I have been a member of the Illowa APBA League for over thirty years. I manage a team called the Chicago Champions. The Zealot manages the Twin Cities Thunderchickens, DonS manages the Molly Putts Marauders, Captain Will manages the Three Rivers Gamblers, and CLuke manages the Northside Hitmen. Captain Will & his Gamblers defeated the Zealot in the Playoffs and Teddy Ballgame (me) in the World Series. Congrats go out to him & his team! Original franchises will soon be playing their 5,000th game. The IAL is a ten team draft league, in which retiring players are replaced by rookies. We held our rookie draft this past weekend, this is my review.

1) RISING BAMM-BEANOS: Hanley Ramirez SS – Ramirez was the NL ROY. As a rookie Hanley showed he could run, hit, and hit for power. He showed flashes in the field and has the ability to develop into a top notch SS.

2) MOLINE UPPERDECKERS: Justin Verlander P – Justin was the AL ROY. Verlander was a solid member of the Tigers rotation that got Detroit into the World Series. His fastball has been clocked in the high 90’s, he has a good yacker.

3) GREEN ROCK BOMBERS: Francisco Liriano P – Everybody knows this kid is the best lefty to come around in years. But his arm fell off late in the year, and now his future is up in the air. Still, it’s never wrong to gamble on this much talent.

4) GREEN ROCK BOMBERS: Joel Zumaya P* – 100+ MPH fastball, not just once, but time after time. Fastball hitters can’t catch up with this guy’s heater, even when they know it’s coming. Fun to watch him throw.

5) NORTHSIDE HITMEN: Delmon Young OF – A good talent on a terrible team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have no direction. Young was called up following a 50 game suspension for throwing his bat, and hitting an umpire with it. Delmon is a big man, with all the tools, and an everyday job in RF. He is the younger brother of Dmitri Young, let’s hope he doesn’t screw it up like his big brother did.

6) CHICAGO HIGHLANDERS: Howie Kendrick 2B – Howie is a hitter! There were four secondbasemen in the draft, was hoping he’d fall to me, thought there was a chance because there weren’t that many teams with a 2B need. However, good hitters are ALWAYS in need. This pick reminds me of when Rob drafted Beltre & Tejada, GREAT PICK!

7) THREE RIVERS GAMBLERS: Jonathan Papelbon P* – A 0.92 ERA out of the box, are you kidding me?!?! Papelbon was as dominating as a closer could be, then was shut down late in the year by Boston. Not sure his conversion to a starter will be a success, but he should lead the Gamblers back to the World Series again this year.

8) STATE STREET SLUGGERS: Jered Weaver P – Was 11-2, with a 2.56 ERA for the Halos, but has biceps tendinitis. Could be ripe for a sophomore jinx, but will be a solid one-two punch to go along with Webb for the Sluggers.

9) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Matt Cain P – Other than Delmon, this was the guy I wanted. Todd Helton once said, “One day I’ll tell my grandchildren I batted against Matt Cain”. This kid was the 2nd best starter in the draft behind Verlander, IMHO.

10) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Nick Markakis OF – Markakis can do it all, hit hit for power, and field. Someday he’ll win a batting title, and hit over 30 homers. Nick the Greek is good!

11) RISING BAMM-BEANOS: Russell Martin C – Russell is a take charge guy, that has taken over behind the plate. He will be the captain of the Dodgers, who’ll be playing for a Dodger fan.

12) MOLINE UPPERDECKERS: Jonathan Broxton P* – Broxton fits the mold of an Upperdecker relief pitcher. He is a big kid, who throws hard.

13) MOLLY PUTTS MARAUDERS: Ryan Zimmerman 3B – Zimmerman & Markakis were the 2nd & 3rd best players in this year’s draft, behind Young. Ryan is a Gold Glove thirdbaseman who can rake. He also has high moral character, as he takes care of his mother who has MS.

14) GREEN ROCK BOMBERS: Chris Duncan OF – It took this guy a while to make it in the bigs, yet he has a good card & plays for St. Louis, which was good enough for Papa Bunch to draft him. Will he be the next Rick Ankiel, Heity Cruz, or Yadier Molina to be drafted by the Bombers. Needs a map in the outfield.

15) NORTHSIDE HITMEN: Cole Hamels P – Just because he’s lefty and pitches for Philadelphia does not make him Steve Carlton. While he struckout alot of batters, he doesn’t possess an overpowering fastball. Broke his hand in a brawl, wonder whether he has the makeup to make it.

16) CHICAGO HIGHLANDERS: Josh Johnson P – This 6’7″ 240 pound righthander is a horse. A strained muscle shut him down as a rookie, now an irritated ulnar nerve will force him to miss the 1st two months of his second season. His future looks shaky, but he is a B.

