This is part three of a four-part preview of the Pacific Coast League. This part covers the American Conference’s South Division, with the North Division preview coming soon. The Pacific Conference’s South and North Division previews can be found by clicking their respective links. All prospect rankings are from Baseball America.
The American South, best known to Albuquerque Isotopes' fans as their team's former home, underwent just as many changes as the other divisions in the PCL this season.
Gone are Albuquerque and Oklahoma City, while Memphis and Nashville jump on board alongside New Orleans and Round Rock. In some ways, as a far as geography goes, it makes for an even better fit. All four teams are now in the same time zone and all have a bit of a Southern flair.
The comparisons, though, end there, at least for the Redbirds and Express. Memphis' roster is filled with prospects, produced by a St. Louis Cardinals system that is considered one of the best in baseball. Outfielder Oscar Taveras, ranked for the second year in a row as the No. 3 overall prospect, returns for a second go-around with the Redbirds, hoping to stay healthy this time around.
Round Rock, on the other hand, did not receive many prospects at all from what is usually a fertile Texas Rangers system. Instead, the Express are loaded top to bottom with veterans and non-prospects.
It should make for an interesting contrast between the two teams as they go head-to-head for the first time as division rivals.
As for the other clubs, the Sounds (Brewers) and Zephyrs (Marlins) are somewhat similar in that they have a mix of veterans and mid-range prospects, largely undone by the weaknesses of their parent clubs' overall farm systems.
Click on the slideshow for a team-by-team breakdown of the new-look American South.