Without being number one in the west since the first season, Oakland can once again taste victory.
Hitting: With one of the worst batting averages in the league (around .250)I am a little surprised they are in first place. They have a pretty solid outfield, but most of their future infielders are still in the minors. Until Cory Snow and the rest of the gang can come up, I see that team batting average only rising a little bit.
Pitching: Their team ERA is almost 4, which is one of the top rankings in the league. Oakland is very happy to have a great pitching staff to make up for their not so great hitting. Led by possible Cy Young winner Victor Vega who most likely will be a 20-game winner and young pitchers Joe Lindsey, Mack Hitchcock their rotation is maybe the best in the league. Most of their good relievers are still developing in the minors, but the staff will make up for it.
Draft Class: Oakland has a pretty good draft (being sarcastic, their draft was amazing) receiving three first round picks! They picked CF Cory Snow at number three, which was a great pick. The other two round picks in the first round were Hank Lange who isn't have bad and possible pitching ace Augie Woodall. In the second round they selected a good reliever, Jim Bailey who could be very good in a couple of years. DRAFT GRADE: A+
My Prediction: Even though their hitting is weak, their pitching is lights out and is the reason I think they may end up in first place once again:
Overall Grade: B-
Future Team Grade: B+
Being the first year with a winning percentage, I think it is going to be a very close battle for first place.
Hitting: Tacoma has a very young roster, so it might take a couple more years for Rain to lead the league in hitting. I'm going to try to win before his future stars come up, because once they do, there won't be anything stopping him. Led by two time silver slugger Vasco Lee, their hitting is awesome. They also have a couple of shortstops...not one, not two, but 9 good shortstops! That could be his whole line up right there!!!
His hitting is so good, that it might almost be too good.
Pitching: Tacoma is pretty much right down the middle when it comes to pitching. But don't forget, they have a prospect team. When Darryl Priest, Donaldo Torres, and Roger Carpenter reach their full potential, their staff will be one of the best in the league. Their bullpen will be much much better once Joseph Chong comes up to the bigs.
Draft Class: Donaldo Torres was a good pick to help out their staff a little bit. I project a lot of walk/strike-out type of pitcher. With their next pick, they got Harold Ransom, another shortstop. No surprise there. DRAFT GRADE: C+ or B-
My Prediction: I'm a little confused with all of the shortstops, but their team is going to be very good.
Overall Grade: B- or B
Future Team Grade: A+
Las Vegas Venom:
With a little under .500 winning percentage, Las Vegas is a gamble to win 1st place.
Hitting: Their outfield is one of the best in the leagues and their infield is still young. Once Howard Pryce and the rest of the squad finishes developing their hitting will be lights out.
Pitching: Their pitching isn't so good. They can not rush Phillip Benard to fast or their goes Vegas' whole pitching. Venom will be expecting big things from him.
Draft Class: Phillip Benard was a great pick by Las Vegas considering that they the need a Cy Yound type of pitcher. Hopefully Benard can do that for them. With their other first round pick they got another pitcher, who is very good. His name is Lariel Sierra and he will be able to provide Phillip with some help. Their second round pick, Phillip Howard is a good second baseman that was looking to be picked in the first round, but got picked in the second. It isn't looking good for Vegas to sign him. DRAFT GRADE: B
My Prediction: Good, but not good enough this year. If they work on their pitching, Vegas could be a contender in a few seasons.
Overall Grade: C+ or B-
Future Team Grade: B or B+
Honolulu Lava Kings:
Being the worst team in the West and only being over .500 once (only by two games) I don't see them leaving fourth place.
Hitting: Their hitting isn't bad, but it isn't great either. They have two good hitters; Jose Tavarez and Adam Lawrence. Besides that their isn't really anyone else.
Pitching: Dennis Parris is their best pitcher, and he isn't anything special either. Their bullpen is average, but could use a little work. Their pitching could use a few better arms.
Draft Class: I Like how he picked a hitter and a pitcher in the first two rounds. Dennis Parris should help the hitting, and adds pop to their line up. Willie Rosario will be a big help to their pitching and was a good pick. DRAFT GRADE: B
My Prediction: Needs some major work, and until that happens they will be in fourth place for a while.
Overall Grade: D+ or C-
Future Team Grade: C or C+
1st- Oakland Oaks
2nd- Tacoma Rain
3rd- Las Vegas Venom
4th- Honolulu Lava Kings