With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.
Players Drafted: (1)
- Noah Balta (Richmond)
Unfortunately for the Calder Cannons, 2017 did not go as they hoped, firstly narrowly missing out on finals, but they would have been more disappointed with just the one player drafted this year in tall utility Noah Balta (to Richmond at Pick 25). There was a sense that a number of players were considered unlucky, with Mitch Podhajski, Jake Riccardi and Dylan Landt the next three prospects in line. Brad Bernacki won the club best and fairest and was an ultra-consistent player throughout the TAC Cup season.
On the field the season had a shocking first month and a half, losing the first six games before getting back on track and charging towards finals. The Cannons looked destined to sneak into eighth spot, but in the last two rounds were pipped by Gippsland Power. For a team I thought would be battling for bottom spot, the Cannons were quite competitive throughout the season, particularly after the first six games, so credit to the players, coaches and entire staff.
Along with the aforementioned players, others that showed signs in 2017 were Jesse Firebrace, Aidan Tilley and Jean-Luc Velissaris, but unfortunately Balta was the sole Cannon to land at an AFL club on draft night. But the Cannons should fear not as there are a number of top prospects eligible for 2018, in what should be an exciting year for the club.
Looking ahead to 2018, Calder Cannons have three leading prospects who are likely to have plenty of eyes on them throughout the 2018 season. The top one is Jack Bytel who honestly could have been drafted this year based on his performances. Others who could go high in the draft are Curtis Taylor and Rhylee West, while there are four others who performed strongly in 2017 and could be worth a look, including Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher (son of Dustin).
Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons) 188cm | 79kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (10) 24.5 disposals | 3.5 marks | 5.1 tackles | 5.8 clearances | 47% KE | 67% DE | 50% CP
One of many in the mix to be top 10, but with the strength of the 2018 draft, could be a first rounder and a great value at that. Still a long way out from the draft, but any bottom-ager who can average 24.5 disposals, 5.8 clearances and lay 5.1 tackles per game is something special. He is the one to watch from the Cannons and looking forward to see him continue his great work on the inside.
Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons) 186cm | 74kg | Balanced Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (9) 16.6 disposals | 5 marks | 2.8 tackles | 1.7 clearances | 61% KE | 70% DE | 42% CP
Curtis Taylor is a really solid kick, spreads well and a good size. He did well in his nine games as a bottom-ager and he will be looking to become a key cog in the Cannons midfield next season. He was one that stood out in the opening game of the season against the Eastern Ranges at RAMS Arena so it will be good to see how he develops and will be a potential top 10 pick, some believe he will be the first Cannon picked.
Rhylee West (Calder Cannons) 180cm | 80kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (5) 16.2 disposals | 3.8 marks | 4.6 tackles | 3.6 clearances | 50% KE | 59% DE | 48% CP
A name every Western Bulldogs fan will be keen to keep an eye on. He was a top performer at the National Under 16 Championships last year and managed five games in the TAC Cup when he was not playing school footy, in 2017. He is on the shorter side, but has a ready-made body and is really strong on the inside. Expect him to play a great role and with Bytel and Taylor form a pretty formidable trio.
Others to keep an eye on:
Tye Browning (Calder Cannons) 182cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (16) 12 disposals | 3.9 marks | 2.6 tackles | 0.8 clearances | 2 inside 50s | 59% KE | 62% DE | 37% CP
Jack Evans (Calder Cannons) 186cm | 79kg | Medium Utility
2017 TAC Cup: 9.7 disposals | 2.3 marks | 3.4 tackles | 1 hitout | 1.3 rebounds | 53% KE | 61% DE | 49% CP
Mason Fletcher (Calder Cannons) 197cm | 75kg | Key Position Defender
2017 TAC Cup: (10) 9.3 disposals | 3.1 marks | 1.7 tackles | 3 rebounds | 75% KE | 76% DE | 31% CP
Lachlan Sholl (Calder Cannons) 185cm | 69kg | Balanced Midfielder/General Defender
2017 TAC Cup: (14) 18.4 disposals | 3.6 marks | 2.4 tackles | 1.2 clearances | 1.8 inside 50s | 2.1 rebounds | 58% KE | 64% DE | 43% CP
Calder Cannons did not have the ideal year from a draft perspective with just the one player drafted this year. However there were plenty of good signs throughout the season and their bottom-age players, particularly their top three gems are among the top prospects in the 2018 draft. It would be surprising not see them bounce back up the ladder and play finals and certainly have more drafted next year.