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The Crystal Ball: 2032 CBL Predictions

The Crystal Ball: 2032 CBL Predictions

[Editor’s Note: Not all teams were done using the same template for the write-ups, that’s why some teams look different than other teams write-ups. You’ll survive.]

It is warming outside, the grass is beginning to turn green and Spring 2032 is in full effect.  What a year we had last year with the Dreamers winning their first Cup in a resounding sweep of the number one HL seed, Mahoning Valley.  Now all teams set their sights on the new season and of ultimate victory. Let’s take a look at the FL first.

FL Predicted Finish:

Erie Seawolves
Last season: 86-76
Experts would say that the 2031 Seawolves campaign won the CBL just by looking at the stats.  They saw that with a +78 run differential, 3 guys with over 30 dingers, having a starting pitcher who was 12-3 and another with over 200 strikeouts.  It emulated a powerful lineup with great starters all the necessary tools of a pennant winning team.  In reality they fell short of their task. They did go to the LCS and took a very hot California team to a Game 7 where it came to a brutal end.
Muddy Waters, Coober Die, and Teruhiko Nakagawa all still exist in a radiant and powerfully offensive lineup; however, 33 HR LF Gyoo-Jae Guem was traded with RP Jesus Sanchez, 2B Juan Morales, and RP Matt LaChappa for 3B Randy Perry.  Perry did not stay long due being traded with SP Aaron Leasher, RP Jeff Lighthart in exchange for SP Jose Perez from Philadelphia two months later.  Perez just 25 has already appeared in 105 games and struck out 816 CBL guys since he started in CBL.  Perez and Angelo Soto are going to be breaking hearts all season long with #1 guy Julian Pacheco in the ominous Erie rotation. It has been 8 long years since Erie won the Premier Cup so it would be equally draining if this squad doesn’t come close to erasing and avenging last years defeat.
Final prediction: 105-57

Minneapolis Millers

Last season: 112-50

Pitching

There is a lot of talk about the number one prospect in baseball, SP Augusto Altagracia.  The question is not really will he succeed or make a big impact…it is really when?  At 20, “AA” already has a plus-plus fastball and wicked stuff.  Will he be able to break into the Miller rotation this season?  Pitching rotation….clearly weird words for Erik and his Millers as they have consistently employed a “pitch by committee” approach starting relievers, relieving with starters, etc.

The Millers have a great core group of starters, featuring the Goodwin twins (Jimmy and Garrett) along with aging but still effective Albert Perez.  Once you move past those three though…the committee is now in session.  The Millers exceled last year as a committee posting a solid 3.45 ERA.  Losing fireman Alan Alexander is going to hurt and Ken Holman was rock solid for the Millers last season.  Acquiring J.Estrada (currently out for 2 months) will provide a nice boost when he gets healthy, but until then, the Millers enter the season with fewer pitching weapons than they had last season and I expect it to frustrate fans early and often.

Hitting

Best player on the planet, Robert Reynolds will still be suiting up as a Miller and the superman of the FL will once again single-handedly win games for the team.  However…he will be without a big part of his supporting cast.  The Millers lose A.Ramsey (460 abs), M.Sano (468 abs), R.Ramirez (549 abs), and 90 homers last season to free agency. Ouch, just ouch.  Even with some nice pickups of Reese McGuire and Russell Bell, the team will be hard pressed to match their offensive numbers from last season.

Farm

There is a lot of talk about the number one prospect in baseball, SP Augusto Altagracia.  The question is not really will he succeed or make a big impact…it’s when?  At 20, “AA” already has a plus-plus fastball and wicked stuff.  Most scouts agree that he needs to work hard on his control, but it is coming along nicely and most think he could easily be a CBL starter for most teams.  With only 88 innings in AAA, Erik will probably keep him for a full season in AAA this year.  Projected impact: midseason 2033.

Summary

I’m officially concerned.  There are some really good young players coming up that will look to fill holes in the team, but for 2032, Erik seems to be trying to get by on the backs of Reynolds, Gutierrez and Sanders.  This team looks to be mediocre at best defensively which is not going to do the pitching staff any favors and will result in a lot of close games.

Final prediction: 89-73

 

Vancouver Canadians

Last season: 85-77

Pitching

With staff ace Mike Wheeler shelved for another 4 months due to last seasons torn UCL, the Canadians will need someone to emerge to anchor this rotation for the majority of the season. Former first round pick Rick Sanchez looks poised to be given his first extended look in the rotation, and he seems to have the best chance of emerging into a top tier starter.  Victor Champagne has posted ERA’s over 5 in back-to-back seasons, so in a perfect world he wouldn’t make very many starts this coming season. Youngster Alfredo Nunez was solid in 5 starts last season, and Vancouver is clearly expecting him to take a step forward. Joe Morganti appeared set to close games, but the Canadians decided to add veteran Christopher Machammer instead. Machammer’s ratings remain very good, but he’s had back-to-back poor seasons and Morganti looks like a potential dominating closer, so don’t be surprised if Morganti is the closer by mid season. The staff has depth, but is clearly lacking a top of the rotation type talent for now. We’ll see if Wheeler can give them a boost late in the season.

