MLB: Minor League Baseball’s Championships Awarded

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Multiple MLB Minor League baseball championships were completed in the last week to finish up all league championships. Let’s take a look at each championship series!</h2

AAA

Pacific Coast League

In an upset, the El Paso Chihauhuas of the San Diego Padres organization defeated the Oklahoma City Dodgers, obviously of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, 3 games to 1 with a dramatic 11-inning win in the clinching game. El Paso led the league in home runs, but scored the winning run on a bunt single in the 11th inning.

El Paso was managed by Rod Barajas. They had the lowest winning percentage of any of the teams that made the playoffs in the PCL at 73-70 on the season. They defeated the Tacoma Rainiers of the Seattle Mariners organization 3-1 to make the championship game. Oklahoma City defeated the top-seeded Nashville Sounds of the Oakland Athletics organization to make the championship game.

International League

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRaiders of the New York Yankees system rode a 23-inning scoreless streak to defeat the Gwinnett Braves, obviously of the Atlanta Braves system 3 games to 1 for the International League championship. Jake Cave was selected as the MVP of the series after hitting .348 with a home run and 3 RBI in the series.

Gwinnett took game 1 of the series and took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th of game 2 before S/W-B walked off with a 2-1 victory. Gwinnett never seemed to be able to get their offense going again after that.

S/W-B had the best winning percentage and most victories of any full-season minor league team this year. The RailRiders were managed by Al Pedrique. S/W-B defeated the wild card team Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, the team with the second-best record in the league, but had the unfortunate luck to be in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s division, 3-0 in the first round. Gwinnett snuck into the playoffs with the worst winning percentage of any postseason team in the minor leagues, but they defeated their first round opponent, the Columbus Clippers of the Cleveland Indians organization, 3 games to 1 to make the championship.

In a tradition unique to AAA in minor league baseball, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and El Paso will meet in Memphis on Tuesday evening to play a one-game championship to determine the best AAA team in all the land!

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AA

Eastern League

The Akron RubberDucks of the Cleveland Indians organization swept their way to an Eastern League title over Trenton Thunder of the New York Yankees organization 3-0. Catcher Eric Haase drove in 7 runs in the championship series to take the MVP award. Dave Wallace managed the RubberDucks. Akron won the Western division championship, but they had a worse record than both representatives from the Eastern division.

Akron got to the championship game by defeating the Altoona Curve of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization 3-1. Trenton defeated the high-powered Reading Fightin Phils of the Philadelphia Phillies organization 3-1 to earn their championship birth. Reading had Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins, who had 40 and 38 home runs, respectively, on the season to drastically outpace the rest of their league.

Southern League

A loaded Jackson Generals (Seattle Mariners affiliate) team completed their excellent season with a sweep of the Mississippi Braves of the Atlanta Braves organization, 3-0. High-end prospect Tyler O’Neill won the MVP in the series after winning the league’s regular season MVP. Jackson swept the regular season awards, actually, with pitcher Ryan Yarbough winning the outstanding pitcher award and manager Darren Brown chosen as the Manager of the Year.

Jackson defeated the Montgomery Biscuits of the Tampa Bay Rays organization 3-1 in the first round while Mississippi defeated Pensacola Blue Wahoos, who had the best record in the league this season. Mississippi lost their top player, league batting champion Ozzie Albies, in the first game of their series against Pensacola, and they did not have him at the top of their lineup int he championship series.

Texas League

The Midland RockHounds of the Oakland Athletics organization won their third straight Texas League championship as they defeated the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Kansas City Royals organization 3-1. Midland was managed by Ryan Christenson.

Midland ran away with the second-half title, with a 7-game lead on the second-best team in the league. They finished with the second-best overall record to Corpus Christi Hooks of the Houston Astros organization, who dominated the first half but saw a lot of their players promoted to AAA and the major leagues in the second half.

Midland defeated Corpus Christi 3-1 to make the championship series. Northwest Arkansas defeated the Springfield Cardinals of the St. Louis Cardinals organization 3-1 to make the series. The three straight titles marks the first time that this has happened in the Texas League since 1925.

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High-A

California League

In their final season in existence, the High Desert Mavericks of the Texas Rangers organization won the league title in a three-game sweep over the Visalia Rawhide of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Pitcher Brett Martin, who threw seven hitless innings in game 2 while striking out 15 hitters, was named the series MVP. Howard Johnson was the manager of the Mavericks.

The Cal League has a three-tier playoff format. The first-half division champion gets a bye for the first round where the wild card and second-half winner play. The Bakersfield Blaze of the Seattle Mariners organization defeated the San Jose Giants, obviously of the San Francisco Giants organization 2-1. The Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros) defeated the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Los Angeles Dodgers) 2-1.

In the second round, Visalia finished Bakersfield’s final season in the Cal League with a 3-0 sweep. High Desert defeated Lancaster 3-1 to get themselves to the championship game.

Carolina League

MVP David Bote led the Myrtle Beach Pelicans of the Chicago Cubs organization to back-to-back championships in the Carolina League as they defeated Lynchburg Hillcats of the Cleveland Indians organization 3 games to 1. Bote hit .577 in the playoffs, including 10-for-17 in the Finals. The Pelicans were managed by Buddy Bailey.

