by Michal Hanus
The Czech Extraleague is opening the 2011 season on Saturday. Two days before the start we’re taking a look at the eight teams:
Draci Brno (25-3)
Draci won its 15th consecutive title in 2010 as well as the Czech Cup. In the final game they beat Technika 3-2 to win the best of five series. Draci lost only their pitching star Radek Prochazka. All other players remain on the Draci roster. One big reinforcement for the Draci squad is Alex Derhak from Technika. Draci started their pre season with a Training Camp in Italy where they played games against UGF Fortitudo Bologna (two game lost, one won). Expectation for 2011 is yet another title, in a final with Technika/Arrows/Express.
In: Alex Derhak (Technika), Chroust P. (Express), Dubovy (Express)
Out: Prochazka (Express)
Technika Brno (19-9)
After an impressive 2010 season, Technika lost all its imports and for a long time it seemed that they will use only their own players. In the last days before the start of the Extraleague Technika signed two Australians, shortstop Lawman (24) and pitcher Chambers (20), both were active this winter in the Australian Baseball League. The third new guy should be well-know Roger Deago, 33-year-old pitcher from Panama with experience with the national team of Panama and the San Diego Padres organization. With this information, the final of the Extraleague will be probably in reach, like in 2010.
In: Mathew Lawman (AUS), Steven Chambers (AUS), Roger Deago (PAN)
Out: Alex Derhak (Draci), Trevor Leland Caughey (Valencia – ESP), William Hess (?), Ryan Murphy (?)
MZLU Express Brno (18-10)
Last season MZLU lost the semifinals with Technika 2-3. For Express and Draci there is typically a player exchange during the winter period. Express focused during the off season to reinforce their pitching staff. They added two experienced pitchers with National Team experience, Prochazka and Gajdos. With this pitching staff we can expect good results in 2011. Expectations are at least the semifinal.
In: Prochazka (Draci), Gajdos (Kotlarka)
Out: Chroust P. (Draci), Dubovy (Draci)
Kotlarka Praha (14-14)
An Extraleague promoter in 2010, they finished in fifth place in the end. Kotlarka lost their quarter final series 2-3 against the Eagles 2-3. For the 2011 season they will miss their coach Mike Griffin, who accepted an offer from MLB to help promote baseball in China as well as they lost Czech U21 first base Jakub Sladek who will start in the German Bundesliga in 2011. The two experienced pitchers Gajdos and Vancura also said good bye. Jakub Vancura however will help Kotlarka in some games in 2011. On the other hand, Kotlarka will use talented young prospects from Roudnice as well as their own young prospects. Expectations for 2011 are that they get a spot in the playoffs.
In: Ondrej Chocholaty (Roudnice), Broz (Roudnice), Kohutka (Roudnice)
Out: Jakub Sladek (Gauting Indians – GER), Jakub Vancura (Tempo Titans), Gajdos (Express), Griffin (China)
Eagles Praha (12-16)
The Eagles finished in 4th in the Extraleague 2010. For 2011 their biggest harvest is Andy Berglund, who is going to coach the Czech National Junior and Senior Team and will help the Eagles coaching their Extraleague team. There are no additional reinforcements for the Eagles squad in 2011. After two years with Kotlarka, catcher Barrios is back home. Another team with an excellent youth development system will not have problems to reach the playoffs. Prediction is semifinal for the Eagles.
In: Basilio Barrios (Kotlarka), Andy Berglund (coach – USA)
Hrosi Brno (9-19)
Another Extraleague promoter they finished their first season in the highest competition in 6th and preserved their Extraleague spot also for 2011. In 2010 Hrosi had six imports on their roster. Actual situation in Hrosi is foggy. There is no information, whether some imports from 2010 will continue also in 2011 or if Hrosi found adequate replacement for them also for the upcoming season. So a prediction for 2011 is difficult, but the second season in Extraleague will not be for Hrosi easy and they will need to preserve their Extraleague spot 2012 in a playdown series.
In: Martin Bosy (Slovan – SVK)
Arrows Ostrava (8-20)
After a lost 2010 season, the Arrows’ front office worked hard with good results. Ostrava only lost Rehacek, who signed a contract with the Italian Baseball League team in Rimini, but on the other hand, back home are outfielder Malik (from Dutch elite league) and Gal (from one season in Austria). From Skokani Olomouc Martin Drong and Radek Nemec transferred. Both are members of the Czech senior national team. With this roster for 2011 we can expect Arrows back on top again. The semifinal will be the minimum what this team should achieve.
In: Jakub Malik (Hoofddorp Pioniers – NED), Jiri Gal (Blue Bats – AUT), Martin Drong (Skokani), Radek Nemec (Skokani)
Out: Jan Rehacek (Rimini Baseball Club – ITA)
Skokani Olomouc (7-21)
Like the Arrows, Skokani preserved their Extraleague spot in a playdown series against Blesk Jablonec. Also from front office of Skokani there are no news about their roster and eventual imports for the upcoming season. Only information about leaving players is available. Skokani lost their two best players, which signed with Arrows for 2011. They added two Slovak players into their roster. With all information available, Skokani will be probably one of the two teams who will need to fight for their Extraleague spot again in fall 2011.
In: Roman Martin (SVK), Matus Miko (SVK)
Out: Martin Drong (Klasik Frydek-Mistek -> Arrows), Radek Nemec (Arrows)