And just like that, another draft season flies by…
Thank you to everyone who tuned in on our Instagram Live draft session! We especially thank Riaz Champsi and Imtiyaz Kara for taking on the task of being our commentators for the entirety of the night.
But with the draft concluded, all everyone wants to do is crown the preseason champion…
The Falcons are going to have a LOT of fun this year. The draft was a chance for Ali Merali to turn a new leaf, after departing the Wolves for the first time in three years, and help build another solid franchise with the help of power hitter, Umair Ali.
With a splashing trade for the 1st overall pick, the Falcons didn’t shock a lot of people by selecting the 2018 batting champion, Damien Ramnauth, first overall. His speed and ability to get on base were a major factor in selecting him at #1, and if the team’s top three hitters are Damien and the two captains, it’s a scary lineup.
Pitcher of the Year Hussein Allidina is coming off his best ever seasons and one of the best in JMS history. No one was surprised when he was selected as the 1st pitcher off the board and if he can continue his 2018 form, the Falcons are going to be a team to be reckoned with.
With 9 high-quality outfielders and a 10th, if you include Zane Hussain (a reserve), the team is confusing a lot of pundits. It seems as though Ali Merali and Umair Ali are intending to play the infield together this season. And while both have shown moments of success there, their abilities in the OF are considered elite.
The trade with the Eagles for Mohamed Railey and Hasnainali Walli, plus selecting Hussein Champsi, really does add a tremendous amount of speed and defense to the team. Whatever they are losing in offense by trading Hussain Habib and Hasanain Panju, they hope the swing doctor, Zane Hussain, will be able to fix.
Can Ali Merali and Umair Ali both play infield at a high level? Can Zane fix the bats of Railey and any of the Champsi’s? Can their amazing outfield defense be enough to get more wins this season? And is there more in Mo Mo than just comic relief?
The Owls went into the draft as the BIGGEST wild card – no one could predict where they would go. In the end, there were very few surprises.
Taking Kabir Molu at 3rd overall was a bit of a surprise, as they allowed guys like Abbasali Kermalli and Maysum Jaffer to walk. Molu’s ability to get on base is 2nd in the league in the past two years, so it does look like they did get the best outfielder in the draft at #3.
Muzammil Jaffer landing with the Owls at #12 was another real shock, as most had him off the board much earlier. The Owls have secured the outfield with captain Kumail Meghani likely returning to CF, allowing for rookie Noor Zia to be the quarterback in the infield.
The Owls ended the draft with three players who play at an elite level at 1st base: Kazim Merchant, Imran Merali, and Noor Zia. Noor will likely move over to 3rd or SS; there isn’t a lot of space elsewhere, so a trade might be in the works.
They also have 3 pitchers in Asad Nasser, Mohamed Walli and Hasnain Kara. With only one person able to pitch at a time and nowhere else to put them, this team could be forced to develop players in new positions this year.
Khizer Jamal was taken 17th overall, way ahead of his expected slot… So the question is, what do the Owls know that no one else knew? Can Muzammil Jaffer be the 2017 version of himself and forget about his rough season in 2018? Can Noor Zia live up to the hype of being a top-5 player in a league he just joined?
The Bucks strategically took the 4th overall pick in order to be in the middle of every round. Ali Raza’s familiarity with the league, in his 4th JMS draft, was clear from the get-go.
Getting Maysum Jaffer and Irfahn Khimji with the first two picks looks great, as both were highly regarded and not expected to be available. The outfield looks solid with Maysum and Ali Raza Nasser, and the versatility Irfahn brings, to play OF or IF, gives them the early edge.
Maintaining their ‘moneyball’ philosophy, Ali Raza and Nadim grabbed Aqil Najafi at #18, who was 2nd on his team in OBS in his rookie year. Hisham Ali, the MBHL great, was taken next to continue the infield-outfield balanced draft. Salim Chagani was also picked up late, which should solidify the outfield.
Azad Najfi will be the starting pitcher, but as the 2018 Bucks know too well, a backup pitcher is vital and they don’t have one. There is also no clear 1B on the team, which will be very important for SS Nadim Rahemtulla. Their outfield depth could be used in a trade to get them a highly touted 1B.
If Irfahn Khimji can be serviceable at SS, Nadim could go back to his gold glove position of 3B, which would really solidify the questions in the IF. If Arif Hirji and Aqil can replicate their 2018 seasons, this team will have one of the deepest lineups in the league.
This year’s Tigers are a mix of age and speed; that is exceptional. You are either one of the fastest in the league or you aren’t.
With no doubt about who they wanted in the draft, Vick Vij moved down to the 6th and 7th spots to secure his guys. Taking Bobby Bharwani at #7 was expected, but most of us are surprised that they were able to get the powerful bat of Abbasali Kermalli at #6.
For the 3rd season in a row, Kermalli enters as one of the most powerful late-season bats in the league. A traditionally slow starter, Abbasali will hope to hit the gates running this season and prove his naysayers wrong, especially those who let him fall to 6th overall. Unlike last season where Abbasali was protecting a player, this season, he’s going to need the likes of Bobby, Mahmood Kara, and Vik to protect him and let him be the best player on the team.
Altaf Champsi enters the season as the team’s best hitter behind Vick and is still the best offensive pitcher in the game. The surprising news that Azmat Mehrali has been developing as a pitcher in the offseason means the Tigers have a 1-2 punch that is vital to have in a long season.
