The Triple-A Nashville Sounds officially ended their 2016 season on Sunday, losing Game 5 of their Divisional Round series against the OKC Dodgers. That’s a bummer because the Sounds won’t get to play for the Pacific Coast League championship, but on the bright side it means that we get to start looking at the top prospects (so far, Matt Olson and Renato Nunez have been called up to the Oakland A’s) rather than waiting another week or two for their MLB debuts.
Meanwhile, the Double-A Midland RockHounds look forward to their upcoming Texas League Championship Series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals), which begins on Tuesday.
Here’s a closer look at each series
Nashville Sounds vs. Oklahoma City Dodgers
League: Triple-A Pacific Coast League
Best-of-5 Divisional Series
Dodgers win series 3-2
Game 1: Sounds 10, Dodgers 7 (recap)
Game 2: Dodgers 5, Sounds 2 (recap)
Game 3: Sounds 6, Dodgers 5 (recap)
Game 4: Dodgers 7, Sounds 1 (recap)
Game 5: Dodgers 10, Sounds 9 (box score)
The Sounds were so close. They came back from an early 3-0 deficit to take the lead. They went down again, 7-4, but rallied back once more to take another lead into the late innings. But the third time was the charm for the Dodgers, who mounted one last rally in the 8th to which Nashville had no answer. In a game that surely gave A’s fans flashbacks to the 2014 Wild Card Game against the Royals, the Sounds lost a wild one to end their season.
The lineup did its job. Franklin Barreto and Matt Olson homered in the 3rd to help Nashville to its first lead. When OKC quickly regained the advantage, Renato Nunez added a homer of his own, and then in the 6th the whole group strung together their second four-run rally of the evening. But nine runs didn’t turn out to be enough on this day — they had one more shot, with the bases loaded and one out in the 9th, but Olson and Nunez popped out to end it.
The pitching was exactly the kind of mess that you would expect from a team that lost its top three starters to promotions just before the postseason (after having lost most of its bullpen to the same cause throughout the year). They really should have had no chance in this series, and frankly it’s impressive they got as far as they did. Chris Jensen and Angel Castro were ineffective, Ryan Brasier served up the eventual game-winning three-run homer, and none of those are names you should care about in the least. Look at it this way: The A’s chose to give several of their prospects some MLB innings instead of a chance at a Triple-A ring, and I can’t argue with that decision.
You can click the link to the box score above if you want to see the stats from this game. Here are the overall series numbers for the top prospects (not necessarily the top performers):
Note that six of Barreto’s eight hits were for extra bases (3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer).
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Midland RockHounds vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
League: Double-A Texas League
Best-of-5 Championship Series
Game 1: Tue 9/13, 5:05 p.m. at NW Arkansas
Game 2: Wed 9/14, 5:05 p.m. at NW Arkansas
Game 3: Fri 9/16, 5:00 p.m. at Midland
Game 4: Sat 9/17, 5:00 p.m. at Midland
Game 5: Sun 9/18, 12:00 p.m. at Midland
Game 1 starters: RHP Joel Seddon vs. RHP Yender Caramo
The RockHounds are looking for their third straight Texas League title, after winning in 2014 and 2015. They are facing the same team they saw in the finals last year, although like any Double-A team the Naturals’ roster is totally different this time around. The Hounds only have a few holdovers from last year, and catcher Beau Taylor is the only player who’s been here for all three postseason runs.
As near as I can tell, the last team to pull off a three-peat in the Texas League was the now-defunct Fort Worth Panthers back in the 1920s; they’re listed as the champs from 1920-25. It’s already tough enough to compare present-day MLB to that era of baseball, so I have to imagine that looking at minor league ball from the ‘20s is more or less meaningless. The RockHounds are looking to do something that hasn’t ever been meaningfully accomplished in their league.
Here’s a quick look back at how they got here, by beating the Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros) 3-1 in their Divisional Round series.
Game 1: RockHounds 6, Hooks 2 (recap)
Game 2: Hooks 5, RockHounds 4 (recap)
Game 3: RockHounds 7, Hooks 5 (recap)
Game 4: RockHounds 5, Hooks 2 (recap)
And the series stats of the top prospects (not necessarily the top performers):
And the pitchers.
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Good luck to the RockHounds in their quest for a three-peat!