With yet another CBL regular season in the books, and a whopping 5 teams winning over 100 games, let’s take a look back at the 2036 regular season!
It was quite the year for offensive rookies. St. Louis Sultans first baseman Manny Soto, widely expected to be the Heartland League MVP, hit .313/.399/.595, with 38 home runs, 46 doubles and 80 walks. He played in 159 games and helped lead the Sultans into the playoffs.
Chris Sylvia was essentially the Frontier League’s version of Soto for the San Diego Surf Dawgs, but as a DH it may be difficult for him to win the MVP in such a tight race. However, he’s firmly in the conversation, despite only playing one side of the ball. Sylvia hit .259/.343/.581, with 49 home runs, 49 doubles, 130 RBI and 77 walks. He hit .290/.409/.559 in September as the Surf Dawgs locked up the division, going 24-4.
Future Current ace Ed Donoho, another San Diego product, made his debut in September but was nearly unhittable, and he was also a key piece to the Surf Dawgs divisonal title. He finished with a 5-0 record in 6 starts, with a 1.16 ERA. That includes a 16 strikeout performance in his final start of the season. UNHITTABLE.
Manchester’s best recent move was bringing back GM Sy, but while the organization watched Ron Giangrosso leave before Sy came back, at least Phil Hunsucker was part of the Giangrosso package. Hunsucker hit .307 with 37 steals in 139 games, and the speedster appears to just be getting started. Unfortunately, he ruptured the MCL in his knee on September 23, and is expected to miss all of next season. Hopefully it’s just a set back and not a career altering injury, as Hunsucker seemed poised to contend for batting titles for the next decade.
Adding two standout rookie outfielders to a lineup anchored by Lucio Aguilar (.288/.356/.575, 44 HR), Sergio Rodriguez (.287/.419/.536 with 34 HR) and Manny Hernandez (.304/.367/.580, 38 HR) is almost unfair, but it’s what Vancouver did.
RF Eric Ibbetson hit .296/.350/.504 with 27 home runs, while playing above average defense in right field. CF Tony Chapa hit .256/.399/.406 with 14 home runs and 18 steals, although advanced stats suggest he was slightly below average as a center fielder.
Despite their season ending in surprising fashion after a 101 win season, the Canadians are set to contend for years, and Ibbetson and Chapa are likely going to play a big part in that.
Former #2 overall pick Joe Castle is the Colorado Gold Sox biggest name, but I would argue that rookie first baseman Edgar Vasquez had an even better season than Castle. Castle hit .263/.303/.538 with 47 home runs, but that low on base percentage is worrisome. Vasquez hit .255/.406/.504 with 35 home runs, while also playing above average defense at 1B while Castle DH’d most of the year. Both players are key parts of the Gold Sox future, but Vasquez may already be the better player at this point.
Other rookies to watch in the future: SS Jonathan Pontecorvo, Portland Panthers; CF Arturo Maldonado, Minneapolis Millers; SS Liam Castro, Erie Seawolves
On April 9, Portland’s 23-year-old starting pitcher Augusto Mejia, threw the only no-hitter of the season. Mejia didn’t have a great season outside of his no hitter, going 12-12 with a 5.23 ERA in 32 starts, but the no-hitter showed his potential and Portland will likely give Mejia another chance in the rotation next season.
On Sunday, June 8, Vancouver Canadians owner Roy Halladay decided after the Canadians had made the playoffs in 18 of the last 19 seasons, they would set their team focus from “rebuilding” to “neutral.”
Erie’s owner is almost as delusional, though. 🙂
On August 1, the greatest player in league history, pitcher Brady Aiken, tore his labrum and announced he would be ending his career rather than trying to rehab it. He finished his career with a 304-145 record, a 2.77 ERA in more than 4,000 innings (!) with 4,400 strikeouts and a WHIP of exactly 1.00. His 137.1 of total WAR in his career is ridiculous. For comparison, the league’s top two hitters by WAR are Jose Arvizu and Ernesto Encarnacion, who have COMBINED for 158.2 WAR. Tyler Kolek on the pitching side put up 113.6 WAR, and is the next closest player to Aiken. Ride off into the sunset and enjoy it, Mr. Aiken, you’re the GOAT.