Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Atlanta Cheese Grits Top 10 Prospects

The Cheese Grits are in Year 2 of their rebuilding phase. During that time, the GM has spent a lot of effort attempting to assemble a core of players that will be ready to compete by Season 10-11. Let's take a look at the fruits of that effort:

1. Jamie Yoshii, ss : Jamie was signed as an 18 y.o. International F.A. out of Okinawa, Japan. Jamie is a defensive wiz with amazing range and a cannon for an arm. He won the AA AL Gold Glove Award in Season 7 and has been named to 2 Minor League All Star teams and won a Silver Slugger Award. Jamie's bat projects to be above average at the big league level, but with only average power. Jamie has great baserunning instincts as well. With the trade of Placido Camacho, he has inherited the Big League SS job in Season 8, making the jump from AA.

2. Felipe Espinosa, SP: Felipe was just acquired in the Season 8 offseason for the aforementioned Camacho from the Cleveland MooseDawgs. Felipe is just 21 y.o. and brings a wicked sinker/slider combo that results in a lot of strikeouts. Felipe has posted back to back 200+K seasons in the minors, which is rare in my experience. An IFA, Felipe has been named to 2 minor league All Star Teams and even won the Gold Glove in Season 7 at AA. Felipe projects as a #2 starter. Felipe is already at the AAA level and should crack Atlanta's rotation in Season 9.

3.Sherman Roosevelt, 2b: Sherman has played 2b in the minors, but projects as a RF at the Big League level. Sherman has a whip of a bat, capable of hitting for power and average. He was acquired in a trade with the Helena Hashies before Season 7 in a deal for 2 veteran relievers. Sherman will start Season 8 at the AA level after posting a .991 OPS at High A ball. He projects to start for Atlanta in RF in Season 10.

4. John Carter, SP: John Carter is a solid SP prospect who was acquired in a trade for SP Carlos James. Carter has an excellent fastball and complimentary curveball. He has a 37-11 career minor league record and was named the High A Cy Young Award winner for the AL in Season 7 after going 19-3 with a 2.76 ERA. He is durable and has solid L/R splits. He projects as a #3-#4 starter for Atlanta in season 10.

5. Tim Morton, 1b: Morton is your prototypical power hitting 1b. He is 21 y.o. and will spend Season 8 in AA after posting a 1.065 OPS in 3 minor league seasons. Morton was drafted by the Cheese Grits with the 24th overall pick in the Season 5 draft. He won't hit for as much average against RHP, but he crushes LHP and projects to a 75 power rating. He should start at 1b in Season 10 for the Grits after Willie Reagan's contract expires.

6. Frank Cunningham, SP: Frank is a big, strapping 6' 2" RHP who spent last year in rookie ball after being drafted #15 overall out of Macomb Christian HS in MI. Frank is a very strong and durable pitcher who should eat up a lot of innings. He projects to have pinpoint control and a good fastball. His projected splits are only slightly above average so he may project as a rotation innings eater, but not a #1 type starter. Given a good defense behind him, though, he could be quite successful. He projects to hit the bigs in Season 12-13.

7. Kevin Martin, LHRP: Kevin Martin is a bullpen horse who projects as a fine setup man in the Majors. Kevin has topped 100 IP from the bullpen in each of the last 2 seasons. Marin was signed by the Washington Generals as an IFA before being dealt to Atlanta in the Carlos James deal. He is durable with good stamina for a RP, and is a dominating GB pitcher. We should see Kevin in the Atlanta bullpen in either Season 8 or 9. He will start Season 8 in AAA.

8. Dusty Nation, LF: Dusty Nation has one of the best names in Hunter World. He was drafted as a 2B in the Supplemental 1st Round by Atlanta in Season 5. It was quickly determined that Dusty's future was in LF, where he is an above average defender. Nation has great power potential and has hit 29, 37 and 33 HR's the past 3 seasons. He is durable and has a solid eye at the plate. Nation will start Season 8 at AAA with an eye towards a late season callup and the full time LF job in Season 9.

9. David Molina, SP: David Molina was an IFA signed by Cleveland in Season 4 and subesequently dealt to Atlanta in Season 5 in a trade for Cesar Montanez. David has made two All Star Teams and the AL High A Cy Young Award in Season 6. He is 63-16 in 4 minor league seasons with an ERA of 3.49. He is highly durable but is limited to just 3 pitches. Molina projects to a #4-#5 starter for Atlanta. He's projected to hit the big league club in Season 9 after spending Season 8 at AAA.

