The first game day in the British National Baseball League was played last weekend. Mister-Baseball.com talked to Liam Carroll – head coach of Team Great Britain – this week previewing the 2016 season.
Mister-Baseball.com: The National Baseball League is starting this weekend. What are your expectations in general and individual?
Liam Carroll: I’m expecting a competitive season. NBL clubs worked hard this winter to strengthen their rosters and I’m looking forward to being able to watch the fruits of their labour as our staff scouts the league for national team players.
Mister-Baseball.com: Which new import players will make an impact in the league?
Liam Carroll: The bigger story this off-season was the amount of player movement between clubs, however there are a few new faces I expect will make waves this season.
The London Mets welcome Karim Gonzalez, an RHP who played collegiately at Maryland Eastern Shore and professionally in Mexico, and LHP Tyson Walker, who spent the winter in the ABL with Canberra and pitched collegiately at Abilene (Texas) Christian.
I also expect the former South Africa U18 pitcher Robert Ackerman to be a great addition for newly promoted Brighton Jets.
Mister-Baseball.com: Which young players could celebrate a breakout year in Great Britain this summer?
Liam Carroll: I’m excited to see how many of the older players from our U18 National Team programme, as well as recent graduates, will be competing in the NBL this season and I expect them all to make significant contributions to their clubs’ success. The three players who recently played in the MLB Academies Spring Tournament, Conner Brown (Herts Falcons), Carlos Casal and Rory Chandler (both Essex Arrows) are certainly players to watch.
Mister-Baseball.com: Which teams are favoured and will reach the playoffs in the National Baseball League?
Liam Carroll: Last year’s finalists, the London Mets and Southampton Mustangs, both reloaded, are solid bets for the first two playoff spots. That said I expect to see some battles on a weekly basis and think the remaining playoff spots are wide open.
Mister-Baseball.com: What team is going to win the championship?
Liam Carroll: The Mets have the most pitching depth, but with a target on their backs following their championship last season, they’re going to need to be on their best form week in and week out to repeat.