OKLAHOMA CITY DODGERS (Pacific Coast League-AAA): Although it was an exciting down-to-the-wire regular season finish for manager Bill Haselman‘s OKC club to kick-off the previous week, their luck eventually ran out at the hands of the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals affiliate) as they were dusted off in four games of the PCL American Conference Championship series. Still, it was a a largely successful 2018 campaign for the team as they posted a very good 75-65 regular season record which culminated in them clinching the PCL American Northern Division title. Key players of note who were getting it done this past week are 26-year old OF/former 2010 5th round pick of the Boston Red Sox Henry Ramos (.765/.778/1.118 in the month of September, also batted a white-hot .500 avg with 3 HR and 7 RBI in the OKC/Memphis division series), 26-year old INF/OF Connor Joe (.545/.737/.909 with a HR and 5 RBI during the same stretch; .299/.408/.527 with a career-high 17 HR and 55 RBI combined between AA Tulsa and AAA OKC this season), and 24-year old corner player Edwin Rios (.467/.529/.800 this month with a HR and 5 RBI; .304/.355/.482 with 35 XBH and 55 RBI in 88 games for OKC this season).
Not much to say on the pitching front other than 27-year old Mexican southpaw Manny Banuelos notching his 9th win of the season back on Monday, pitching two no-hit innings of scoreless relief. The 2018 PCL Post-Season All-Star finishes up with a 9-7 record, 3.73 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and a decent 42/127 BB/K ratio in 108.2 IP (18 starts/13 relief appearances). On a sidenote, rehabbing 22-year old Dodger LHP Julio Urias was just recalled to the parent club on Monday after finishing up his minor-league stint. He only pitched 2/3 of an inning in relief last Monday, allowing only two hits and a walk.
TULSA DRILLERS (Texas League-AA): Manager Scott Hennessey’s Drillers have been faring well after clinching a playoff spot as well as locking up the second-half Texas League North Division Title with a rather commanding 40-29 mark down the stretch. They recently eliminated their division rivals in the Arkansas Travelers (Seattle Mariners affiliate) by going the distance in a best-of-five Texas League North Division series and are now set to take on San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres affiliate) for the Texas League Championship title. 20-year old middle infielder/6th-ranked system prospect Gavin Lux (.324/.408/.495 with 4 HR and 9 RBI in 28 regular season games for Tulsa), 20-year old C/2nd-ranked system prospect Keibert Ruiz (.268/.328/.401 with 12 HR and 47 RBI overall this season), and 22-year old OF/recently named TL Player Of The Week DJ Peters (career-high 29 HR in 132 games for the Drillers this season) were the main bats in that series. Lux batted a sizzling .428 with 4 runs scored, a HR, and 3 RBI against the Travelers, while Ruiz more than held his own hitting .409 with 2 runs scored, a HR, and 5 RBI. Peters ended up batting a solid .263 with 4 runs scored, a HR and 2 RBI for good measure.
Couple of notable pitching performances also came about in that playoff series. 23-year old RHP/7th-ranked system prospect Mitchell White, who finished up his regular season with a six-inning/four-hit scoreless gem last Monday, pitched an excellent game in the division series clincher on Sunday (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 94 pitches-56 strikes). 26-year old LHP Ben Holmes threw a gem of his own in last Thursday’s outing (6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 8 K, 97 pitches-63 strikes) and 24-year old RHP/29th-ranked system prospect Andrew Sopko was right there with him as well (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 80 pitches-48 strikes in Saturday’s game).
RANCHO CUCAMONGA QUAKES (California League-High A Advanced): There’s just no stopping manager Drew Saylor’s Quakes squad as they thoroughly mopped the floor with division rival Lancaster (Colorado Rockies affiliate) in a best-of-five playoff division series winning 4-1 and moving on to the California League Championship series where they will face the Visalia Rawhide (Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate). Top offensive performers in that playoff series last week were 20-year old Cuban middle infielder/30th-ranked system prospect Omar Estevez (.266 avg with 3 runs scored, 2 HR, and 3 RBI), 20-year old Dominican OF Carlos Rincon (.312 avg with 3 runs scored, 2 HR, and 6 RBI), and 23-year old OF Cody Thomas (.444 avg with 5 runs scored, a HR, and 3 RBI). As far as the pitching in that series went, there was a particularly strong outing from 20-year old Dominican RHP/15th-ranked system prospect Edwin Uceta back on Friday (5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 67 pitches-41 strikes) as well as a couple decent relief appearances from 23-year old RHP/26th-ranked system prospect Jordan Sheffield (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K in Wednesday and Saturday’s games).
On a sidenote, there were also a pair of “surprise” rehab outings from 22-year old Dominican RHP/5th-ranked system prospect Dennis Santana (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K) and 28-year old Dodger reliever Yimi Garcia (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) in Saturday’s Game 3 Quakes victory. Good news on that front, particularly for Santana as he continues to recover from his rotator cuff injury sustained earlier this season while with the parent club.
GREAT LAKES LOONS (Midwest League-Low A): Unfortunately for the Loons, their wholly inspiring second-half of the season abruptly came to an end as they were eliminated from postseason play by the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers affiliate) back on Thursday in a two-game sweep. Not much to say on the offensive end as it was a relatively low-scoring affair in that series, with 20-year old Venezuelan OF Romer Cuadrado (.500 avg in both games) and 22-year old middle infielder Deacon Liput (.300 avg) being the only standouts.
The only pitching highlights came in Game 2 in which 21-year old southpaw/18th-ranked system prospect John Rooney (2.2 IP, 0 H, 0, R, 0, BB, 3 K), 21-year old RHP Stephen Kolek (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K), and 21-year old LHP Bryan Warzek (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) all delivered strong performances it what would eventually become a losing effort for the Loons. Still, it doesn’t take away from what the team was able to accomplish during the secnd half of their season when it appeared as though that dreadful 1st half they suffered through would sink their 2018 campaign entirely. Congrats are most definitely in order on that account.
OGDEN RAPTORS (Pioneer League-Rookie Level): Looks like last week just wasn’t in the cards for the Raptors as they not only lost the regular season series finale to division rival Idaho Falls (Kansas City Royals affiliate) three-games-to-one that pretty much nixed their second half division title hopes, they were also knocked out of the playoffs by Grand Junction (Colorado Rockies affiliate) last Sunday in a best-of-three Pioneer League South Division series. The only notable offensive performances in that series which wound up going the distance came from rehabbing 21-year old utility man Marcus Chiu (.428 avg with a SB and a run scored), 19-year old infielder/22nd-ranked system prospect Ronny Brito (.300 avg with 2 runs scored, a HR, and 2 RBI), and 21-year old OF James Outman (.273 avg with 3 runs scored, 2 HR, and 4 RBI). That said, kudos to Ogden for posting that franchise-record 26-win first half this year. Rookie level or not, that’s still quite an accomplishment when all’s said and done.