Article Written by Craig Borden (@Craigers1221)
This season the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have been the juggernaut of the Eastern League. They have been a full on power house as they have dominated in every aspect of this game. The level of competition they have been playing this season has been no slouch either. The teams in the Eastern League have been very successful as they competed with the Fisher Cats for the best team in the league.
The Fisher Cats just swept one of these opponents in the Trenton Thunder. The Thunder won the Eastern Division with a 79-61 record during the regular season, where the Cats finished just behind them with a 76-62 record. Looking at that close division race that was only separated by a couple games led many to believe that the first round of the playoffs was going to be a battle. The Fisher Cats quickly put that idea to rest as they out scored the Thunder 23 to 5 during the 3-game sweep. As the Cats ride the lightning into the Championship series against the Akron Rubberducks, Blue Jays fans should be taking notice.
Throughout this season, the Fisher Cats have played host to some of the best talent the Blue Jays’ system has to offer. At the moment, the roster boasts seven of the Jays Top 30 Prospects. The talents of Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Hector Perez, T.J. Zeuch, Santiago Espinal, Forest Wall, and Jordan Romano have been main parts of this team. This team also has top contributors in Harold Ramirez and Max Pentecost. Ramirez has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters throughout the season and has shown no signs of slowing down. He is currently sporting a beautiful .320 batting average with 11 homers and 70 RBIs. Pentecost has had a stellar second half to his season and has really come on of late to offer another threat in the heart of this lineup.
So that is what has been going on lately with the Fisher Cats, but do not forget that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. started his historic season in New Hampshire. At the time of his promotion to the Buffalo Bisons, he was batting a mere .402 with 60 RBI on 19 doubles and 14 homers. Many thought this team would fade away after Vlad was promoted along with other top prospects Sean Reid-Foley, Jonathan Davis, Thomas Pannone, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but this team continued to gel and find ways to win.
This success can be attributed to a solid attack on offense and continued success from the young arms as they were called up from Dunedin. The Co-Champions of the 2017 Florida State League provided plenty of fruit for the Fisher Cats in 2018. There are nine active Fisher Cats that were on this Championship team with the Dunedin Blue Jays a year ago. This success has built a foundation for championships. As a cohesive unit this year, the Cats ferocious offense generated the highest runs per game average in the league. Their offense generated 5.08 runs per game and their closest foe were their Championship rivals - the Rubberducks - with 4.75 runs per game. The Fisher Cats’ offense also placed 1st in the league in Runs (706), Hits (1263), doubles (270), RBIs (650), Stolen Bases (153), and all three triple slash categories (.272 / .427 / .772). This is a prolific offense heading into the Championship Series.
On the other side of the ball, the pitching was average with a few standout performers. Ace T.J. Zeuch led the way with 3.08 ERA in 120 innings this season. The emergence of such dominance earned him a chance to start Game One of the Division Series in which he continued to mow through hitters. Jordan Romano was having an incredible season as well, but slumped at the end of the season and finished with a 4.13 ERA; even with an incredible WHIP of 1.187. The rest of the rotation and the bullpen was not as consistent and had flashes of greatness but was clearly benefiting from this great offense.
So what is next for this solid all-around team? Today, they start the Championship Series against the Akron Rubberducks and will look to keep the fuse lit on this explosive offense. The offense has been hot to finish the season and through the Division Series. Look for them to back up solid performances from Zeuch and Romano in the first couple games. They will be in Akron for the first two games. They will be looking to take at least one of those two games before heading home for the final three games if needed. I expect the killer B’s at the top of this lineup in Bichette and Biggio to have big series on offense. My breakout picks will be Harold Ramirez and Max Pentecost.
This is the look all of you Blue Jays fans have been looking for in your crystal balls. Watch this series closely because many of these names will be making debuts in Toronto over the next year or so. Some maybe sooner rather than later as they continue to perform at a high level and force the organizations hand.
Go Fisher Cats!!!
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)