Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NL South Divisional Preview

Huntington Thundering Herd

Key Players Added: Added 1B Dante Thompson and 2B Rich Perry to solidify the offense. C Stephen Wynn provides depth at that position. P Roger Karnuth and J.J. Burns bring a groundball mentality to the middle of the rotation. Added via trade, P Eddie Bellhorn and Vinny Shigetoshi for depth in the middle innings, P Buster Gordon to compete for the 5th spot in the rotation and 1B Wilson Borbon to provide pop off the bench.

Key Players Lost: P Terry Simmons, SS Cristobal Delgado, CF Joshua Becker, and OF Rob Allen via trades.

Key Transactions: P David Cox and Daniel Mullins arbitration signings.

Rookies: Rule 5 draftee UT Marty Wayne will shore up the defense in the late innings while 1B/PH Wilson Borbon looks to provide an added dimension to late inning pinch hit situations. Rule 5 draftee P Darren Capra and fellow rookie P Eddie Bellhorn should solidify the middle innings.

Outlook: After a 4th straight losing season, ownership said enough is enough and opened up the purse strings. 12 players are going to be playing their first season as a member of the Thundering Herd and failure to finish first in the NL South will be looked upon as a failure.

Texas Mustangs

Key Players Added: The future is here...this season sees the promotion of future superstar 1B Adam Seneca and P Michael Shumpert, two of the most high impact promotions in the entire league. Once settled in, Seneca should crank out 35 HRs and 100+ RBIs for the foreseeable future and Shumpert will go straight to the top of the rotation. Vladimir Polonia was signed via free agency to add another quality starter to the rotation.

Key Players Lost: 1B Darrin Williams' option was declined to make room for Seneca and P Shawn King was released for the Polonia signing.

Key Transactions: P Vladimir Polonia signing. Jerry Jackson, Arthur Patel, Bernie Hornsby and Ned French were all resigned in arbitration.

Rookies: In addition to Seneca and Shumpert, Houston Hart was promoted to the CF spot to save some cash. He is just keeping the seat warm for another top prospect, Felix Bernero, who should arrive with the big club in the next season or so.

Outlook: The Mustangs have been quietly adding wins over the past three seasons and last season finished in a tie for second place with Huntington . While every team in the league can make a claim to improving their team, no one else in the NL South has added the quality that Texas has while keeping their payroll the lowest in the NL. With several more stars on the way and plenty of salary room to add free agents in the future, the arrow for the Mustangs points up, way up.

Austin Longhorns

Key Players Added: No major additions. The new owner will use this first season to evaluate what we have and what we need, and perhaps be more active next offseason.

Key Losses: 3B Francisco Sierra

Key Transactions: SP Jose Javier, LF Graham Wilson and 3B Kaz Woo as Arbitration Signings

Rookies: SS Jacob Belle, 3B Victor McDowell, 2B Bump Sheets, RF Tim Lawton . Most will provide support off the bench

Outlook: Coming off of three straight division titles, but new ownership has arrived. They are feeling things out right now, but will these open the door for someone else to take the division crown?

Memphis Tigers

Key Players Added: Acquired C Willie Baez via trade to provide a more consistent bat. While health might be a concern he figures to mix in a few spot starts at first while upgrading the defense at the catcher position. Signed P Mac Douglas through free agency to provide additional relief against right-handers out of the bullpen.

Key Players Lost: SS Kurt Patrick to free agency, P Del Barnes via declined option, P Pedro Ramirez via trade.

Key Transactions: 2B Dan Russell arbitration, RF Marshall Antonelli and P Gaylord Bonds contract extension.

Rookies: Rookie Paul Richard is slated to get the nod in LF and should provide a lively bat in the lineup. Also, Thomas Bowen looks to get a shot at the starting SS position due to Patrick’s departure even though his defensive skills have yet to peak. Rule draftee P Brady Duncan should deepen the middle relief while receiving an occasional spot start, if not winning the #5 SP spot outright. International signee Harry Piedra looks to start the season in AAA, but could find himself quickly back on the big ball club.

Outlook: A disastrous year last season saw the Tigers finish dead last in hitting with virtually zero run support. While not being active in the off-season, the Tigers are hanging their hat on rookie Paul Richard to provide a spark, all the while hoping Dan Russell and new multi-millionaire Marshall Antonelli step up to the plate and have break-out years. With a relative young pitching staff and no true ace, the Tigers will need a more productive offensive year, or MH could find himself selling parking spaces.

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