Crow River Valley League All-Decade Team

After selecting the Crow River Valley League All-Decade Team, Chris Dammann came up with the idea that it would fun to do a draft with the 30 player selected. Jeremy Stender, Josh Monahan, and I all agreed it was a good idea, so here are the results of the draft we did that you heard live on the radio this past weekend. With every pick comes an explanation from the person who made the choice on why they selected that player.

No. 1 Pick – Kip Kovar

Tony Kley (Winsted)

When people think of the best pitchers in Minnesota in terms of amatuer baseball, the name Tony Kley comes to mind. Whether it’s his dominating performance during the 2015 state tournament title run with the Plato Bluejays or leading the way in almost every category in the CRVL, Kley was a must watch every time he toed the rubber.

Kley was the 2015 state tournament MVP after carrying the load for the Bluejays. In the tournament alone, he pitched 30 innings in which he allowed just three runs, a 0.90 ERA. He also struck out 36 batters and pitched 21 scoreless innings in the first three games of the state tournament.

Watching Kley pitch was a treat every single time, but he also could do other things. A very underrated infielder, along with a top of the lineup guy makes Kley one of the best ever to play in the CRVL, if not the entire state.

No. 2 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Chris Bullis (Waconia)

Versatility reigns supreme.  Since joining the league in 2011, Bullis has been one of the best outfielders and most-feared hitters in the league.  His ability to hit for power, go the other way with pitches and find gaps makes him my easy pick here.  On top of that, his two-way ability as a shutdown pitcher (more earlier in the decade than now) separated himself from the others.  Few possess more baseball analytics than this guy.

No. 3 Pick – Chris Damman

Joe Kley (Winsted)

The Kley brothers helped to define the decade for the Winsted Wildcats. A force with the bat going back to his earlier days in the league, Joe carried his success to Winona State University and then back to Winsted.  The best word to describe him is dangerous. A triple crown threat every season and the ability to produce when it matters most. Also a very underrated fielder at both second and first base and incredible knowledge of the game.

No. 4 Pick – Josh Monahan

Chris Odegaard (Plato)

Chris has turned into one of the best two way players in the league.  He has led the league in multiple seasons in pitching wins and strikeouts, and was also the ERA leader in 2018.  As dangerous as Chris is when he toes the rubber, he may be more dangerous with the bat. Offensively, Chris has won a batting title in 2019, has tied for the league lead in HR’s in 2015, and led the league in 2019.  He also led the league in runs scored in 2018.  It’s always a joy to watch Chris compete on the field.

No. 5 Pick – Josh Monahan

Matt Odegaard (Plato)

These two picks could easily have been flip flopped, so hopefully some good debate can come from this. Matt has become one of the most feared players by the rest of the league. His offensive production is very impressive.He won the batting title in 2016 and led the league in doubles in 2015 and 2016. He also led the league in RBI in 2016 and 2018. Defensively, Matt is one of the best shortstops I’ve seen in my time around the league.  His baseball IQ has turned him into an incredible defensive player.  He makes tough plays look easy, and he makes impossible looking plays possible.

No. 6 Pick – Chris Damman

Ronnie Olson (Waconia)

The ultimate on base machine but also drives the ball with power to all fields. He could hit anywhere in your lineup and be great at it. As good as he is with the bat, Ronnie is a dominate second baseman. He basically takes away the whole right side of the field and well into the outfield. The absolute best at going back on the ball. One year he only struck out like 3 or 4 times on his way to a batting title.  And hands down the best double play turn not only in the decade, but maybe the history of the league. The definition of smooth.

No. 7 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Pat Tschida (Watertown)

My favorite player in the Crow today.  Just ask him, because I’ve told him that many times and it’s become a running joke between the two of us.  Best leadoff hitter in our league and always creates havoc on the basepaths.  He can rake, too.  Covers more ground in centerfield than I do in the buffet line.  Want more?  Despite the items I’ve listed, he’s become a premier pitcher in a pitching-rich league.

No. 8 Pick – Kip Kovar

Josh Anthony (Green Isle/Watertown/Winsted)

He might have worn more jerseys than anyone on this list, but his production wherever he played was top notch. No matter where he was, Anthony was one of the most versatile and talented players in the CRVL this past decade.

