2024 DRAFT RECAPS / PREDICTIONS
By Frank LaRocca, Ed Fradkin, Justin Bykofsky, Ben Kessler, Seth Drashinsky, Mitch Pollock

JASON YOUNGER “Every year, the Marlboro draft seems to surprise many, and this year was no exception. Let's begin with the positives - Frank, Pat, and TW. Frank's team is poised to set a record for homers by a team, especially with the increase in Union Hill games. How did a 32-year-old former JUCO player fall to the 4th round for Frank??? Pat's team starts strong with Ed and Tom, and if the new Caputo’s perform well, this team will be solid. As usual, TW sat back like Frank and let the picks come to him. Did people not watch the Hill videos??? The guy was an A division player, the best of the best. Being scared off by hernia surgery is like being scared of a chihuahua. A few captains clearly do zero draft prep - Bomenblit and Polzer, for certain. Bomenblit drafted 7 1Bs and 4 pitchers, taking guys 2 or 3 rounds early. Polzer was given a 3 rating and still left too many good players on the board. Stock clearly prepares, but once the draft starts, he may just throw darts at a board or call only guys he has ever played with before. Last year, Ferrarese was taken advantage of by Frank in trades, and this year, Apple was the victim of a complete raw dog rape. How does someone with a lottery pick trade and literally get nothing in return????????????”

ED FRADKIN “My head is still spinning at what happened on Sunday, March 24, 2024, at the VFW.  Crazy trades, and even crazier (or some say moronic) picks dominated the day.  As I looked around the room, I saw captains and board members in a state of befuddlement multiple times when names and/or trades were called out.  I saw captains not knowing what positions a person played, friend picks galore, and valued players slipping farther and farther down the board.  I think that an entrepreneurial person can make a good amount of money offering a Draft-Prep course for captains, much like there are SAT Prep courses available to high school kids.  But then again, if all the captains knew what they were doing then the draft would not be as much fun and exciting as it is.  With that said, as history has shown based on a review of predictions from prior years, no one really knows what the season is to bring, so hopefully no one gets butt-hurt (other than Apple according to JY) by what is said, and takes these predictions for the entertainment value they provide.”

 

GASTRO (Drashinsky)
Seth, as usual, had a very good draft.  With Santa, Goldrosen and himself roaming the outfield, that is likely the best outfield in the league.  There legitimately could be games at Union Hill where they could play a 3-man outfield.

The infield is solid, but not spectacular.  JZ is an excellent first baseman (so long as no one is trying to trip him).    Dan is a good third baseman. Weis is a solid veteran shortstop who in the last few years has played more at second base.  The rookie Woloshyn was a steal in the 8th round to play 2nd base, but if he proves to be able to play shortstop then that pick becomes even better.

The big question on this team is not its fielding or its pitching, as Papa D always throws strikes.  What will determine whether this is 11-11 or 12-10 team as compared to a top 3-4 team is how they hit.  Santa has all the potential and power in the world, but can he turn this into a stellar season at the plate.  He needs him to revert to his 2022 form where he hit .592 as compared to 2023 where in admittedly limited at-bats he hit only .462.  Similarly, the question remains whether Goldrosen can rebound to the .600-hitter with 8-10 homeruns that he once was in this league before his knee injury.   In combination with that, if JZ and Seth rebound from subpar 2023 seasons (.363 for JZ and .451 for Seth) to what they hit in 2022 (.603 for JZ and .520 for Seth), this team will be contenders for a division title and favorites for a championship.

Predicted record: 13-9

Grades for:

Hitting: B+

Defense: A-

Speed: B

Pitching: B

Potential Award Winners:

Defensive Outfielder:  Santa

MVP: Santa

Offensive Player of the Year: Santa

Rookie of the Year: Woloshyn

Manager of the Year: Seth

Mr. Nice Guy:  JZ

 

SHORE SMILE (Lombardi)
Jim started the draft on a high note with the selection of the Turano brothers.  Nick is a monster at the plate and one of the best LCFs in the league.  Anthony as a 4th round pick provides flexibility in that he can play SS, 2nd, 3rd and in the outfield, depending on what a team may need.   With the second pick Jim opted for another outfielder and picked a solid Kyle Dunleavy even though it appeared shortstop was his need.   However, there was no reason to worry because as the picks moved along in the 3rd round the rookie shortstops Magariello and I. Young were available, as was the solid veteran, Weis.  Given that he had no 4th round pick, it seemed certain that Jim would select one of them to round out his first four picks with two solid outfielders and two middle infielders.  To everyone’s surprise, the selection was Ushkowitz, a former third baseman who, according to his own statements, is moving to the outfield this year.

All captains make mistakes in the draft, some big and some small, but it is how they rebound from those mistakes that separates the good from the great captains.  Jim had a chance in the 5th round to select Gallardo, who many captains believe can play shortstop, and instead opted for what appears to be a 4th outfielder, the rookie McFadden.  Frankly, the pick made no sense given the makeup of Jim’s team up to that point.  The 6th and 8th round selections also left this reviewer scratching his head.  Max Allegretti (6th round) is most comfortable in the outfield and Justin Krauss in the 8th round is yet another outfielder. Russ Krauss (everyone’s favorite teammate) is probably best suited for 1st base at this point in his career given his recent injuries, but that is occupied by Paul Lombardi.  Jordan Brent seems destined for 3rd base unless Jim convinces Ushkowitz to move back to that position.  However, where does that leave Brent? 