Speed is going to be an issue here with a few key bats needing runners. Health will also be important to see as the season goes on, as the double headers and the final playoff tournament, where teams could play 5 games in 2 days, will take its toll.
With no SS, Bobby Bharwani, who won the 2018 Gold Glove at 2nd, will likely have to shift over; with one of the strongest 3B next to him in Abbasali Kermali, he shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting.
What if playing so many seasons with the Hussain brothers finally pays off for Moe Abdalla and he figures it out? Can the team implement a 5-man infield with Mahmood Kara coming in to a more natural IF position? But most importantly, is Abbasali Kermalli ready to be the #1 player on a team?
The culture of the Wolves has always been one that most in the league have looked at in admiration. They build a team of friends and winning is always secondary. Even with the loss of Ali Merali, Imran Virji and Mikael Ratansi are continuing that deep Wolves tradition.
They went into the draft looking to fill the most important position in softball and they did so by selecting shortstop Minhal Jaffer. Minhal enters his third straight season as an offensive threat, but this year he’s expecting to start where he left off last year – on a tear.
Keeping with Wolves tradition, the next few picks were made simply to get the right guys and added to the skill and ability. Aadil Jaffer and Shane Nasser were selected to round up the outfield and infield respectively.
With an outfield manned by the number one CF in the league, it’s easy to fill in the gaps. On this team, guys like Aadil Jaffer, Tanveer Husnani, and Daanish Jaffer, who are all expected to play outfield, have tremendously less pressure on defense.
The biggest questions are in the IF, as the team will likely have to bring in Tanveer Husnani or Nabeel Naqvi to play 1st. However, both of them have done it in the past and can manage it.
Another question is with only one power bat in Minhal, do they have the bats to bring in runs on a consistent basis? Can guys like Nabeel and Abbas Mohamed develop power bats?
The potential for this team to lead the league in OBP is massive. Three straight years of Daanish Jaffer being at the top of the OBP category can’t be a fluke. Imran Virji, Shane Nasser and Mikael Ratansi have OBPs in the top 10 in the league. If guys like Aadil can add their name to that list, this team could have the best bats in the league.
The highly touted rookie, Yasser Malik, was taken with the 8th pick and many were surprised he lasted that long. The rookie is expected to be a gold glove OF this season, really giving the Lions the best outfield. The Lions then took Imtiyaz Kara with the 9th pick in a move for the former gold glove SS that solidifies their infield.
Miqdad’s desire to pitch this season is evident, but who will pitch when he isn’t able to? Does he bring in SS Imtiyaz Kara, exposing a position widely regarded as the most important on a team?
And the biggest question: can Miqdad Jaffer and Imtiyaz Kara play on the same team? We’ve never seen it happen before and while they are both saying all the right things, can two leaders of this magnitude co-exist?
The team might have something in the unknown mystery man of Ranko Cupovic. Can Imtiyaz Kara be his 2017 self and be a SS again? And after a year in Iran, Mohamedabbas Walli has returned and is looking to make a big splash as an everyday 3B with a solid bat.
Both Ali Manek and Asad Hussain acknowledged that the opportunity to play together in JMS will likely not happen again for a very long time. Both are without a championship so the expectations are high, but the opportunities are endless.
The Eagles rounded up the team nicely with speed and offence, but then made a trade which really gives them one of the deepest lineups in the league. The Railey-Walli for Habib-Panju move increases the offence tremendously by adding two .400+ OBPs.
The lack of speed and versatility shouldn’t be a major issue with two of the most dynamic bats in the league playing together. And while watching Ali Manek attempt to play CF this season will be interesting, the Eagles infield is probably the best in the league with multiple options all the way around.
Bringing back Abbas Nasser with former co-captain Shane Worthington, Abbas Mohamedali with his brother-in-law Ali Manek, long-time teammates Abbas Allidina and Hussain Habib, and Hasanain Panju with his son Aamir means that this team will have a ton of chemistry right out of the gate.
The decision to take Shane Worthington 5th overall was initially viewed as a surprise but not really. He was expected to be gone in the first 10 picks regardless, and it was rumoured that he would have gone to the Tigers or Falcons had he remained available past #5. Shane’s selection solidifies the team’s desire to separate Ali and Asad into IF/OF.
There is backlog of 2B on this team. They currently have 7 players who can play above average at 2nd base: Minaz Noormohamed, Shane Worthington, Abbas Nasser, Hasanain Panju, Aamir Ali Panju, Abbas Allidina, and Riaz Champsi. Although a few of them are not expected to get any time at 2B, it’s likely we’ll see one of these guys moved to a team in search of infielders.
Another question is the Ali/Asad relationship. It’s pretty clear that Asad wanted to play with his brother Zane but since that was out of his control, he seems to be molding Ali into Zane 2.0. He’s already forced him into the outfield, he’s the 2nd best player on the team, and he’s even recently forced Ali to duplicate Zane’s haircut.
The selection of Abbas Allidina at 19th has led many to believe the Eagles know something that other didn’t. We’re expecting Abbas to pitch for the Eagles this year, but his bat will be one we are watching to see if he can do better than 2018.
This team’s success will largely fall on their ability to get on base, so a lot of pressure will be on guys maintaining their already high OBPs. Look for a massive impact from Riaz Champsi, Abbas Mohamedali, and turnaround seasons from Abbas Nasser and Shane Worthington.