Hitting

It’s impossible to discuss the Canadians offense without mentioning the ridiculously high contract they chose to give Cuban standout Lucio Aguilar. Aguilar will make $214 MILLION over the next four seasons, and with a fifth year player option, he could make $264 million over 5 years. Vancouver clearly wanted to get back into the elite tier of teams this off-season after a minor lull, and there’s no doubt adding a talent like Aguilar will help immensely. The only issue is that Aguilar is likely to be only average (defensively) in center field this season, and should only decline defensively each season. His best long-term position is left field, where he’d rate as one of the league’s better defenders over the next few seasons, but does anyone really want to pay $50 million a year for a LF? If Aguilar plays like an MVP and Vancouver is somehow able to get creative with other financial means, the money may not matter. But if Aguilar posts an .850 OPS with average to above average defense in center field, which is certainly possible, he instantly becomes the most overpaid player in the league, while also being a top 5 all-around CF. That’s crazy, but interesting nonetheless. He should be a great player to keep an eye on this season.

The rest of the Canadians offense is solid. Sergio Rodriguez is the best catcher in baseball, and 24-year-old second baseman Manny Hernandez had a great rookie season in 94 games last season. Sellers and Keller should add positive value with their bats, and 25-year-old former first round pick Bob Metropulos is an underrated bat in right field. As is the case with most teams, the Canadians offensive production will hinge mostly on the team’s health. Without a lot of depth, an injury to a key player like Aguilar or Rodriguez would be crushing, while a rash of minor injuries could test the team’s depth very early.

Farm

While the Canadians farm doesn’t have any eye popping prospects that automatically scream “future star” there’s no doubt the organization has plenty of intriguing prospects. Tony Hernandez continues to develop into a useful starter, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to improve as he’s done every season since signing in 2027. Former first round pick Ozzie Smith has been a colossal disappointment, hitting just .219 in 224 rookie league games to this point. Some scouts still like him, but those numbers are very worrisome, and a bounce back season is very important for him this year. 23-year-old starting pitcher Juan Rosa may be the closest to CBL ready, and should see some time with the big club this season.

Summary

In a weak FL, Vancouver seems a safe bet to make the playoffs, and as we all know, all you have to do is get there. Vancouver’s team is built more for the 3-week tournament that is the post-season than a 162 game season marathon. If Mike Wheeler comes back healthy, and Rick Sanchez emerges as the team expects, the Canadians will have the star power needed to carry them deep into the post season. The Canadians have a wide range of outcomes that could happen this coming season, and with the winter’s big money signing, they will be a team to watch every night. With an active GM, you also can’t count out the team potentially adding reinforcements if necessary.

Final prediction: 88-74

 

San Diego Surf Dawgs

Last season: 92-70

Pitching

Juan Jose Acosta remains productive, although scouts aren’t quite as high on him as they once were. Adding one-time ace Bryan Dobzanski for dirt cheap was a nice move, and he should remain productive this season. If Kevin Lott can pitch close to how he did last season (3.38 ERA) to provide more depth behind the emerging Xavier Calderon, the sky is the limit for this team. Even if the pitching behind Calderon falters some, they should have enough talent to compete on a nightly basis. Jose Trevino, Myron Payne and Joe Terry give the Surf Dawgs a potentially scary late inning trio, although the organization may still use Payne in the rotation.

Hitting

Last off-season’s blockbuster acquisition of Ernesto Encarnacion was validated by the team’s 92 win season and playoff berth. Adding his stability, defensive prowess and home run power proved to be the jolt this always talented team needed to get to the consistent level they played at last season. EE should remain one of the league’s better hitters this season. Long-time fan favorite Chase Vallot has returned to San Diego after a two-year Jekyl and Hide performance in St. Louis, and he should provide a solid option behind the dish. Thako, Cousins and Galindo should add plenty of pop to the lineup, and youngsters Cardenas, Bustamante and Foster provide the upside this team might need to leap to the top of the conference.

Farm 

With long-time prospect Anibal Cardenas finally making it to the big league roster, the Surf Dawgs replace their top prospect with another athletic, 18-year-old shortstop prospect like Anibal once was. Adrian Valdez signed for $7.5 million, but scouts insist his potential is worth it. He’s still years away, but certainly worth following. Harlen Mollett, the former #9 overall pick, looks like a future top of the rotation starter, and hopefully will be pushed a bit more aggressively in the minors after dominating rookie ball last season. The Dawgs have plenty of talent coming up through the pipeline, even if most of them are a few years away.

Summary

With a deep lineup, solid starting rotation and a very capable bullpen, the Dawgs should be in contention for the top seed in the FL all season long. Ultimately it will come down to how the pitching comes together, and whether or not some of the veterans can put together another solid season. Players like Vallot and Acosta will play a major role in the Dawgs finishing above or below their 92 win mark from a season ago.