Overall, it just doesn’t seem that Jim had a coherent plan going into this draft.  By my count he has 6 outfielders (if you don’t count Russ), no true starting shortstop, no true starting second baseman, two first basemen, and couple of catchers.  While Nick, Kyle, and Ush give the lineup some pop, it is not a very deep hitting team and has limited power.   I see this as a play-in team or on the bubble of being one. 

Predicted record: 8-14

Grades for:

Hitting: B-

Defense: C

Speed:  B+

Pitching: B

Potential Award Winners:

Mr. Nice Guy: Russ Krauss

Rookie of the Year: McFadden

 

TEC-TEL (Pollock)
Matt is an astute captain who prepares for the drafts, has a plan, and knows the players.  As the 16th overall pick, he was not anticipating getting a top shortstop going into this year’s draft.  Fortunately for him, Guy decided he wanted his adopted son, Tony, back in the fold, so after Matt took him at 16 the wheels were put in motion for a trade.  In many people’s views, Matt got the better of Guy in this trade, but it could have been an even better haul for Team Pollock if he went in a different direction with his second and fourth round picks.  Juska is a great hitter, but recent arm injuries could limit his ability to play third base, which is where he brings the most value.  Instead of taking Juska, Matt could have paired Santigate with Villani in the 2nd and the big bat of Mahoney in the 4th, both of whom were available.  Matt chose to play it safe and not bet on the bigger upside that 2 younger and new players could have brought to his team.  Only time will tell if Matt’s conservative approach was the way to go. 

I was very impressed with the rest of Matt’s draft.  Getting the other (and maybe the better) Pete K in the 6th round was a stroke of genius (or just dumb luck).  The Solanos give Team Pollock two solid players.   Yockel is still a hitting machine.  However, the best pick of his draft could turn out to be the Walker combo, which went much later than anticipated.  Based on his tryout, Skippy’s son showed he can pitch and hit. 

Altogether, Matt picked a very solid team who could exceed expectations if Pete K and young Walker play above where they were drafted.

Predicted record: 12-10

Grades for:

Hitting: B+

Defense: B+

Speed: B-

Pitching: B

Potential Award Winners:

Rookie of the Year: Walker

Manager of the Year: Matt Pollock

MVP: Santigate

 

ACE (BYKO)
Coming off a year where he had the best player in the league and made a championship, the second-year captain returnee was gifted the No. 7 pick this year (fair with where he is rated as a 2), and chose Chase Sandler, who truly has become a top three-four hitter in the league the last few years and proved he could play shortstop last year. The entire world knew who he would pick at three, reuniting with his butt buddy, ex-commish and A+ draft live streamer (big upgrade over last year), JoeMo to lock down the middle outfield. 

Byko then took a gift from a captain who didn’t read the draft sheets, as he was gifted Dinapoli (somehow not the most one-sided trade of the day), meaning he would not need Mark Cyclops Karp in the 13th this year. Leonardi was taken in the fifth, who weaped a little because he will unfortunately now be subject to the stories Byko-JoeMo tell about their elementary school sleepovers in the outfield. 

Byko reunited with his boy Abramson in the sixth, new guy Costa in the seventh, and El Gary Szcemzak in the 8th to build some depth in the middle of the order. Rounding out the draft would be Kurt Schmidt, the Steinberg combo, solid INF in Neiderman and a 6-replacement turned 13 (good job board) Bongiovanni. 

When I look at all 18 drafts, there are some great teams (Wallman, Pings, LaRocca), some really bad ones (I won’t name them), some average ones and then some where I really don’t know what to think. This is one of them where I can see them being 14-8 or 8-14. Lots of unproven guys after the top four. But Byko is one of the managers I trust to figure it out, so we will put them at 12-10. I do think DiNapoli can be a very solid pitcher in this league, that was a steal for the captain that saved him a pick later on but probably hurt his infield depth a little. 

The other place I can see this team struggling is there is zero, and i mean zero, power after Sandler. Who protects him in the lineup? Lots of really good singles hitters, but not much pop. Will be a storyline to watch as the season develops.

Predicted record: 12-10

Grades for:

Hitting: B-

Defense: B+

Speed: B+

Pitching: B-

Potential Award Winners:

MVP/Offensive Player of the Year: Sandler

Most Improved: Kurt Schmidt

 

FRADKIN LAW (PINGARO)
He is going to hate me for telling this story but who doesn’t hate me? So here it goes… It’s around 12:10 on Sunday morning, the draft is done. Pat Pingaro, who preps more than almost anyone, has his GUY Tom Carroll one after pulling off a trade, has the Gorilla fall to him at two, a great Caputo pick (who seem like Pingaro guys) 3-6, and has Shwag fall to him in the 5th or 6th (I can’t remember where the pick actually was). This man, who is known for never smiling or being content about anything, in the passenger seat of LaRocca’s car, looks at me in the parking lot and does a HAPPY DANCE!! The guy was giddy!!

I would be too if I had the draft he had. Everyone in the world knew Patty Pings wanted TC again at 1 and pulled off the blockbuster trade of the draft to get him, sacrificing some spots in the draft order in the 2nd & 6th as well as trading his 4s for 5s. Few would’ve believed you if you told Pings that the big man Ed Fradkin would be sitting there with a smile on his face at the end of the board table at the end of the second round. Boom, there is your pitcher and your protection for TC. Captains will be putting their normal LCF in RF against this team. Pat needed an italian in the third so took the Caputo pick, which will lock up the middle infield with TC and give Pings his LCF. Welcome to the league, welcome to Friday practices boys!

