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2017-2018 Fall/Winter Season Forecast 

November 2, 2017 (Federal League Wire Service)

         Here's how the editors of South Florida Baseball Report see the races shaping up:

Expansion Division

1. Tri-Cities Tritons
Mgr: Mike Whittaker 
Last Season: 30-10 (1st place, won league championship)
The Story: The Tritons, having won three consecutive championships, are clearly established as the league's preeminent team.
Strength: The Water Dwellers have developed one of the league's best hitting lineup. MVP Julian Faria, batting champion Zac Miller, former MVP Jay Warman, and all-star Chris Marrero anchor a proficient and prolific offense. A pitching staff built around Calvin Rayburn, John Hardardt, Eric Silverberg, and newcomer Eric Wedoe should be among the loop's best.
Weakness: The infield defense has become rather inconsistent. If the Sons of Poseidon get injured pitcher Matt Arlick back at 100%, there may be no stopping them.
Prognosis: It has become hard to doubt them, so, at minimum, they will be expected to reach the Championship Final Series again.
Writin' Triton: Lefty Jose Marcano will start the new campaign as a holdout for the second consecutive season.

2. Davie Goliaths
Mgr: Anthony DeFilippis 
Last Season: 16-24 (3rd place, lost in semi-finals)
The Story: The Philistines handed the reins back to Anthony DeFilippis after Tony Krahwinkel enlisted in the U.S. Army. DeFilippis is attempting to accomplish a partial rebuild of the team, while still trying to contend. This is always a difficult task, but the G-Men have enough talent on hand to believe this is a course worth pursuing.
Strength: This will be a better than average lineup. Sean Grove, Paul "The Fork" Tunink, and Marcelino Gomez will be joined by lefties Matt Benedetto, Chris Jones, Nick Flesner, and DeFilippis to form the core of the offense. Rookie outfielder Yoel de la Cruz might be a key performer.
Weakness: Depth, particularly with respect to the mound staff, is a major issue heading into opening day,
Prognosis: The Goliaths have enough talent on their roster to contend, but they start the season with more questions than answers.
Goliath Grunts:
Former Goliath outfielder J.P. Lopez sign a contract with a team in the Pecos League, virtually guaranteeing that his new team will lead the league in thrown and broken helmets.

3. Hollywood Stars
Mgr: Teo Zorrilla
Last Season: 29-11 (2nd place, lost in Play-in Round)
The Story: Teo Zorrilla built a team to win championships now, but, somehow, that failed to materialize last season as they skidded early in the playoffs.
Strength: The Stars have a strong and productive lineup led by former MVP Ishy Demoya and all-star Ryan Gordon. Dependable veterans such as Raul Nieto, Lee Gonzalez, and Adrian Giraldo will be joined by promising newcomers like David Czarlinsky, Frank Cruz, Julio Hernandez, and Hector Nieves.
Weakness: Although Mario Ledesma and Rafael Lara form a solid duo at the top of the rotation, the rest of the pitching staff is thin.
Prognosis: The Stars may take a small step back this season, unless the can upgrade the mound corps as the season progresses.
Star Shines: The Stars remain hopeful that they can lure former staff ace/manager Matt Leban out of retirement.

4. Margate Sentries
Mgr: Dave Munguia 
Last Season: 12-28 (4th place)
The Story: The Sentries, perhaps still reeling from the sudden passing of teammate Ray Ubiera last summer, suffered through a difficult season and, as a result, shuffled the roster in hopes of finding a winning combination. 
Strength: Newcomers like top draft picks Andrew Phillips and Dan Heaton give the Gatekeepers one of the league's most improved pitching staffs. The lineup boasts some power with Rob "The Coyote" Wiley, Alex Rodriguez, David Marquez, Drew Davis, and Osvaldo Pirella.
Weakness: Team defense, particularly in the infield, was a major Achilles heal last season. The bullpen is a major question mark.
Prognosis: If the Gatekeeper offense can produce at a high enough level, they may be able to climb in the standings. Unfortunately, the odds are that the offense may not be able to produce enough to off set the potential defensive deficiencies. 
Sentry Posts: Long time stalwart catcher, Phil Laufman, abruptly retired late last season, perhaps as a political protest.


