CIML baseball players survey: Who's the best?

CIML baseball players survey: Who's the best?


CIML baseball players survey: Who's the best?


The CIML is one of the most respected baseball conferences in the state, with six teams ranked in the top 10 by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association.

With the state tournament approaching, the Des Moines Register surveyed CIML teams, asking them to pick the best of the best.

A total of 175 players responded to the survey. A look at the results:

Best fastball

Ben Miller, Valley, 37%

Matt Johnson, Ankeny, 16%

Keaton McKinney, Ank., 9%

Joe Erickson, Dowling Catholic, 9%

Michael Kinning, Johnston, 9%

Analysis: Miller, a junior, is a tall lefty for No. 3 Valley who has been clocked at 89 mph by Perfect Game USA. Miller has struck out 47 hitters in 422/3 innings.

Best breaking ball

Nick Belzer, Ankeny, 27%

Colby Bragdon, Urbandale, 16%

Shane Chafa, Johnston, 12%

Matt Johnson, Ankeny, 12%

Analysis: Belzer, a junior, has an 8-0 record with 1.13 ERA thanks to a good curveball and a hard slider. “They’re both pretty good,” top-ranked Ankeny baseball coach Mark Hey said.

Best base runner

Zach Coppola, Dowling Catholic, 33%

Kyle Carnahan, Marshalltown, 23%

Malique Ziegler, East, 9%

Dalton Sanford, Southeast Polk, 9%

Analysis: Coppola has stolen 18 bases and been caught just once. He leads the No. 6 Maroons with 33 runs scored.

Best defensive infielder

Cody Brenner, Johnston, 25%

Brock Daniels, SE Polk, 21%

Tanner Buenting, Ank, 16%

Nolan Lodden, Valley, 12%

Analysis: Brenner, a Minnesota State-Mankato recruit, has bounced around the field while nursing an arm injury. Brenner has played shortstop, second base, first base, center field and pitcher. He has committed just two errors.

Best outfield arm

Zach Coppola, Dowling Catholic, 48%

Will Gormally, Marshalltown, 20%

Nick Navin, Dowling Catholic, 12%

Joel Lanning, Ankeny, 11%

Analysis: Coppola, a South Dakota State recruit, has been clocked at 92 mph by Perfect Game USA.

Best power hitter

Austin Stephens, Valley, 67%

Matt Johnson, Ankeny, 12%

Zach Little, Southeast Polk, 12%

Analysis: Stephens has blasted a team-high 12 home runs and drove in 45 runs for the Tigers.

Best line-drive hitter

Zach Little, Southeast Polk, 21%

Kyle Carnahan, Marshalltown, 18%

Tanner Buenting, Ankeny, 15%

Nolan Lodden, Valley, 9%

Analysis: Little has a .376 average with four doubles, four triples and eight home runs.

Best five-tool player

Cody Brenner, Johnston, 25%

Nolan Lodden, Valley, 15%

Zach Little, Southeast Polk, 7%

Nick Smith, Indianola, 7%

Analysis: Voted the best defensive infielder, Brenner has also proven to be a lethal threat at the plate, where he’s hitting .323 with 11 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 23 RBIs.

baseball movie

“The Sandlot,” 47%

“Major League,” 11%

“The Rookie,” 9%

“Field of Dreams,” 5%

“Hardball,” 5%

Analysis: Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez tackled The Beast and won over the hearts of the CIML as a star “The Sandlot.”

MLB team

Chicago Cubs, 30%

Minnesota Twins, 21%

St. Louis Cardinals, 21%

New York Yankees, 7%

Analysis: The Chicago Cubs, with one of the worst records in Major League Baseball, are the lovable losers of the CIML.


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