When I was first was being recruited to play in Holland while playing my first year of European baseball in Belgium I was given a vague comparison of the level of the Dutch semi-pro league. I was told it was somewhere between single A to double A level of American minor league baseball. Throughout my 2 seasons in Holland I had no way to actually compare the two, other than basing Team USA's double A level players skill level to how we did against them in the World Championship and Olympics. Realistically though, all those players are now major leaguers' and they don't give an accurate read on all of double A. After 36 games here playing for New Hampshire in the Eastern League I have a more rounded idea of the caliber.
To be able to compare this league with the Dutch hoofdklasse (headclass or top division baseball in Holland) isn't fair. The level is overall very even at this level, at least with the 3 teams we've played over and over. Pitchers are all 87-92 with movement, the guys throwing 95 throw straight. Hitters are all fairly polished, they spit on sliders in the dirt, take 0-2 fastballs at the letters and hit mistakes well. Every team has first rounders and possess players who are close or ready for the show.
The Hoofdklasse is a league full of solid players, a league led by defence. The top offensive teams tends to make the finals, and Neptunus, my club club team for the past couple of years, gave up less than 200 runs in 84 games over 2 years, and we didn't even make the finals. Currently through 16 games for each team and 6 starts for starters there are 4 starters with era's below 1.00. The caliber in the top teams could rival a single A or double A club whereas the the 4-6 place teams have potential, and if they were able to play daily they would not be far behind the caliber I have seen so far in the Eastern League.
Time to play the Portland Sea Dogs for the first time this year. They are the double A affiliate to the Boston Red Sox, so we're facing the next wave of Papelbon's, Papi's and Pedrioa's. Wish us luck.