It has been very quiet this season in Wichita they need a starting 3B and an elite starter for the rotation. Both RF Harold Palmer (S) and 3B Vic Gil (S) were signed at a song last season. While Palmer saw limited action as the 4th outfield, his bat still was available when the team needed it. Gil played a huge part in the offense, not only starting at 3B but knocking in 77 runs while hitting 29HR. Not bad for a guy signed for 385K on the season. SS Geraldo Tarraga will also test the market, he is a top end fielder and has been able to provide solid offense, but he strikes out more than many teams will like without a huge offense around him. He will get interest, but he might not be a fit for Wichita's budget.
The offense right now is built around 2B Joe Norton and RF Javier Duran. Both are good players, but better suited to be the 2nd bananas on real offenses. They are the complimentary pieces that all teams need to make the World Series. Tampa will be looking to find that superstar piece to add to the center of the lineup. SS Scott Rose, who worked in a platoon role in S18, allows the team to pursue a better offensive weapon without compromising defense with the loss of Tarraga. Alberto Vega should see an increase in time in LF there we could provide some boost to the offense. Jim Walker started to struggle in CF in Season 18 and will most likely make the move to either backing up 2B or RF. He will still get plenty of Abs and might occasionally spell Kiki Guerrero in CF, but defensively he is no longer able to be in the field every day. Guerrero struggles against Left handed pitching so he will need a platoon partner or someone who can hit to compliment him. C Johnny Ritchie is the real deal, batting .278 with 20HR 78RBI, but look for him to get big competition from AAA prospect Jordan Haney who could get the call up and steal the starting job from Ritchie. Prospects 2B Ryan Van Hekken and Joey O'Malley both should get a chance to come out of spring in big league uniforms. The Potential for success is there.
How desperate was the Wildcats rotation in S18. Their #1 SP Corey Webb was a waiver wire claim. Webb did perform well enough to keep a rotation spot in S19. At 11-9 with a 4.59 ERA, he held up well over the season. Jesus Melendez will also resume is normal 10-15 wins with a 4.50 ERA season after season. Stephen Smith had a career season last year. His 14-11 record with a 4.49 ERA was a career best. He will more likely revert back closer to his S17 form of 5.98 ERA and be struggling to hold his rotation spot. SP Darwin Power has been productive as a starter and might have one more year in that role before he will no longer pitch enough innings to be effective. He should be out of the rotation this season and only given spot starts, but this is not an ideal world. David Hernandez has been able to have success both in relief and the rotation as a swingman; he should continue that role this season and walk his usual 1 batter every other inning. Young guns Ruben Alonso will make a huge push to get into the starting rotation in S19. He is the future of the rotation in Wichita and should make improvements on past season. His 5.19 and 1.51 WHIP will be improved on if he is monitored right. More Interesting might be Malcolm Rupe who suffered a sore elbow toward the end of the year and was shut down for the last month of the season. He could pressure Tampa to put him in the rotation, if he can prove he made the full recovery and developed enough to perform at the big league level. AAA Starter Steve McDonald might also get a chance to make his ML return in S19 if he can play his cards right.
Summing it up with a Quote:
"We are still looking for that top draw for our team, when we get it, watch out!" -Witchita Management