That pick also gives Pings some versatility with McDermott, who will have a bounce back year this season, you heard it here first. Schwag is another big bat and good left fielder (one of the most underrated players in the league. Nicky Laps at first with Pat, Jacoby in the OF and this is a Pingaro team if I’ve ever seen one. Just hope there’s no fights between Pat & Ed throughout the season. 

 

If you ask me for a flaw, the bottom is a little weak, but overall this team should be near the top of the league and compete for a championship come October. Hopefully they don’t get field choice… 

Predicted Record: 15-7

Grades for…

Hitting: A-

Defense: B

Speed: C+

Pitching: B

Potential Award Winners:

MVP: TC

Offensive Player of the Year: Fradkin

Rookie of the Year: Caputo (i don’t remember which one is which)

Most Improved: McDermott

Manager of the Year: Pings

 

TUSCANY (Polzer)
In this draft where there is a dropoff in talent after pick 12/13, pick nine is a perfect place to be. You are guaranteed one of the league’s best and still get a good 2 pick. Where Polzer was in the draft after it shook out, his pick of the OFs were there for him with all the SS’ gone, who would he take… Marty, Santa or the Turanos? He took the 4x (i think?) reigning defensive outfielder of the year and 1 on last year’s 19-3 team Mr. Blackburn. 

Now, I think Polzer, who for the first time wisely stayed away from a certain draft table (just look at what happened to Klechinsky), thought he also got Steve and the penalty to the end of the third round because with his second pick he picked a guy that should go where the penalty pick would be, Mr. Hempstead. I hope he does it for entertainment because Polzer has one of these picks every year where he leaves the room shaking their heads and boy… he did not wait long this year! 

So Marty, Hemp, Polz, where do we go from here? Actually, with some really solid picks in this author's opinion! (Probably because Polzer’s phone turned on and realized the number that had texted him 270 times was Marty). Love the Catania 4 pick, guy is turning into an incredibly solid player with a great bat and will play a competent short. The Manochio’s are one of the best combos of the draft (especially if they even hit a lick better than last year… which won’t be hard to do). BEASTon is gonna be a hell of a player in this league. 4 or 5 type bat in the 7th round. Hold me closer Tiny Danser a good OF pick in the eighth round, Toran a good 10 pick if not for the bourbon alone, and Tepper can become a good bat at 11. Want to give a shoutout to Jerry Tilker who hopefully can play in this league forever. Everything you want in a league veteran. 

I assume the defensive alignment for this squad will look like this… 

P: Polz. 1B: Toran. 2B: Manoch. SS: Catania. 3B: Hemp. LF: Danser. LCF: Marty. RCF: Manoch. RF: Easton.

Very strong outfield, the infield will obviously come down to how good Catania can be at shortstop. I do worry about this team’s offense though. But with one of the best pitchers in the league they shouldn’t need too many runs. It’s great for Polzer to have a 1 that will get the guys into it and work with them as much as his, that is worth 2-3 wins alone.

Predicted record: 11-11

Grades for:

Hitting: C+

Defense: B

Speed: B

Pitching: A

Potential Award Winners:

Defensive Outfielder of the Year: Blackburn

Cy Young: Dave Polzer

Charlie Hustle: Brett Easton 

Most Improved: Tepper

 

RED OAK (Rosenstock)
For the past two years I have had the ability to review Stock’s draft and have criticized him for not drafting the key positions of SS and LCF within the 1st three picks.  Here, with Stock poised to get Martino as his one, there would be no way I could make this criticism again . . . or could I?

A peletonian looking Tino was obviously taken in the first round and while he does have very good offensive numbers, it was important that he be paired up with a strong bat to maximize this selection.  In selecting 2023 ROY Ronnie Pacheco as his 2, Stock correctly matched up a strong bat with his shortstop.  Considering he had a “wrap around” pick, he was poised to get a star outfielder at three.  But Stock doesn’t think like most other captains and rather than drafting for defense, he went for offense in the 3rd,  taking Yutko and pairing him once again with his guy Pacheco.  This formula worked well for him last year and, quite frankly, if other captains picked smarter, Yutko should not have even been there at three for him.  Now the wait.  Would Stock have to give Yutko a shot in LC (not the riskiest play as Mark has very good speed and athleticism to match his boyish good looks and top level bat), or would a defensive gem fall to him late 4.  As “luck” would have it, Stock was able to select 2023 Defensive Outfielder nominee Colorocco with his 4th pick, giving him a stalwart in LC and allowing him to put Yutko virtually anywhere.  Lambo in the fifth was too good to pass on, teaming up this returning champ with his SS, and selecting a pitcher who has a very good bat gives him a VERY solid group of five with: the Defensive Infielder winner; R.O.Y. winner; R.O.Y. nominee; Defensive Outfielder nominee; and, Championship Pitcher.  Who is this evil genius? 

Sandwiched between Stock & Stock he takes the Mendelson pick at seven who provides a solid bat (will need some additional time to get used to the clincher) and stellar defense at 1st or 2nd base.   Having spent time in the Fall Developmental league, we expect big things from Mendy, big things.

 At nine he gets Rabinowitz who is a solid outfielder with a streaky good stick.  Thompson at 10 is perhaps the most athletic person in the round who has played with Stock in the past.  Keenan at 11 is part of the Lambo combo and provides very good lefty speed late in the draft.   At 12 Stock was ready to bring on the good times, selecting Joe Lee who is expected to do the Cowboy Cha Cha behind the dish and at 1st base part time.  Finally, he goes back to the well at 13 taking his guy Sal Sicurella.  I have not seen Sal recently, but the commish told me he saw him and he has apparently been on the Martino exercise regimen and looks to be in even better shape than he got in last year.  Kudos Sal!

