Posted on 28 April 2010.
EUROPE – Dutch champion DOOR Neptunus has climbed to the top spot in this week’s BaseballdeWorld 2010 European Power Rankings. The talent-laden roster of skipper Steve Janssen, featuring a bevy of former minor league prospects, has opened defense of their title with eight consecutive wins.
The weekly power rankings, which are meant to introduce the top European teams to international baseball fans, will be published every Wednesday throughout the season.
1. DOOR Neptunus, Netherlands (8-0)
It should be illegal for one club to possess so much bonafide talent. A stockpile of quality arms and an offensive lineup with seven potential .300 hitters could make this year’s Dutch title hunt a one-horse race.
2. T&A San Marino, Italy (9-3)
Back-to-back Italian Series appearances have only made this veteran group hungrier. A grueling early season slate against top dawgs Parma, Bologna and Rimini only proved that the 2008 IBL champion remains a series title contender.
3. UGF Assicurazioni Bologna, Italy (9-3)
Rebuilding in Bologna means adding a few talented prospects with a group of battle-tested veterans and competing for the league crown. Some teams are like a fine bottle of wine, and this solid squad should become even more dangerous in a few months if youngsters such as Livinston Santaniello puts it all together.
4. Sant Boi, Spain (17-1)
A busy winter netted an assortment of .300 and .400 hitters, and some electric arms as well. Slugger Jose Luis Riera is enjoying an MVP season and three starters with staff ace-type stuff will make watching this squad at this summer’s European Cup tournament very, very interesting.
5. Corendon Kinheim, Netherlands (6-1)
No Rombley, no problem. The winning tradition in Haarlem continues with a veteran pitching corps and an under-rated offensive lineup. Neptunus is the favorite, but these guys are in the same area code.
6. Cariparma Parma, Italy (9-3)
The arrival of Camilo and Yepez has fortified a solid lineup that currently features an array of struggling veterans. This offense has all the ingredients to become a fearsome group. Now, the only question remaining is if former reliever Gustavo Martinez can anchor the pitching staff for an entire season?
7. Telemarket Rimini, Italy (8-4)
You just do not bet against some coaches, and Mauro Mazzotti is one of those types. The Pirates fizzled in the playoffs last year, but the addition of Jhonny “Instant Offense” Carvajal was a stroke of genius. The championship hopes in Rimini could hinge on the durability of veteran pitchers Jim Brower and Enorbel Marquez-Ramirez.
8. FC Barcelona, Spain (14-2)
The perennial Spanish League bridesmaid knocked on the door to a championship last season, but fell just short. The “Barca Boys” are back again this year and threatening to kick the door down this time around.
9. Rouen Huskies, France (4-0)
They do not rebuild in Rouen, they reload! It is just simply amazing how the Huskies can lose top players like Dany Scalabrini(?), Nicolaus DuBaut (PUC), Kenji Hagiwara (injury) and Keino Perez (temporary) and still not miss a beat on the diamond.
10. Buchbinder Legionäre, Germany (8-0)
Coach Martin Helmig has the Legionäre off to another torrid start in the South Division this season, and will surely be looking to avoid last year’s late season meltdown. A buffet of capable hitters and a re-tooled pitching rotation has Regensburg primed to dethrone a powerful Heidenheim squad.
11. AVG Draci Brno, Czech Republic (6-0)
The majority of the Czech national team also suits up for the 15-time reigning Czech champion. And, the under-rated Czech League is quickly becoming a pipeline for other European leagues seeking talented pitchers and sluggers.
12. Solingen Alligators, Germany (8-0)
The talent (Chris Beck, Christian Nsien, Matt Pali, Enorbel Marquez-Ramirez) that the Alligators lost this past winter is mind-boggling. The fact that the Alligators are still unbeaten is also mind-boggling. Good coaching and the art of developing young talent is alive and well in Solingen.
13. L&D Amsterdam, Netherlands (4-3)
Do not let the slow start of the Pirates fool you. New skipper Charles Urbanus has a potent mix of seasoned veterans and talented rookies. Barring some key injuries, Amsterdam is the third horse in a three-way race for the Dutch crown.
14. Hoboken Pioneers, Belgium (4-0)
The Pioneers dethroned a strong Port of Antwerp Greys squad a year ago, and appear to be even hungrier this season. The race in the ultra-competitive Belgian League is littered with title contenders.
15. Bonn Capitals, Germany (8-0)
Bonn has some work to do on their anemic offense, but adding the bat of third baseman Christian Nsien will pay dividends sooner rather than later. The mileage on the arm of strikeout artist Tim Henkenjohann is worrisome over the long haul, but the Capitals have put together a championship-caliber pitching staff.
16. Savigny Lions, France (5-1)
The Lions are proof that strong competition makes you better. In its pursuit to dethrone the Rouen Huskies, Savigny has become one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
17. Heidenheim Heideköpfe, Germany (6-2)
Don’t feel sorry for Coach Mike Hartley and his championship crew. Offensively, this group is going to put up some big numbers on a regular basis. The biggest question is if Dusty Bergman is really healthy?
18. Tenerife Marlins, Spain (13-5)
The Marlins seem more like an organization than a club. Sant Boi raided the roster of the reigning Spanish champion this past offseason, yet the Marlins keep developing more talented prospects and contending for another title.
19. Therwil Flyers, Switzerland (6-0)
15 years ago only one arrogant American coach believed the Swiss could compete with the majority of European teams. The success of the Bern Cardinals changed the way insiders and outsiders viewed Swiss baseball, and the Flyers have the opportunity this summer to gain even more respect for the Swiss League.
20. Paderborn Untouchables, Germany (7-1)
The U’s remain a consistent winner and will butt heads with Solingen and Bonn for the division title. Daniel Meier has looked awfully good in the early stages on the hill and at the plate.
DROPPED OUT: Konica Minolta Pioniers (3-5), Danesi Nettuno (4-8), Mr. Cocker HCAW (3-4) and Sparta/Feyenoord (1-6).
(Marvin Moore is a former European coach and the Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld)
Photo courtesy of Eye of The Tiger Photoproductions BV