FEATURE
Building the Perfect Beast
An Exercise in Madness (Part 2)
by RORY NOBLE

Ah, Spring Training: the time of year when a GM’s thoughts turn to solidifying their starting rotation, making their final pre-season trades to better their team, and trying to figure out how to fill that gaping hole at shortstop with just an aging third baseman, the groundskeeper, or the team mascot to choose from (if all else fails, I suggest the mascot: they’re usually fun to watch as they run the bases).

Before I go any further, I would like to send my sincere thanks to the league office for expediting the rebranding of the Indianapolis franchise and all the associated minor league teams. I am excited to attempt to make the Indianapolis Trail Blazers a winning franchise in the TBNL. I am also excited to unveil the Independence Explorers, Eastern Oregon Mountaineers, Galveston Voyagers, San Diego Pioneers, and the Cape Canaveral Astronauts to the ranks of the TBNL minor leagues.

Back to Spring Training. In a word: YUCK (or possibly one that rhymes with it)! I knew the team was going to have some ups and downs, but to see so many downs during ST is a bit unnerving. Recent FA signing Hector Miramontes went 0-3 in his five starts with a team high ERA of 9.68. Bright spots in the rotation were Troy Wemmer (four starts, 0-2, 2.40 ERA) and Yannick Verhulst (four starts, 1-2, 1.13 ERA). Closer Wilson Cortina looked good as well in his 12 appearances posting 1 win, 1 hold, and 2 saves with an ERA of 1.54.

The offense struggled as well during the March games with only 2B Jordan Tierrablanca, 3B Alfredo Moreno, and LF Shuzo Yamaguchi posting batting averages more than .250. DH Rupert Tindale led the way in home runs with 5.

While I don’t put a great deal of faith in the outcomes during ST, I would have liked to see some of the players perform a little better. Hopefully the pitcher’s arms are loose and the hitters have shaken the winter cold off their bats and can perform a bit better when the regular season begins.

Part of the building process for most any sports team is the first-year player draft, and the TBNL is no different, other than having the draft in April instead of June. I like that because it gives the new players a small amount more development time in the minors.

Other than a couple of small tactical errors, I think the organization came out of this year’s draft in better shape than it went in. First-rounder Martin Hannestad looks to be a future #1 or #2 rotation guy. Second-rounders RF Alfredo Feliciano, SP Hiroya Yamasaki, and RP/CL Genzo Muira all look to be solid contributors in the future.

My first glitch came in the third round when I failed to move C Candranibha Shashwat up in my list and instead ended up with SP Benny Berentsen. While Berentsen may end up being a reliever at the ML level, Shashwat was the better selection with the general lack of higher quality catchers available. And the irony of it all is that Shashwat went to Springfield with the next pick. Doh! I did find a reasonable prospect for catcher in Kyung-ryul Moon in the fifth round, but he’s more of a reserve than a starter. There’s always next year’s draft, right? After the compensation rounds of the draft, I focused on players with either high intelligence, high work ethic, or both. We’ll see if any develop into anything other than minor league scrubs in a few years.

Now onto the regular season!