One of the better teams in the minors, the Storm Chasers and Isotopes traded the first three games of the series. In Game 4, the 'Topes were down 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning. At the time, it looked like their season was done. However, a nine-run seventh, including a game-deciding three-run home run from Tony Gwynn, propelled the Isotopes to a deciding Game 5, which Oklahoma won handily.
Castellanos, despite playing just 94 games, posted a great .328/.420/.590 triple slash with 17 home runs. The Dodgers don't seem to keen on letting him be the team's right-handed hitting platoon outfielder, so expect him back at Triple-A. Sands was traded to Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. He was traded to Pittsburgh this winter and may or may not get real playing time with the Bucs. Van Slyke seems like the prototypical Four-A player and should be the team's left fielder.
The pitching staff was led by John Ely, who had one of the best seasons for a PCL pitcher, going 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA and a league-leading 165 strikeouts (in 168 2/3 innings). He also had a sparkling WHIP (1.10) and a great walks per nine innings rate (1.9). For his efforts, he was traded to Houston. Stephen Fife was decent, but unspectacular, for Albuquerque. He provided 135 1/3 innings of adequate innings. Other than those two, the Isotopes' rotation left a lot to be desired.
Scott Van Slyke
Starting pitchers (5)
Jon Michael Redding
Cole St. Clair
A name missing from my projection is Gwynn. I suspect he'll be traded or released prior to the season. If he isn't, Buss should be that fall guy. Also missing is Dee Gordon. I'm betting (hoping?) he breaks camp with the Dodgers, or he's moved toward the end of Spring Training.
The starting pitching, as usual, will be a little weak. Magill should head the rotation and is a legitimate prospect. The bullpen should have some intriguing characters, including Ames, Tolleson Wall and Withrow (if he can throw strikes). This also means I'm projecting Paco Rodriguez to break camp with the big league club.
Van Slyke DH/LF
This lineup could score a ton of runs. Castellanos, McPherson and Van Slyke are PCL veterans and should be a formidable 3-4-5. The last time McPherson was in the PCL, he hit 22 home runs with the Sacramento River Cats. The last time he was with Albuquerque (as a member of the Marlins' organization), he blasted 42 home runs.
Smith and Ynoa should make their Triple-A debuts and could benefit from the extreme hitter-friendly environments.
Much like any year, the offense will determine the Isotopes' success. But I'm interested to see how Magill handles the rarefied air and if those fireballers out of the 'pen can keep the PCL hitters at bay.
Van Slyke: EephusBlue, Twitter
Smith: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue