Like I said yesterday I really like this team on paper. A bunch of these guys have played here in Double A Norwich already so they know the league and the field and the level of competition. The former Navigators are pitchers Joe Bateman, Chris Begg, Pat Misch, Matt Palmer, Billy Sadler and R.D. Spiehs. Returning position players are catcher Justin Knoelder, 3B Brian Buscher, 2B A.J. LaBarbera, 2B Derin McMains, 1B Tyler Von Schell, SS Jake Wald and OF Randy Walter.
The three starting outfielders, Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Nate Schierholtz and Clay Timpner have power and speed and Walters, the former Nav, is a good fill-in outfielder. The infield has power at first base with starter Travis Ishikawa and back-up Von Schell. Third baseman Aaron Sisk was a free agent pickup from the Cubs and will share time there with Buscher. The other four infielders are pesky hitters and LaBarbera especially so last season with runners in scoring position. Behind the plate Knoelder is a good defensive catcher with some speed. Newcomer Brian Munhall is the other catcher.
The starting pitching staff looks solid with Begg and Misch the Double A vets at the top of the roatation. Dave Mac's "hot" pick, lefty Jonathan Sanchez and 12 game winners with 2005 Class A Calf. League champs San Jose Jesse Floyd and fellow blogger Garrett Broshuis round out the rest of the starters.
In the bullpen Matt Palmer, a former Navs closer, figures to be the long guy and spot starter. Billy Salder, another sometime closer, the 8th inning set-up guy and Joe Bateman (the answer to the following trivia question: Name the first Navigators pitcher ever to hit a home run?) the closer.
Knoelder, Ishikawa and Schierholtz are on the Giants 40 man roster. Martinez-Esteve is the "hot" rookie.
I have a good feel about the team. A good mix of Double A vets and guys who won last years championship at Class A San Jose.
In other notes: read GM Jim Beaudion's chat on the New London Day website. Some good stuff there. And in Dave Mac's weekly blog he revealed the releases of pitcher Mitch Walk and SS Jamie Atlas. Hopefully they can catch on somewhere else.