Happy New Year, wishing you a great 2016.
It’s time to start previewing the talent in 2016 SAL. The official rosters won’t be available until the beginning of April, so this is me speculating. I’m not going to be 100% correct and some of the players listed won’t start the year in the SAL but will get there some time during the season due to injuries or promotions.
The Tourists are up first as I go alphabetically around the league, the Asheville Tourists are the minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They’ve been in the Sal league championship in 3 of the last 4 years and looking at the 2016 crop they’ll be strong again.
SS) Brendan Rodgers #3 pick in the 2015 draft. He comes heralded as a complete hitter with pop and enough glove, range and arm to stay at shortstop.
3B) Kevin Padlo, 5th rd pick in the 2014 draft- Good hitter with above average pop. Padlo started 2015 with the Tourists struggled and was sent down. He reemerged in Boise in June and was very good.
3B) Tyler Nevin #38th pick in the 2015 draft- The reports I’ve read suggest an above average hitter with developing pop. He might outgrow 3rd base.
RHP) Mike Nikorak- #27 pick in the 2015 draft, Nikorak reportedly features a mid to upper 90’s fastball and mixes in a developing curve and change.
RHP) Peter Lambert- 2nd rd pick in the 2015 draft. Lambert ‘s fastball sits 90-93 with a low 70’s bender and low 80’s change. He’s got an advanced feel for pitching and his control/command is pretty advanced for a High School arm.
Around the diamond
There’s two logical choices for the starting catchers job Hamlett Marte and converted middle infielder Chris Rabago. We might also see holdover Robbie Perkins and 2015 27th rd pick Campbell Wear. Marte has swung a good bat the couple of seasons in the low minors. Rabago statistically had a good year defensively in his 1st year of catching having converted from second base.
In addition to Rodgers there are 4 players who could be in the mix and all have the versatility to play both positions. Carlos Herrera probably the favorite for the 2nd base job played SS for Boise last yr he handles the bat pretty well without much power yet. Jonathan Piron and likely holdover Max George are also in the mix.
I’m also including 2015 13th rd pick Mylz Jones here although he played 6 positions in Grand Junction he spent most of his time at shortstop.
In addition to Padlo and Nevin, Chris Keck might get some starts at 3rd base.
A couple of front runners for first base are 2015 7th rd pick Brian Mundell and 2015 17th rd pick Collin Ferguson. A couple of college guys Ferguson has shown quite a bit of pop but he was old for rookie ball.
I suspect we’re going to get holdover Ryan Stephens and he played left and center, Omar Carrizales really struggled after a hot start and he might come back too he manned CF and RF. Newcomers in the mix include RF Sam Hilliard, CF Terry McClure, (LF-CF) Eric Toole, CF Daniel Suero, (LF,CF,RF) Bobby Stahel and LF Cole Anderson.
I’m most looking forward to seeing Hilliard and what he can do to the short right field porch.
In addition to Nikorak and Lambert there’s also high draft picks Javier Medina, David Hill, Parker French. All RHP taken in the 1st 5 rounds
Rounds 6-10 the Rockies drafted LHP Jack Wyncoop and righties Colin Welmon and Trey Killian
These 8 pitchers made up the bulk of the rotations for Boise and Grand Junction.
Also in the mix is Venezuelan Javier Palacios and 29th rd pick from 2014 Logan Sawyer.
The Rockies had a lot of early picks in 2015 and they used the bulk of them to bolster the pitching and there will be some high ceiling arms coming to Asheville this Summer.
Not all of the early picks were dedicated to the pitching however as they did pick up Brendan Rodgers with the number 3 pick. A high profile shortstop that many felt would go number 1 overall.
The Tourists are the team I follow the closest as I can walk to the stadium and often do, the 2016 crop looks like it will be a lot of fun to follow.
Next up on Notes I’m hoping to finish my top 5 3rd basemen in Sal in 2015 before I go on vacation Wednesday and my next 2016 team preview is the Augusta Greenjackets (Giants) should land next week. Cheers.