BEST DRAFT PICK – Martino.  Boring.  Yadda yadda yadda, championship.  Yadda yadda yadda, triple plays.  Yadda yadda yadda, best shortstop.

OFFENSE: B+ - 1st three picks are on the leader board all year.  Colorocco showed that his hitting is catching up with his defense (will playing MVP hurt or help him?).   Stocks – spread the ball around and still have some good pop.   Will they score as many runs as the 2023 team?  Probably not.  But with a greatly improved defense, it isn’t likely they will need to.

DEFENSE:  B - Having Tino, Lambo and Colorocco gives you a very good defense. Lambo holds down the middle and Yutko will likely nail down 3rd base. 

SPEED: B - No real speed demon, although they do have some fast guys to match up with the lumbering Stock brothers.

RECORD: Stock is in a pretty balanced division and has a team with a good defense, good offense and decent speed.  Tino has an amazing knowledge of the game and of the league.  This team will content to win their division.

POST SEASON AWARDS:

DEFENSIVE OUTFIELDER: COLOROCCO

DEFENSIVE INFIELDER: MARTINO

BATTING TITLE: PACHECO/YUTKO

 

CK BASEBALL (Kleschinsky)
There must have been a sigh of relief when the fate of the ping pong balls determined Mike Jr. would go as the second to last pick in the first round. Mike Jr. would be a front runner for rookie of the year had he not exceeded the minimum number of plate appearances last year. Mike Jr. Is so good that once he joined Team Ferrarese, a lot of us actually entertained the thought they’d avoid the play- in game. With an early 2, Kleschinsky had to decide whether to go with another stud OF, a top tier pitcher, or sure up the always crucial shortstop position. In what was a mild surprise to this writer, Kleschinsky went with Brayant Aponte. There were times last year where Aponte played like the most dominant player in the league. However, there were also times when Matt had to text Brayant, “¿Vas a llegar a tiempo?” or “El juego comienza a las 9:00, no a las 9:30”. I like the Magariello and Ferro picks to sure up their defense. The concern up to this point in the draft is what happens to the offense if Taco is having an off day at the plate. Enter Mr. Nice Guy, and in my opinions, Most Improved Player, Taco. Taco is on the shortlist of players I’m excited to see what they’ll accomplish this year. Would anyone be surprised if Taco bats over .500 with 6+ HRs? Grabbing Billy and Mark Karp  in late rounds is a nice way to wrap up the draft. A lot will be riding on the top of the lineup to produce, and if Aponte or Mike Jr. are having off days then I think they’ll struggle to win games. Still, the first-time captain should have a competitive team with some upside if Aponte shows more consistency and Taco takes another huge leap offensively. Let’s just hope Aponte isn’t gambling on Marlboro Softball games and blames it on Taco.

Prediction:
11-11

Grades:

Hitting: B+

Defense: A-

Speed: A

Pitching: B+


Possible Award Winners:

Best Defensive Outfielder- Mike Kleschinsky Jr.

 

EB CONSTRUCTION (Wallman)
As competitive as this league is, I couldn’t help but feel the pain Todd felt as he pulled out the 18 ball at the pre-draft party.  All accounts for this draft had a rough go for captains picking in that spot.  That said, this is Marlboro Softball and you can always expect the unexpected. While Todd “expected” Lugos to likely fall to him, he did not expect Fausak and Tony to be selected Round 1, allowing A-baller Hill to drop to him in the 18th spot. 

Picking Hill and Fred as his first two picks does more for this team than anyone in the league can imagine.  Two extremely experienced softball players that have played at very high levels gives Todd, already a master strategist, perhaps the highest softball IQ in the league.  This theme carried through to his entire draft and will prove to be the reason (plus the Perrone acquisition) this writer picks Team Wallman as the team to beat in 2024.

Another pick falls to TW with DHARP (LCF Defensive Player of the Year Candidate) as the last 3, giving Todd a formidable SS, LCF and P after three.  This is very hard to do at 18.  But not so fast, with the first pick of the 4th round Todd selects hero big brother Eric Becker to take the bump.  With the IQ level taking a big hit with this schnozz selection, Todd gets Beja as the last five and a better version of Beja (Friedman) as the first 6.  Two guys that can play solid corner outfield (or 2nd base) with bats that I expect to be over .500 easy.  Todd as the last 7 continues the other theme of this draft in him obtaining great value in every selection.   While the Beja/Friedman/Wallman trio would have put fear in the hearts of men in the 90’s, their IQ, skill level and grit still make these old men very attractive at 5,6,7.

PERRONE IN THE EIGHTH – DO I EVEN NEED TO ELABORATE.

The Harlty pick as the last nine is once again a value pick.  The guy’s tryout was impressive at third and at the plate and he will prove to be a great asset to Team Wallman.  Gio in the 10th to back up 3rd and probably get innings at first is once again valuable.  Kenny Feingold in the 11th can be added to the above trio to form the Grumpy Old Men Quartet of solid outfielders.  Jesse at 12 provides some speed that this team is missing and his occasional big bat gives Todd value at 12.  Finally, drafting perennial utility man Cliff Fox in the 13th gives TW a team that really has no “bottom.”

BEST DRAFT PICK – Perrone.  While the trade made sense to Mike K and was similarly offered to at least three other captains, this gift gives Todd speed, athleticism, a leadoff hitter and a great team mate with tremendous value.

