The Oakland Athletics have three teams chasing minor league postseason berths. Midland could four-peat despite a losing record, Stockton needs to beat the Giants to advance, and Vermont appears to be well on its way to its first playoff berth in six seasons.
Double-A: Midland RockHounds could sneak in from below .500
The Texas League splits its season in two, with each half champion advancing to the Texas League semifinals. However, the San Antonio Missions (SD) won both halves handedly and so the next best overall record in the Texas League South takes the other postseason spot. Thus, despite sitting on a 64-70 overall record, Midland stands one-half game ahead of the 63-70 Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU).
The Texas League regular season ends Monday, and the RockHounds have four games left: one against San Antonio and three against the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX). Corpus Christi has five to play: one at Frisco and four against San Antonio, including a doubleheader on Sunday.
Due to the approach of what was then Tropical Storm Harvey, an August 24 doubleheader between Midland and Corpus Christi was canceled. It will not be made up because, unlike the major leagues, the minor leagues do not extend the regular season even if the lost games could affect the result of a postseason race.
If the two teams are tied at the end of the regular season, Midland would advance. The Texas League rules appear to use second-half head-to-head to break a tie, although the Texas League rules as posted on their website don’t tell us how to break a tie if the other playoff spot is given to a full-season Wild Card instead of a second-half champion. It works out the same either way: Midland would advance on an 8-6 second-half or a 17-13 full-season head-to-head against Corpus Christi.
Should they advance, Midland will have the services of highly-rated prospects Jorge Mateo and Sheldon Neuse at the plate with Grant Holmes and A.J. Puk on the mound.
High-A: Stockton Ports in a tight three-way race for the last playoff spot
The California league also splits its season in two. And that’s the end of the simple explanation. The Modesto Nuts (SEA) won the first half. The second half is locked at the end of Thursday night into a three-way tie between Modesto, your Stockton Ports, and the Visalia Rawhide (ARI).
If Modesto wins the second half, the other semi-final berth goes to the second place North Division team for the full season, where the standings knock out San Jose:
For the Ports to advance outright without winning the second half, Modesto must win the second half and Stockton need only finish ahead of Visalia. For Visalia, Modesto must win the second half and Visalia must finish ahead of Stockton. San Jose only goes to the postseason if it wins the second half outright.
Stockton and San Jose play four games against each other, so a tie between them is no longer possible. The California League resolves any two-team tie by a Tuesday tiebreaker. Stockton won 22-0 Thursday night against the Rawhide, giving the Ports the 14-12 edge for home field advantage and allowing Stockton to avoid a 169-mile bus ride to Visalia if there is a tiebreaker on Tuesday. San Jose would host a tiebreaker for the second half championship against Visalia.
Most likely, any three-way tie that involves Modesto would have the league simply ignore Modesto and have the remaining two teams play for the second playoff berth, with home team in Game 5 of the semi-finals decided based on the published tiebreaking procedure.
The Ports have four night games left at home against the San Jose Giants from Friday to Monday. Visalia visits Modesto for their final four games.
While some of Stockton’s top-tier guys have played their ways to promotions, they still enjoy Brett Siddall’s power (.300/.365/.500, 20 HR, 132 wRC+) and Logan Shore’s command (4.09 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 74:16 K:BB). 2015 respective 1st and 2nd rounders Richie Martin and Mikey White will also hope to gain postseason experience and advance their careers.
Short-Season A: Vermont seeks first postseason trip since 2011
The Vermont Lake Monsters are up four games with six to play in the 75-game short season New York-Penn League. That’s good for a magic number of three against the Connecticut Tigers (DET). The NYPL regular season ends on Thursday.
Short season is primarily a chance for higher-end recent college draftees to make their first impressions at the professional level while new high school players toil away in the Arizona Rookie League. Up in Burlington, you’ll find supplemental 1st rounder Kevin Merrell, 2nd rounder Greg Deichmann, and 4th rounder Will Toffey playing for the short season crown before they move on to Beloit or Stockton in 2018.
There’s nothing like a postseason atmosphere, even if it is the minor leagues. It’s something for these prospects to take with them to the next level and all the way to the major leagues.
Correction: The first edition of this article incorrectly stated 5th rounder Santis Sanchez was playing in Short Season-A. He is playing in the Arizona Rookie League.