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Trades, Cuts and a Draft Lottery - MLP is a Real Sports League

by JB Jones on

Major League Pickleball was busy lighting off some fireworks over the fourth of July weekend. The league has a supplemental draft rapidly approaching to set teams for the Newport Beach event next month. The 12 teams are making their roster adjustments to make a run for the title in August.

The first two trades in MLP history occurred over the weekend. One sent Maggie Brascia from The Ranchers to the JackRabbits in exchange for Jackie Kawamoto. The other moved Corrine Carr from the Lions to the Mad Drops for Olivia McMillan. These roster moves are an example of MLP teams being run as a business as we have seen in the big 4 sports leagues.

Brascias Reunite on the JackRabbits

Maggie Brascia will join her sister Mary Brascia on the JackRabbits. They were on the latest episode of the PicklePod and stressed how important team chemistry is in the event.

Listen to episode 37 here.

This was prior to the trade being announced but it sounds like a little foreshadowing to the sisters reuniting for the next rendition of MLP. The sister duo sat out for most of the 2022 events but have hit the ground running. Mary went back to back winning singles titles at the APP SoCal Classic and LA Open.

The pair also won silver in a competitive women's doubles field at the USAP Newport Beach Championships. The silver in Newport helps demonstrate that the pairing can compete with the best in the game and will be able to puts wins on the board for the JackRabbits.

JackRabbits Roster

  • Mary Brascia
  • Maggie Brascia
  • AJ Koller
  • Wes Gabrielsen

The Ranchers ReShuffle

The other side of this trade moves Jackie Kawamoto to the Ranchers alongside Anna Bright and DJ Young. The Ranchers made the somewhat surprising move of waiving Austin Gridley. They are electing to enter the supplemental draft to find their 4th player.

It's hard to imagine them finding someone more skilled than Gridley but moves to promote team chemistry seem to be steering these decisions. They might be targeting a player that is Austin based to be able to train with DJ Young on a regular basis. Gridley lives in Utah so these two would not have many opportunities to train together.

The addition of Kawamoto helps solidify the core of the Ranchers. Kawamoto and Bright will be a formidable women's team and will only get better over time. I would expect them to win two if not all three of their games in Newport.

Ranchers Roster

  • Anna Bright
  • Jackie Kawamoto
  • DJ Young
  • TBD

Carr and Stone Together Again

Injuries had a big influence on the first MLP event in 2022. There were 3 drafted players that missed the event and were replaced by subs. This includes Adam Stone who will be rejoining the Mad Drops Pickleball Club. He will have a familiar face on the sideline after the trade moving Corrine Carr to the Mad Drops. Carr and Stone partner together in nearly every event and will likely play together in Newport. After the trade here is what their roster looks like.

  • Adam Stone
  • Corrine Carr
  • Vivienne David
  • Julian Arnold

It's tough to find holes in this lineup and we're sure owner Zubin Mehta will be excited to have another crack at the title.  

The Lions Looking for an Answer

The Lions received Olivia McMillan on the other end of the Carr trade. Like the Ranchers, they did a trade and drop, dropping Bobbi Oshiro. This was another surprising drop but clearly, the Lions want to restructure moving into the Newport Beach event.

I am always a fan of adding a lefty (McMillan) to the lineup. It gives the double forehand in the middle advantage that can be extremely valuable. On McMillan's former team, she played the left side with Vivienne David putting two backhands in the middle of the court. This is very rare in pickleball. We will see if she reverts back to the right side of the court with the Lions or keeps favoring the powerful two-hander in the middle.

ATX Drops Altaf

One of the most electric players in the first event was Altaf Merchant. Merchant is a boisterous player and has something to say after every point. MLP was built for him. He was talking to his team, the other team and fans all at the same time. Merchant's energy and swagger were no doubt a reason the ATX went undefeated in the last regular season.

The ATX Pickleballers have elected to drop Merchant and will hit the draft to find their 4th. Frazier is strong on both the right and left side of the court so their options are open and they can target a pairing with some mixed doubles chemistry. We would not mind seeing Wes Burrows jump in the mix and fire off some forehands. Either way, it will be hard to fill the shoes of the showman Merchant.

The Draft

The MLP Shuffle Draft is set to take place on July 6. The MLP team has created a unique system to determine the draft order. The system combines the finishing position of the team (1-12) and the draft position of the player dropped (1-24) to determine the number of balls in the lottery. This means a team that finished poorly in the first event and dropped a high-level draft pick would have the best chance of picking first in the shuffle draft.

The eligible player pool has been closed and the players available to be drafted can be found here. The list includes Pablo Tellez and Hayden Patriquin who actually filled in as subs in the first event.

Trades can still be made after the draft all the way until July 14. You can find a complete breakdown of the league rules here. The second of three 2022 MLP events is scheduled for August 5-7 at the Tennis and Pickleball Club in Newport Beach.


Another trade has been announced by MLP. This trade will move Michelle Esquivel from Team Clean to Florida Smash in exchange for Maggie Remynse. This is a somewhat curious move for Team Clean considering Esquivel's draft position.

Esquivel joins a strong Florida Smash team and will now partner with Lee Whitwell. These two don't play together in most tournaments but definitely have chemistry. Esquivel is an enthusiastic teammate and will help build on the energy that Whitwell already brings to the table.

The last roster move announced was Eden Lica being dropped by The Bus. It will be interesting to see if he is snatched up in the shuffle draft. He would be a natural fit alongside Andrei Daescu with the Hard Eights but they have elected to keep their original 4 and we will see John Cincola and Daescu aim for a better result in Newport Beach.

It's very surprising to see eight of the twelve teams make changes this offseason. It's clear that everyone wants to win and wants to win now. MLP has the largest payout in pickleball for the winning team. Time to put feelings aside, load up your team the best you can and go get the trophy. The Newport Beach event is in one month. Start the countdown now!

JB Jones

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