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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

9/16/23 : Florida State League (FSL) Championship Preview

The West Division champion Clearwater Threshers (79-50 regular season, 2-1 playoffs) face off against the East Division champion Jupiter Hammerheads (70-62, 2-0 playoffs) in a best of three series to determine the 2023 Florida State League championship.  The series begins tomorrow with the first game hosted by Jupiter at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach with game two and three (if necessary) hosted by Clearwater at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jupiter (Marlins affiliate) won the second half division title to earn their place in the playoffs with a 35-31 record, they swept the Palm Beach Cardinals in the playoffs to advance winning by counts of 3-2 (ten innings) and 7-6 (eleven innings).  Key contributors on the club include outfielder Kemp Alderman (2023 2nd round draft selection - University of Mississippi), shortstop  Jordan McCants (2021 3rd round draft selection - Pensacola Catholic HS), outfielder Brett Roberts (2022 16th round draft selection - Florida State) and outfielder Mark Coley (2023 17th round draft selection - University of Rhode Island).  They have seven 2023 draft selections and un-drafted free agents on the roster as position players.  Five pitchers from the 2023 draft are on the roster including their number one pick eighteen year old Noble Meyer from Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon (the same high school Mick Abel attended) and CB-A round selection eighteen year old Thomas White from Phillips Academy High School in Andover, Massachusetts.  There are five teenagers on the club, Meyer, White, pitcher Jhoniel Serrano, pitcher Julio Mendez and pitcher Juan De La Cruz.  Pitching is their strength as the club led the league during the regular season in ERA, saves and least runs allowed.  The team is managed by former Phillies minor league manager and coordinator Nelson Prada.

Clearwater advanced to the finals by defeating Lakeland in game one of the division series as Jean Cabrera was outstanding combining with three relievers for a 5-0 shutout.  After dropping game two 10-2 the Threshers bounced back with a 2-1 win as Aidan Miller was clutch hitting a two run home run and four pitchers combined to limit Lakeland to just four hits.

The Threshers also have multiple 2023 draft selections on their roster.  First round pick Aidan Miller (19 years old from New Port Richey, FL) has been getting the majority of time at shortstop while infielder Zach Arnold (22 years old - 14th round selection - Houston) is also a lineup regular.  Three twenty year olds (Emaarion Boyd, Ricardo Rosario and Jordan Viars) along with nineteen year old Raylin Heredia will see a good bit of time in the outfield and/or DH as will twenty-two year old Troy Schreffler.  Eighteen year old William Bergolla will play second base while Chad Castillo, Dakota Kotowski and Keaton Anthony will vie for time at first base.  Catchers Ryan Leitch and Jordan Dissin are the primary options behind the dish.

Jean Cabrera and Estibenzon Jimenez are primary starting options but there’s also Eiberson Castellano, Braeden Fausnaught, Ezequiel Ventura and Jonathan Petit. All five pitched in the division series.  Josh Bortka finished the year as the club’s most reliable reliever and he’s inherited the closer role.  Daniel Harper, Nathan Karaffa, Alex Rao and Saul Teran (he was excellent in round one) are relief options as well.  2023 draftees and signed un-draftee free agents who finished with the Threshers and are available include Hunter Loyd, Brandon Beckel, Trey Dillard, Casey Steward, Paxton Thompson and Brayden Tucker plus perhaps a couple more who haven’t seen action yet 🧐.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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