Early on in the decade, Anthony was a top pitcher in the CRVL. While he’s gotten away from eating up innings on the mound, Anthony is still a force at the plate as he continues to put up big numbers.

No. 9 Pick – Kip Kovar

Ryan Grams (Brownton/Glencoe)

If you read any of my stuff about the CRVL or listen to any broadcasts on KGLB, you often hear us say that Brownton is a dangerous team to play against late in the season and in the postseason. Ryan Grams is the reason why.

No matter what kind of season Grams has had leading into the postseason, you know you’re going to get the best from him when it counts. On the mound, in the field, and most certainly at the plate, Grams is the ultimate gamer. He’ll do anything he can to win. He’s one of my favorite players to watch as he knows how to turn things up when it matters most.

No. 10 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Mac Zachow (Green Isle)

After a night at the ballpark, I’ve had ‘just one more’ with him more times than I can count.  His knowledge and understanding of the game is off the charts.  In my opinion, he’s the most accomplished pitcher in the Crow this century….and he did so well into his 40s.  Also a very-feared hitter from the left side who hit with power and average.  Bookended his CRVL career with state titles in 2003 with Green Isle and as a draftee of Plato in 2018.

No. 11 Pick – Chris Dammann

Alex Twenge (Green Isle)

The first time I saw Alex play he was catching for the Irish, and he was damn good at it. I think people forget what a great all-around player he is. Smooth at first base and Hit for power and average. On the pitching side, he was the power arm in the league for the decade. It was a great experience to be in the Crow’s nest at Green Isle when he was pitching and hear the ball buzz at it blew away hitters. Equally effective as a starter or relief, but I think the Irish ability to use him to shorten the game as a lights out reliever was a huge factor for some great Irish teams.

No. 12 Pick – Josh Monahan

Ben Smothers (Waconia)

Another great shortstop that has made the position look easy over the years.  Piling onto Chris’ pick of Ronnie Olson, Ben is the other part of the combo that makes them one of the best at turning two up the middle.  Offensively,  Ben has piled up five years with a batting average between .308 and .340, and has led the league in triples in 2014 and was tied for second in triples in 2013.

No. 13 Pick – Josh Monahan

Andrew Weber (Carver)

This is a player that just seems to be hitting his prime with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. A great centerfielder that covers a ton of ground.  He can run the bases with the best of them, and has been a huge part of the three-straight trips to the state tournament for the Black Sox.  Andrew has seemed to take over the No. 1 spot in the rotation in Carver as he led the league in strikeouts and wins in 2019, and was fifth in ERA.

No. 14 Pick – Chris Dammann

Gregg Kohler (Winsted)

What baseball people call a five tool player, and there aren’t many of those in town ball. Hit for power and average, great speed and hands in the outfield and a great throwing arm.

After a few years it’s easy to forget about Greg because of the huge footprint of the Kley brothers, but over the years you would hear opposing pitchers talk about getting through those guys only to have to get Greg out and what a problem that created. Another really dependable clutch player for the Wildcats, always seemed to rise to the occasion in a stellar career.

No. 15 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Kodey Simon (Waconia)

If you’re seeing a pattern with me, it’s because there is one.  I really like pitchers.  Simon hit the league by storm coming off a stellar collegiate career at Winona State.  If Waconia has played in a big game the last seven years, it’s likely this guy was toeing the rubber.  It doesn’t end there.  When he’s not pitching, he’s usually the captain of the outfield out in center and has been a consistent threat at the plate.

No. 16 Pick – Kip Kovar

Brian Scherschligt (Green Isle)

There’s not many people who’ve had the production over the past decade than Brian Scherschligt. It seems like he always got better with age.

To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Scherschligt hit a soft grounder or get himself out. He’s one of the toughest guys to face on the mound as even his outs seem to come on a frozen rope.

He’s been doing it for a long time and is a fun player to watch. He’s also provided leadership for the Irish over the years, and is one the more overlooked players in the CRVL.

No. 17 Pick – Kip Kovar 

Lucas Herd (Green Isle)

A great player and an even better guy. Lucas Herd and I go way back to playing against each in other high school. He’s the guy you hated to play against and I mean that in the best way.