Final prediction: 86-76

California Dreamers
Last Season: 80-82 .494 pct. 32 GB, CBL Premier Cup Series Champion, 745 runs scored (6th in FL), 704 runs against (3rd in FL)
Key Additions: CL Alan Alexander, RF Andy Ramsey
Key Losses: SP Jorge Estrada (lost to Minneapolis), RP Bud Robertson (lost to Portland)
The defending champions traded 4 star prospects CF Arturo Maldonado and CL Chuck Evans for veterans RF Andy Ramsey and CL Alan Alexander on 1/12.  Ramsey (.280, 39 HRs, 89 RBIs) will fill DH spot and give slugger 1B Ron Faucette (.290, 42 HRs, 101 RBIs) a solid 1-2 punch in the 3-4 spots.  The trio of starting pitchers Sean Frieden, Jim Gilmore, and Dan Hohl who combined for 37 of the Dreamers 80 wins will breath much easier this season knowing CL Alan Alexander (28 SV, 3.65 ERA in MIN) can close the door.  The moves California made leans toward an up tick offensively.  Can they improve from their 222 HRs from last year?
Final prediction: 83-79

 

Las Vegas Aces

Last Season: 58-104

Pitching

The Aces really struggled last year on the mound posting a team ERA of 5.65.  Another year of development though is going to really help this team, and there are some players who look to be turning the corner.  Clarence Domanski has all the makings to be a workhorse for the Aces…sure he struggled last season in 7 starts, but the poor fella only 87 innings in AAA before making his big league debut.  He will get battered around some more this season, but the kid has shown moxy and is deserving of that #2 draft spot back in 2031…he will show signs of brilliance this season.  To pair with young Domanski, Brandon has brought in the salty veteran duo of S.Miller and W.Peralta.  Both players had really nice seasons last year and have potential to put up solid numbers, but clearly time and age isn’t on their side.  The rest of the staff looks to be average and should have streaks and slumps..but Brandon always does a nice job of managing, so I think the staff as a whole will overachieve.

Hitting

2B Ruben Medina is a true all star and team leader.  He plays excellent defense and has really underachieved statistically…if he stays healthy, this will be his breakout year.  .315/.400 with 120 runs scored and 40 SBs if Brandon turns him loose.  With Medina and Herrera setting the table and power hitters Sano and Ma clearing it…the Aces should be scoring runs at will.

Farm

Benefitting from years of rebuilding, this team has quite a few top picks beginning to blossom.  Drangleic Knight, Clarence Domanski, Joey McGrorty, Jimmy Van Gheem all look to make appearances on the big league club this season.  For the future, OF Jose Vargas was an exceptionally nice scouting discovery and scouts will keep eyes on him during his development.

Summary

As one of the most active teams in free agency….Brandon looks to have done a great job building an entertaining on field team.  Grab your popcorn kids, expect a lot of 10-8 games…if nothing else, this team will be fun to watch.  I really like how Brandon is building this lineup and fully expect it to be a force this season.

Final prediction: 81-81

Charlotte Knights
Last Season: 76-86 .469 pct 36 GB, 660 runs scored (9th), 738 runs against (5th)
Key Additions: CL Lonny Horton
Key Losses: None
The Knights, offensively led by captain SS Hector Espinoza (.254, 18 HRs, 34 RBIs) and 40 year old 3B Kris Bryant (.251, 33 HRs, 90 RBIs) will have their hands full with opposing pitchers putting enough runs on the board.  The starting rotation is solid with Jesus Sanchez, Raul Rico, Grant Holmes, and Alpha Tunderhuul all eclipsing over 30 starts, 175 IP and over a 2.0 K/BB ratio.  This group will keep Charlotte in many games and with new closer Lonny Horton (26 SV, 4.82 ERA) in the bullpen will not have to work nearly as hard to finish the game off to get the win.
Final prediction: 72-90

 

Nashville Outlaws

Last season: 64-98

Pitching

It might be a long season for Outlaw fans if the team’s pitching staff is any indication. Kevin Beach, one of the league’s most underrated starters over the last decade (32+ starts in each of the last 8 seasons), is older and not quite as effective as he once was. He still remains the teams best starter, at least on paper, but he’ll need to rebound from his 4.68 ERA last season. Curt Stinson appears set to be the team’s #2 starter, and he has an ERA over 6 as a starter the past two seasons. Dan Conley is a capable reliever, and the Outlaws likely hope he can continue to develop into a late inning reliever, despite his 4.88 ERA last season. Edgardo De La Cruz is an interesting arm to watch, as the 24-year-old swing man has racked up a lot strikeouts in the minor leagues over the past few seasons. His other stats leave a lot to be desired, but if he can put it all together, he could emerge as a potential late inning reliever or even a top of the rotation starter, but for this season, Nashville would be happy with simply development.

Hitting

Long-time franchise stalwart Ryan Leckich had his first down season in almost a decade last year, hitting just .245/.315/.378. His once outstanding defense in center field has also fallen to about league average, although a move to RF would likely make him an elite defender again. 29-year-old backstop Jeremy Fahnestock is a very good player, and will likely be the team’s best player again this season. Unfortunately, outside of a Leckich bounce back season, there isn’t much hope in the rest of the offense. Jeremy Wahlers is one of the league’s best defensive shortstops and at just 23-years-old his bat has plenty of time to develop, but he’ll need to do better than the .223/.266/.372 line he produced last season to remain a long-term plan for the Outlaws.

Farm

The farm system has a few intriguing arms in the lower levels, but that’s about it. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of help coming this season, which means it’s likely smart for the organization to simply focus on their lower levels to develop the young pitchers they’ve accumulated. Ken Syliva, last year’s first round pick, struggled in his debut season but remains a top prospect in most scouting circles. Jesus Ramos has electric stuff, but after posting an ERA over 6 in AAA last season, he should likely spend the first half of the season in AA to get his confidence back as a starting pitcher.

With the 6th overall pick this coming June, Nashville has a great opportunity to find their next Leckich and build the farm up for the future.

Summary

After years of consistently winning, a weak FL allowed Nashville to sneak into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons despite winning 74 and 75 games. Everything finally collapsed last season, as a combination of injuries and father time led to a 66-96 season. It was the first time in 5 seasons that Nashville missed the playoffs, and sources believe the owner was quite upset with the team losing almost $4 million on top of it. There’s no doubt this organization has been a winner for a long time, and it can be trusted to rebuild again in the near future. I just don’t think it will happen this season. That said, hopefully Leckich can go out on a winning note over the next few seasons, because he’s one of the best players in league history and nobody seems to talk about him.

Final prediction: 56-106

 

Traverse City Bullet Club

Last season: 63-99

Pitching

27-year-old Hector Medina will be the Bullet Club’s opening day starter. He posted a 4.47 ERA last season and has a career 5.06 ERA, so not much should be expected of him as the staff ace. Jordan Baker is in the final year of a three year contract that looked like a bargain when it was signed but Baker has pitched horribly over the last two seasons. Closer Chong-Chin Kym is a great reliever, but it’s hard to pay a closer $13.5 million a year when your team doesn’t have the lead much. Kym seems like an asset that might be moved closer to the deadline, but for now is leaps and bounds the best pitcher on the team.

Hitting

Second Baseman Cisco Martinez arrived in Traverse City in 2021, one year after the franchise’s last winning season. While it’s true Martinez has been on the franchise through all of this losing, it would be silly to blame him. He’s been one of the league’s best players over his career, and even at age 32 looks set to have another great year. He was spectacular last season defensively, and hit well enough that he’s still a major asset. Former #1 overall pick Eric Pogue took a step back last season in his second year, and will need to improve this season to keep hopes high in Traverse City. Solid veterans like Ed Scott and Jack Reacher give the offense some pop, but probably not enough to off-set the weak pitching staff.

Farm

The organization has a few prospects that may one day project as franchise stalwarts, but they are all quite a ways off. Kiryu Kazuma, the former #3 overall pick, struggled in his debut season at the Rookie level, but remains highly regarded. Erik Miller was the second overall pick two years ago, and while scouts remain high on him as well, his first two seasons have been brutal, hitting .177 and .227. Justin Zims was the fourth overall pick three years ago, and… I think you get the point. The team has a lot of former top 5 picks that scouts still seem to like, but that just can’t produce in the minor leagues. It might be time for an entirely new coaching staff, throughout the system, if it hasn’t been done already.

Summary

The team hasn’t had a winning season since 2020, and this doesn’t look to be the year things turn around. A fire sale built around Kym and Martinez could bring back enough assets to build for the future, but the organization may have plans to make Martinez a member of the Bullet Club for his entire career. Nobody could blame the organization for wanting to do that, of course. The fan base can look forward to the draft, where they will be picking 5th overall.

Final prediction: 55-107

 

Connecticut Colonials
Last Season: 54-108 .333 pct 58 GB, 520 runs scored (10th), 929 runs against (9th)
The Colonials have slowly but surely been on the downward slide in the win column.  After winning back to back division titles in 2028 and 2029 where they accrued a  franchise high in wins 94 and 88 respectively won 71 in ‘30 and 54 last season  The past two seasons are not the direction I’m sure management was looking for.  Attendance had reached all time highs in that time, but have went downhill as well.  Pitching, led by Steve Powell (10-16, 3.66 ERA) is a workhorse for this rotation with a 1.21 WHIP and 2.5 K/BB they know what they are getting a QS every 5th day. SP Don Kaiser will give them ace they need to back Powell and heir apparent to the role.
LF Pat Wise (.274, 12 HRs, 61 RBIs) will largely depended on again to support the lineup and as much defense as he can provide in the corner outfield position.  This group has a little work to do to reach the top half of the league again as minor league prospects SS Joe Stream and LF Manny Garcia are the lone hopes in the farm currently.  The goal is to get back to the blueprint of the 28 and 29 to get more butts in the seats.
Final prediction: 44-118

