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2018-2019 Fall/Winter Season Forecast 

October 9, 2018 (Federal League Wire Service)

         Here's how the editors of South Florida Baseball Report see the races shaping up:

Expansion Division

1. Tri-Cities Tritons
Mgr: Mike Whittaker 
Last Season: 28-12 (1st place, won league championship)
The Story: The Tritons, having won four of the last five championships, are clearly established as the league's preeminent team. After a shocking series loss two seasons ago, the Tritons responded by recapturing their title last season.
Strength: The Water Dwellers have developed one of the league's best hitting lineup. MVP Calvin Rayburn, former batting champion Zac Miller, former MVP Jay Warman, and all-star Chris Marrero anchor a proficient and prolific offense. A pitching staff built around Rayburn, John Hardardt, Eric Silverberg, should continue to be among the loop's best, although not its deepest.
Weakness: The infield defense remains rather inconsistent. If the Sons of Poseidon get hold out pitcher Matt Arlick back, they would be the odds on favorites to repeat.
Prognosis: It has become hard to doubt the boys, so, at minimum, they will be expected to reach the Championship Final Series again.
Writin' Triton: The Tritons will start the campaign without all-star slugger Mike LaManna and valued backup catcher Jon Goldsmith on the roster.

2. Davie Goliaths
Mgr: Phil Laufman 
Last Season: 22-18 (2nd place, lost in semi-finals)
The Story: The second tenure of Anthony DeFillipis as Goliaths' manager has ended and former Sentries' skipper Phil Laufman has taken over.
Strength: This will be a better than average lineup. Andres Gomez won the batting title last season and he returns along with top hitters Paul "The Fork" Tunink, Marcelino Gomez, and Chris Jones. Newcomers A.J. Alexio and Engels Vargas will be counted on as well. The pitching should be solid as well as strong armed Jose Batatino and touted prospect Xavier Rodriguez join a deep staff. With Laufman, newly acquired Elijah Rodriguez, and Paul Nolan, the G-Men boast the league's deepest catching corps.
Weakness: Overall defense is average, although Alexio and Vargas will help. The bullpen could use a little more depth.
Prognosis: The Goliaths have enough talent on their roster to contend, and Laufman should get the most out of them. Don't be surprised if the Philistines are one of the league's best teams by season's end.
Goliath Grunts:
The team is trying to coax former ace Matt Leban into returning this season. If Leban rejoins the team, the Goliaths would be legitimate challengers.

3. Margate Sentries
Mgr: Dave Munguia 
Last Season: 22-18 (3rd place, lost in Play-In Round)
The Story: The Sentries put together a strong roster last season, but were shocked by a walkoff loss in the Play-In game. The Gatekeepers have the depth, if, perhaps, not the frontline talent, to be considered as reasonable challengers to the Tritons. 
Strength: The pitching staff is loaded with reigning Best Pitcher Award winner Raul Ascanio, top prospect Ralph Morel, and versatile David Marquez.
Weakness: Although the team has some power in the lineup with sluggers like Bennys Acosta and Rob Wiley; and speedsters like Dan Heaton and Steven Carles, there is not enough of either to match runs with the Tritons.
Prognosis: If the pitching performs up to expectations, the Gatekeepers will be able to stay in contention all season long. If the offense exceeds expectations, the Guardsmen can entertain thoughts of a deep playoff run.
Sentry Posts: Player/Manager Dave Munguia has developed into one of the best pinch hitters in league history.

4. Hollywood Stars
Mgr: Ishy Demoya
Last Season: 20-20 (4th place)
The Story: Teo Zorrilla passed the managerial baton to Ishy Demoya at the conclusion of last season, only to unretire as a player and rejoin the team, as a player only, at the end of pre-season camp.
Strength: The Stars will have a pretty productive lineup led by Demoya, a former MVP all-star Osvaldo Capote. Dependable veterans such as Zorrilla, Lee Gonzalez, and Chris Contreras will be joined by promising newcomers like Luis Cepeda and David Cruz.
Weakness: Although Rafael Lara is a workhorse, lefty Brandon Von Achen shows promise, but the rest of the pitching staff is wafer thin. Team defense is iffy.
Prognosis: The Stars, who made a late run at the playoffs last season, may take a small step back this season, unless they can upgrade the mound corps as the season progresses.
Star Shines: The Stars remain hopeful that they can add holdouts like pitcher Jorge Castro, infielder Matthew Rodriguez, and slugger Erick Mass before too much of the season ebbs away.

