We are now one full week into the 2021 Minor League season, so let’s take a quick step back and take a look at where the Jumbo Shrimp currently stand in the Triple-A East Southeast Division (that’s still a mouthful).
Yes, this is but a small sample of games. However, it illustrates how potent the division will be for the rest of the season.
First, there’s no way that Charlotte and Memphis stay rooted at the foot of the table. They will get better.
Durham, on the other hand, is loaded. Unless Tampa sustains major injuries that lead to a massive call-up, the Bulls could continue their current pace without anyone being even the slightest bit surprised.
If the Jumbo Shrimp want to win the division, or even finish in the top half of the table, they will need to win as many games as possible from Norfolk and Charlotte, and play for a season split with Durham. That’s the majority of their games and their route to the title. Yes, I know that there will be no playoffs this season, but a division winner is a division winner. Whichever team wins out deserves to raise a pennant next season. I’m hoping it’s the Jumbo Shrimp.
So, that’s where we are at the present time. Now let’s take a look at the week ahead.
The Jumbo Shrimp make their first visit to Durham to take on a Bulls team which, as I noted above, is absolutely stacked. While the team features baseball’s No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco, the lineup is potent from one through nine. The Bulls will present a far greater challenge to the Shrimp than did Norfolk.
The Bulls’ overall team leader in pretty much every offensive category at the moment is Vidal Bruján. He should be familiar to Shrimp fans as he was part of the Montgomery Biscuits for the latter half of the 2019 season when both teams were in the Double-A Southern League.
The Bulls’ pitching staff is solid. It features a mix of young guns and some players with MLB experience. It’s hard to get a handle on most pitching staffs given that it’s early in the season and most teams run out as many pitchers as possible these days. However, Joe Ryan, who should be on the mound for game 1 of the series with the Shrimp, was outstanding on Opening Day against Memphis. Nine strikeouts with no walks and no runs over five innings pitched.
Game 1 of the six-game series against Durham starts tonight. First pitch at 6:35 pm. We’ll be watching. Hope you will too.