 

HL Predicted Finish:

Mahoning Valley Scrappers

Last Season 109-53 (1st)

Hitting

I hate to say it, but MV’s lineup is getting better.  I know, I know…but all world Michael Jordan (the CF not the shooting forward) has had another year to develop and that is on top of leading the division in WAR last season.  Did I mention he is durable and dates runway models?  Not sure how he hides his cape under his uniform.  If you pitch around Jordan, then you have to contend with phenom catcher, Willie Moreland…Willie is light on fielding, but carries a big stick..and yeah, he is only 23.  Urgiles is ridiculously good and young followed by Gavlan and Reznik..it is the HL equivalent of murder’s row.

Pitching

As ridiculous as the MV lineup is becoming, the pitching staff is beginning to show signs of aging.  At 43, Tanaka has one foot in retirement and posted close to a 6.0 ERA last season.  Mahomes, C.Johnson and Medeiros all continue excel….however all are on the downward slide toward 40 and father time is merciless.  Shura was unhittable last season and shows no signs of slowing down.

Farm

With so many young great players who are 24-26, MV hasn’t been focused much on their minors system.  Plus picking last in the first round every year doesn’t help.  I’m sure this will be an area of emphasis in this year’s draft, however right now MV has the league worst ranked prospect system.

Summary

How is this for confidence…MV lost 6 players due to FA and retirement and added zero players.  Of course, when you have made the playoffs 12 seasons in a row and have won 107+ games in each of the last seasons, you can wear “cocky” well.  This team has 2-3 more seasons of crazy ridiculous eliteness before the major pitching overhaul..but until then, bet them to win.

Prediction: 112-50

Austin Bats

Last Season 106-56

Pitching

This pitching staff is one of the scariest in the HL and will dominate hitters this year. Kolek is 36
and showed no signs of slowing down by winning 19 games, pitching 223.2 innings and striking
out 253 batters. No doubt he is a 1 st ballot Hall of Famer. He should no doubt be one of the top
starters in the CBL this season. Behind him, there is former #1 prospect Juan Silva who looks
primed to have a breakout season. I expect him to win 12-15 games this year if he can manage
a full season of health. This Austin bullpen is also one of the toughest on hitters and will shut
down opposing hitters and close out many games easily. This is one of the best pitching staffs in
the CBL and people should watch out for Austin this year because of it.

Hitting

Nothing special on the hitting side of things for Austin. Just a few no names Bennavario, Stocker
and Kowing who all hit at least 46 HRs and 109 RBIs each. This batter named Bennavario who
flew under the radar last year with 61 HR should finally have a year that might get his name out
there. Clearly these 3 hitters make things look easy so nobody really pays attention to this
teams hitting. Oh and there are a couple more hitters who might help out a bit and improve
from their measly 25+ HR and 75+ RBI seasons last year. I guess that’s okay for your 4th and 5th
hit leaders on your team. All sarcasm aside, I thought the pitching was scary. Well apparently I
was wrong. If I was an opposing teams pitcher, I’d just walk off the mound and tell them to give
me 3 IP with 5 homeruns against and I’d call that successful. Austin’s hitters will make HL
pitchers look like they are throwing batting practice this year. They should lead most hitting
categories in the HL.

Farm

They have the 7th best farm and I agree that it’s definitely in the upper half of the league.
Norberto Ochoa looks like he could hit 30+ homeruns eventually. The move to 1B is interesting
since it appears he’s played mostly 2B and SS for his career. His arm is not what you want in a
SS and below average for a 2B so that could be factor for the position change. Bembe Rodriguez
and Pat Witman should climb the minor league ranks fast. They both look ahead of their age
group and should join Austin in the next few years.

Summary

I’ve been raving about this team so far and I definitely won’t back from saying that this team
could definitely be the team to beat this year. They are legit contenders and will embarrass
opponents with high run totals. I expect opposing managers to lose it when their bullpens get
exhausted in a 1 st of 3 matchup during a blowout and they have to figure out how they will get
innings in games 2 and 3. I expect Austin to get to the Premier Cup and win it all.

Final Prediction: 110-52

 

Fargo Nordiques

Last Season 96-66

Pitching

This staff looks pretty solid. Lead by Brady Aiken along with some solid young arms in the
bullpen, it looks like every inning will be a tough one for Fargo’s opponents. Converted closer
Erza Mackenzie will continue his second year in the rotation and look to pitch deeper into
games. Not much to say about this staff except they are not to be overlooked.

Hitting

Catcher Luis Torrens being resigned was a big win for Fargo. At 39, Yorman Rodriguez is proving
he can still hit (28 HR 101 RBI last season). Gilberto Lopez is showing that hitting homeruns
aren’t that hard apparently. This lineup has a good mix of youth and veteran players which will
make a good mix of experience and young athleticism.

