The Legend of the Beach (part 1)
Goin to the Beach y’all. Myrtle Beach. Golf courses, summer homes for rich folks, taffy, boardwalks, clichés, etc. etc. Outdoor showers and sandcastles abound. Oh, and high-A baseball, Carolina League style. A style where pitchers love ya, bats can’t stand ya. The Carolina League has been around for a very long time. As in, Johnny Bench played in the Carolina League and unless there has been a significant shift in the earth’s general atmospheric conditions in the last 60 years (I know, I know), it was a pitcher’s league then and it remains a pitcher’s league today. Nonetheless, guys can hit there. And more importantly, if you can hit there, you can practically hit anywhere. And if you can pitch there, well, you can pitch in San Diego. Ask Joe Wieland. Anyway, without further ado, let’s take a peek at what I think the 2013 Myrtle Beach Pelicans will look like.
Obviously, this is a roster that will look similar to the 2012 team from low-A Hickory. So I expect to see a pitching rotation that includes Nick Martinez(RHP) and Kid Lefty Vic Payano(LHP-duh). Jerad Eickhoff(RHP)will be there too, alongside Kevin Matthews(LHP). Not sure who gets the final rotation spot so I’ll refrain from listing the 10 or so dudes who could get the job, but gun-to-my-head, I think lanky lefty Will Lamb gets it, at least early in the season. Myrtle Beach’s pen was stout in 2012 and I’ll be anxious to see if it is again. I think 2012 draftee Josh McElwee gets back in there with his nice curveball as does fellow ’12 pick, Paul Schwendel. If Nick McBride, Taylor Dennis, and emerging arm, 6’7” Phil Klein are put back in the Myrtle pen, it could be another year of opposing teams looking dour when trailing after the 6th. All of those fellas throw with their right arm, so there’s a clear opening for someone who throws with the opposite appendage, which is why a guy like Lamb or possibly Payano may end up in the Pelican’s pen. Rating pitchers in Myrtle is, as you imagine, kinda tough. It’s a dilemma compounded when considering that not only is the jump to AA considered the most difficult in the development path, next to the MLB jump obviously, but Frisco is traditionally a hitters park so that tends to skew the numbers and skewer the pitchers. The point is, a hurler can be nails in Myrtle Beach, but fall flat in Frisco (unfortunately, see Osborne, Zach) But the kids can only throw on the mound they’re given, it’s your job to see through the smoke and mirror numbers and focus on the stuff. The fun part of the Myrtle experience is the kids who get bumped up there in mid-season. Who knows, maybe the insane run of CJ Edwards continues through the first half of the Sally season and the organization decides he’s ready for the next challenge. That happened last year with Everybody’s Favorite Fireballer, Luke Jackson, whose name is conspicuously absent from my projections for the Pelicans rotation. Hmmm.