MLL Draft Review: Rochester Rattlers

The 2013 MLL Draft was nothing less than out of the ordinary. Big trades, coaching changes, and some questionable draft picks (per the norm). For Rochester, their game plan was to go for role players and prospects rather than starters.

Owner Rob Clark mentioned in an interview with In Lacrosse We Trust’s Marisa Ingemi that, “We did immense research and peeled several “layers” back evaluating talent this year that was available.  I understand that some people have been skeptical of some of our draft picks however we feel we did extremely well and landed most, if not all, of our players we wanted to draft.”

Starting out the Rattlers drafting choices as the first pick of the third round was number 17 overall John Ranagan. John is a big midfielder out of Johns Hopkins, standing at 6’3” and 218 pounds. He tallied 23 points (16G, 7A) last season, putting him fifth on the points list for Hopkins at the end of 2012. Like most players, Ranagan will have to work on the little things to get better, such as shooting, timing and shot placement. A plus to John is that his size will help him a lot in the MLL.

With their second pick of the third round, number 20 overall, Rochester selected Ryan Clarke, a midfielder from Salisbury. With the Rattlers taking Ranagan first, Clarke will have to fight for a spot. He has good up field vision and quick hands. Clarke will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders in 2013, seeing as Bradman, Cannone and Krum are all graduated, which puts Ryan as the number one returning scorer from last year with 64 points (35 G, 29 A). Rochester will be watching Clarke closely during his senior campaign and will want to see him take charge on the field.

Last season, we saw Mike Gabel have a big game before the return of John Galloway. He was imprinted as Galloway’s backup for a while, but Rochester made an interesting move that sent Gabel to Chesapeake. This shocked people after Gabel helped the Rattlers beat Chesapeake early in the season. After Mike was traded, Jason LaShomb took over as Gabel’s replacement. LaShomb saw very little time in one game. With Galloway taking a coaching job with Providence, the Rattlers were forced to find a goalie. In the fourth round, that’s just what they did, picking up Notre Dame Goalie, John Kemp, as the number 25 overall selection. He has shown he is one of the best in D1, making big stops in huge, crucial games. He does the little things right as well, stepping to the ball, communicating with the defense and is quick with outlets. A few things I saw that Kemp will need to work on this year are low shots and reading shooters on the run. He will learn a lot from Galloway and be a great aspect to the Rattlers defense. “We really needed another proven goaltender for depth and we achieved that with the best goaltender in the draft,” said Rob Clark.

Brett Schmidt was next on the Rattlers list. The Mount St. Mary’s attackman was scooped up in the fifth round as the number 38 overall choice. Schmidt has a quick first step and go routine, he recognizes when he needs to make a move to draw a defender. At 6-foot, he has the ability to move the ball quickly and see over defenders when they break down in front of him. Brett was second in scoring for The Mount, with 48 points (29G, 19A) and scored at least one goal in all their games last season.  He will fit into Rob Clark’s “prospect plan” if called upon due to a starters injury. Clark had this to say about Schmidt and Ryan Clarke, “Ryan Clarke is an enormous prospect with huge upside as is Brett Schmidt.” If Schmidt and Clarke perform well, we may see them on the field more.

Duke midfielder, Dave Lawson, joined Rochester with their second pick of the fifth round. The number 40 overall draft choice will have a lot to prove as a senior in 2013 after a disappointing junior year campaign. Last season, the 6’1” 203lb midfielder recorded only 20 points (14G, 6A) but did pick up 30 groundballs. In 2011, Lawson had 32 points (23G, 9A) with 33 groundballs. He had 66 shots overall, 34 were on net and was shooting .348. His offense dwindled last season, scoring twelve less points. Dave took close to the same amount of shots, 62, but only put 28 on goal, knocking his shooting percentage down to .226 for the season. Turnovers went up in 2012, with 17, compared to the 12 he let up in 2011, which isn’t bad, but he will have to become wearier of stick protection going into 2013. Lawson is a big midfielder, which will help if he is on the same line as Ranagan, having two big midfielders is never a problem, especially when both can shoot hard. In an interview during the MLL Draft, Duke’s Head Coach, John Danowski said, “He put a lot of pressure on himself during his junior year, trying to step up from being a sophomore… He’s a terrific athlete… He can shoot with either hand and play defense.” Senior year will be a critical one for Lawson, he’s a hard worker but putting pressure on himself will only make matters worse, he has to go out there and have fun. Just execute the little things and let the big things take care of themselves.

