2, 2017 (Federal League Wire Service)
Here's how the editors of South Florida Baseball Report
see the races shaping up:
1. Tri-Cities Tritons
place, won league championship)
having won three consecutive championships, are clearly
established as the league's preeminent team.
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.
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.
It has become
hard to doubt them, so, at minimum, they will be expected to reach
the Championship Final Series again.
Lefty Jose Marcano will start the new
campaign as a holdout for the second consecutive season.
place, lost in semi-finals)
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
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.
Depth, particularly with respect to
the mound staff, is a major issue heading into opening day,
Goliaths have enough talent on their roster to contend, but
they start the season with more questions than answers.
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.
Last Season: 29-11
(2nd place, lost in Play-in Round)
Teo Zorrilla built a team to
win championships now, but, somehow, that failed to materialize
last season as they skidded early in the playoffs.
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.
Although Mario Ledesma and Rafael Lara form
a solid duo at the top of the rotation, the rest of the pitching
staff is thin.
The Stars may
take a small step back this season, unless the can upgrade the
mound corps as the season progresses.
The Stars remain hopeful that they can lure
former staff ace/manager Matt Leban out of retirement.
12-28 (4th place)
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.
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.
Team defense, particularly in the infield,
was a major Achilles heal last season. The bullpen is a major
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.
Long time stalwart catcher, Phil Laufman,
abruptly retired late last season, perhaps as a political protest.
1. Sunrise Sunsets
(1st place, lost in Championship Final Seies)
Twilighters stormed through the opposition during the regular
season, only to succumb to mounting injuries in the Championship
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any pitching staff that can send
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.
Team speed is virtually absent.
Infield defense can be an issue.
The Cubs have
just enough pitching and power to advance in the standings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Place, lost in semi-finals)
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.
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.
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.
If they hit
like they are capable and get any consistency from their
pitching staff, they have a chance to challenge for a
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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