How many of us thought that 3 out of our 4 full-season affliates would be in the championship series of their respective leagues when the season began? Vero Beach basically got left for waste when McGee and Davis got moved up, but they still put together a decent season and gave fans of the Vero Beach Devil Rays a reason for hope(though, I believe the VB have 1 more year of existence before leaving for PC).
I believe that we owe a huge "Thank you" to the Los Angeles Dodgers for how they basically helped all 3 of our Championship-calibur teams. Without the Dodgers, we wouldn't have the Columbus Catfish as our affliate, GW-HR hitter Sergio Pedroza and our future 4th OFer Justin Ruggiano. Thanks Ned, you can have Jae Seo back as a reward.
Columbus, in my mind, was the best of trio. They basically rode 2 great starting pitchers and an unexpected crop of hitters to the playoffs and swept themselves through there. What makes their team so much better is that they played almost their entire 2nd half without their best overall hitter(Desmond Jennings). Imagine how great the Catfish would've been, had Jennings not gone out. I'm not going to say that the Catfish are primed for a repeat, but it's more than likely that their pitching staff will be even better in 2008. It's unclear whether or not David Price starts in Columbus or not, but it's almost a definite that Will Kline and probably Jeremy Hellickson will start the season in Columbus. Hellickson has slowly been promoted in the organization, so he's a good pick to repeat the start of the season in Columbus.
Will Montgomery 3peat? That's a tricky question, especially when it's unclear which Vero Beachers will be promoted and which of the current Biscuits start the 2008 season back in Montgomery? Pedroza, Davis and McGee all seem to be locks, but things can always change. Heath Rollins, in my mind, should skip Vero Beach outright and begin the season as at least the #2 or #3 for the Biscuits.
Durham fits into the same scenario as Montgomery. How many of the current Bulls' "true prospects" will be moved up to the majors and how many will continue to be Bulls? Those empty spots will be filled by Reid Brignac, John Jaso, Chris Nowak, Fernando Perez and others. Evan Meek, Nick DeBarr and Dale Thayer are locks to be mainstays of the Durham 'pen next year in my mind. It's almost a common thought that Wes Bankston will remain a Bull and more than likely the same with Justin Pridie. However, the Bulls rotation will probably be a big question mark until Spring Training is over.
Here's hoping that all 4 of our Full-Season affliates make runs at their respective league championships and at least 1 of our short-season leagues will make a push themselves.