Original Division

1. Sunrise Sunsets
Mgr: Brandon Hull 
Last Season: 31-7 (1st place, lost in Championship Final Seies)
The Story: The Twilighters stormed through the opposition during the regular season, only to succumb to mounting injuries in the Championship Final Series.
Strength: If healthy, the 'Sets will have the best pitching in the league. However, it is a pretty big "if". Free agent signee Tre Dingus will anchor a staff that includes veterans Tommy Tritz, Jason Van Tol, Ted Maceda, newcomer lefty Zach Margules, and the venerable Brant Spring. The lineup packs some power, too. Anthony Garcilazo and Demetrio Green hit the ball farther than anyone, but need to limit their strikeouts. Shortstop Justin Dages established himself as one of the league's best players. Team defense was tops in the loop last season. 
Weakness: There really are no major weaknesses, especially in what has become the weaker of the two divisions, other than an inability to have their players avoid the injury bug.
Prognosis: The Sunsets should pitch well and hit well enough and field well enough to be title contenders again.
Sunset Grillings: 300 game winner Michael Cimilluca retired at the end of last season, and the league renamed the Best Pitcher Award (which he won 11 times in his career) in his honor.

2. Broward Cubs
Mgr: Burke Fox 
Last Season: 13-27 (3rd place, lost in Play-in Round)
The Story: Last season, the Cubs played listless, inconsistent, baseball all season and, as a result, decided to change managers. Fox, who had a rocky two season stint running the Hallandale Twins, replaces Ken Brown at the helm.
Strength: Any pitching staff that can send former Best Pitcher Award winner Chad Volbert to the mound for a regular turn, has, by definition, a strength. There are a ton of arms behind him, including veterans Jesse Wallace, Damian Boyum, and newcomer Spencer Rubin. However, the real key for the Cubs may be their powerful and balanced lineup. Led by veterans Ricky Quintero, Jamie Bobrow, Joseph Paniagua, Taylor Eggleston, and rookie outfielder Nicholas Harguth-Galyas.
Weakness: Team speed is virtually absent. Infield defense can be an issue.
Prognosis: The Cubs have just enough pitching and power to advance in the standings.
Cub Cribs: The Cubs are rumored to be vying to be the first league team to open an overseas academy in the Caribbean. According to a league source, thanks to some underground money, the Cubs are exploring a plan to open an academy on St. Maarten.

3. Hallandale Twins
Mgr: Brent Campbell 
Last Season: 1-39 (4th place)
The Story: Despite a season whose only "highlight" was a record 19 game losing skid, the Twins felt like there enough positive signs to feel like they were making progress. This could be the season that the Twins taste the playoffs. 
Strength: The Twins will have a drastically improved lineup with all-star candidate outfielder Giovann Texiera being joined by rookies like SS Manuel Blanco, C Jhon Cardimo, and youngsters like powerful Elijah Rodriguez and veterans like slugger Jeff "The Pin" Lynch.
Weakness: Despite the acquisition of promising lefty Jerry Ostes, the pitching staff is a cause of consternation. The Twins must also fix their leaky infield defense if they want to reach the post-season.
Prognosis: The Twins have an opportunity to climb in the standing if the pitching staff improves enough to keep them in games. If not, the team may sit out the playoffs again.
Twin Peeks: The Twins broke camp determined to acquire yet another pitcher in a trade.

4. Delray Beach Mudcats
Mgr: Gus Maestrales 
Last Season: 26-12 (2nd Place, lost in semi-finals)
The Story: What started with so much promise, ended abruptly with a late season slump and a semi-final round playoff loss. Despite a roster filled with talent, the 'Cats make have taken a step backward after an unproductive off-season.
Strength: The team should, once again, have sufficient power. Amed Martinez, Peter Maestrales, Cory McEwen, Jamal Thelwell, Lenin Lopez, Nelson Montalvo,and Corey Burke form a stout middle of the lineup. If centerfielder Gary Frady can return to form as a top of the order threat, the offense will be fine.
Weakness: The team's pitching staff lacks depth. Gus Maestrales and McEwen are both innings eaters, but the teams lacks a true ace and there are few established options in the bullpen. 
Prognosis: If they hit like they are capable and get any consistency from their pitching staff, they have a chance to challenge for a post-season berth.
Mudcat Musings: The Mudcats regularly lead the league in players used in a season, so, it should be taken as a given that the roster will undergo many changes as the season progresses.

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