The minor league regular season is over, which means it’s time for the playoffs. Although the Oakland A’s have been a poor MLB team this year, their top two MiLB affiliates were both excellent and made their respective postseasons. They begin their Divisional Rounds on Wednesday, with both games kicking off at the time of this posting (around 5 p.m. PT).
The pitching matchups for Wed. (click Gameday link for live play-by-play):
More info about each series:
Nashville Sounds vs. Oklahoma City Dodgers
League: Triple-A Pacific Coast League
Best-of-5 Divisional Series
Game 1: Wed. 9/7, 5:05 p.m. at Oklahoma City
Game 2: Thu. 9/8, 4:05 p.m., at Oklahoma City
Game 3: Fri. 9/9, 4:05 p.m., at Nashville
Game 4: Sat. 9/10, 4:05 p.m., at Nashville
Game 5: Sun 9/11, 3:35 p.m., at Nashville
Nashville finished with the best record in the entire 16-team PCL, at 83-59. This is only their second year as an A’s affiliate and they were bad last season, so this is their first postseason run as part of Oakland’s system. They’re playing the top Dodgers affiliate in this first round, which is technically called a “conference championship” (for the PCL’s American Conference). The winner of this series plays in the championship series next week.
The Sounds will be led by some big prospects. Their rotation has plenty of talent, even after being taxed by the parent club -- Jesse Hahn, Dillon Overton, and Daniel Gossett are still there, and Bobby Wahl has been a strong addition to the pen. Meanwhile, the lineup features arguably the A’s two best prospects (infielders Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman*) along with several other promising youngsters like Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman, and Renato Nunez.
* Update: Chapman is out with a calf injury, and Wahl was placed on the DL on Wednesday.
The Dodgers also have some players you might recognize, led by Kazmir on the mound. The lefty is on a rehab assignment as he prepares for Los Angeles’ own big league postseason run. Their pitching staff also features former A’s farmhand Seth Frankoff.
There are a few former A’s among the position players too, including infielder Brandon Hicks and outfielders Corey Brown (2007 A’s draft pick) and Alex Hassan (claimed by A’s on waivers many times but never actually played here). Outfielders Will Venable and Jordan Schafer, and infielder Chris Taylor, each have a good amount of MLB experience, and slugger Cody Bellinger is a Top-100 prospect who was in a lot of trade rumors this summer.
The final season stats for the top Sounds:
(I’ve gone back to listing Olson at 1B because he’s gone back to playing there.)
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Midland RockHounds vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
League: Double-A Texas League
Best-of-5 Divisional Series
Game 1: Wed. 9/7, 5:05 p.m. at Corpus Christi
Game 2: Thu. 9/8, 4:05 p.m., at Corpus Christi
Game 3: Fri. 9/9, 4:00 p.m., at Midland
Game 4: Sat. 9/10, 4:00 p.m., at Midland
Game 5: Sun 9/11, 11:00 a.m., at Midland
Midland is looking for its third straight Texas League title, after winning it all in 2014 and 2015. Click here to revisit last year’s postseason run, which was led by several players who are now in Nashville. The Hounds had a shaky, sub-.500 first half this year, but they bounced back with a 45-25 record after the break to win the second-half division title and make the playoffs. As noted by Bob Hards of MiLB.com, the only time Midland has ever done better than that in the second half was ... last year (48-22).
In terms of team stats, the Hounds dominated this season. Their pitchers led the eight-team league in ERA and their hitters posted the best batting average and the most runs per game. Unfortunately, much of that production was racked up by top prospects who have since been promoted up the ladder, including Texas League MVP and home run champ Matt Chapman. In addition to the other guys mentioned above as newcomers to Nashville (Barreto, Gossett, Wahl), the Hounds are also missing injured starter Heath Fillmyer (I have an inquiry in to find out more about his condition).
Fortunately, Midland has received some reinforcements themselves. Infielder Richie Martin was last year’s first-round pick, Max Schrock was acquired a couple weeks ago for Marc Rzepczynski, and outfielder James Harris is a former first-round pick who got back on track after joining Oakland’s system this year. They join holdovers like infielder Yairo Munoz and outfielders Tyler Marincov and J.P. Sportman, with Marincov enjoying the best season of that trio. On the pitching side, the most exciting names in the rotation are Joel Seddon (who had a hot second half) and James Naile (20th-round pick last year is on one heck of a fast track).
The Hounds and Hooks faced each other in the Divisional Round last year as well, with Midland obviously coming out on top. Let’s do it again, fellas! Here are the final season stats for the top Hounds:
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And the pitchers:
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