This is part one of a four-part preview of the Pacific Coast League. This part covers the Pacific Conference’s South Division, with the North Division coming soon. All prospect rankings are from Baseball America.
During Albuquerque Isotopes media day a number of players were in the dugout discussing something that they found rather confusing.
It was not the arrangement for the team photo or a reporter's question or even the team's upcoming travel plans. No, it was a question as simple as this: Who is in our division this year?
The PCL realigned its four divisions this season with the move of the Tucson Padres to El Paso, where they will now play as the Chihuahuas. That move pushed Albuquerque from the American Conference's South Division to the Pacific Conference's South Division, where the Isotopes will join the Chihuahuas, Las Vegas 51s (Mets) and Salt Lake Bees (Angels) in what promises to be a competitive quartet of teams.
For prospect watchers, this division is loaded, including five players who cracked Baseball America's top 100. Las Vegas will feature right-handers Noah Syndergaard (No. 16) and Rafael Montero (68), while Albuquerque boasts outfielder Joc Pederson (34) and right-hander Zach Lee (95) and Salt Lake has second baseman Taylor Lindsey (93).
The new-look division also promises plenty of high-scoring games. Though games have not yet been played in El Paso's new stadium, which won't host a contest until the end of April due to construction delays, it stands to reason that it will be a hitter's park just like Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Salt Lake.