10. Sam Rodgers, 2b: Sam was taken by Atlanta with the 27th overall pick in Season 6 out of Westover HS in NC. He's still just 20 y.o. and will spend Season 8 at High A. He projects as a durable, solid defender with decent pop, a good eye and above average splits. He should be a solid Major league starter for Atlanta by Season 11.

Honorable Mention:
Jerome Burke, C
Lon Howard, CF
Jerome Moore, LHRP
Amp Gibson, 2B
Cookie Guzman, SP
Manny Garciaparra, SP
Hector Leon, SP
Sean LaRue, RF
Ed Carr, 3B
Victor Benitez, C

Wichita Bad Boys Top 10 Prospect List

Just to get a little talk going on, here is the Wichita Bad Boys Top 10 Prospect List.
To qualify they had to have had less than a 1/2 year in the majors.

Ignacio Cruz could become one of the better pitchers in the Hunter World. He had a brief stint in the majors in season 7, and did not perform very well. At the age of 21, he should need another year of seasoning before being ready to dominate. He has been rushed some in the system, due to lack of pitching depth, but if he is held back, it would help is career.
ETA: Late season 8

Juan Tavarez is a player who has a ton of talent just hasn't had the opportunity at the Major league level until this season. He has all major hitting categories over 60 along with a decent pitch calling. He has an OBP over .400 in the minors, along with a career high 31 HR in season 5. If he can stay healthy, he will be able to contribute right away.

Jumbo Ruiz is a pitcher who is very similar to Ignacio Cruz. His ratings are nearly the same, with a little less strength in his pitch quality. He spent all last year in High A and went 15-8 with an ERA of 3.80. Though not completely dominating, if he can keep progressing, he could be a solid no. 3 starter in the Majors.
ETA: Season 10

Al Ramirez was just acquired in a trade with Louisville in the offseason and hopefully will step right into the starting rotation. At the age of 24, he has struggled with control in his career, but if he can find the strike zone, he could be a very nice no. 2/3 starter. He can pitch late into games and has two above average pitches and two others on the way to above average.

Hugh Darr was a supplemental pick in last years 1st round draft and may have jumped over the real #1 pick. He is a 2nd baseman that could have decent range and glove but not much of an arm and may have to move to the outfield. At 19 years old, he has plenty of room to develop and could show some nice pop. In rookie ball last year he had on OBP of .446 along with an OPS of 1.080.
ETA: Season 11

Tommy Gagne is a 1B who may be running out of time to crack the majors. At the age of 27, he needs to make a great impression or he may have run out of chances. He has nice ratings for a 1B, but he doesn't do anything exceptionally well. He has hit for a nice average in the minors, but with little pop or speed. With Travis Stokes ahead of him, he may need to be given opportunity elsewhere.
ETA: Season 8

Adam Marshall could be a personal favorite of mine. He will hit for a ton of power along with a great batting eye but he could swing and miss a lot. He was a 4th round pick last year, and he may outperform many of his draftmates. Last season he hit 30 homeruns with an OBP of .421 in just over 200 at bats, so he could do some damage. He is 22 years old, so he may be on the fast track to the majors.
ETA: Late Season 9 or early season 10

Duke Keagle has power and he knows how to use it. Last season in High A he hit 70 homeruns and had 171 RBI while still hitting .346. He has decent ratings vs L/R and batting eye, but if he doesn't hit a homerun he may swing and miss. He was a 5th round pick a few years ago and at the age of 22, he should be in the majors in quick fashion. He will try AA this year and may need a 1/2 season of AAA.
ETA: Late season 9 or early season 10

Travis Pose is a man without a position, or he may be higher on the list. He has a career OBP of .458 in the minors along with an OPS of 1.110. He is a gap to gap hitter (always wanted to say that) who should develop 20 HR power along with 40 doubles. He may have trouble advancing just because he does not own a glove, literally.
ETA: Season 9

Frankie Haas is last years #1 draft pick and that alone puts him on this list. His ratings are not great, but he should be able to get on base and provide a decent glove. He has no speed or power, so his OBP and glove will get him to the majors. If he can get on base at a decent rate, he can be useful.
ETA: Season 11

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Moving Pitchers: S8 Relocation Report

This seems like the first time in a long time that we needed to find so many new owners. Three of the available teams had never been touched by anyone but their founding owner. The owners who just left combined for 13 Division Titles, 6 Divisional Championship Wins, and 2 World Series appearances. They helped make Hunter a great world. But who cares about them now? We've got 6 new owners who hope to do even bigger and better things.

