Minor League Playoff Roundup; Potomac Captures Third Carolina League Title


Mar 14, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher

Dioner Navarro

(30) jumps to catch the ball as Boston Red Sox outfielder

Jonny Gomes

(5) slides into home on a double by

Corey Brown

(72) in the fifth inning of the spring training exhibition game at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

It was a wild Wednesday night in the majors, as the Pirates, Royals and others fought for a playoff spot. But the minor league playoffs are already here, and Chaos reigned in baseball’s underside.

Carolina League Finals: Potomac Defeats Myrtle Beach 5-1, Capture Title

The Potomac Nationals took the lead early and never looked back, as they grabbed their third Carolina League Title in the past seven seasons. Randolph Oduber, a 25 year old who had never hit more than six home runs in any of his four professional season, took Myrtle Beach starter Luis Parra deep in the bottom of the first to put Potomac  ahead 3-0. Pedro Severino drove in another in the second and Troy Renda tripled and subsequently scored in the seventh to back up a pitching performance that grew from passable to completely dominant. Starter Hector Silvestre gave up 5 hits and one earned runs over the first three innings before completely zoning in. He combined with relievers Manny Rodriguez and Gilbert Menendez to shut down the last 19 Myrtle  Beach batters in order.

PCL Finals: Reno Aces Take Home 4-2 Victory Over Omaha Stormchasers, Even Series at 1:1

Bradin Hagens was in complete control as he took the mound for his second post-season start Wednesday night. The 25 year old right-hander didn’t walk a batter as he held Omaha to just one earned run over six innings of work. Shortstop Nick Ahmed and center-fielder Mike Freeman handled all the necessary offensive work in the second, with a pair of two-rbi hits (Ahmed’s was a double) to banish Omaha starter John Lamb after just two innings of work, and give Reno a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Ahmed, Arizona’s ninth best prospect per MLB.com, is now hitting .346 with a .615 slugging percentage and a .986 OPS in 26 post-season at-bats.

International League Finals: Durham Bulls Defeat Pawtucket Red Sox 4-3 in Extras, Even Series 1:1

It was an unusual Triple-A debut for Pawtucket left-hander Brian Johnson, who led the Eastern league with a 1.75 ERA this season, but had never thrown a pitch at the minors’ highest level before Wednesday night.  He was facing off against the hard-throwing Alex Colome, the Rays 5th best prospect and owner of a 2.45 ERA over 25.2 career major league innings. A pitcher’s duel appeared to be in the works.

And a pitcher’s duel was delivered, though not the one most fans expected. Colome was chased after just an inning and a third, having allow three earned runs, on three walks and three hits, including a two run homer to Corey Brown. Johnson weeded out of minor trouble in the first and second innings before surrendering his own two run homer, this one to left-fielder Mike Mahtook. After that, nothing. Led by Jake Thompson, Merrill Kelley and Josh Lueke, the Durham bullpen was untouchable, throwing 9 1/3 innings of shutout ball.

For the Sox, Johnson settled down to throw six innings of two run ball, and Miguel Celestino followed with a pair of perfect innings. That gave them a 3-2 lead heading into the top of the ninth. But Heath Hembree, acquired from the Giants in July, blew the lead in the ninth, sending the game into extras.  Ryan Verdugo allowed an RBI single in the 11th to well-traveled major league veteran Mike Fontenet in the top of the 11th to give Durham their first win of the series.

Southern League Championship Series: Jacksonville Suns Defeat Chattanooga 5-3, Take Series Opener

Chattanooga Shortstop and Dodgers No.1 prospect Corey Seager tried. He played hard and went 2-4 and homered in the bottom of the sixth. But in the end He couldn’t overcome the wildness of his pitching staff, the patience of Jacksonville’s lineup. Chattanooga starter Andres Santiago walked four batters over just two innings of work, surrendering five runs in the process and putting the club behind the 8-ball early. The bullpen actually stemmed the tide, though it wasn’t easy. They combined for seven shutout innings, but issued six free passes of their own. No matter, Chattanooga’s offense could only muster three runs. Marlins catching prospect J.T. Realmuto, ranked 7th in their system, went 2 for 3, two runs scored, two walks and an RBI to lead the charge for Jacksonville.

Eastern League Championship Series: Binghamton Mets Down Richmond Flying Squirrels 5-1, Take 2-0 Series Lead

The Mets are known among baseball for their wealth of talented young starting pitchers,  but right-hander Greg Peavey is not generally mentioned as one of them. He tried to change that Wednesday night. For seven innings, he was almost unhittable, scattering five hits, fanning nine, surrendering just one run, and issuing no free passes. He was backed up by battery mate Xorge Carillo, who doubled, homered, and drove in a pair to lead the offensive charge for Binghamton.

Texas League Championship Series: Tulsa Drillers Defeat Midland RockHounds 5-2, Even Series 1:1

The Drillers offense came from an unlikely source: A 25 year old, light hitting catcher in the nine hole.  Chris O’Dowd knocked a two run single in the bottom of the second to put Tulsa out in front and tacked on an insurance run with another RBI single in the seventh. On the mound, Tyler Anderson was  after just three innings, but Richard Castillo came in to throw three shutout innings. When he was finished, Ken Roberts, Nelson Gonzalez, and Kraig Sitton continued the scoreless streak, each tossing their own run-less frame to close out a 5-2 victory.