Farm

Fargo’s farm is rated 13 th and contains a few solid prospects. Lou Boudreau could hit a ton of
homeruns one day if he develops that power fully. Alfredo Garcia could turn into a great all
around player with some good coaching and Denver Wright has potential to frustrate hitters
with a high potential knockout changeup. Some good specs that Fargo should look into
developing slowly.

Summary

Looks like Fargo could have another good season and has the potential to make playoffs. They
will definitely fight for a spot. Some trade deadline acquisitions could push this team up but
they will have to find the prospect capital or be creative with CBL player deals to make that
happen.

Final prediction: 95-67

 

Golden State Admirals

Last Season: 85-77

Hitting

Losing C Reese McGuire is going to hurt….Garry Moore isn’t terrible, but he just doesn’t command the presence that Reese did on the field.  McGuire was a master at managing pitchers..something the Addys are sorely going to miss this season.  Losing Stubbs for more than half the season was a real body blow to the lineup.  Not only did Stubbs have a huge breakout season last year .311/.354/.544, but he plays rock solid defense as well.  Huge hole here to fill and D.Head might just be the man.  At 5’2, 275, watching him run the bases is like watching pac-man eat dots.  He doesn’t run..he rolls.  Arvizu continues to lead this team, however last season’s .226 average is a bit disturbing.  Anomoly or new baseline?  Like most of the HL teams, this crew is going to score runs, sometimes in bunches.

Pitching

Captain Matt has assembled a nice balanced staff….losing Katz is going to hurt though.  I know that he could be streaky, however for the last few seasons, his numbers were solid and dependable.  On paper, Roy Munson looks great, but he is still untested as a big time CBL closer and GS is counting on him.  If he can’t handle the big position, veteran A.Hoffman should be next in line to take the ball which is a nice backup plan for Matt’s crew.  The staff is showing its age, but should still produce quality innings and starts from Lawrence, Delgado, Johnson and Kingham.  Panizzi is still a project and the jury is still out on whether he can take the ball every 5th day or would be better suited out of the pen.

Farm

Rezagulu (won’t even try last name) was a very nice addition to the team and if he could get some more snap on his knuckle curve should be a force out of the pen.  Fusco is on track to be a productive CBL hitter, but his defense and attitude keep coming into question during scout meetings.  A lot to like and mold if Captain Matt can make it happen.

Summary

If Munson can replace Kats effectively and Moore doesn’t destroy the staff then GS has the potential to make a strong run this season in the HL.  After missing the playoffs last season, the swabies are hungry…I think they make it back in this year.

Final prediction: 90-72

 

Manchester Marauders

Last season 93-69 (5th)

Hitting

The last few seasons, Manchester has been the king of getting more out of less than any franchise in the HL.  Superstar 1B Amancio Montarroio is fully developed and ready to lead this team forward.  He is an MVP player and broke the 1 barrier in OPS last season (there were only 6 total).  If you don’t know who he is, learn quickly and pitch around.  He is surrounded by a solid cast of positional players who all play above average defense…Templet, Chavez, J.Ramirez.  This offense is definitely dangerous.

Pitching

Fireballer Azuma was a big pickup for the Marauders.  Closing games out was a sore spot for the team and Kats should help shore up that weakness.  Unfortunately, with Gillis on the shelf for at least half the season, MAN is going to have to bash its way past teams.  Zuniga should continue to put up ironman type numbers as he is never hurt…really, not even a cold…he has started over 30 games five of the last six seasons, however he showed some cracks last season posting his worst ever ERA since coming to MAN.  After Zuniga, things get muddled.  Can Jose Gonzales pitch a full 200ip season?  Is Giangrosso ready?  What is G.Tucker…SP or RP?  Lots of questions.

Farm

RF Jose Calderon is a legit five tool player and if he can continue to improve his contact, should be a star.  SP Giangrosso looks to be about ready and is mowing down spring training hitters.  It will be interesting to see if sticks out of ST or is a midseason callup.  In what was thought to be a press stunt, the acquisition of Cal Ripken’s son has proved to be genius.  He is coming along well..a wiz at defense, just needs to improve his bat.  Of course having Dad coming to all your games and tutoring on the side doesn’t hurt his chances for success.

Summary

Man won 93 games last season and finished 5th!  As Doc Brown would say, “Great Scott!”  Yep, that is rough.  With the rise of some of the other teams in the division and how brutal this schedule will be, I don’t see MAN winning 90 this season.

Final prediction: 89-73  

 

Philadelphia Liberty

Last season 98-64 (3rd)

Hitting

JZ’s team is all about getting on base, then either swiping bags or having the runners moved over and play elite defense.  Last season 12 players had an OBP of over .300.  If you can’t hit and walk and you aren’t a wiz with your glove then you aren’t getting on the field in Philly.  It is a solid strategy and one that JZ has implemented to perfection.  Jon Channon is entering his prime and has a chance to compete for the MVP honor this season.  Don Smith is as a professional hitter as they come..and B.Perez is one of the best table setters in the league.  The biggest weakness in the team is depth..if JZ has multiple injuries then the second string is more like a third string if pulled off the bench.

