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Albuquerque Roadrunners Season 7/8 Off-Season Report

When MLB teams talk about creating a player development machine, they often refer to the likes of the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, or Los Angeles Angels (of Orange County). In Capra, one of the teams in that sentence would be the Albuquerque Roadrunners. In 7 seasons of play, Albuquerque has won the division 5 times, and made numerous playoff appearances at every minor league stop. That didn’t change in season 7, as the Birds took 5 of the 6 possible division crowns, capping it off with a trip to the World Series by the parent club, despite a disappointing 86-76 regular season mark.

Since the starting nine routinely pace the league in batting, thanks in no small park to the expansive, and dead, air of their home park, the Roadrunners must make an annual look at improving and revamping a pitching staff that curses that same air that gives the offense life. Charles Jang and Max Bennett, notable trade acquisitions, have paced the staff since their arrival, but now both are at or near the end of their contract, so the franchise must begin looking to youngsters such as Harry Solano to step in and contribute. Rookie Bud Simpson established an example for them all to follow, posting a 1.35 WHIP and 4.67 ERA, both second only to Jang amongst the staff. A repeat performance may be necessary as Jang ages and the rest of the staff struggles.

The aforementioned starting nine have established themselves as a model for building a contender on the cheap, as the nucleus of this team has evolved, melding youth and experience without missing a beat. To drive home this point, the team sports one of, if not the only entirely home-grown starting lineup in the majors. If not for the phenom that is Diego Santana, Albequerque might’ve sported their third rookie of the year in four years, as, most notably, Jorel McGlinchy won the Gold Glove in CF while hitting 25 HR, and Pablo Vincente anchored the lineup with 44 HR and 145 RBI, along with a .900+ slugging pct in the AL playoffs to lead the team to its WS appearance. However, off seasons from Hal Randall and Jeromy Wagner, usually among the leaders in both batting average and on-base percentage, left the team shorter in the wins column than they’d anticipated. Their return to form coupled with repeat performances from the rest of the lineup should mean another year at the top of the league for the Birds.
Despite the World Series loss, the Roadrunners’ future continues to look bright with outstanding depth and impact amongst their farm system. Prudent draft investments and international signings continue to maintain a franchise that consistently posts winning seasons with a small-market payroll.

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