The minor league playoffs continued on Friday, with the Double-A Midland RockHounds and High-A Stockton Ports each playing Game 3 of their respective Division Series. Unfortunately, Stockton was eliminated in a sweep after losing their third straight, while Midland was pushed to the brink after a loss of their own. On the bright side, the Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters will begin their semifinal playoff series on Saturday.
Here’s a look at each series.
Midland RockHounds vs. San Antonio Missions (Padres)
League: Double-A Texas League
Best-of-5 Division Series
Hounds trail 1-2
Nothing much to say about this one. The lineup managed eight hits, a walk, a HBP, and a free runner off an error, but couldn’t push a single run across. Even Viosergy Rosa went 0-for-4 with a GIDP. A bit of sloppy baserunning didn’t help either.
Max Schrock, 2B: 2-for-4
J.P. Sportman, OF: 2-for-4, but picked off once
Sheldon Neuse, 3B: 1-for-4, 2B
Things went just as poorly on the other side of the ball. Grant Holmes got roughed up, and so did Carlos Navas after him. Casey Meisner mopped up decently well but that’s not much consolation in a playoff game. Even the defense was shaky, with throwing errors from Neuse and catcher Sean Murphy.
Grant Holmes: 4⅓ ip, 5 runs (3 earned), 1 K, 2 BB, 6 hits, 68 pitches (42 strikes)
Game 4 tonight will feature Heath Fillmyer on the mound for Midland. In his final start of the year he pitched well into the 8th, and his last time against San Antonio (Aug. 30) he gutted through some hits to keep his team in the game (5⅔ ip, 2 runs, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HR, 10 hits). This one is win or go home. The 4-peat is in jeopardy.
Stockton Ports vs. Modesto Nuts (Mariners)
League: High-A California League
Best-of-5 Division Series
Ports lose series 0-3
Welp. Stockton entered this series with a couple of red-hot hitters, but the lineup wasn’t able to get much going this week. Skye Bolt homered for the second straight day and added an RBI single, and Mikey White managed a couple hits, but otherwise Modesto’s pitching staff mostly cruised on Friday despite not recording a 1-2-3 inning until the 8th.
Skye Bolt, OF: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
Mikey White, 1B: 2-for-4, 2B
Brett Siddall, OF: 1-for-3, BB
The Nuts had no such trouble with Stockton starter Evan Manarino, who followed his usual pattern of dominating the strike zone (3 ip, 4 Ks, 0 BB) while also getting crushed (7 hits, HR). By the end of the 1st you had an idea how this one was going — three well-timed singles by the Nuts, an error by SS Eli White, and a steal of home added up to the only three runs Modesto would need.
The bullpen generally held serve the rest of the evening, but it didn’t matter because there was no serious comeback attempt. Kyle Friedrichs, Armando Ruiz, and John Gorman combined for five scoreless innings (5 Ks, 1 BB), while Nolan Blackwood allowed a couple insurance runs.
Evan Manarino: 3 ip, 6 runs (4 earned), 4 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HR, 7 hits, 61 pitches (39 strikes)
This was a forgettable series overall. Stockton’s entire staff got lit up except for Logan Shore, and the lineup was silenced outside of Bolt (6-for-12, 2 HR), Pimentel (5-for-11, HR), Mikey White (5-for-13), and a little bit of Seth Brown (3-for-11, HR, 2 BB). For what it’s worth, though, this is mostly a roster of fringe prospects at this point after a bunch of midseason promotions to Midland, and the one remaining big name (Shore) played well.
Congrats to the Ports on a good season!
Vermont Lake Monsters vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Indians)
League: Low-A New York-Penn League
Best-of-3 Semifinal Series
Game 1: Sat. 9/9, 3:05 p.m., at Vermont
Game 2: Mon. 9/11, 4:05 p.m., at Mahoning Valley
Game 3: Tue. 9/12 4:05 p.m., at Mahoning Valley
As one series ends in Stockton, another begins across the country. The college portion of the A’s 2017 draft class is off to a strong start, which has led them to the postseason in short-season Low-A ball.
The opener will be started by Parker Dunshee (7th round), who didn’t allow a single earned run in a dozen games for Vermont (0.00 ERA, 38⅓ ip, 45 Ks, 8 BB). Other names to watch include:
- RHP Brian Howard (8th round) finished season with 1.15 ERA, 29 Ks, 1 BB
- LHP Jesus Luzardo, teenager from Doolittle trade (18 ip, 20 Ks, 4 BB, 12 hits)
- OF Greg Deichmann (2nd round), whose 171 wRC+ and 8 HR were among best in league
- SS Kevin Merrell (1st/Comp round, 33rd overall pick) made a bunch of contact (Schrock-like 5.9% swinging strikes), hit .320 (135 wRC+), went 10-for-13 on steals, and even added a couple homers
- OF Logan Farrar (36th round) posted a 148 wRC+