WORST DRAFT PICK – NONE.  When you actually look at this draft you can see that each and every person drafted could have easily gone at least one round sooner than they did.  I have said for years that the way you win championships is to get value in the draft.  Usually, that value comes in the way of drafting a rookie with tremendous upside (see Santaromita, 2021).  Here, the upside comes from a tremendous captain waiting patiently for value picks to come to him and having the confidence to put together a team from what resulted.

OFFENSE: A -   Fred won the batting title last year hitting over .700.  While that is not easy, he is certainly a perennial .650 hitter.  Hill, as I said during his tryout, will hit .650 in this league and once he gets used to the F12, can challenge for the BA record.  There are solid hitters up and down this lineup that will move runners causing a lot of grief for other teams.

DEFENSE:  B+ - Flexible.  Lugos plays left on this team.  Harper and Perrone can play middle outfield and dominate.  The right fielder can be any combination of TW, Beja and Friedman (don’t forget Feingold).  They have the ability to rest the corner outfielders with very little, if any, defensive drop.  The fact that Harper can play SS also provides flexibility and when your 13 can start at 1B, you know you have something very special.

SPEED: C - Besides Harper, Perrone and Jesse, the only time the word speed can be used for this team is if it is followed with the phrase “for an old guy”.   However, while the team does lack “speed” per se, these players are ballplayers who know how to run the bases and do NOT require runners. 

RECORD: Another team from the East but I view this squad as the cream of the crop in 2024.  This team will win between 13 and 16 games and challenge Pingaro for the overall 1 seed heading into the playoffs.

POST SEASON AWARDS:

CAPTAIN OF THE YEAR: TODD

R.O.Y: HILL

BIGGEST NOSE: BECKER

MOST IMPROVED: HARPER.  Kids, what you have seen offensively from DHarp thus far is not what this man is about.  He has the skill and ability to hit over .500 with double digit doubles and I think that happens this year.

While I have repeatedly said that you don’t win a jacket at the draft, this team is poised to be special and Todd should be proud of what he put together.

 

LHRGC (LaRocca)
Preseason prediction 18-4

After the numbers were drawn and Frank drew what was basically the number 2 pick overall, seemingly the best possible spot in this draft, many felt it was interesting how that happens once his BFF RC becomes commish and his pet gorilla becomes the most powerful board member alive, moving on..... 

With 2 overall everyone knew Filthy Phil Saglietto, would be returning to the manager where he last won back-to-back championships.  Frank then waited as stud pick after pick fell to him including a run of Villani bros, Corde, rookie Mahoney, and the Silverberg trio 2-3-4-5-6-7-8, damn!  That lineup is gonna be tough to pitch to folks.  With increased games on Union Hill they have a chance to set the record for most HRs as a team. The outfield D of Villani-Corde and Silver bros is solid, Sags at SS, Mahoney 3B, Patty Swags at 2nd and Frank the Tank on the mound.  Frank's pitching will be in question every Sunday as Phil tries to give him the quick hook.  However, after this team scores 10 in the first inning the stress level should remain quite low.  The only way this team loses before the Finals is if they beat themselves. They have the infrastructure, management, and most importantly a ton of fuggggggin talent.  Even in the Division of Doom, they stand tall above the rest. Clearly the preseason favorite to win in it all...

Hitting: A+

Defense: B+

Speed: B

Pitching: C or A+

MVP: Sags

Off Player: Sags

Most Improved: Mike Villani

Rookie of Year: Mahoney

Manager of Year: LaRocca

 

 

GAME CHANGER (Kessler)
Preseason Prediction 9-13

Benny Kess must be the luckiest SOB alive drawing what was basically the number 1 overall pick back-to-back years.  Amazing!  

Mike Caputo was his selection at 1-1 and is probably the most talented player in the league.  Makes sense.  HOWEVA (Stephen A Smith style), at 2, Ben then selected the DeLuise brothers.  A rather perplexing decision to say the least considering Andy (round 7) is already one of the better pitchers in the league.  In case you were unaware, ya boy Greg showed up to his first draft absolutely hammered and probably clears up why he agreed to play LF all year.   Why not take a proven outfielder with that pick instead of making Greg play out of position all year?!?  I know Greg can hit but I think other bats that could actually play OF would've been a better fit.  Time will tell... At 3 Ben took his favorite Joey Parg to presumably play LCF coming in with his dad AP (round 6).  Joey is in line for a big step up from last year where he got to play RCF next to the best OF in the league in Marty.  We'll see if he and Greg can be anywhere in the same universe...not optimistic about that one.  Levine 4 is about where he went last year and makes the OF on this team Greg, Joey P, Joel Podos (round 10!) and Levine/Ben in right.  The infield looks like Caputo SS, Nicky Gnocchi/GCohen 2B, Adelsberg 3B.  This defensive lineup seems average on paper outside Pootz.  The 6-7-8 of AP and the Kesslers (thanks board!) leaves a bit to be desired based upon the talent surrounding those picks in their rounds.  Sorry fellas.  Even if Caputo plays at the MVP level he's capable of, based upon the average defensive unit and low amount of offensive threats in the lineup, I think it will be a struggle for this team on most Sundays.

Hitting: C

Defense: B-

Speed: A

Pitching: B+

Offensive Player: Mike Caputo

Defensive Infielder: Mike Caputo

Most Improved: Nick DeLuise

Most times ejected: Ben Kessler

 

TRITON (Conti)
Preseason Prediction 9-13

Conti, knowing he would be slotted somewhere near the back end of the draft seemed to be in excellent shape based upon who would be available to him in the first 4 rounds...

