This is part four of a four-part preview of the Pacific Coast League. This part covers the American Conference’s North Division. The South Division preview as well as the Pacific Conference’s South and North Division previews ran earlier this week. All links can be found at the bottom of this story. All prospect rankings are from Baseball America.
The teams of the new-look American North Division were frequent visitors to Isotopes Park in recent years, with the exception of Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox will jump to the opposite conference of the Isotopes, all part of the PCL's massive realignment for 2014.
As for the rest, Iowa, Oklahoma City and Omaha will all have to get used to just facing Albuquerque once a season. For 2014, all of those games will take place on their home fields, denying Isotopes fans a chance to see a number of top prospects who will suit up for those teams.
Iowa (Cubs) and Oklahoma City (Astros), in particular, boast prospect-heavy rosters, including some of the top young players in all of baseball this season. Iowa will be led by shortstop Javier Baez, rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in baseball.
The RedHawks will be led by outfielder George Springer (No. 18), who's back for a second campaign in Oklahoma City. Also on the roster are right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (No. 59) and first baseman Jonathan Singleton (No. 82), with the latter likewise returning to Triple-A.
Prospect watchers in Albuquerque might just have to bite the bullet and drive to Oklahoma, or perhaps to Colorado Springs when one of those teams are in town to play the Sky Sox. Either way, it will be a bit of a disappointment to not have those teams visit Albuquerque this season.
In addition to all of those prospects, there is the minor factor that Omaha is the defending PCL and overall Triple-A champion. The Storm Chasers pulled that off last year despite a losing record during the regular season.
Add it all up and the American North should be quite the division to watch in 2014. Even if Albuquerque fans can't see it up close and personal.