A true gamer and team guy, Herd can do it all on the baseball field. He can pitch, hit, and play defense with some of the best of them. Since joining the Irish, Herd has been a key player throughout all the success Green Isle has had over the years. Whether it’s a big game or just another regular season game, Herd will make sure he and his teammates are ready for a battle.

No. 18 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Cody Hallahan (GI/Plato/Brownton)

Another great pitcher in a league stacked with them.  Pitched many big games for Green Isle in state tournaments over the years and has also experienced a couple state championships.  One of the best games I ever called involved Cody.  The year was 2014 in a Region 7C state qualifier/elimination game.  Hallahan (Brownton) vs. Tony Kley (Winsted).  The game lasted less than 90 minutes because both were so dominant.  It’s a shame one team had to lose.

No. 19 Pick – Chris Damman

Zach Herd (Green Isle)

The best leadoff hitter of the decade. An on base machine with an incredible eye that allowed him to shrink the strike zone and become one of the better batting average guys in the league. Great threat to bunt for a base hit or turn a sac bunt into a base hit. An accomplished base runner. Able to read pitchers and get great jumps to steal bases at will. A rangey outfielder with a good arm. Very effective in both right and center field depending on what the Irish needed him to do. One of the most intense competitors of this whole group.

No. 20 Pick – Josh Monahan

Tyler Lang (Plato)

Year after year over the last decade, Tyler has been one of the most consistent power hitters in the league.  He’s led the league in home runs in 2012 and 2018.  He’s finished in the top five in home runs in 2011, 2014 and 2016.  He’s qualified for batting average over the last 10 seasons with a decade average of .305. Tyler has been a consistent piece in the potent Plato lineup and has delivered consistently when teams have avoided pitching to the Odegaard brothers.

No. 21 Pick – Josh Monahan

Isaac Hormann (Young America)

Isaac is a guy that has surprised me that he’s already been a key part of the Young America Cardinals for five seasons.  He’s a very talented player that is one of the best when it comes to versatility.  He’s just really good at everything he does.  He led the league in ERA in 2017 with a 0.92 ERA.  He’s averaged a .318 batting average over the last 4 seasons and I really think Ike is player that is just scratching the surface.  He’s one of the younger guys to make this list with so much more to come.

No. 22 Pick – Chris Dammann

Brad Daak (Brownton)

Another outfielders with all the tools. The first part of the decade saw Brad be a perennial MVP candidate. Power with the bat, great arm and great speed even in the later part of his career. It was interesting how much he impacted the Bruins when he returned after being away from the game.  The kind of player who will run through a wall to catch a fly ball or leg out an hit.

No. 23 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Adam Prehn (Plato)

Before a significant elbow injury last season, Adam had become one of the elite pitchers in the league.  And while sometimes his efforts on the mound have been overshadowed by another dominant teammate in Chris Odegaard, the Bluejays know his value.  At the 2017 Region 7C Tournament we saw Adam record a perfect game against Waconia, that I dubbed on the air as ‘Plato Perfection’.  ‘Prehn’s Perfection’ was staring me directly in the eye and I wiffed.

No. 24 Pick – Kip Kovar

Josh Kraby (Green Isle/Glencoe)

In a league filled with great pitchers that often get the spotligh, the catcher position is one that gets overlooked at times. It’s hard to find a better one over the past decade than Josh Kraby.

Watching a catcher might not be the most exciting part of a baseball game, but Kraby is one of the best. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Kraby make impressive plays throwing out runners or tracking down a foul ball. He’s truly one of the best in the CRVL.

Kraby is no slouch at the plate either. In the past decade, he’s had seven seasons with an average of .320 or better. He’s had big seasons for the Irish over the years and has been a key piece of their success over the past decade.

No. 25 Pick – Kip Kovar

Jared Duske (Watertown)

While doing some research for putting this team together there were some big suprises for me. One of the biggest one was how good Watertown’s Jared Duske has been over the past decade.

At the palte, and even on the mound ealier in the decade, Duske was a perennial top players in the CRVL. He’s grown into a leadership role over the years for the Red Devils and is one of those guys who just loves being around the ballpark. His play over the past decade proves that as he continues to produce every season.