Pawtucket Patriots (beerman324) formerly Minnesota Explorer (lets_try)
Lets_try had this team running smoothly for the first 6 seasons winning the AL North each time. Now, it's someone named Beerman to the rescue. Beerman324 actually joined our waiting list a few weeks before we went public meaning he wanted to be in Hunter. He's new to What if Sports and will try to get a good, aging team back in contention.

Arizona Rattlers (matrat101) formerly Arizona Thunderstrikers (thunderstrik)
Thunderstrik always kept this franchise pretty competitive and has claimed one AL West title in his seven years. Arizona's secret for success has always been throwing money at the good players and it looks like things won't be much different with matrat101 at the helm. The Rattler's have 113M budgeted to player contracts this season (most in the league). Matrat has his work cut out for him, though, being in that division with Scottsdale and Hunter two-time defending champions, San Francisco.

Augusta Caesars (carmandjr) fromerly St. Louis Clydesdales (jdbkaput)
This is the team with the biggest shoes to fill. Last season the Clydesdales won 109 games and, in seven years, never failed to win the NL North (arguably the best division in Hunter for a few years). Carmandjr is a newbie to HD but has been playing GD for a few months. The Caesars will probably still be the favorites to win the North this season but they have already faced some woes when a couple of his best pitchers ran to free agency.

Cincinnati Springers (firedock) formerly Iowa Bombardiers (KSBeachBums)
Firedock joins Hunter with two years of experience under his belt in the Williams World. His new franchise hasn't been in the playoffs for five season but they appear to be moving in the right direction. The rebuilding project seems to be moving nicely as Cincinnati has one of the younger ML squads in the league.

Tampa Bay Nice Rays (andreb) formerly El Paso Kamikazes (cliff357)
Andreb is the most experienced new owner having spent 3 season in F.Y.C. Unlike Cincinnati, this appears to be a rebuilding project that is just getting started. Tampa has the oldest team in the NL and only has 5 consecutive third place finishes in the NL South to show for it.

Los Angeles Baja Racers (randyrossrac) formerly Honolulu Hurricanes (redsox666666)
This is the one franchise in Hunter that has never really found a home. Randy is the 6th owner in it's 8 year existence and it's success over the last 4 years (.375 winning pct.) has suffered because of it. Tampa has the oldest team in the NL so this newb has his hands full but hopefully, the move to a big market like LA will buy him some time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Owner Profile: bjb2378

Well, folks. It's time to meet your Season 7 Champion. bjb2378 (Spoiler Alert: His name is Ben) is not exactly new to winning. This was his 2nd World Series win (he won it all last season, too) and his 6th division title and he has never missed the playoffs.

He's a wheeler and dealer having completed 86 trades since Hunter formed. Ben wishes he never pulled the trigger on the Derek O'Keefe trade to El Paso back in season 4 (something we will get into in a later feature I'm planning) but, after two world championships, I'm thinking it wasn't that debilitating.

Ben also has been playing in four other worlds for quite a while, now (with another World Series title in Riley) but strangely, none of his teams hail from his beloved Chicago. Hmmm.

Anyway, maybe some dumb questions will bring him back down to earth.

Is bjb2378 your real name?
Nope, My initials are BJB, my name is Ben Bradford. My birthday is 2/3/78.

What are your vitals?
I am a 30 year old attorney in Chicago. Prior to practicing law, I was a computer

What are your favorite real-life sports teams or players?
I am a big Chicago sports fan with my favorite teams being the White Sox, Bears and Bulls.

Why WIS?
I started with WIS baseball and then switched over to HBD with the release. I forgot how I first stumbled upon WIS in the first place, but I have been playing for years.

Why Hunter?
I chose Hunter because it was a league starting when I was looking to play HBD. I stay because its a fun league and very competitive.

Why so many WIS teams?
I think its tough to keep up with my four teams, but I have invested time into building them so I don't want to give one up.

When you aren't WISing, what do you do?
Sadly, most of the time I am working. But when I am out of the office, I play basketball and volleyball at least once a week. After that, my time is spent enjoying all Chicago has to offer whether its a ball game, a new restaurant or just walking around the city.