With his 2nd round pick Mike selected his trusty Allen brother combo pick (2/6).  Great start.  Billy might be a top 5 bat in the league, he's hard to get out!  Round 3, Mike then prevented Wallman from scooping the Rosenthal combo 4/5 and took them as his 3/4. A heroic move.  This needless to say will be the pick that makes or break this squad.  I was expecting Conti to draft a big bat 3 and then Perrone 4, but Mikey shook it up!  Will it work?  I dunno folks.  Valentin 5 is the best pick Mike made on Sunday morning, a versatile player in the field who actually brings something at the dish.  He went back to the well on Cano round 7 and Frometa 8 should be a nice bargain. Drapkin is back to pitch round 9 with a defense behind him that looks like: Mike at SS, RAllen 2B, ERose 3B, LF BAllen, LCF Rosenthal RCF Valentin and RF Cano, that's not bad!  Does this team have enough hitting though?  Mike’s 3/4 were Juska and Perrone last year, if the Rosnethal brothers fill that void they'll be ok, but I'm a tad skeptical.  I think this team has a worse record than Mike's team in the regular season last year but would not be a team I would want to face come playoff time...

Hitting: C+

Defense: A

Speed: C-

Pitching: B+

Off Player: Billy Allen

ROY: Cory Rosenthal

Most "What are we doings?!?": Mike Conti

Engage PEO (Apple)
The rumors traveling down Gordon’s Corner Road this offseason was that Apple was not going to draft his dear friend Ed Fradkin in the first round, to which everyone thought, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. Fast forward to the pre-draft bar night. Apple reaches into the pile of ping-pong balls and draws the number 4 pick in the draft, which would solidify the validity of those rumors. This was the golden ticket, an opportunity to build your team around an elite shortstop, you can’t go wrong. Who would possibly want to give that up?? Answer: Brian Applebaum. Now of course, it goes without saying that Apple knows what he’s doing as he has a few championships under his belt. Would this work out for him? Let’s find out.

Fast forward to the draft and Apple with a pair of unripped jeans (yes you read that right) means business. Long hours of deliberation and deal making lead to a pre-determined trade before the draft between Apple, Pingaro and Drashinsky. Pingaro and Apple swapped picks, with Pingaro forgoing his 4th round pick to Apple and giving him an extra pick in the 5th round. He then further traded back with Drashinsky to bring himself all the way down to 13. All of those moves lead Apple to get his guy, Eddie Fausak. Eddie has proven to be not only one of the most loved guys in the league, but also a damn good left-center fielder who can patrol and command the outfield for this Apple squad. He then went with another MMS sophomore, Pete K. Coming off a championship season, he has proven he can lock down the outfield as well as a big bat to bring some power to this lineup. Rookie Fazio at 3, who played in the fall league and looked smooth as can be at shortstop. A nice addition to the league! Veterans Joraskie and Steinberg were the 4’s. Both ageless wonders who can lock down their positions and can hit .500 as easily as making a cup of coffee. Fazzino, while locking down 3rd base, will also be changing his Facebook profile picture to a different apple each month, I believe he will start with Honeycrisp! Pezzulo in the 7th adds some nice offense as well as a well packed cooler. Is this team ever going to draft their pitcher?? (JK – It’s Pezz). Back to the action! Curti rounds out the outfield and Marc Persily coming off a monster 2023 is another offensive powerhouse. And lastly, the team is rounded out by some of the nicest guys in the league with Lenny, A Fazz and Tommy.

Regardless of what people may be saying, Apple got his guys, and he drafted a good team. How many championships have you won? Can guarantee for many of you it’s less than Apple. The writer worries about this team’s depth, and if they are missing players, it could be an issue. If the bats come alive and Pezz throws strikes, they will be in decent shape.

Predicted Record: 10-12

Hitting: B+

Defense: B

Speed: C+

Pitching: B

Potential Award Winners: ROY – Fazio; Defensive Outfielder: Fausak, Most Improved: Curti

 

Princeton (Bomenblit)
Being a captain has its pros and cons. Being a top shortstop in the league, AND a captain, has additional pros and cons. The pro is that you are a top shortstop in league and do not have to worry about drafting one. The con is that you are unfortunately slotted as one of the top picks, hoping that you randomly draw the lowest slot to maximize your draft potential. Unfortunately for our pal Eric, he drew the worst possible pick, 1. And with the new draft spot selection process, it was put on the stage for the world to see. Lots of questions were raised for Bomenblit coming into the draft. Would Cy Young nominee Joey be their pitcher? Would they bring the band back together drafting Frank at 3 and Clamp at 4? Would he show up to the draft on time? Read more to find out!

Draft day comes, and to answer one of the questions above, Eric was not on time to the draft. But then again, he did not have a pick until the beginning of the third round because himself and Richie were slotted at 1,2, so cut the guy some slack! The third round commences, and Bomenblit drafts stud pitcher AJ Ortiz. AJ is a world class pitcher who will have the Bomenblit bros to back him up the middle and adds a nice lefty force to the lineup. While it is no doubt a great pick, it just makes you wonder why Joey would not want to pitch after doing so well last year.  Especially since it was going to be tough to get a LCF in the later rounds. The secret is out on Coloracco and he is off the board to Rosenstock. So, at 4/5, Eric drafts BDR and Frank Loconte/Cowboy combo. Rick (on top of being the absolute best human on the planet) adds another lefty force and solid first baseman to round out the infield. But wait, they already have a pitcher, so I guess you’re putting Cowboy in the outfield?? Only time will tell. Eric then drafts another first baseman in Mark Z at 7. While no doubt he has big bat, you can only have so many first basemen on one team! It will be interesting to see how he positions this squad. Podolla and Thomas round out the outfield at 8/9 and Doc Balar and Frey’s round out the Bomenblit draft for this year.

