It may seem a bit early to start talking D1 baseball, but the new year has officially begun, and by the look of things, the 2023 season will kick off sooner rather than later.
There’s no word yet from the FFBS, but sources close to Le Baseblog suggest that France’s top-level baseball league could begin play as early as March 19 – about three weeks earlier than last year’s Opening Day!
Little wonder that teams are already starting to share bits and pieces of recruiting news, including the transfer of star American pitcher Shane Priest from the Sénart Templiers to the Metz Cometz.
Priest, a graduate of the University of North Alabama, has been sensational since joining the D1 in 2021, and the Cometz, who finished sixth in the 10-team league last year, are no doubt thrilled to have him.
In two seasons with the Templiers, the right-hander posted a combined record of 13-6, with 174 strikeouts in 139 innings pitched. His ERA last year, when Sénart fell just short of making the playoffs, was a stingy 0.98, third best in the league behind his then teammate José Paula (0.95 ERA) and Yorfank López of the Montigny Cougars.
Speaking of López, the Instagram handle @peloterosvenezoloanoseuropa reports that he too will be playing in the D1 again this year, and again in Montigny, where he’ll be joined by fellow Venezuelan hurler Robinson Maestre. The latter, a newcomer to the league last season, had a stellar debut in France, with a 3-1 record, 1.52 ERA, and 86 strikeouts in just 65 innings pitched.
Those are just some of the reasons to get excited about the upcoming D1 season, which will again feature 10 teams, albeit with the caveat that two are expected to be relegated at year’s end, trimming the competition to just eight teams in 2024, when the FFBS celebrates its centennial.
Here are two more things to keep in mind about the 2023 season:
According to our sources, this year’s regular season will be significantly longer than the 2022 campaign, with each team playing 24 matches (as opposed to just 16 last year).
Also, the league is being realigned somewhat. Once again, the teams will be grouped into two pools for regular-season play, but with a few tweaks.
The Toulouse Tigers and La Rochelle Boucaniers, both in Pool B in 2022, are expected to join the defending champion Rouen Huskies, Montigny and Paris UC in Pool A.
The Cometz and Savigny Lions, in the meantime, join Sénart, the Montpellier Barracudas, and Nice Cavigal in Pool B.
Le Baseblog will try to keep our readers abreast of new developments as they arise. But yes, with a little luck it’ll be Play Ball in just about nine short weeks. Can’t wait!