Rochester’s next three picks were focused on defense, two of which were back to back, starting off with their 44th overall pick, Notre Dame defender Matt Miller. The number 44 overall pick is very aware of what his job is, always looking to help out during the slide, heads up about what his next move will be off ball. His weakness is over committing and body positioning. Team defense is Notre Dame’s strength; Miller will have to get better at one on one defense. He scooped up 30 groundballs and caused 18 turnovers last season. Having Miller playing in front of current teammate John Kemp is a bonus for the Rattlers.
The second defensive pick in the trio, coming at the number 45 overall spot in the sixth round, is defensive midfielder Noah Molnar out of Lehigh, which could be a replacement move after trading Roy Lang. He has the ability to be a good d-mid, plays good body positioning and makes it difficult for offensive players to get rid of the ball because he is on their hands constantly. Molnar plays the wing on faceoff’s as well. In 2011, Noah recorded 27 groundballs, 10 points (6G, 4A), 16 turnovers and 14 caused turnovers. This past year, he upped his caused turnovers to 21, lost some groundballs with only 21, lowered his turnovers to 10 and only tallied 2 points (2G, 0A). A positive, he lowered his turnovers, as for negatives, he didn’t get as many groundballs and lost some offensive presence. He’s aggressive, but will have to watch how aggressive he gets. Staying out of the penalty box, working on fighting for groundballs and maybe put some offense in his back pocket are things Molnar will have to work on. The 6’2” 225lb d-mid is built, size wise, for the MLL and will need to work hard if he wants a starting spot.

Lastly, in the 7th round and with the 52 overall pick, the Rattlers acquired Yale defender, Peter Johnson. As a close defender, Johnson has gobbled up 50 groundballs just last season, only gave up 7 turnovers and caused 29. This compared to his 2011 showing of 18 groundballs, 3 caused turnovers and 4 personal turnovers. Peter has improved tremendously since 2011. Of course, at 6’1”, the long armed defender can trail check very well. A few flaws I saw in his game were one on one defending, body positioning and team defense. Long arms are great to have, but with how the MLL players are skill wise, it will only get you so far. It will be interesting to see what Rochester does with this defender.
Attackman Zach Palmer went really late as the 60 overall selection in the final round of the draft. Palmer was the number one point getter for Johns Hopkins last year with 53 points (27G, 26A). This was an improvement from 2011, where Zach recorded 47 points (22G, 25A) and was second behind Chris Boland. Some reasons as to why Palmer went so late may be due to his size, 5’7” and his slowness. In the numbers game, Zach had 26 groundballs, 29 turnovers and 2 caused turnovers in 2011. Last year, he only had 19 groundballs, gave up 40 turnovers and caused 5. Not to take away from his ability to finish, seam passes into the most unimaginable spots and his shot placement, all of which are phenomenal. Rochester had a smaller attackman in Kevin Leveille. He’s 5’10”, but looks tiny compared to MLL defensemen. With Palmer smaller than that, he may be able to put the slip past a defender on the crease. Zach has to work on his speed and stick protection this year and, more so, become a force to reckon with on the field.

With their final selection in the final spot of the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft, the Rochester Rattlers selected Fairfield midfielder Marshall Johnson. Marshall can play wing, take faceoff’s, as well as play both offense and defense. During his time at Fairfield, so far, he has 100 career groundballs, 52 of them coming just last season and has won 124 total faceoff’s. John Orlotani will be the primary faceoff man for the Rat’s this season, so we probably won’t see Marshall at the faceoff x much. He will most likely be used for when someone needs a breather unless something clicks.

Rochester definitely executed their plan of prospects with this draft. These guys will be role players no doubt about it. Clark said that, “We found value, steals throughout the draft.  We went into the draft with a plan and feel we achieved what we were looking to do.” Both Clark and Coach Soudan set the Rattlers season expectations high, not only expecting to make it to the playoffs, but also, the championship game. The Rat’s will travel around this season, heading to Atlanta, Georgia and Tampa Bay, Florida, to check out what the lacrosse world is like in different parts of the United States. Atlanta’s contest will be against the Boston Cannons on Friday, June 7, at 8 p.m in Kennesaw State University Stadium. Chesapeake will be the contenders for the Rattlers season opening game in Tampa Bay on Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in St. Petersburg, Florida at Al Lang Stadium.