17) THREE RIVERS GAMBLERS: Kenji Johjima C – BUY AMERICAN! This Japanese import is solid behind the plate, and can really hit, his age makes him less of a bargain, still he looks to plug a hole at catcher.

18) STATE STREET SLUGGERS: Anibal Sanchez P – Missed two full seasons in the minors with arm injuries. Yet he fired a no-hitter as a rookie, and put up solid numbers in his first big league season. Will be good, if he can stay healthy.

19) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Josh Barfield 2B – Can you say panic? There were four rookie secondbasemen in the draft, with very little need, yet when Kendrick got picked, I jumped in and took this guy. Josh had an impressive rookie year with the glove and the bat in SD, and should be better with the Indians. It was kind of a mystery as to why he didn’t play everyday last year in the playoffs for the Padres.

20) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Stephen Drew SS – Drew is the cornerstone at SS for Arizona. Looks to be the shortstop of the future for the T*Chix, unless family resemblance kicks in. Stephen can field, hit, and hit for power.

21) RISING BAMM-BEANOS: Jeremy Sowers P – Originally John took Jeremy Hermida, then switched to Jeremy Sowers after the draft. Did Brandeberry know he didn’t have to take another Jeremy with this pick? Sowers is a soft throwing lefthander, which seems to be what the Bamm-Beanos like in their starters: Moyer, Duke, Lowry, Mulder. Jeremy needs good control to be successful, challenges hitters with heat when he gets two strikes.

22) MOLINE UPPERDECKERS: Carlos Quentin OF – Quentin is another member of Arizona’s resurgence. Carlos will be in RF everyday for the Diamondbacks. He is a big guy, who can hit for power, and is okay in the field.

23) MOLLY PUTTS MARAUDERS: Adam Wainwright P* – Wainwright pitched setup for the Redbirds all year, and then closed in the World Series. He will be switched over to the rotation this season. It’s a wonder Papa Bunch didn’t take him.

24) THREE RIVERS GAMBLERS: Prince Fielder 1B – With the Big Hurt getting a little long in the tooth, the Gamblers selected Big Daddy’s son as his heir apparent. Along with Ryan Howard, this kid will be the big power at firstbase for years to come.

25) CHICAGO HIGHLANDERS: Cla Meredith P* – This side-arming righthander will be the closer du jour for the Highlanders. Rob got him a little later than he got Armando Benitez, Jorge Julio, & Rafael Soriano.

26) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Scott Olsen P – Olsen is a power lefty with a good strikeout pitch. Scott is durable and should be a solid starter for years to come, although the number of innings thrown at a young age remains a concern.

27) STATE STREET SLUGGERS: Takashi Saito P* – Saito busted onto the American baseball scene from Japan and took over the closer’s job for the Dodgers. He will be a good complement for Chris Ray with State Street. Reminds me of when Nick had Kaz Sasaki in the pen.

28) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Boof Bonser P – How could you not like a guy with the name Boof? Bonser will be the number two man for Minnesota this year. He seemed to get better as his rookie season went along.

29) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Pat Neshek P* – Neshek is nasty when he drops down and bores in on righthanded hitters. Pat was dominant in limited time as a rookie with the Twins, showed good competitive juices.

30) MOLLY PUTTS MARAUDERS: Chuck James P – This lefty flew under my radar. Just like DonS said about Broxton flying under his radar. I had no thoughts Chuck James would get drafted. That being said, that doesn’t mean this soft-throwing lefty won’t be a good one with Atlanta and Molly Potts.

31) NORTHSIDE HITMEN: Brandon League P* – Brandon is a hard-throwing righthanded setup man for Toronto who achieved a grade of A*Z as a rookie. He should help the Hitmen this year, but not sure of his future, as he’s a Pisces.

32) CHICAGO HIGHLANDERS: Lastings Milledge OF – I never thought this guy would get drafted either, but it makes more sense, the more you think about it. He’s gotten into trouble, sometimes he doesn’t appear ready to play, but has loads of talent, plus he’s young. He was the youngest player in the draft, he can only get older.

33) STATE STREET SLUGGERS: Andre Ethier OF – Ethier has a good bat and a good eye. He is a decent outfielder. Although Andre will never be a star, he will be a solid outfielder in the IAL.

34) STATE STREET SLUGGERS: Dan Uggla 2B – Dan Uggla broke Joe Gordon’s home run record for rookie secondbaseman. I watched this guy all year for the Marlins and was surprised he was rated by APBA as a poor fielder. Now the Sluggers have a secondbaseman, “and his name is DAN UGGLA”.

35) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Taylor Tankersley P* – Tankersley will be the closer for the Marlins and the Champions. Although I kept calling him Travis throughout the draft weekend, I’m glad to have Taylor, even if he is a Pisces. This lefty is just wild enough to be effective, reminds me of Billy Wagner.

36) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Mike Jacobs 1B – Here is another guy I never thought would get drafted, especially by the team that has Phat Albert. Jacobs is a good lefthanded hitting firstbaseman, what you see is, what you get.

37) MOLLY PUTTS MARAUDERS: Rich Harden P – This was a great pick when DonS drafted him the first time, it’s an even better one now. Harden has looked overpowering in Spring Training. The A’s need him to step up, and it seems like when Oakland needs somebody to step forward, they do. When healthy, he has #1 stuff!

38) NORTHSIDE HITMEN: Jon Rauch P* – Now that CLuke has mastered baseball, he’s looking to basketball. Seriously, the Hitmen needed a body out of the pen to deal some innings, and Jon is the man.

39) CHICAGO HIGHLANDERS: Ian Snell P – This kid is the real deal! Loads of talent, plus a real steal for the Highlanders. Snell throws the hell out of the baseball and never backs down. Ian is the kind of competitor who rises to the challenge.

40) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Shane Victorino OF – Sometimes it isn’t a good idea to go to Spring Training. I never even thought of Victorino, until I saw him play this Spring. He is a little line-drive hitting outfielder. This smurf is terrific in the field! Needs to hit .340 to be a starter in this league.

41) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Rich Hill P – Talk about Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde! When this little girl was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad, she was terrific. No, that’s another story. Hill started off bad, was sent down, came back dressed as Sandy Koufax. No matter what, he’s a C this year.

42) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Mike Capps P* – Everyday Andy was out there all the time for the Buccos as a rookie, might be the closer this year. He’s not afraid to throw strikes.

43) TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: Ruddy Lugo P* – Saw him last year in the Rays camp and was not impressed. Just good enough to be bad, kind of like Tampa Bay, not a fan.

44) CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: Matt Kemp OF – This guy could be the next Jermaine Dye. Kemp is a big kid, who can fly, hit for power, but needs to be more selective at the dish. All he needs is a chance. Third Matt taken in this year’s draft by the Champs.


A+ MOLINE UPPERDECKERS: Verlander is the best pitcher in the draft. Broxton was the best relief pitcher left when he was taken. Quentin is a 30+ homer guy, who’ll hit .280 on a regular basis.

A STATE STREET SLUGGERS: If Weaver follows in the footsteps of his brother, that doesn’t bode well, but he’ll be an A this year. If Sanchez‘ arm problems are a thing of the past, then State Street got a real bargain, if not he’s still a B. Saito is a veteran from Japan, who showed the Dodgers what he was capable of doing as a rookie. Ethier can hit, walk, & is okay in the field, will produce as a rookie for the Sluggers. And his name is Dan Uggla!, can hit for power, and bang hot bartenders in Pittsburgh, All Star as a rook.

B+ MOLLY PUTTS MARAUDERS: Zimmerman is just what the doctor ordered for a team with Lowell at 3B, great pick! Wainwright has nerves of steel and ability to match. Don’t know anything about James, but DonS believes in Atlanta, don’t know how much longer the Braves will remain on his “draft from” list. Harden was the real deal when he was picked the first time, remains that way today, ready to be healthy.

B- RISING BAMM-BEANOS: Ramirez filled a need, but Verlander would have been a better choice. Martin is going to be a star catcher, but Zimmerman would have been a better choice along with Ramirez, or Drew if Verlander was taken with the 1st pick. Sowers is a soft-throwing lefthander with good stuff, but Billingsley could be a #1 starter for the Dodgers.

B THREE RIVERS GAMBLERS: Papelbon is a GREAT closer for one year, it’ll be a bonus if he makes it as a starter. A little old for a rookie, but Johjima will fit the bill for the Gamblers behind the plate. A really big man plays 1B for Three Rivers, an even bigger man in Fielder waits in the wings.

C+ TWIN CITIES THUNDERCHICKENS: The Zealot got a real steal when one of the best players in the draft in Markakis was still there with the last pick in the 1st round. SS Drew was another great pick for the T*Chix. Twin Cities made it three in a row when they selected lefthander Olsen. Neshek will be there for the T*Chix in the playoffs, next year would only be a bonus. I was surprised Jacobs got picked, tough break playing behind Pujols, wasted pick. Hill is a Cub, hope Tom enjoys him. Lugo is a Ray, and a bad one, is there any other kind?