Pitching

In one of the biggest moves of the offseason, JZ sent superstar SP Jose Perez to the SeaPups.  In a league where solid pitching aces are about as rare as virgins on prom night, this was a bit shocking.  Sure, the Liberty were compensated well..but it will be hard to replace Perez in the rotation (19 wins last season), especially as he was entering his prime.  Tomas “lights out” Nunez will continue to terrorize hitters for the Liberty and is the leading contender for the Strasburg top pitcher award.  Backing him up will be Hines, Brantley and Hemstad…serviceable if not mediocre.  TJ Beaudreau looks to break catcher’s hands again this season as he continues to develop some control around that cannon of an arm..the rest of the relievers look to be mediocre.

Farm

Getting back to that J.Perez trade…acquiring 3B R.Perry should pay dividends as Perry develops.  He could easily be in the top two or three 3B in the league when he fully matures.  SP Leasher who was acquired in the trade has all the makings of a superstar starter himself…regarded as a top prospect by OSA, Leasher has wicked stuff and it will be fun to see him scorch minor league hitters over the next few seasons.

Summary

After a meteoric ride to an unlikely Cup win two seasons ago, the Liberty just plays great baseball.  Clearly JZ knows what he is doing and has built the club that he has always envisioned.  Trading J.Perez though will set this team back, and in my opinion will keep them out of the playoffs this season.  The trade was brilliant in adding more depth and potential all stars of Perry and Leasher, however we won’t see the payoff for at least 2-3 more seasons.

Final prediction: 85-77

Indianapolis Arrows

Last Season 72-90

Pitching

The Arrows pitching looks below average when looking at other pitching staffs in the HL. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have some interesting pieces that could have good years. They have some young arms like Tunderhuul, Kym and Velasco that display excellent stuff. These 3 pitchers also have minimum 2 solid pitches. However, the best of the bunch is Kym who has 4 excellent pitches that he can throw in any count. First glance at this rotation and bullpen shows an average staff who might do alright this year. Look deeper and you see some good arms with great potential. My only concern is with the fielding behind them. This team doesn’t field very well and that could hurt how well this staff does. I still predict those 3 starters mentioned above to make strides in their development.

Hitting

This lineup is led by Kevin Garvey who I will call right now, a future hall of famer. His power and ability to hit balls to the gaps is insane. He also runs like he’s running for his life and fields great at left field that he could very well have a handful of gold gloves or more by the time his career is over. The Arrows have a hitter to build around and triples machine Khalil Greene looks like a good player to put ahead of Garvey. This lineup have some great hitters who are in their prime right now but unfortunately might not be as good when Garvey and other young hitters get to their prime. The lineup looks good but will have a hard time keeping up to teams like Austin. The future looks bright and I know I would be love to be a GM who has a young hitter like Kevin Garvey.

Farm

First impression. Ron Chadsey looks like a raw version of Kevin Garvey. Very high power
potential with an incredible ability to hit balls into the gap. The future of this Arrows lineup
looks intense with pitchers having to possibly face these 2 hitters back to back. Tony Benway
looks ready for AA at least but looks to be starting in rookie league to start the season. His
defense is no where near ready for the CBL but his bat is CBL ready or close to it. Indianapolis
could use a good draft or two to improve their farm team standing up from 16th in the league.
Garvey needs some support and some of that will need to come from the farm.

Summary

Indianapolis has some exciting pieces but needs to stock up the farm or acquire some more
youth to supplement their future stars. This season looks to be a development year and maybe
a push for a playoff spot if everything rolls perfectly. Kevin Garvey is going to be a future hall of
famer and I am definitely excited to watch his career unfold. This team should improve from
last year and trend into the right direction.

Final prediction: 80-82

 

Portland Panthers

Last season: 63-99

Hitting

Portland was terrible last year…then “wheelin and dealin” Will came to town.  The offense has been completely revamped and upgraded across the board.  The team is still maturing and has a lot of holes, but the fans should be pleasantly surprised at the final on field product.  Veteran leadership from Chase Strumpf and Nick Gordon will be huge.  Both are seasoned players and should act as player/mentors for the younger generation coming up.  CF Jose Leon has all-star tools and plays a fairly solid CF..he was rushed to the CBL early and has struggled, but looks to be turning a corner..look for a breakout season for him in 2032.  Young 1B Sean Bowen is in the same boat.  He looks to be a better DH than a fielder, but he swings a very capable bat and has shown durability to play 160 games this season.

Pitching

The young dynamic relief combo of Jose Hernandez and Jesus Villanueva are getting better and will be a strength of this staff to finish out games effectively.  Unfortunately, they are going to inherit a lot of games that are already out of reach.  The starting staff will need to seriously overperform this season if Portland has any shot at playing .500 ball.  K.Holman was a bargain gem of a buy at $7mil and will serve as the team ace.  After Holman, the team has a lot of question marks.  The addition of Jim King for $16.5mil is interesting.  The once top rated prospect has always had great control, but has never put together a solid season.  Hopefully Portland will offer a better defense and more run support to get King back on track.