Bomenblit will have to get very creative with the defensive positioning. Hoping this works out for the squad this year and everyone stays healthy.

Predicted Record: 9-13

Hitting: B
Defense: B
Speed: C
Pitching: A+
Potential Award Winners: Cy Young: Ortiz; Charlie Hustle: Bobby Frey

Monmouth Gymnastics (Marrone)
“What is Glen Marrone thinking??” That is the question that all captains had going into the draft (or just life in general). I will say that Glen looked a little more relieved heading into the draft room this year as he would have his future son-in-law Tornetta locked into the squad this year. Still, lots of question marks for Glen in the 15 slot. How would things shake out for the crafty lefty?

No stranger to taking a chance on rookies at one, Glen selected Mike Martorano. By his tryouts and performance in the rookie showcase game, this guy looks like a stud in the making. Smooth as butter in the outfield and hitting line drive after line drive. He will lock down left center for the Marrone squad and their plum uniforms. Probably the most predictable pick for Glen (maybe even the whole draft) was taking Noel Santiago at 2 as his SS. Or will he play SS? At 3, Glen drafted another rookie, Itrell Young. A tournament player who showed he can play both the infield and the outfield. Of course, there is an adjustment from yellow ball to the clincher, but Itrell will figure it out. This gives Glen some nice flexibility. Tornetta at 4 will round out the outfield. He has some big shoes to fill this year. On top of marrying Glen’s daughter, he will also need to command the outfield and guide the rookies in the right direction. Is he up for the task? Only time will tell. Dave “I will not pitch” Clamp at 5 adds a nice bat and rookie Maguire at 6 is a nice pick. He seems to have a smooth lefty swing and can play 3rd or OF in a pinch. Seems like he will be a great addition to the league. Welcome back Mike Ballo at 8, who adds another powerful bat and a nice target at 1st base. Veteran Swiss Army knife Krant at 9 is a great dude and will add another element of versatility to the team. Glen rounded out the draft with his lifer’s: Arnold and the highly desired Randell/Weitsen pick.

Even after the draft, there are still a lot of questions about this team. If the rookies pan out, I think this team can be very dangerous. Will Glen steer them on the right track? Let’s see……

Predicted Record: 11-11

Hitting: B
Defense: B+
Speed: B+
Pitching: B

Potential Award Winners: ROY: Martorano, Young; Sportsmanship: Maguire

 

618 (Goldfarb)
Another year removed from the 2-20 debacle and Guy Goldfarb shows up to the draft with a small piece of loose leafed paper and a pencil, ready to tackle perhaps the craziest draft of the decade.  He looked calm, cool and collected, apparently (or allegedly) already deciding on the Turano pick as he assumed his seat ready to go.  Then, like a shark circling his prey, Matt Pollock approaches him and Guy (sweating now) quickly reaches for his Farb-phone consulting with Alex on what looked like a trade-up offer from Team Pollock.

The draft starts, nothing is said, and Guy picks Santigreat as his one in this short stop stingy draft.  I thought Guy was a Chase fan, but how can you go wrong picking GATE to manage the middle?  The draft proceeds and remarkably Matt Hill falls to Pollock who now has a choice between the A-Baller and his SS from last year, Aponte.  Pollock calls out “Tony Roegiers” and the whole room is in shock literally all saying “whoaaah” at the same time.  As surprised as the room was, no one was more surprised than TW who quickly selects two established tournament players in Hill and Lugos (more on that later).  Mike K selects Aponte and then Matt announces that he has reached a trade with Goldfarb swapping his 1,2,4 with the Farbians who select Brullo as their 2.  

So the 2024 Farbs start off with the cherub for the third years in a row, hoping for an improvement from their 2nd round playoff advance in 2023 and Brullo, a solid LCF with a powerful lefty bat that will cause nightmares for pitchers at Union Hill.  In the third round they select the GOAT Ronnie Carlin (ouch) who comes with an aging and somehow improving Mark Carlin.  RC is obviously one of the most dominant pitchers in the league and Marc. has proven to be an excellent player at third base.  Klecko in the fourth gives the Farbians five starters that will likely eclipse the .550 BA mark.  Kleek’s best position is third, but he can play a very solid corner outfield position as well.  WARNING: cutoff man needs to be alive after three outs because Klecko has no ability to track outs and will likely fire it in every chance he gets.  Alex at 6 is a gift.  Despite slowly transforming into my body image (half way to Guy’s) Alex can still hold down 2nd base and still play a good OF.  He is excellent at spreading the ball around and should help this lineup by moving runners on the bases.  The Schmidt pick remarkably fell to 7/8 and would have never gotten to the Farbs if the Silverbergs hadn’t fallen in my lap.  Connor is the prototypical big-bopper who has a lot of speed for a big man and plays great defense.  He can play 3rd, 2nd or 1st base if needed.  Zach is a solid corner outfielder who I think is being called upon to play RC.  He certainly has the speed and grit to be successful in RC and this can be a real breakout year for him after his development in the Fall League!!  

