Margaritaville Volcanoes’ master plan comes full circle with World Championship

The Margaritaville Volcanoes’ six-game conquest of the Boulder Tree Huggers for the 2017 I-75 League World Series title brought closure to a multiyear reconstruction project that saw the Volcanoes intentionally descend into the abyss, only to rise to the top through shrewd trading and relentless prospecting.

The David Wright-led 2013 Volcanoes rolled to a division title and the league’s best record at 109-51, only to fall to the Bushwood Gophers in extra innings of Game Seven, leaving the Volcanoes in search of their first World Series crown. It wouldn’t come in 2014, as an 84-76 mark was good enough to make the playoffs but not enough to make the finals, when South Grand Prairie infamously came back from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat Chatfield for the crown.

Margaritaville signaled its intended direction early in the 2015 draft, acquiring the No. 12 overall pick from Boulder and snagging Mookie Betts, who at the time was 21 years old with only 189 big-league at-bats to his credit; and a still-developing slugging Khris Davis in the sixth round. The Volcanoes suffered through a 60-100 season in 2015, setting the stage for a furious rebuilding effort predicated on stockpiling young stars, aided and abetted by unwitting co-conspirators in the managerial ranks.

Manager John McMillan was among the many who recognized the unusually deep talent pool that the league waded into for the 2016 draft, and the Volcanoes made the most of their opportunity. In addition to owning the No. 3 overall pick and the first selection in each subsequent round, the Volcanoes pried the No. 2 overall pick from the hands of Satellite Beach, enabling Margaritaville to score Kris Bryant (No. 2 overall), Francisco Lindor (No. 3 overall), catcher Wilson Ramos (10th round) and pitcher Ervin Santana (14th round).

After that 80-80 season, knowing they already had a dynamite offense based on Bryant’s sensational rookie year with the Cubs, plus studs like Betts, Robinson Cano (acquired in a 2014 trade with Wisconsin) and Joey Votto (a holdover from 2013 team), the Volcanoes loaded up even more.

An offseason trade with Savannah brought the top hitting card in the set, slugging DH David Ortiz (.315/.401/.620/1.021) and the league’s best lefty-masher, Wilmer Flores, into the fold. Another trade with Savannah secured the No. 1 overall pick for the 2017 draft, which the Volcanoes used to pair Gary Sanchez (.299/.376/.6571.032) with Ramos, who was coming off a career year. A May 1 trade with Savannah brought setup stalwart Addison Reed on board; Reed posted the team’s best ERA at 1.42. Savannah coughed up another useful player at the trade deadline, as Margaritaville rode Jon Lester’s 2-0, 1.80 performance to its World Series title over the Tree Huggers.

Margaritaville won 106 games in 2017 on the strength of an offense that blasted 314 homers and scored 996 runs. That’s 50 more homers than any MLB team has ever hit in a season (1997 Seattle, 264). The runs scored total was 177 more runs than the league’s second-place team (Superior, 819).

The only question left to ask is, with all these young studs, is a dynasty brewing? Lindor is 24. Betts, Bryant and Sanchez are 25. The Volcanoes finished 12th in the much-maligned Yahoo standings, but first in slugging and OPS. They will boast four players with 30 or more homers and 10 players with 18 or more homers. At age 34, Santana somehow put together his best year since 2008; Jansen, Reed and Aroldis Chapman form a studly bullpen.

So they’re a little shy on starting pitching. Before the final touch on trades and prospecting and drafting. Just as they were before the start of the 2017 season. The year the dynasty began.

One Response

  1. Infamous?

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