FEATURE
Building the Perfect Beast
An Exercise in Madness (Part 3)
by RORY NOBLE

My first season in the TNBL has come to a close. With an overall record of 64-97, the team finished just about where pre-season (62-99) and personal predictions estimated.

With the general ups and downs of the regular season, I can’t say I’m unhappy with the results overall. Some of the players picked up during the last off-season did fairly well (Hector Miramontes went 8-4 in 31 starts with an ERA of 3.35; Lee Penfield went 9-13 in 32 starts with an ERA of 4.23; C Luis Juarez had a line of .268/.325/.465 with 26 doubles, 11 home runs, 36 runs, and 42 RBI.) Nothing too terrible, although I will look to move both Miramontes and Penfield to the pen next season, which is where they truly belong.

With any rebuild project, however, a GM has to temper current season success and expectations with future predicted success and expectations. No one should expect a rebuild to be successful over the course of 1 season, or even 2 or 3. It’s a slow process that takes a bit of patience and a very thick-skinned approach. You’re going to lose a lot of games...A LOT. But that is the nature of the beast: the team struggles for a few seasons as all those younger guys develop and slowly get the call up for The Show. And some of these younger guys picked up through trades and the last amatuer draft are looking pretty damned good early on, if I do say so myself.

Number 7 overall pick SP Marten Hannestad moved up to S-A after a couple of appearances in the rookie league and posted a 9-2 record with an ERA of 2.42. He fanned 79 while only surrendering 16 walks. Another starting pitcher, number 31 overall selection Hiroya Yamasaki had a 5-6 record for the rookie league Cape Canaveral Astronauts with an ERA of 3.27. He struck out 61 while giving up 26 walks in his 17 appearances. A move up the farm system ladder isn't out of the question for either player.

Reliever Genzo Miura was another youngster who immediately moved up to class-A ball. After being drafted with the number 32 overall pick, he put up a line of 5 wins, 2 losses, 7 saves, and 9 holds in 49 appearances. He struck out 61 while only giving up 18 base-on-balls and had an ERA of 2.29.

Other younger players coming up through the system looked pretty good as well. RF Shigekuni Sasamoto hit .275 in A-ball this season with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 35 runs scored and 35 RBI. SP John Rubio had an ERA of 2.13 in short-season A with an 8-3 record, 99 K’s, and 22 BB in 18 starts. His S-A teammate SP Adolf Winter managed a 7-3 record with one save over 17 games (14 starts) and had 88 K’s and 27 BB. 1B slugger Andres Gomez had a line of .315/.376/.624 in the rookie league this season where he had 62 hits, 14 doubles, 1 triple, and 15 HR’s with 36 runs and 39 RBI. He’ll be starting in S-A (or higher) next season for sure. Starting pitchers Ernesto Juarez, Jen-kan Min, Kameji Uchida, and closer Miguel Escobar are all primed to move from Double-A to Triple-A next season as well. There may even be some ML debuts of promising Triple-A pitchers next season; it all depends on how this off-season shakes out.

With a decent amount of promising pitching prospects, the next draft focus may lean more toward gaining some offensive starts to help those pitchers get some “W’s.” We won’t know what the next draft holds in store for a while, so until then, patience and research are the key words for the Indianapolis Trail Blazers.