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Monday, December 10
Ocala Ocelots


2001 record:
113-49 (.698); 1st place in NL West
Won NL Divisional Series over Glen Allen in 7 games; Won NL Championship Series over Stanley in 4 games; Won BRASSball World Series Championship over Minnesota in 6 games

Major additions:
OF Brian Giles, SP Jamey Wright

Major loses:
RHP Roger Clemens, RHP Curt Schilling, 1B David Segui, RHP Steve Sparks, OF Juan Encarnacion, OF Tony Gwynn

2001 Review:
The 2001 season was a dream for the Ocala Ocelots. Led by a tremendous offense (which led the league in run scored) and a solid pitching staff (which was second in the league in runs allowed), the Ocelots put together a tremendous 113-win season.

Following a seven-game scare in the NLDS versus Glen Allen, Ocala went on to beat first the Stanley Sioux and then the Minnesota Mudcats for the team’s first ever BRASSball World Championship.

The Ocala lineup was solid from top-to-bottom, but its key players were NL MVP 1B Todd Helton (.333, 31 HR, 165 RBI), 2B Edgardo Alfonzo (.356, 26 HR, 129 RBI), C Jason Kendall (.324, 139 R, 32 SB) and OF Sammy Sosa (.303, 44 HR, 143 RBI). Leading its pitching staff were RHP Javier Vazquez (23-4, 3.34 ERA, 191 K), RHP Roger Clemens (20-4, 4.38 ERA, 165 K) and RHP Troy Percival (46 IP, 2.14 ERA, 41 SV).

2002 Outlook:
Ocala was relatively quiet in free agency, but did make one major move. The Ocelots added star OF Brian Giles (.282, 32 HR, 150 RBI) to an already intimidating offense. Top-to-bottom, few teams can compare to this modern day Murderer’s Row.

There are some concerns that playing 156 games behind the plate and stealing 32 bases last year will hurt C Jason Kendall this season, especially since he had only recently recovered from a major leg injury. Only time will tell if such concerns are warranted.

Also returning is ace RHP Javier Vazquez, who dominated in the 2001 post-season. Lost, though, are most of the staff’s other key starting pitchers. This list includes RHP Roger Clemens, RHP Curt Schilling and even RHP Steve Sparks. Ocala did sign talented RHP Jamey Wright, but he is unlikely to match the success of either Clemens or Schilling.

The key to Ocala’s 2002 season may very well be rookie RHP Roy Oswalt. The word out of Ocala is that they will give the phenom every chance to prove himself in 2002. Oswalt is certainly one of the most talented pitching prospects in the game. If he can contribute for Ocala next season, the Ocelots pitching staff may be in much better shape than some realize.

It is given that Ocala will score runs. It is equally likely that they will win a weak NL West and appear once again in the playoffs. For them to repeat, though, the success of the team’s pitching staff will hold the key.

Projected lineup
CF J.D. Drew
SS Derek Jeter
1B Todd Helton
DH Sammy Sosa
LF Brian Giles
2B Edgardo Alfonzo
RF Shawn Green
C Jason Kendall
3B Russ Johnson

Rotation
Javier Vasquez
Glendon Rusch
Jamey Wright
Blake Stein
Roy Oswalt

Closer
Troy Percival

 

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