My Take: The NL South went down to the wire last season and it was a battle throughout. Huntington, Memphis, and Texas were all close the whole season. Huntington won the division and took the #2 seed in the playoffs due to Charlotte being in the same division as Syracuse. They were disappointed with their playoff loss and vowed to make changes and boy did they. It seems like they practically turned their whole roster over and has vowed to go farther in the playoffs this season. The big wildcard in this division is the Richmond squad under new management with cmtheime who is one of the top owners in HBD. (he paid me to write that). I’ve tried to figure out how to predict this division and I really have no idea. I can’t wait to see how it plays out. My best guess…I think Texas wins this division behind Adam Seneca’s hitting and Michael Shumpert’s pitching, but Huntington will be right there the whole season and contend for a wild card spot. Richmond will be better, but fall short. Memphis continues to tread water and wait for prospects to develop.
1. Texas Mustangs
2. Hunting Thundering Herd
3. Richmond Spiders
4. Memphis Tigers
Key Losses: Chico Duran (trade)
Key Adds: Jerome Leonard (trade), Darrell Dyer (trade), Norman Borders (FA), Johan Ramsey (FA)
Rookies: Nothing of impact
Overall thoughts: This team has too good of a core with some really nice position players in place to be as bad as they were last season. Some money invested in the bullpen and some better "fill-in" type players acquired though waivers and FA should really turn them around. We'll see how things go but I plan to compete in my division.
Huntington Thundering Herd
Added: C Matty Johnson, C Ted Brock, 1B Michael Maddux, 2B Julian Cortes, 3B Felipe Cedeno, SS Jose Borbon, RF Billy Rivers, RHP Nate Forster, RHP Mel Reed, RHP Frank Tamura, RHP Edgard Melendez, RHP Travis Hermansen
Key Losses: C Victor Infante, C Roberto Puente, 1B Dante Thompson, 2B Rich Perry, RF Jerry Seabol, RHP Javier Sanchez, RHP Peter Ryan, LHP Stuart Anderson
Last season was a solid season for the Herd, unfortunately it was not greatness personified as management was looking for. 12 new players headline this season for the Herd, including 5 new pitchers. While we said goodbye to 2 potential Hall of Famers in Perry and Thompson, the offense was improved overall. There should no longer be any “dead spots” in the lineup which will make this offense even more potent. The addition of Reed gives Huntington something that they haven’t had since season 4…an Ace. The overall improvement of the pitching staff as well as some strengthening of the defense should help the team improve overall. The goal last season was a division championship and the NLCS…goal 1 was accomplished, although Huntington flamed out in the playoffs. It’s the NLCS or bust this season, as management feels like they finally have the right pieces in place and right balance to provide some high-quality, successful baseball to the city of Huntington.
Key Players Added: Esteban Cedeno RP
Key Players Lost: John Rodgers RP
Key Transactions: N/A
Rookies to watch for: Phil Rapp SP
Outlook: During the off-season, Tigers Management attempted to acquire one of the top Free Agent pitchers available, only to lose out on the furious bidding wars. Thus, the Tigers were unable to make any real major signings this off-season. Esteban Cedeno was brought-in in an effort to bring stability as closer to the bullpen, while Jonathan Lieberthal was acquired through the Rule 5 Draft for speed and defense off the bench.
Memphis appears most likely to start the season with virtually the same team as Season 10. The same team that helped Memphis finish one spot up from fourth in the division for the first time in two seasons. These Tigers also remained in playoff contention until a disastrous nine game losing streak ended their season and playoff hopes. But this season, expectations in Tiger Town are modest at best, the likely hood of Memphis contending will hinge on the offense once again carrying the team and outperforming expectations. Look for Phil Rapp, Memphis’ best pitching prospect, to make his major league debut sooner than later this season.
Getting married, no time to write preview (understandable and congrats!)