As the Amoebas head into their third season, the prospects for a .500 record are increasing. While much of the team from season 2 remains intact, some key acquisitions in the free agent market and rookies getting the call should make for an interesting season.
The starting lineup:
C – Ivan Sierra – Sierra hit .282 with 21 dingers last season, his first in the bigs. While his defense can use some work, Sierra figures to be in the middle of the Amoebas lineup for years to come. He’s backed up by vet Phil Thebeau, who hits lefties well and provides a veteran presence behind the plate.
Corner Infielders – Anchored by vets Ron Williams and Francisco Blanco, the Amoebas expect league average production out of both spots. Both are steady, unspectacular players who can be counted on to put in their 550 Abs and not hurt the team. Both are backed up by Jack Watson, a slugger with the potential to hit 30+ HRs if given regular playing time. Watson will be working on other facets of his game this season in serving a back up role. Also avaiable to back up is Donnie Herzog, a Rule V draftee in season 2 who stillhas some learning to do.
Middle Infielders – Free Agent pickup Bob Buckley takes over at SS. While challenged with the bat, Buckley has a steady glove and rifle arm, and should provide a steady hand up the middle. 2nd base will be handled again by Marcus Jeffries. Jeffries was a disappointment in his first full big league season last year, and could be playing for his job this year. They will be backed by super utility player Sam Brown and Herzog.
OF – Two new players are the key: rookie Vern Romero could be a contender for Rookie of th eYear, while free agent signee Javier Javier (yes, you read that right – it was part of the reason I signed him!) should steady the defense in CF. They’ll be joined by Alex Hasegawa, whose production slid last season and could be part of a mid-season package if the Amoebas are out of contention for a playoff berth. Speedster Mo Quinn will back them up.
Pitchers: Always a strength of the Amoebas, it should be a similar story this season. A veteran A veteran rotation is lead by Dick Linden,late season arm injury the year before. A Cy Young candidate in season 1, but a bit of a disappointment last year as he was recovering from a late season arm injury the year before. The rest of the rotation is short of stamina, but had all the other attributes of a league leading staff. The bullpen is also strng, with rookie Nicky Bell being the primary long man, and Ken Collier providing reasonable 9th inning relief.
The prospects: With some younger players acquired in previous deals coming to the big league club soon, the future looks bright in SF.
Top prospects include 2B Dan Messmer, a 1st round pick last year and someone who could be with the big club in 2 years. The OF of the future is set to start the season in AAA, with Earnest Nye in LF, Edgar Oliva in CF and Alex Javier in RF. All have the promise to be solid ML players. And waiting in the wings should any fail is 19 year old International signing Orber Contreras. The pitching in the minors is headed up by Denny Olson, a 22 year old who is nearly ready for the majors. Turner Miller, acquired in a season 1 trade, also should be ready by next season. Other prospects include IF Doyle Perttyjohn, OF Gil Stephenson, and P Louie Rivera.
Outlook: .500 is a realistic goal, and with some luck, this team could go further than expected. And with a minor league system that is starting to fill with solid prospects, the outlook is is good in San Francisco.