The Czech Extraleague started this past weekend. Jakub Sladek and his Kotlarka Prague won the title last year. After opening day he was so kind to answer a couple of questions previewing the 2016 season in the Czech Republic.
Mister-Baseball.com: Before taking a look at the new season in the Czech Republic, what were your impressions from the Czech’s performance at the WBC Qualifier in Mexicali?
Jakub Sladek: We came in, played hard and on top of it we were enjoying it. Our coach taught us that we can play with everyone and we never gave up. We had a great coaching staff and in such a short time between offseason in the gym and playing on the field (one week in Arizona) we got ready and wanted to play the best and hoped to advance to the WBC.
Mister-Baseball.com: The Czech Extraleague has started weekend. What are your expectations in general and individual?
Jakub Sladek: Czech Extraleague has made some changes and helps to get better for the players and the fans. No more double headers and the league has now three playing days. It seems to be more attractive at the stadium and I am looking forward to see what is going to happen. So far I like the changes and I hope it will help overall.
Mister-Baseball.com: Which new import players will make an impact in the league?
Jakub Sladek: I don’t know the names of all the players yet but I think every team has some new import players that are supposed to be an impact in the league, so these guys should bring the level of the league up even more. On our team it will be Mitch Nilsson and Ryan Battaglia
Mister-Baseball.com: Which young players could celebrate a breakout year in the Czech Republic this summer?
Jakub Sladek: Jan Novak, Marek Minarik, Adam Hajtmar all proved they can compete last year. Now I think Satoria, Smola and Chlup will show they can play. I am sure some more players can prove they can play on a high level but those were the first names that came into my head.
Mister-Baseball.com: Which teams are favored to reach the playoffs and who is going to win the championship in the Czech Extraleague?
Jakub Sladek: The season has just started and it is hard to say. All teams look good and I don’t see any big holes between the teams. I think everybody can beat every other team. But I think Kotlarka and Draci are expected to be in the playoffs because being in the playoff finals the last three years. And then the other teams will fight hard to get into the playoffs as well. Hard to say, who is going to win it. It will be decided by who is more ready at the end of the season, but I believe that our team will defend the championship.