Lynchburg took down the Washington Nationals affiliate Potomac Nationals, who had qualified as a wild-card after Lynchburg won both halves of the Northern division, 2-1. Myrtle Beach had the task of facing the team who had the best record in the league on the season, the Salem Red Sox of the Boston Red Sox organization, but by then many of the players that had built up Salem’s tremendous first-half record had been promoted, some all the way to the major leagues, and Myrtle Beach won the series 2-1 over Salem to get to the championship.

Florida State League

The Bradenton Marauders (Pittsburgh Pirates) won their first-ever Florida State League championship three games to one over the Tampa Yankees of the New York Yankees organization. Marauders manager Michael Ryan turned to righty Jonathan Brubaker, who also pitched a clinching game in the New York-Penn League for his Pirates affiliate over the Yankees affiliate in that league in 2015.

Tampa defeated the Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays) 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs to get to the championship series. Bradenton swept the St. Lucie Mets (New York Mets) 2-0 to earn their way to the championship series, meaning both first-half champions made the championship series. Interestingly, the Clearwater Threshers of the Philadelphia Phillies organization had the best combined record of the league by 4 1/2 games, but they did not win either half of the season, so they were disqualified from the playoffs.

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Low-A

Midwest League

The Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate Great Lakes Loons won their first ever Midwest League title over Clinton LumberKings of the Seattle Mariners organization, three games to one. Great Lakes made an incredible come back from 4 1/2 games out of the playoffs at all in mid-August to league champion. Manager Gil Velazquez guided the Loons through two elimination games in the first two rounds to make the championship series.

In the first round, West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) defeated South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) 2-1. Clinton swept the Peoria Chiefs of the St. Louis Cardinals organization two games to none. Great Lakes defeated Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) two games to one. The Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Minnesota Twins organization defeated the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Milwaukee Brewers system two games to none.

In the semifinals, Great Lakes defeated West Michigan two games to one. Clinton rebounded after losing the first game to win the series two games to one to reach the finals. Clinton defeated Great Lakes 16-6 in the first game of the championship series, but Great Lakes took the next three games, including shutout victories in games 2 and 3.

South Atlantic League

The Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves) turned to lefty Max Fried for his second “clinching” game of the playoffs, and he again delivered double-digit strikeouts, striking out a career-high 13 batters as he led Rome over the Lakewood BlueClaws (Philadelphia Phillies), three games to one. Manager Randy Ingle credited his dominant starting staff with leading his team to a championship, as the staff featured four former first-round selections, three of them teenagers.

Rome took down the Charleston RiverDogs of the New York Yankees organization in the semifinals, two games to one. Lakewood defeated the Hagerstown Suns of the Washington Nationals organization two games to none to make the finals.

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Short-Season Leagues

Northwest League

The Eugene Emeralds (Chicago Cubs) won their first championship in 40 years by defeating the Everett AquaSox (Seattle Mariners) two games to one. Eugene closed out a season where they won over 70% of their games, winning both halves of the South division, outpacing the closest team in record by 9 games.

Eugene defeated the Hillsboro Hops of the Arizona Diamondbacks system in the semifinals two games to one. Everett swept the Spokane Indians of the Texas Rangers organization in two games to advance to the finals.

New York-Penn League

The State College Spikes of the St. Louis Cardinals organization swept away the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays) in two games. Manager Johnny Rodriguez won his second championship in five years at the helm. State College finished off a season in which they had the best record in the league.

Hudson Valley swept the Lowell Spinners of the Boston Red Sox organization in the semifinals. State College defeated the Staten Island Yankees (New York Yankees) two games to one.

Rookie League

Appalachian League

The Johnson City Cardinals defeated the Burlington Royals two games to none to sweep the Appy League finals. The Cardinals were managed by Chris Swauger. The championship series matched up the top two records in the league in the regular season.

Johnson City defeated the Elizabethton Twins two games to one, and Burlington defeated the Princeton Rays two games to one to advance the teams to the finals.

Pioneer League

L.J. Kalawaia hit his first professional home run in the clinching game to lead the Orem Owls of the Los Angeles Angels system to the two-game sweep over the Billings Mustangs of the Cincinnati Reds organization. Orem got to the finals over the Ogden Raptors of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, two games to one. Billings swept the Great Falls Voyagers of the Chicago White Sox organization, the best team in the league by record.

Arizona League

The Mariners affiliate swept the best-of-three championship in two games over the Angels. Both the Mariners and Angels came into the playoffs needing to play all three rounds to win a title. The Angels defeated the Indians in a one-game playoff to advance to the semifinals, and the Mariners defeated the Cubs. In the semifinals, the Angels defeated the Royals and the Mariners defeated the Reds in one-game playoffs.

Gulf Coast League

It took all three games to decide, but the Cardinals defeated the Phillies in the third game to take the GCL title, two games to one. The Phillies and Cardinals had the two best records of the division winners in the GCL on the season, but the Blue Jays had the second-best record in the league, but there is no wild card system in the GCL, so they were shut out of the playoffs due to being behind the Phillies in their own division. The Phillies defeated the Braves and the Cardinals defeated the Red Sox in one-game playoffs to get to the finals.

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