With the Premier Cup behind us and another season in the books, let’s take a look at part 2 of the Year in Review, with today’s piece focusing on the FL.
Seawolves Rare Struggles
After winning 91 games in 2040 and making the playoffs in 11 of the past 12 years, it was surprising to see the Erie Seawolves near the bottom of the FL for most of the season. They finished just 73-89, the organization’s worst record since the 2028 season.
Despite the team’s struggles overall, there remain plenty of core pieces on this roster that should make a turn around possible as soon as next season. George Watsky continued to mash the baseball, hitting 39 home runs in the middle of the order. Shortstop Liam Castro continues to confuse scouts with his inconsistent hitting seasons, but he was one of the league’s best defenders at shortstop, and won’t turn 27 until early December. Second Baseman Juan Carlos Vazquez was essentially the opposite of Castro; posting a -10.7 ZR rating at 2B, among the league’s worst, but he hit .312 with 196 hits on the year.
Look for the team to make a big free agent signing or two if they have the available budget room from their ownership group.
The Kevin Beach Hall of Fame Conundrum
Nashville Outlaws pitcher Kevin Beach is a national treasure. Let’s just get that out of the way. Despite turning 43 years old this season, Beach showed absolutely no signs of slowing down. He went 16-11, with a 3.20 ERA in 211 innings! Despite striking out just 121 batters, he was absolutely brilliant, allowing just 15 home runs and 30 walks all season. The 6’7, 235 pounder has spent his entire 19 season big league career with Nashville, debuting as a 24-year-old way back in the 2023 season.
Despite Beach’s longevity, he’s made just 3 all-star games, has won one championship, and has no Bob Feller pitching awards. He’s 227-192 with a 3.88 ERA in 3,737 innings pitched. He’s started a remarkable 606 games. Bryan Dobzanski holds the CBL record for most games started at 624, so if Beach can stay healthy for one more season, he will finish with the most games started in league history. If he resigns with Nashville, as everyone expects he will, he’ll also make every start with one team, an absolute rarity in this league.
But he’s also going to finish with the most hits allowed in league history (He’s already there, actually) and doesn’t have the kind of dominant stuff most people associate with a Hall of Fame type player. That said, my vote is that he belongs in the Hall, as his 2026-2034 seasons are a very good peak, and he deserves credit for pitching so well beyond his 40th birthday. If he follows up his 2041 season with another great 2042, it’ll only make his Hall case stronger. It will be interesting to follow, if he ever retires.
Beau Berkowitz to Stopper?
Former #1 overall pick Beau Berkowitz is one of the most frustrating pitchers in the league. He’s uber-talented, with a fastball-changeup combination that compares to anyone in the league, but he’s had no luck developing an effective third pitch in his 7 professional seasons since being drafted. The 25-year-old had a decent year for the Colonials, starting 32 games, posting an 8-11 record with a 4.37 ERA. But his strikeout numbers weren’t as good as his stuff would suggest because of his inability to throw a third pitch.
While there’s been no indications any change is coming, it seems clear the Berkowitz would likely benefit the most by being moved to a Stopper role in the team’s bullpen. He would likely throw 110-135 innings over a full season instead of the 167 innings he threw this season, but his strikeout numbers would likely balloon overnight, and his dominance in a late inning role seems likely to succeed.
Berkowitz may not like it, of course, and that could keep him in the rotation, but it does appear the best way to maximize Berkowitz at this point is to use him differently. He also could be a trade candidate for a team that thinks they can unlock his potential as a starting pitcher.
They won the Premier Cup, and likely will have the #1 and #2 finishers in the Jose Arvizu Best Hitter Award.
Dan Sampler to Test Free Agency?
Charlotte Knights first baseman/DH Dan Sampler had another great year, hitting .288/.378/.504 with 29 home runs. The former #1 overall pick in the 2029 draft, Sampler has spent his entire career with the Knights and fans undoubtedly hope the organization can bring him back.
He made just under $12 million last season, but is likely going to cost quite a bit more to lock up this time around. With the Knights likely rebuilding again next season after finishing this season with the league’s worst record, Sampler may want to play for a contender next season. The Knights also might feel they can allocate the money Sampler would receive to continue adding prospects to the organization. Assuming Sampler declines a Qualifying Offer, the Knights would also get a supplemental round pick in the amateur draft if Sampler were to sign elsewhere.
Those factors may just be enough to see the career-long Charlotte Knight find a new home this off-season.
Zamora, Reamer Finish 1-2 in FL Batting Race
Millers outfielder Jorge Zamora hit .336 and won the FL Batting Title, with teammate Desi Reamer finishing second at .329. Both players are expected to hit atop the Minneapolis lineup for years to come, and if they can find some pitching to put around these two up and coming stars, they might be able to once again contend for a championship. They also helped offset starting catcher Junior Malbon, who hit just .191/.239/.316 in 95 games before being benched late in the year. His ability defensively is what kept him in the lineup.
League’s Best Value is Rob Xhaferi
27-year-old Dreamers outfielder Rob Xhaferi hit .303/.407/.524, with 81 walks and 81 strikeouts in just under 500 at bats. He added 29 home runs, and held his own in left field defensively. He was paid just $1.6 million this season, will make $2.6 million in 2042 and just $3.6 million in 2043. He’s just entering his prime now and should provide immense value over that time period, and it should allow the Dreamers to put more pieces around him so they can make a deeper run next season after their first round playoff exit this past season.
Ron Faucette is no longer the slugger he once was, but he is likely going to be a free agent following the 2042 season so the organization will have no issues paying him a bit above his market value for one more season. He still hit 39 home runs this past season and the power doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
Ed Donoho is only 27 Years Old
That collective “Fuck” you just heard was the rest of the FL realizing San Diego Surf Dawgs ace Ed Donoho just turned 27 years old. It feels like he’s been anchoring the Surf Dawgs rotation for a decade plus at this point, but no. The flame-throwing right hander went 16-11 with a 3.05 ERA, getting laughably bad offensive support in many starts this season despite his dominance. He led the FL in strikeouts with 299 in just 212 innings, and seems set to win his first Bob Feller best pitcher award in the FL.
Oh, and he’s making just $12 million a year next season, before he likely will opt out of his deal prior to the 2043 season. He will be a massive bargain next season for a San Diego team that should contend for an FL league title once again.