[written by Rumours Committee]
The 2019 Season is officially gets underway this Wednesday with the Draft at ISNA. All players are invited to attend the draft party. There are plenty of rumours swirling on team's picks. There are no guarantees this year with a new crop of GMs that will have no hesitation to break up alliances. We conducted the Assistant GM draft this week which gives each GM a top tier player and a co-captain. In this installment, look at each teams strategy going into the first round and their predicted picks. These are all just predictions and based on the committee's viewpoints.
GM: Owais Ansari
AGM: Rehan Ahmad
The Mughals landed the last pick in the AGM round which netted them the top prize of the first overall pick. With their last AGM pick, they snapped up Imran Merchant and found a trade partner in the Ottomans to land Rehan Ahmad. Owais Ansari had to sacrifice some crucial picks in the middle rounds of the draft and it remains to be seen how valuable those picks are. The young GM and SS now pairs himself up with a former teammate and one of the best players in the league. Ansari also holds the first pick and can go a number of different ways. You have the HR champ from last year, playoff MVP, and a lifetime Mughal. We think Ismail Akhter is the right pick here to round out their outfield and give them another power bat in their lineup. Owais can do no wrong between any of those three but the low risk pick is Ismail coming back to the Badshahs.
Predicted First Round Pick: Ismail Akhter
GM: Bilal Javed
AGM: Sameer Rafique
The Abbasids planned on doing this differently but they are starting with the same dynamic duo of last year. Bilal Javed opted to use his AGM pick to snap up former #1 pick Sameer Rafique. Bilal and Sameer played together last year, and now partner up with hopes of changing the fortunes of their old team. The Abbasids have lacked the passion and desire to be a top team, and they will be looking to squash that with this pick. Everyone expects Bilal to take his friend Ahmad 'Crazy' Ammad with this pick. Everyone thought Crazy was going to be his AGM pick but Bilal surprised everyone by going for Sameer. Crazy falls to him in the first round and it's hard to see him pass up on Crazy at #2. That will give the Abbasids three infielders and will be forced to pick outfield the rest of the way. Ahmad Ammad will give them the fire and passion they need but also a power bat to strike fear in pitchers everywhere.
Predicted First Round Pick: Ahmad Ammad
GM: Shamil Khadaroo
AGM: Shahzad Ahmed
The defending champs come back this season looking to repeat with the same squad. A core of Shaheen Limbada, Omer Chaudhry, and Kamil Haider carried the Sultans to the championship. However, the Sultans have probably realized that two of those guys will likely be picked in the first round this year after their stellar performances last year, which makes bringing back the band almost impossible. The Sultans start off with a power tandem of Shamil and Shahzad who both dig the long ball and should give their team atleast 20 plus dingers. They won with the long ball last year so expect them to load up even more. The more pressing need is to fill two holes, SS and CF. Shaz is one of the best at 3B and Shamil is a good LF. They need leaders to command the infield and outfield for them and they will be hoping to get someone that can do that while carrying a heavy bat. The man for the job is former Playoff MVP Shaheen Limbada. If Shaheen is on the board, there is no chance the Sultans pass on him at #3.
Predicted First Round Pick: Shaheen Limbada
GM: Nirvaan Latif
AGM: Osman Buttar
Remember when the Nasrids were bottom dwellers? Over the last two years, no team has been closer to a title. After losing in the finals by 1 run in 2017, to losing in extra innings in the semi-finals in 2018, the Nasrids are knocking on the door of a championship and are hoping this year is the year. They have a solid tandem in Nirvaan and Osman leading the team and are hoping to find that missing piece to get them over the hump. With Nirvy and Buttar, they have an IF-OF tandem so they will be looking for the biggest bat that can help Buttar. Last year they selected Asad Syed in the second round and the rookie had a season to remember. The former AAA ball player has only played softball for one season and finished the season with 6 HRs in 3 playoffs games to double his HR total for the season. He also carries a solid glove to shore up the outfield. The Nasrids might surprise everyone by going with someone else but the upside of Asad is hard to ignore and he is the best pick available for their needs.