C CHICAGO HIGHLANDERS: Kendrick is a line drive machine, who has a batting championship in his future. Johnson & Meredith look to be one year wonders for the Highlanders, out of the rotation & pen, respectively. Milledge is another future selection for Rob, and he’s an Aries, but Willingham would’ve better fit this team’s need. Snell was the 3rd best righthander taken, behind Verlander and Cain.

C- NORTHSIDE HITMEN: Character is the only downside regarding Young. Here is another guy who has had character issues, Hamels also doesn’t throw all that hard, sneaky fast. League is a hard thrower, with control, might be a one year wonder, will help Hitmen this year. I was amazed to see Rauch succeed for Washington out of the pen, I’ll be even more amazed if he does it again.

D+ GREEN ROCK BOMBERS: Liriano was the best lefthander to come along in some time before his arm fell off, will be a great one, if he can come back from his arm injury. Zumaya throws hard and can take over a game out of the bullpen. Duncan has a great hitting card as a rookie, three ones, but one is his outfield rating.

F CHICAGO CHAMPIONS: This Cain kid can deal! Barfield might be good, but was taken way too early. Bonser has a fun name in Boof, but can he pitch?, we’ll see. Originally said Victorino, then got a reprieve when it was the Sluggers turn to pick, was happy to get Tankersley, but should never be too happy to get a Pisces pitcher. Don’t go to Spring Training, cuz you might fall in love with a guy like Victorino, and draft him. Capps looked like a little fat guy when I saw him last year in Pittsburgh, but he just looks that way cuz he’s so heavy, hope overwork doesn’t do him in. This kid Kemp might be the steal of the draft, otherwise he’ll just go away.


1) Ian Kinsler 2B: He is the starting secondbaseman for the Rangers, Texas is a good place to hit, and he hit very well as a rookie (with power, average, & speed). Kinsler is good in the field.

2) Josh Willingham OF: Nicknamed The Hammer for the way this kid can hit the ball. This converted catcher had more homers than any other rookie in the draft. He can help you now and in the future, not much in the field.

3) Chad Billingsley P: A good pitcher, in a good system, pitching in a pitcher’s friendly ballpark, is a good combination. Chad is a big pitcher, ready to show what he can do as a sophomore.

4) Adam Loewen P: Loewen is a very talented Canadian lefthander, who just learned a new way to hold his curveball with amazing results. Leo Mazzone is ready to work his magic on this kid.

5) Conor Jackson 1B: Jackson is part of a good young team out in Arizona. He plays in a very good hitter’s park and will be a big part of the Diamondbacks lineup.

6) Jonathan Sanchez P: This lefthander was force fed into the majors as a rookie. Still when I saw him throw, he looked smooth. Has plenty of talent.

7) Craig Hansen P*: Craig is a highly tauted relief pitcher. He has major league stuff and will be a quality closer. It’s hard to draft a D* relief pitcher when graded relievers are out there, but alot of them are one year wonders, while this guy could develop into another Trevor Hoffman.

8) Jeremy Hermida OF: Plenty of talent, but didn’t seem to care when I watched him. Still if he applies himself, the sky’s the limit.

9) Andy Marte 3B: Was one of the top ranked minor leaguers with the Braves, now has a fulltime gig at the hot corner with the Tribe. The ball jumps off this laid-back youngster’s bat.

10) Anthony Reyes P: Has tremendous poise for a rookie, not much of a fastball, and needs to have pinpoint control to succeed. Yet when he’s on, he’s un-hittable. Being around Chris Carpenter & Dave Duncan won’t hurt him at all.

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4 Responses to “2007 IAL DRAFT REVIEW”

  1. a C-? What gives? You give me credit for Markakis, Drew, and Olsen and a C-? :)

    I admit Lugo was a pick purely for this year and I picked Neshek based on someone else’s advice.

    in retrospect, I should have pick Willingham instead of Jacobs. He would have covered me at 1B.

    Thunderchickens in 08

  2. i REALLY liked the picks of markakis, drew, & olsen!!! i REALLY didn’t like the picks of jacobs, lugo, & neshek!!! hence the c- grade…

  3. TomN,

    Go after Teddy Ballgame as you wish (in fact, I encourage it), but he gave you a better grade than I would have given you.

    I think you picked “Stephen Drew and Six Stiffs.”

    Nick Markakis is Joe Charboneau. Except that Joe could open a beer bottle with his eye socket (a useful skill in the day before twist-offs) and I don’t know if Markakis can do that.

    Disagreement is what makes it fun, right?

  4. ouch, that hurts, Don. :)

    and no love for Rich Hill?

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