 1? No, I think actually Michigan said no thanks, we’ll take catcher Alex Avila, who went on to hit .243 for the Tigers; and then Springfield opted for Alex Gordon, who helped them to a division title, good job; and then English took Eric Hosmer and traded him to Hickory, which watched him hit .232; and then Hickory took Michael Pineda, who never pitched at all due to injury.) Superior manager Mike Renbarger will select NL Rookie of the Year, 20-year-old wunderkind Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals, with this pick. It’s a good thing his brother Dave doesn’t have this pick: Witness his comment from June 6, 2010, the first time Bryce Harper was mentioned on this blog:

davecomment


2. Margaritaville:
The Volcanoes have unloaded Jordan Zimmermann and Jesus Montero in the offseason but still have the makings of a contender, thanks to four stalwart starting pitchers and a terrifying heart of the order. They also have three picks in the top 26. While some have clamored for Manny Machado in this spot, and the Volcanoes are prone to taking top prospects regardless of whether they intend to contend or not, there is a better solution, especially with David Wright manning the Margaritaville hot corner. If you had to put money on one available player who could post a 30-30 year in 2013, who would you pick, other than Bryce Harper? If it’s me, and if I’m John McMillan, I’m picking Yeonis Cespedes, OF, Oakland A’s, who is entering the prime of his career at age 27 despite just one year in the majors. Cespedes was one of only three players to hit. 300 and manage double-digits in both homers and steals after the All-Star break. He hit .292 and finished with 23 homers, 16 steals in a 487 at-bat season cut short by hand, wrist and hamstring injuries. Plus, he fills a roster need for the ‘Canoes, where they currently sport only the beastly Carlos Gonzalez and  the beastly-but-limited Jose Bautista as potential outfielders. Margaritaville would have an all minus-3 arm outfield if Cespedes joins the club.

Continue reading

2013 draft will be unlike any other

In past years, the talent pool for the I-75 league draft equaled all available cards minus 216 protected players.

This year, for the first time, the talent pool will equal all available cards minus 260 protected players.

The difference will be noticeable. There will be fewer “this-year” help cards, resulting in more prospects going faster, and possibly relief pitchers going even more quickly than in recent years.

It’s the effect of expanding from 12 to 15 teams. So, contenders and hopefuls might want to look at the trade market instead of banking on bulking up their lineup or pitching staff for a 2013 run.

Thus, without further ado, we present the latest installment of a 2013 Mock Draft — a hefty overhaul from the midseason mock draft:

1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington — Power, speed, howitzer. About to turn 20 years old. One of the game’s best prospects ever, and more than useful for 2013 to boot: .869 OPS vs. righties, including a .360 on-base number; 18 steals and eight outfield assists. Previous rank: 1.

Continue reading

No. 1 in 2013 mock draft? That’s a clown question, bro

Other players might have better stats, but no one has a brighter future than Bryce Harper, our projection as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 I-75 League Draft.

Still just 19, Harper is a five-tool player who is still growing and still learning the game. The lefty swinger hits both righties and southpaws for average and for power. The Washington Nationals outfielder has a great batting eye that allows him to draw walks, and once on base, his pure speed and aggressive nature earns extra bases for him on a regular basis. Defensively, what he lacks in smoothness he makes up for with his ability to run down balls that others can’t. And, he has a bazooka for an arm.

Harper’s all-star break numbers: A .282 average, .354 on-base average and .472 slugging percentage. He has 15 doubles, eight homers and 10 stolen bases.

As for the rest of the draft? It has the early appearance of being a thin year in terms of highly rated prospects, after Harper. Here’s who we like to go in the first round in March, with their all-star break stats:

Continue reading

15-man ‘most efficient draft ever’ blows all other drafts away

Commish Dave Renbarger, right, presents Hickory manager Mike Wilson with the I-75 League Cup for winning the 2011 World Series, prior to the 2012 season draft.

Perhaps we should have gone to this 15-team format years ago.

After years of drafts that dragged on for seven, eight, nine hours — when we had just 9 or 12 managers — the I75 League pulled off its most efficient draft ever to kick off its 33rd year, conducting a 14-round, 15-team draft plus four supplemental rounds for the four entering teams in less than six hours!

With the use of a shared Google doc spreadsheet that made it easy for the four remote-drafting managers to enter picks as well as track picks being made at Draft Central, the draft hummed along efficiently, even breaking for 45 minutes for pizza after the eighth round.

The exciting first round held largely to form from an overall standpoint, with 13 of the 15 players being accurately forecast as first-rounders. Only Mike Moustakas (to Hickory) and Jason Kipnis (to Michigan) strayed from the mock draft prediction.

Two during-the-round trades jumbled the draft picture somewhat. After Michigan predictably took Tigers catcher Alex Avila and Springfield not surprisingly took slugger Alex Gordon, English took first baseman Eric Hosmer, but instantly packaged him with SS Starlin Castro along with picks 4 and 95 to Hickory for SS J.J. Hardy, P Felix Hernandez, the No. 9 pick and No. 103 pick. While teams tried to digest that, Hickory nabbed top pitching prospect Michael Pineda.

Continue reading

‘We’re not off Poinciana anymore, Toto!’

Before you blindly point your rental car or personal vehicle to Poinciana Blvd. this weekend, be aware this year’s Strat House is in a completely different location from past years. See Dave’s 2/26 e-mail for directions.  Here’s the relative lay of the land with key landmarks for this year’s festivities. (Not shown: Tigertown…)


From Disney, be sure to get onto Formosa Gardens and not Toll Road 429; Formosa Gardens runs parallel to the highway and takes you to Canary Island, which crosses over the highway to the Windsor Palms community.

Convention forecast: Hot, then not

A look at the 10-day Orlando weather forecast spanning the convention period. Looks like we need to pack for two different climates…

Presenting YOUR 2012 mock draft

With less than two weeks to go before the 33rd I-75 League convention, we fire up the mock drafting ovens one more time to see what delights are being cooked up for the first round when we gather in Kissimmee the first weekend in March.

What’s diferent about this mock draft? Well… this is the draft that you, yourself, mocked. Not me. Though I did jump in when some people were unsure, tight-lipped or attempting a bit of sleight of hand. That’s right — these are YOUR mock draft picks, so if they prove to be a total disaster, you have no one to blame but yourselves. With apologies to Bud Light, here we go…

1. Alex Avila, C, Detroit, to Michigan. Ken Crawford resolves the Pineda-or-Trout debate his own way, as the Tiger catcher gives Michigan the hometown discount.

Continue reading

Less than two months to the draft!

Here in the Washington, D.C., area, we’re still waiting for our first snowfall of the winter, but already spring is on our minds. Draft Day, Saturday March 3, is less than two months away.

If history is any indication, the ratings ‘disk’ (now a download) should be available next week. Last year it was available on Jan. 10, the second Monday of the year, so a corresponding date this year would be Monday, Jan. 9.

Also, tickets for some spring training games, including those hosted by the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers, go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m. We’ll be doing the usual group purchase technique as soon as the Internet will allow on Saturday morning to get the best possible seats. It’s helpful to have several managers assisting with this task, to help spread the initial cost, and to parcel out the seats into manageable sizes.

Watch for an e-mail coming soon regarding spring training games you’re interested in.

Meanwhile, for which player on your team are you most eager to see card ratings?