Predicted First Round Pick: Asad Syed
GM: Hassan Chaudhry
AGM: Taher Mirza
The Mamluks have been trusted in the custody of Hassan Chaudhry and he wasted no time in bringing back Taher Mirza as his AGM. Taher is a top 10 player every year and has four consecutive gold gloves. The two childhood friends sit in the middle of the draft which is where Hassan wanted to be all along. With two stellar outfielders, it is expected that Hassan or Taher will opt to play shortstop this season to give them more flexibility in the draft. There is a shortage of SS this year and both have plenty of experience at short. With their first pick, we expect the Mamluks will keep it in the family and draft Omer Chaudhry. The Mamluks will be the beneficiaries of getting whatever power bat falls to them and it is expected Omer will be available at #5. Omer is a solid outfielder and brings his Axe bat with him to give the Mamluks the 'umph' they need.
Predicted First Round Pick: Omer Chaudhry
GM: Taha Iqbal
AGM: Imran Merchant
The storied franchise moves on to another chapter but with a new General in town. Taha Iqbal takes over the Ottomans and made a bold trade to begin his tenure. Taha welcomes his brother-in-law Imran Merchant to police the outfield for him which gives them two gold-glove fielders. The Ottomans will have to make a big splash and take some chances with the picks they acquired in the trade to round out their team. With their first pick, they should prioritize defence first and look to snap up a shortstop to solidify their infield. Kamil Haider had a breakout season last year and proved he is one of the elite SS in our league. His bat has always been steady and he as cool as a cucumber. The Ottomans can go in many directions with this pick. The Ottomans pulled a shocker last draft so all bets are off on the #6 pick.
Predicted First Round Pick: Kamil Haider
GM: Umair Sheikh
AGM: Jibran Waqar
The new look Ayyubids are going after a different style of play. Umair Sheikh starts off his GM career with a top prize of Jibran Waqar. A top 3 player every season, Jibran will hold down SS for the Ayyubids while Umair will probably continue his role in LF like last year. That gives the Ayyubids an infielder and an outfielder which give them the option of taking any player they want at this pick. They have lots of options at this pick and no sure fire player that they must take. They can go many different ways but we think they will pick Rizvan Merchant as their utility guy. Riz is a top 15 bat in the league and has shown he has the ability to play anywhere in the field. A former 3B in year 1, Riz has made it clear he prefers not to pitch this year and he really means it this time. Riz gives them the flexibility to move him to the OF, IF, or pitch as a backup. The Ayyubids could be thinking completely differently but hard to see them let Riz fall to the Seljuqs on the swing, especially given the success this trio has had in the past. This is probably the most interesting pick of the first round.
Predicted First Round Pick: Rizvan Merchant
GM: Umair Jabbar
AGM: Omer Dhaduk
The Seljuqs look to rebound after a difficult season in 2018. The young dynamic duo of Umair Jabbar and Omer Dhaduk had fantastic seasons last year but were unable to get their team over the hump. The team lacked consistency and poise to pull out close games. The GM duo have learnt from 2018 and hope to rectify those mistakes. The Seljuqs have the last pick in the first round and first pick in the second round. The negative is they miss out on a top 7 player but the advantage is having back to back picks and getting two top talents to fill any holes. The Seljuqs are set at SS with Dhaduk and in CF with Umair, that gives them the luxury to snap up a pitcher and the best position player available. The best pitcher available in this year's draft happens to be a Jabbar, Ali Jabbar. Many forget Ali bhai is a former champion with a career 0.500 average and 16 HRs. Most importantly for the Seljuqs, he will provide the calming influence and poise to help these young guns reach their potential. This pick makes the most sense for the Seljuqs and expect them to take the best player available with their next pick to fill in their roster.
Predicted First Round Pick: Ali Jabbar
The draft gets under way at 8:30pm on Wednesday. See you then.