Tuesday, March 29, 2011

S1 AL South Predictions

By Jefepwnzer

AL South Preview

Tampa Bay Rays

Starting 9: Tampa has three versatile players in Vern Rose, Wesley Maduro and Angel James who can both hit and field a number of positions. Catcher Wayne Cox complements these three nicely, but the Rays offense is lacking after that. Second baseman Paul Clarke and right fielder Cody Wall will help the offense when they face lefty pitchers, but will struggle mightily against righties.

Pitching staff: The Rays solid bullpen options with long reliever Maicer Chavez and setup/closers Danny Stohr and Burt Case, a possible airtight trio. However, a lack of starting pitching may doom this staff and Chavez, Stohr and Case may never get a chance to really dominate.

The future: Scott Lewis is a future Cy Young award winner and is a part of a decently deep minor league pitching system along with Edgardo Diaz. A future big bopper in Allan Gaston awaits a callup - possibly in Season 2.

Kansas City

Starting 9: One of the best offenses in the league will reside in Kansas City this season. KC has the depth to pencil in an impact bat at six of the nine spots in the batting order. Harry Skinner and Stone Bowen will provide the power while Johnny de la Vega and Ted Snopek look to run circles around opposing pitchers, and they may have to if KC is to win the division and impact the playoffs.

Pitching staff: The Royals will largely depend on a trio of rookies to support the production of the offense. Diego Suarez, Ryan Randall and Buck Decker will form the core of a staff who looks to be up to the task of chasing a division title. There is decent support in the pen and Wandy Batista figures to save a game or two for the Royals. With the offense in great shape, the season will fall squarely on the shoulders of the pitching staff.

The future: Even after promoting Suarez, Randall and Decker to the ML the Royals can still look forward to Corban Norton and Rich Fikac adding their skills to the rotation sooner than later. In addition, Kenneth Mulholland will provide a great bat when he's ready in a few seasons.



Charlotte Knights

Starting 9: With Gary Wise landing in Baltimore Charlotte will send one of the worst offensive lineups to the plate this season. The only worth mention is Rudy Webster who can provide a dependable, albeit unspectacular, bat. Clarence Beckett and Matty Frias could possibly hit 20-25 homers a piece if they see enough lefties, but there's just not enough support up and down the lineup for this offense to be consistent.

Pitching staff: Gary Adams and Willie Quintanilla are two very bright spots on a lackluster staff. Felix Martin can spot start or provide quality long relief, but there is no clear cut closer and holding leads late may be an issue for the Knights. If Adams and Quintanilla are to pick up many wins they will have to pitch late into the games they start, which is really unfortunate as they may be the best 1-2 punch in the league.

The future: The problem with pitching depth that the ML team currently has will be a thing of the past in three-four seasons as there are a handful of future ML SP's who will form a great staff in the future. Guys like Red Bohanon and Benito Fernandez will one day make AL South hitters quake in their spikes. Charlotte's minor league system is not as deep with position prospects, but has a couple solid future ML'ers. If the Knights can find a way to add some impact bats to their system this will be a monster of a team beginning in S5.
How they will finish: Another team with a bright, bright future. Tropicana will simply have to be patient for his blue chippers to arrive in the ML before this team makes any waves, though. An ultra weak offense and a thin staff will relegate Charlotte to the basement of the AL South in Season 1.



Texas Rangers

Starting 9: The biggest impact on an overall light hitting offense will come from Tony Gomez, a solid cornerstone on a generally young team. Unfortunately there isn't much to write home about after that. Speedster Ike Cline will most likely need to play way above his skill level and get on in front of Gomez for Texas to have any consistency offensively. Orlando Tejera and Raymond Cornelius spent brief stints on the 25 man active roster but did not break camp with the ML team. It will be interesting to see if willsauve recalls either player during the season. Cornelius would certainly improve the lineup while Tejera adds another set of wheels to round the bases with.

Pitching staff: Led by Jose Alfonzo the strength of this team will undoubtedly be their rotation, which is one of the best in the league. Thirty year old Marino Oropesa and John Bryant will team up with Alfonzo to form a lethal 1-2-3 punch. Right now the bullpen lacks depth but sports solid LR/spot starter options Mendy Suzuki and CJ Brooks and a very solid closer in Victor Gonzalez.

The future: The Texas farm system is DEEP and boasts five of the Top 100 prospects. The aforementioned Cornelius leads the way and may make his impact on the ML soon. On the hill Texas can count no less than 12 (yes, TWELVE) bona fide ML pitching prospects including future SP's Marcus Smith and Mark Helton. Pasqual Diaz and Mike Hill will one day add quality to the starting lineup that Texas currently lacks. Throw in the fact that they own the #5 pick in the draft and it almost seems unfair. Texas can look forward to a bright, bright future.

How they will finish: Kansas City should hardly even need to look in the rearview in taking the division this season. It will be a battle for second place between Texas and Tampa, with Charlotte bringing up the rear. Kansas City has the talent to carry them to the ALCS and maybe even to the World Series.

Kansas City - As long as the three rookie SP's prove their worth there is no reason KC can't cakewalk to an AL South title.
Texas - Even with Cornelius and Tejera in AAA honing their skills Texas has a talented enough staff to win enough games to finish second in this division.

Tampa Bay - With an average offense and lacking a dependable rotation Tampa Bay will likely find themselves in third place.

Charlotte - The Knights will only go as far as Adams and Quintanilla can take them. Even if Charlotte were to use a 4 man rotation, it just doesn't seem like there's enough offense for the Knights to win enough games to get out of the AL South cellar.

No comments:

Post a Comment