Exciting Peter Jackson VFL goalkickers Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons) and Sam Switkowski (Box Hill Hawks) were selected by Melbourne and Fremantle respectively at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft in Sydney on Friday night.
186cm 20-year-old Fritsch became the 12th straight Fothergill-Round Medal winner to have subsequently been drafted when he was taken by Casey’s affiliate the AFL Demons with pick no.31.
He joins other recipients of the honour for the VFL’s most promising young player such as Michael Barlow (who won while at Werribee in 2009), Michael Hibberd (Frankston, 2010), Kane Lambert (Williamstown, 2013), Nic Newman (Frankston, 2014) and last year’s winner Luke Ryan (Coburg) to graduate to the elite level.
2017 was Fritsch’s third season at Casey Fields, with the Coldstream (Eastern FL) product having played only three previous senior VFL games in 2015 before recovering from injury in 2016 to break into the senior line-up this year.
His high leaping and nous around goal caught the eye of many in 2017, booting 42 goals in 19 matches to be Casey’s leading goalkicker while averaging 12 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and five marks per game.
Fritsch was rewarded for his stellar campaign with selection in the VFL Team of the Year, while he also represented the VFL in May’s state game against the WAFL.
178cm 21-year-old Switkowski was selected by the Dockers with pick no.73, backing up his breakout finish to the 2016 season with some eye-catching 2017 performances in between suffering from illness and a range of injuries.
His defensive pressure and goalkicking nous were on show in 12 matches for the Hawks this year, booting 19 goals while averaging 12 disposals at 76 per cent efficiency and four tackles per game.
The St Mary’s (Yarra Junior FL) and Research (Northern FL) product played 27 senior games in three seasons at Box Hill after graduating from the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup, where he won a club best-and-fairest award in 2014.
Switkowski also represented the VFL in May’s State Game against the WAFL.
* CLICK HERE to read vfl.com.au’s Draft Watch profile on Sam Switkowski
VFL players who missed out on selection at the draft will have another chance to be selected to join AFL lists in Monday’s Rookie Draft.