The Malden Braves reeled off seven straight wins to end the year in 2015. That streak catapulted the Braves to the top of the leader board in the CABL giving them the number one seed in the playoffs. It was short lived excitement for the Braves as the playoffs brought a new set of challenges. With a number of big names in the Malden lineup missing having gone back to school, the bats went silent. The Red Dogs were easily dispatched but the Mariners and Cubs, who no-hit Malden’s struggling squad, proved to be too much and the season ended in disappointment.
2016 brings a new season for the Malden Braves and new additions to the CABL who will make up the unknown challenges to be faced along the way. Ariel Ramos and Austin Teal make their return to the mound hoping to match their 12 combined wins and sub-1 ERA on the year. New faces Chris DeLouchrey, Benjamin Chung, Damian Gonzalez and Abel Faron round out the pitching staff. This will be a true rookie year for all four having never played in CABL or the precursor league.
While Braves pitching was best in the league last year, their catching counterparts seemed to be a revolving door as Malden went through a half dozen players behind the plate. With the addition of former RRBL Knight Alex Carras and rookie Mike Ryan the backstop shouldn’t see many passed balls. College player Hector Castillo will provide a welcome addition to the fraternity of catchers as well once he returns from school in Vermont.
Once again it will be a crowded infield for the Braves with newcomer Steve Roesler jumping in with Joey Tallent, Fernando Osario, Teddy Mercado, Matt Howe and Matt Church. Mercado led the team in steals and games played for the Braves before leaving for his team at school in Vermont. The outfield will be anchored by newly signed Abe Guillen and Ben Burkholder while Nick Powers and his brother Manny return to action.
Last season saw more than Braves take the field including indispensable utility players Mark Maloney, Rich Guzofski and Pierre New. These long-time Braves filled in during tough stretches with missing players and came up big in tough spots in the playoffs. These unsung heros of the team showed why they were so valuable last year with empty benches and dwindling active players.
There is no doubt that the Braves will once again be a force to be reckoned with. The pitching hasn’t lost a step and has added a number of big additions. While the braves hitting paled in comparison to its phenomenal pitching staff, they came through in the clutch and made sure to do enough to give their pitchers the W. This year the Braves face off on opening night against the Indians and follow up with a double header against the always formidable Titans. No doubt the Braves will have a target on their backs all year as one of the top squads team want nothing more to knock off their perch as best in the CABL.