No. 26 Pick – Jeremy Stender

Brandon Stender (Young America)

I drafted a strong stable of pitchers so I figure it’s only fitting I give them an elite receiver behind the plate.  Dubbed ‘The Captain’ by his teammates years ago, Brandon has been both the steady and calming force of the Cardinals for over two decades.  While his production has dropped some the last few years, his dependability hasn’t.  He’s still one of the toughest outs, the first to the park every day and the ‘face’ of the Cardinals.  He’s a pretty good friend/cousin, too.

No. 27 Pick – Chris Dammann

Clint Aretz (Hamburg)

It was interesting to go back through the numbers and see how impactful Clint has been in his career. He made the scene with a big splash for Young America and then returned to the league with The Hamburg Hawks and spearheaded a state tournament run. Always seems to be among the league leaders in one statistic or another but what really stands out is his ability, a lot like a Brian Scherschligt, to be able to take portions of a seasons and just put his team on his back. An excellent base runner for a guy of his size and known for the impressive moon shot home runs.

No. 28 Pick – Josh Monahan

Mark Ulrich (Carver)

Mark has ranked in the top five in wins, strikeouts, and ERA in four of the last five seasons.  Was a huge part in pitching Carver to the 2017 state tournament, their first appearance since 1983.  He’s been very solid and has won some huge games for the Black Sox in his career.

No. 29 Pick – Josh Monahan

Dylan McCormick (GI/Brownton/Plato)

No matter what uniform Dylan was wearing, the team had success and he was always an important piece of the puzzle.  He ranks in the top three in wins and strikeouts in three of the last five seasons, and also led the league in strikeouts in 2016.  In 2018, he mainly played third Base for the Plato Bluejays as they went on to win the state championship.  Dylan is a workhorse on the mound and always gives his team a chance to win when on the bump.

No. 30 Pick – Chris Damman

Jon Werner (YA/Brownton)

Everybody has players that are their favorite to watch play, and Jonny is one of mine.  Dangerous left handed hitter, another one of those guys that can get hot and carry a team for periods. The classic left handed swing and gifted fielder who has played shortstop, third, and second equally well. He is one of those guys you want to get to the park early to watch infield practice. Very smooth with a little bit of flash and swagger in his game. But the best part about Jon is that he competes as hard as anyone I have ever seen.

Manager of The Decade – Adam Dammann (Plato Bluejays) 

Jeremy Stender – Plato has enjoyed the kind of success few teams can claim with six state tournament appearances in seven years and a couple state titles, to boot.  Dammann is also one of the lead men from a club standpoint, leading the charge for fundraising efforts and handling offseason league duties.  The word on the street is that 2020 would be the final year for him leading the Bluejays.  Maybe one more announcer to add to the KGLB team?  He might need to get permission first, though. Plato has enjoyed the kind of success few teams can claim with six state tournament appearances in seven years and a couple state titles, to boot.  Dammann is also one of the lead men from a club standpoint, leading the charge for fundraising efforts and handling offseason league duties.  The word on the street is that 2020 would be the final year for him leading the Bluejays.

Assistant Manager of The Decade – Doug Schuette (Brownton)

Jeremy Stender – The 2016 state amateur baseball hall of fame inductee has spent over four decades being involved with the Bruins.  Over the last 10 years, he’s led Brownton to multiple state tournament appearances (including their first tournament win since 1967) and steady league consistency.  In that time, Brownton has also hosted a state and region 7 tournament.  If you take a drive through Brownton just about any night during the summer, you’ll likely find Doug doing some kind of work at Barney Tadsen Field.

Assistant Manager of The Decade – Brian Tichy (Carver)

Jeremy Stender – Since assuming managerial duties in 2011, Tichy has turned around the Black Sox program.  They appeared in five Region 7C tournaments in eight years, including the state tournament each of the last three years.  Prior to their state tournament appearance in 2017, the Black Sox hadn’t qualified for a state berth since 1983.  He was also an instrumental piece behind the Black Sox being the host of the 2019 Region 7C tournament at Woody Swanson Field in Carver.

For a full photo gallery of the CRVL All-Decade Team, Click Here.

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