Farm

Summers, Nissley, Weems are all solid prospects, and propels Portland to a top 5 system ranking.  Summers could get see a lot of time with the big club this season, but the others will still need some more time to develop.  There is no “wow” prospect in the system, but the depth is impressive across all positions and will allow Will a lot of flexibility to package up players for a big trade, or watch them grow into productive CBL starters.

Summary

Last season was the worst for the franchise since the league went to a 162 game schedule.  The Panthers welcomed new ownership and Will immediately went to work.  POR gained almost three times more player WAR than every team.  Will knows how to work the phones.  Playing in the brutal HL does the Panthers no favors, but they are going to win some games this season and look to be in capable hands.

Prediction: 72-90

Colorado Gold Sox

Last Season 71-91

Pitching

Colorado’s pitching staff will mostly look the same as last season. Not many changes were
made because of Colorado making a late GM change in the offseason and in result there were
no acquisitions. The bullpen has some young relievers with great potential but will go through
growing pains because of inexperience. The starting rotation should be middle of the pack in
the HL. Nothing special but nobody horrible either.

Hitting

Jason Philmon and Peter Parker have bright futures in the CBL. They look like potential
superstars. Sean Barrera and Jeremy Gonzalez (unless he gets sent down for more reps in the
minors) will be great support hitters for the 2 big guys mentioned above. The future of this
lineup looks bright and with a FA or 2 when the time is right, this lineup will be one to be
reckoned with.

Farm

Colorado’s farm system looks depleted after the callups of Parker, Philmon, Barrera and
Gonzalez (or soon to be called up). The system has some nice pieces but nothing to be
compared to Parker or Philmon. SP Cal Pagac looks like a future 2-3 starter if he maximizes his
potential. Some good drafting will replenish this system.

Summary

GM Jackson Schilling unfortunately didn’t have much opportunity this offseason to make moves
but I expect him to work his organization this season and next offseason. Colorado has great
young hitting and if they can acquire some pitching, they can compete for a playoff spot in the
upcoming seasons.

Final prediction: 70-92

 

St. Louis Sultans

Last Season 55-107

Pitching

Pitching is a concern for St Louis this year. They signed 35 year old Moises Gomez who pitched
in relief in the Vancouver farm system for most of last season and it looks like he will be tagged
to lead the starting rotation. Phil Zimba and Asami Mitt who are in their mid 20s look to have
good potential but with Mitt pitching in A+ last year and Zimba having an ERA of 6.79 and 14
losses, it doesn’t look like they can be counted on for more than developing in the majors. That
is if Mitt sticks in the CBL. Mitt could also be sent down to be seasoned and brought up later
this year.

The lone bright spot of this pitching staff is Edgardo Nunez. He has excellent stuff with a great
fastball and slider. Unfortunately, last season he had a 6.26 ERA but I expect better numbers for
the young reliever this season.

Hitting

Quite opposite to their pitching, St Louis has great tools for hitting. Their ballpark is also meant
for it. Favoring a lot of homeruns (pitchers hate going there). With 25 year olds Londor and
Garcia providing solid defense with their 30+ HR 90+ RBI seasons, It looks like St Louis has a
solid core to build around. Deion Sanders and Ken Juckem should also improve with another
year under their belt. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this lineup be a force to be reckoned with
in the HL.

Farm

There isn’t much to talk about with this farm system. They only have 2 prospects in the top 100.
Mitt is a solid prospect but comes with some questions. Manny Soto has great contact for a 17
year old but is very raw in every other aspect. Soto has the potential to be an everyday 1B and
play it well. Left fielder Robby Byrd is a prospect I’d keep my eye on. Potential to be a solid LF
once he is fully developed.

Summary

St. Louis made 3 picks in the rule 5 draft which tells me that new GM Robert Finnegan is trying
to accumulate young players and is building around his young core. This team won’t surprise
anyone this year (except maybe with how many homeruns they crank against visiting teams) but I don’t think expectations are to win. Right now, St Louis is looking to get young, draft well and wait fill up their farm. New GM Robert has a lot of work to do but I am sure he is up to the task and it’ll be great to see him build this team up. They have some great young players to build around.

Final prediction: 50-112

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Erik Voldness
Erik Voldness | General Manager - Minneapolis Millers

1 Comment

  1. Erik Voldness

    Feel free to comment with your thoughts/disagreements! I’ll start:

    My rotation also has Edgardo Cordero, if he can stay healthy for a full season–lost Perez for 6 weeks this last sim, so my pitching depth is being tested already.

    My defense should be fine, moved a lot of people around in the Spring but my opening day lineups are at least above average defensively I think. We’ll see though!

    And Altagracia will probably get some time this season, at least a few starts to hopefully accelerate his development even more. Depends how his first few AAA months go, though, of course. Well done on my team despite my objections, Trey. Thanks as always!

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