As we close in on a new season, let’s take a look at the Norfolk Sharks in detail. The club is poised to make a run at the post season with a strong batting order, but needs some help from the pitching staff to really make some noise in 2017. The club is also a little light when it comes to power hitting, so small ball figures to be the way for Norfolk this season.
Second baseman, Miguel Ortega leads off. A career .303 hitter, 5 time league leader in triples makes over $14M per season. The key for Ortega is staying healthy. The 34 year old has missed large chunks of each of the past two seasons. Norfolk needs a full season from this superstar.
Batting second, Nam-shik Kym. The Korean born 3B is a superb fielder and is a solid contact hitter.
In the third spot in the order, SS Danny Sanchez. The $21M man is coming off a down year where he hit a mere .284, which was a precipitous drop from .381 the previous season. This Iron Man has played 80+ games in 8 straight seasons.
In the cleanup spot RF Bronson Jamieson. This Kiwi has above average power and has not missed a game in his 3 seasons in Norfolk.
Former #1 overall pick, Catcher Earl MacPherson has had a big spring and looks to bust out as a superstar.
Rick Baggywrinkle bats 6th. Bags benefitted from a big season in 2016 scoring a sweet $15M/2 year deal from Norfolk. At 31, one has to wonder if 2016 was a fluky season or if it the start of a late career boom. Norfolk sure hopes it is the beginning of great times as this small market club can ill afford paying a bench warmer $8M/season.
Bradley Hale is injury prone LF. He bats 7th. A solid hitter, he will likely spend half the year on the DL.
Veteran Billy Mathis plays 1B and will bat 8th. Still productive at age 37, the grizzled veteran is probably overpaid, but is a gamer.
Batting 9th, young CF Josh Fairchild. This star fielder is still trying to figure things out at the plate. If he does expect him to move up the lineup and help increase the offensive output for the Sharks. If not, he will play great defense and help the club that way.
George Jarville is the backup catcher. Devin Thomas and Bobby Flores will backup in the infield. David Booth and Antonio Cisernos figure to battle for the final roster spot.
Charles Ling and Ivan Morillo head up a very average group of starting pitchers. These two need to carry the torch or the playoff dream will be lost. The fans may be chanting ‘Ling and Morillo, hope it rains tomorrow’ (not quite as catchy as Spahn and Sain then pray for rain, but the concept is the same).
There is precious little on the farm to help should any of these pitchers miss time.
The pen features an interesting mix of players. Should be a decent group, no stars. Everyone is going to need to contribute for the club to have success. There is talent in AAA ready to step in should these players struggle, or succumb to injury.
If the starting rotation holds together, Norfolk should make a run at the post season. The club has some aging, injury prone players who need to stay on the field as the farm system is weak at best. If things start out slow, expect new GM to try and move some of the veteran parts for young talent and draft choices in order to rebuild the squad from the ground up.