While everyone patiently waits for the future St. Louis closer, the main event from Palm Beach isn’t who throws the 9th but the one who takes the mound hopefully every fifth day. Junior Fernandez ranks 15th on the initial MLB prospect list, but it is the names ahead of him who should be noted. As many as six ahead of Fernandez could lose their prospect status this summer, bumping the RHP into the Top 10.
It is also an important campaign for Fernandez, who had 16 starts for Palm Beach last year before getting shut down in July. He has been passed by a few arms now in Springfield, but his stuff is just as good as any starter in the Florida State League. A strong opening also leads right to AA or potentially a new home as plenty of scouts will also be monitoring his progress.
A couple of high profile draft picks from last year’s class get a promotion as well to the notoriously tough FSL. Kramer Robertson and Evan Mendoza will anchor the left side of the infield and have their own sights on cracking the Top 30 prospect list. They are joined by power-hitting infielder Andy Young to form a potent core that will aid a young pitching staff.
Behind Fernandez and returning starter Mike O’Reilly, Palm Beach could employ either a trio of southpaws or rely on a different format that includes many strong bullpen options. Ronnie Williams has struggled after being a high draft pick in 2014 but has a chance to throw close to home again and find his footing.
In order for Palm Beach to make another run at the title, they will need a little help along the way, something Springfield and Peoria both can assist with as well as the draft. The Florida State League can stunt the growth of many prospects, so expect plenty of roster moves early in order to sort out the right fit.