This is the first part of the 2017 regional preview for Göteborg Hajarna. Ideally, this series would have concluded by looking at the opposition. Alas, the scouting department has not been up to speed to bring me the spreadsheets.
Disclaimer: This series of previews is the opinion of one person and does not necessarily reflect the organization’s views or any other for that matter.
al-Ghamini exceeded all expectations in his first season winning the Sharks versions of best pitcher and MVP.
While starting the season relatively slow, al-Ghamini heated up and was undoubtedly the ace of the Sharks rotation throughout the season. The former Iraqi national team player won the league in strikeouts by a landslide, despite being limited to four inning starts. His ERA suffered from weird scorekeeping and the inconsistent Sharks defense. He will definitely anchor the rotation in 2017 and be the key to success in the upcoming campaign.
The veteran Lindquist battled through the season by mostly contributing short and effective starts.
His numbers improved compared to the 2015 campaign, most notably his BAA and WHIP. His control was, however, failing him at times and as a result he hit more batters despite pitching twelve innings less. That control will be what he needs to improve if he wants to continue his success.
Shakki, a three year veteran with the Sharks, is still the youngest player on the team and has showed a lot of potential while still contributing on the mound.
The 17-year old (turning 18 this season) saw his ERA rise slightly but can be encouraged by improved peripherals. A notable decline in his BAA and slight decline in WHIP bodes well going forward. While he walked more players, that was also in far more innings. As his fastball is considered a plus-plus pitch, he would benefit from adding a strong off speed pitch to keep hitters off balance.
The legendary Sharks pitcher Nabi was at times brilliant during the 2016 season but his season ended on a sour note as he underwent season ending knee surgery.
Nabi’s numbers progressed immensely but it should be noted that his 2015 season was spent entirely in Elitserien. Even so, Nabi showed why he is one of the best pitchers at the regional level. Constantly baffling hitters with his variety of pitches and a curveball that is a sight for sore eyes. His status for the 2017 season is yet unknown, but there isn’t a team in the regional series that wouldn’t benefit from his inclusion to their rotation.
Much like his Kurdish brother, Hussein provided brilliant pitching throughout the first half of the 2016 campaign.
With such a limited sample size from 2015 (and not that much bigger in 2016) it’s hard to really analyze the progression of ‘Jojo’ Hussein. But for anyone who saw Hussein pitch, it was clear that he had a lot to offer. When on the roster, he was the first pitcher out of the ‘pen to provide relief for the Sharks. As he finished the season with the best WHIP on the Sharks pitching staff and with a great K/9 ratio, you can see why he was a key pitcher when he played. He is listed here as a relief pitcher due to his usage during last season but could very well be considered a starter.
Much like his running mate Nabi, Husseins be or not to be on the 2017 roster is unknown. If he were to play, he would provide great value to the pitching staff.
The longtime catcher occasionally abandoned his seat behind the plate to relieve his own pitching staff.
With just 4.2 innings to show for, it’s hard to analyze anything. Furthermore, his batterymates were the not so experienced catchers Jonny Edgren and Eric Marquez. We do remember the matchup against the Malmö Pilots when Coach Edgren inserted himself in relief only to not be able to find the strike zone and turned to his catcher Khazal to bail him out. And bail him out he did…
Coach Edgren actually inserted himself twice in during the 2016 season. His pitching line, only showing 1.0 innings pitched, does not take in to account when he couldn’t make an out…
No, Edgren’s 2016 on the mound was nothing to write home about. But everyone knows he has the arm to fill the classic coach/closer-role if he can improve that control going forward. Quite possibly one of the more unused assets during last season.
‘Big Daddy’ Earnest didn’t see a lot of work from the mound last season.
The one inning he pitched against Karlskoga was not really anything special. As Earnest has gotten older, he’s lost some speed on his fastball and is now considered more of a finesse pitcher. There have been rumours that he has been working on new offspeed pitches during the winter break. One could only hope he returns to the 2017 season a knuckleballer.
It is easy to see that this part of the team holds the most potential going in to the season. With the emergence of al-Ghamini and the potential of Shakki to go along with the veteran starter Lindquist, the rotation is one or two pieces away from being excellent. Those pieces would hopefully include legendary Hiba Nabi and ‘Jojo’ Hussein. If they were to play during the 2017 campaign, the Sharks would hold one of the better, if not the best, rotation in the regional league.
The front office has during the offseason showed willingness to add versatility within the squad and tried to convert current players to pitching. If nothing else to be able to bolster a bullpen that is desperately yearning for help. While Khazal showed last season that he could be a solid bullpen arm, his presence behind the plate is essential.
The prime candidate within the team is Hannes Wiström whose arm is excellent. Another candidate is last years rookie Eric Marquez who offers a plus fastball and decent offspead pitches. Marquez, however, is American and combined with al-Ghamini they can only pitch four innings in a double header. If either of them had their citizenship granted, that would be equal to an acquisition.
There have been rumblings about the comeback of the dynamic José duo for the 2017 campaign. José Martinez and José Munoz would both be top tier players in the regional league and Martinez proved during the 2015 season that he can pitch efficiently.