Spring Training opens today, with all 20 Bull League teams in action against teams in their respective leagues. Some of the players to watch include LF Alexis Rosa (Toronto), who spent just 12 games in the Bull League last season, but hit .348 at the AAA-level Cow League affiliate Brampton Longhorns, stealing 18 bases along the way, and CF Dennis Guppy (Chicoutimi), the current #1 Prospect, a blazing speedster who hit .314 at the Short Season A level last season.
Promising starter Chris Zerkle (Anchorage) will also be under the spotlight. After two season at the AA-level Heifer League, where he went 8-3 last season and had ERA’s of 2.10 and 2.39, the 2014 1st round pick might be ready to skip over AAA-level and go straight to the “Show” this year with his devastating curveball.
Our preseason predictions are also out today, with some big surprises. First of all, defending Bull Cup champions, the Ohio Oxen, are predicted to land at 48-52 (.420), in 4th place in the Lake League West. Despite retaining a number of top players from last year, and adding more, like 2B Justin Good, a free agent addition from Chicoutimi, the Oxen struggle with a weak rotation.
Hamilton Crusaders are predicted to top the West division, mainly on the strength of their signing Montreal superstar 3B Alan Isimo, and solid performer 2B Rogelio Berreras who left Norfolk for free agency last year, after hitting .305 and stealing 10 bases.
The perennially struggling Norfolk Sharks, despite losing Berreras, are predicted to tie for second place in the American Eagle League East with a 55-45 (.550) record, just 3 games behind 2016 Bull Cup finalists, Calgary Inferno, and in a potential wild card spot. If they end up as predicted it would be their first trip to the playoffs since forming in 2012 as an expansion team. The Sharks have made no major off-season moves, aside from adding veteran 1B Rick Baggywrinkle (free agent signing from Jacksonville) and 2B Miguel Ortega (free agent signing from New York).
Here are the predictons:
|American Eagle League|
|New York Minutemen||57||43||0.570||5|
|Chicago Pit Bulls||54||46||0.540||1|
|Battle Creek Attack||36||64||0.360||19|