 

 

Original Division

1. Sunrise Sunsets
Mgr: Brandon Hull 
Last Season: 36-4 (1st place, lost in Championship Final Series)
The Story: The Twilighters stormed through the opposition during the regular season, only to succumb to mounting injuries and inconsistent play in the Championship Final Series. The Sunsets will start the campaign without top players such as outfielders Anthony Garcilazo and Anthony Izquiel, shortstop Justin Dages, catcher Chris Craig, first baseman Javier Aguilar, and pitchers Zach Margules and Dustin Hanley. Few teams could handle that kind of attrition, but the Sunsets have enough talent and experience to still be the Senior Circuit front runners.
Strength: If healthy, the 'Sets will still have a very good pitching staff. Veterans like Tommy Tritz, Jason Van Tol, Brant Spring, and the newcomer Camron White lead the way. The lineup still packs some punch, too. Chris Price, Nick Arata, Ted Maceda, and Jimmy Schariest will anchor the order, augmented by powerful rookies Hairold Salce, Raphael Andrades, and Ender Vargas. Team speed is better than average. 
Weakness: Up the middle defense will be a concern. Player/Manager Hull will have to move behind the plate and the team will be breaking in a new shortstop and new second baseman.
Prognosis: The Sunsets should pitch well and hit well enough and field well enough to be title contenders again.
Sunset Grillings: The Twilighters enter the season actively searching for another catcher in the trade market.

2. Delray Beach Mudcats
Mgr: Gary Frady 
Last Season: 2-28 (4th Place)
The Story: The major rebuild that started last season will take another giant leap forward this season if the new injection of young talent plays up to its potential.
Strength: The 'Cats, depending on how Frady deploys his rookies, may have the best outfield in the league. Newcomers Jan Sanchez, Evan Parana, and Michael Deeb could be an all-rookie outfield if Sanchez doesn't move to the infield. Rookie Infielder Willie Castillo has a chance to be another Best Newcomer candidate. The Whiskered Fish will probably boast the loop's fastest team.
Weakness: The team's pitching staff lacks depth. Veteran Joe Feller is an innings eater, Lefty Joe Adair is a solid reliever, and Andrew Razack has potential, but the teams lacks a true ace and there are few other established options in the bullpen. 
Prognosis: If they hit like they are capable and get any kind of consistency from their pitching staff, they have a chance to not only challenge for a post-season berth, but to advance.
Mudcat Musings: All-Star catcher Jamaal Thelwell is scheduled to be activated by the second week of the season.

3. Hallandale Twins
Mgr: Brent Campbell 
Last Season: 14-26 (3rd place, lost in semi-finals)
The Story: After enduring a 19 game losing streak and a last place finish two seasons ago the Twins got a taste of the playoffs last season despite starting strong and fading late. A more consistent showing is the goal this go around.
Strength: The Twins will have a drastically improved lineup as former all-star SS Manuel Blanco returns. Top outfielder Giovann Texiera should be around for the whole campaign and all-stars Esteban Reinoso and Ruben Aguilar return. Newcomers Aramis Cruz, Mitchell Bradley, Colin Byrne, Daniel Gomes, and Luis Horta will all vie for playing time. Slugger Jeff Lynch, shortstop Sergio Perez and third baseman Jehiel Russo round out the lineup.
Weakness: Despite the presence of workhorses like Campbell and Doc Guida, the pitching staff is going to be a problem. Unless they find some additional options, the mound staff will be the team's Achilles heel.
Prognosis: The Twins have an opportunity to climb in the standings based on their lineup, but if the pitching staff doesn't improve enough to keep them in games, they may revert to sitting out the playoffs again.
Twin Peeks: The Twins have an excess of outfielders and second baseman that they might be inclined to deal in their search for pitching help.


4. Broward Cubs
Mgr: Cory McEwen 
Last Season: 16-22 (2nd place, lost in Play-in Round)
The Story: Last season, the Cubs started strong, but wobbled to the finish line before stalling in the Play-In Round in former manager Burke Fox's final season before his retirement. Cory McEwen was a surprise choice to take over for Fox, considering the mercurial McEwen will be tasked with a rebuilding job.
Strength: After suffering through a powerless campaign last season, the Cubs traded for slugger Reol Alvarez, speedy outfielder Jorge Caballero, and signed top catching prospect Diomedes Castillo. Add these players to SS Ricky Quintero, veterans like Rick Hernandez, Jamie Bobrow, Omar Garcia, and McEwen and, suddenly, the lineup might not be half bad. Any pitching staff that can send former Best Pitcher Award winner Chad Volbert to the mound for a regular turn, has to be, by definition, a strength. There aren't a ton of arms behind him, though.
Weakness: Team speed is limited. Infield defense can be an issue. The outfield has a hole in right field, and the bullpen needs help.
Prognosis: The Cubs could surprise if the pitching delivers, but anything above third place would be a downright shock.
Cub Cribs: The Cubs are
keeping the interim label on McEwen this season. Depending on how he does, and whether or not he enjoys managing, the club will assess maintaining McEwen as manager as the season progresses.

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