Guy originally drafted speedster lefty Arnold at 9, but realized the error of his ways and traded him back to Uncle Glenn McGoo for solid outfielder Navatta.  F.U.D. was drafted as team mascot in the 10th .  Rumor has it that he and Billy Boy Chiusano are starting their own podcast for mascots called “Under the Mask.”  Doug will likely get innings at 1st and RF and provides competent relief in both places.    Ried was finally given some respect and was slotted as an 11.  My opinion is Reid is much better than that slot and will produce very well there. Wally in the 12th is a steal.  He can back-up 3rd, 2nd and 1st effectively and hits the ball very hard.  Guy will be behind the dish again and in his words “it’s better than being under the plate.”

BEST DRAFT PICK (TIE):

Brullo (round two) – despite being a rookie, he has played in the fall and looks more “Marlboro Softball Polished” than the other guys in his class.  His speed and power are impressive. 

Becker (no pick) – passing on the aging used to be in any round is the smart move here unless drafted for a specific purpose.  With RC on the mound, passing on him was the right move.  See TW recap.

OFFENSE B+:  This team will produce.  Top eight guys in the lineup move runners all day with Brullo having raw power and Tony having some pop himself (after he stops breastfeeding we may need to review this issue).  That said, the bottom here are in no way liabilities in a 13 man draft.  They can all hit and have decent speed for their draft spot.

DEFENSE B+: Guy drafted a lot of players that play multiple positions.  He is a little light in the OF unless he uses Alex when short.  The key here is watching Zach step up his game, which I think he will do.

SPEED: Tony – no, Brullo – yes, RC – no, Klecko – yes (for a guy over 235), Mark – no, Alex – no, Connor – yes (See Klecko), Zack - yesssss  (are we seeing a pattern here).  Some speedsters in Brullo and Schmidt (don’t forget F.U.D.’s calves).  Overall B

RECORD: Unfortunately for Guy and everyone else in the EAST division, playing two games in this division is going to cause losses.  That said, I think the Farbians have a nice summer and finish the season with a winning record.

POST SEASON AWARDS:
R.O.Y.: BRULLO
CY YOUNG: CARLIN
MOST IMPROVED: ZACK

 

GODDARD HOME CONSTRUCTION (Goddard)
For the second year in a row, Goddard got to pick 7th in the first round, which is a golden spot. You are guaranteed one of the top shortstops in the league(if you go the SS route) and you can still get a premium outfielder in the second. Last year, Goddard elected to go a different route and take Amato and Fausak. This year, Goddard went the more conventional path and selected Cole Fluta and Joe Peragine. These were absolutely the perfect picks in their spots. Cole must have batted .700 in the second half of last year because despite a slow start, he still finished with a 1.397 OPS. Things got dicey in the third as he selected perennial batting champion contender Nick Dinapoli, but to play what position? For a team needing a pitcher, Nick was a great choice but with brother Jeff toeing the rubber, Goddard needed to trade. Nothing against Robbie Juergens, but Goddard could have held out for a better trade. He traded his third-round pick for a fourth-round pick (18 picks later) while not moving up later in the draft. If Byko goes on to win the championship, that trade will play a big part. Next up for Goddard are Jacobs and Nichols, who are fine players, but have not hit for high averages yet in the league. Goddard then took Brock Hor, who had a nice bounce back year hitting .474. They’re going to need Brock to continue to approach the numbers he put up pre-Covid in order to give this offense the lift they need. Goddard did a nice job filling out his rosters with guys who aren’t easy outs can hold their own in the field like Salerno and Cotter. On the positive side, Cole and Peragine are so great defensively that it alters a hitter’s gameplan at the plate. If Goddard can pitch to his team’s strengths, then it can offset some of their team’s limitations. Overall, I just don’t think Goddard will be able to hit enough to be division contenders, especially in a BRUTAL division that includes arguably four of the top five teams in the league. Somebody in the division is going to have to suffer from playing with those heavyweights twice a season, and unfortunately, I think it’s going to be Goddard

Prediction:
10-12

Hitting: B-
Defense: A-
Speed: B
Pitching: A-
Possible Award Winners:
Defensive Outfielder- Joe Peragine
Defensive Infielder- Cole Fluta

SPS (Meyer) 
The #1 rule when talking to captains the days before a draft: If you hear them throwing out a name they like, take it with a grain of salt, even if they’re your friends. Turns out Meyer was serious though when he took Ryan Amato with his first pick. It’s a solid choice when the top tier shortstops are off the table. A little more surprising is the run of outfielders that followed with Brock-Frank-Saler. No doubt this is one of the most formidable tops of a lineup this side of Frank Larocca’s squad. Brock should be fully healthy, and Saler as a fourth-round pick is a contender for the steal of the draft. I don’t know how nervous the defending champ was going into the 5th round without a SS, but his plan worked out perfectly when Juan Gallardo was available. I wonder what Dave would have done had Gallardo been drafted in the fourth round as some people projected.  With the key defensive positions locked down, Meyer needed a pitcher and selected rookie Defalco in the 9th. If there is one question mark on this squad it’s whether Defalco can step in right away and learn the league well enough to pitch this team to another finals. Otherwise, this is a strong team with great value picks such as Larry Rubin and Mr. Softball himself, Paul O’Connor. It’s heartwarming to see Dave and Paul together again. Just look at those adorable Facebook pics.  With five strong outfielders to play four OF positions, Meyer will have to figure out who gets to move to the infield, but with that minor issue aside, this looks like a very strong club. It is unusual for a championship captain to not draft any repeat players, but Meyer is out to prove he can run it back anyway. 

Prediction: 16-6

Hitting: A

Defense: B+ (A Outfield, B Infield)

Speed: B+

Pitching: B+

Possible Award Winners:

Charlie Hustle: Paul O’Connor

Manager of the year: Dave Meyer

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