Wednesday, May 19, 2010

AL South Divisional Preview


1. Nashville Commodores
2. New Orleans Bayou Bengals
3. Little Rock Razorbacks
4. Jackson Rebels

Off-Season Moves:

Key Players Added: N/A

Key Players Lost: N/A

Key Transactions:

Rookies: J.P. Velazquez, Bert McMillan, Dewey King

Little Rock:

Key Players Added: Added SS Anthony Lombard to fill the void left by Jumbo Jimenez who was traded for SP Red Lofton. Red Lofton immediately becomes the ace of the staff. LF Lewis Hoyt is an improvement in leftfield over Freddy Tatum who was waived and claimed by Charlotte. C Scott Graham will backup starting catcher Sergio Martin and bring experience to the clubhouse. In the bullpen, Willie Sabathia and Nap Hollins join Jerome Leonard and closer Benji Cairo which should make for a strong bullpen.

Key Players Lost: P Al Cortes, P Benito Beltre, OF/IF Stephen Donnels, SS Jumbo Jimenez via trade.

Key Transactions: Acquired LF Lewis Hoyt SP Red Lofton via Trade. Signed SS Anthony Lombard C Scott Graham RP Nap Hollins RP Willie Sabathia via Free Agency.

Rookies: There are 7 players who will be playing their first full season at the ML level. If the 25-man roster is filled as many expect, that number will increase to 9. SP Clyde Jodie will be interesting to watch after having a fantastic Minor league career winning 23 straight decisions before being promoted to the ML club earlier last season. Jodie finished 9-13 last season but hopes to improve upon that after finishing Spring Training 1-0 throwing 7.2 innings allowing only 3 hits and 0 earned runs. SP Cristobal Cruz is a international signing who finished 12-5 last year in his partial time at the ML level, however, his record was overshadowed by a 4.82 ERA. On offense, DH Grant Dickerson should help the offense with in the power department after hitting 30 HR last season at AAA.

Outlook: The Razorbacks are both young and old. They have the veteran leadership of 1B Bubbles Haynes, 2B Lawrence Turner and SP Red Lofton to go along with all the youth. After rebuilding the last 3 seasons, it finally looks like the Razorbacks have a team able to contend in the AL South. It also doesn't hurt that the Florida Gators franchise which has won every AL South division title since league inception lost a few key members of that team during their relocation to Nashville. Looking at the players waiting on the farm including SP Angel Trevino, SS Ebenezer Zimmerman and RP Bill Perez, you might be witnessing the very beginning of a dynasty. It will be very interesting to see how ownership handles the abundant amount of talent on the tip of being called up into ML action.

Nashville: Not Sent in

New Orleans:

Key Players Added: Veteran OF Brady Newman was signed as a free agent late last season, and the left-handed hitter will add some pop in a platoon role.

Key Players Lost: 1B Eddie Sanford via trade late last season, LH relief pitcher Jose Johnson to free agency. RHP prospect Darren Capra was picked up by The Thundering Herd in the Rule 5 draft, but was unlikely to see any ML time in the near future with the Bayou Bengals.

Key Transactions: Arbitration signings of LHP Julio Lira and C Willie Alvarez.

Rookies: Acquired rookie CF James Hernandez from the Wolverines in a trade for veteran 1B Eddie Sanford shortly before the trade deadline last season. Hernandez put up solid numbers in AAA last season, and the 22 year old followed that up with a strong performance during spring training to solidify a spot on the ML roster. Rookie RH starter Francisco Bournigal also made the major league club, displaying a nasty sinker during a solid spring performance, and is slated for the #2 spot in the rotation.

Outlook: The Bayou Bengals have a core group of players who are just reaching their prime and look to compete for a division title this season. They are encouraged by a 13-5 spring training in which they averaged well over 7 runs per game and had consistently solid pitching and defensive performances.

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