The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are looking to improve on a season in which their 61-78 record fell well short of propelling them into the playoffs. It was really the bats that went flat, especially on the power front, as 2018 was the first season in more than a decade that the Pelicans failed to produce a hitter with double-digit home run counts.
Pitching carried the squad, with a rotation that featured strong seasons from Tyson Miller, Alex Lange, Keegan Thompson, Cory Abbott, and Matt Swarmer.
This 2019 group will not be lead by manager Buddy Bailey, who has been moved to the South Bend Cubs (his fifth team in the Cubs organization) this season. Steve Lerud, manager of the 2018 Eugene Emeralds, will get the benefit of working with what seems to be a much improved offensive unit featuring Wladimir Galindo, Luke Reynolds, and Jhonny Bethencourt.
Possible Daily Lineup
C – Miguel Amaya
1B/3B – Luke Reynolds, Wladimir Galindo
2B – Carlos Sepulveda
SS – Aramis Ademan
OF – Jimmy Herron, Kevonte Mitchell, DJ Wilson
Bench – Tyler Payne (C), Cam Balego (C/IF), Jhonny Bethencourt (IF), Yeiler Peguero (IF), Zach Davis (OF), Grant Fennell (OF)
SP – Alex Lange, Javier Assad, Bryan Hudson, Paul Richan, Erling Moreno
RP – Luis Lugo, Jesus Camargo, Brian Glowicki, Ben Hecht, Ryan Kellogg, Garrett Kelly, Brendan King, Tyler Peyton, Manuel Rodriguez
While Nico Hoerner can make the argument that he is the top dog, Miguel Amaya finds himself at the top of several prospect lists. He also finds himself at Myrtle Beach to start off the year. A stout defender with a really impressive arm behind the dish, Amaya broke out last season with a strong first half in South Bend.
His power numbers dropped off in the second half, probably due to the fact that it was his first year of full-season ball. Don’t expect his home run numbers to be off the charts due to the stadiums in which he will be playing, but he will look to prove that the first half of 2018 was no fluke.
Highlight of team
The 2018 draft class is well represented in this group. Typically you wouldn’t see such a large number of young players taken in the previous year’s draft make their way up to High-A so quickly, but each of these guys are advanced already.
Paul Richan was the first pitcher taken off the board by the Cubs and proved that Eugene was just way too easy for him. He skips over South Bend entirely and will find himself in the rotation to begin the year. Luke Reynolds is a bat-first corner infielder taken in the 10th round of last year’s draft. He has an advanced approach at the plate and will look to tap into some of his raw power.
Jimmy Herron will see time at all three outfield positions and might actually be at the top of the order, although his bat could play anywhere. Grant Fennell, although not technically a 2018 draftee, still belongs in this group. He was an undrafted free agent signee last year and impressed in his short time in the organization. He will see some time in the corner outfield spots and get some DH at-bats.
Carlos Sepulveda has dealt with injuries over the last two seasons, completely keeping him out of action in 2018 and significantly hindering his production in 2017. Before that, he proved to be a high-contact hitter with a good eye at the plate. It will be his second go-round at Myrtle Beach, this time with good health. He has completely fallen off the prospect map, but I would not be surprised if he forces his way up to Tennessee fairly quickly.
First to be promoted
The easy pick for this category is Alex Lange. The righty out of LSU already proved that he was able to handle the High-A level last season, but he finds himself back at Myrtle Beach as a result of a roster crunch. He will get the chance to work on his changeup and maybe find a few extra miles per hour on his fastball. Lange will be the first man up as soon as there is room in the Tennessee rotation, whether that be from injury or promotion.