The Minor League season is all over except for the playoffs. The Tennessee Smokies won the first game of the Southern League Divisional Series on Thursday night against the Huntsville Stars, 6-3. Mark Holliman threw 7 strong innings for the win and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits with a walk, a hit batter and 6 strikeouts. Tyler Colvin doubled and scored a run while Casey McGehee was 2-for-3 with a run scored and 2 RBI’s. Chris Robinson drove in one and Issmael Salas added 2 RBI’s. Rocky Roquet threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the save. Justin Berg is scheduled to start game 2 on Friday and Jeff Samardzija will take the hill in game 3 on Saturday.
Grant Johnson was placed on the DL this past week and will not play in the Arizona Fall League this season. In other roster moves, the Smokies added Jose Ceda, Paul Schappert and Eric Patterson to their roster for the playoffs. Here is the rest from the year that was on the farm…. Iowa Cubs – Record: 79-65 – 2nd Place
For Iowa, there was quite the logjam at the top for the team’s best hitter. It was hard to pick just one so I went with two. Felix Pie was solid all year and ended with a .362 batting average to lead the team. I couldn’t leave out Geovany Soto though because he was the Pacific Coast League MVP for the 2007 season. What Soto did this year was downright amazing and as good as he was, he got even better once Koyie Hill was called up to Chicago. On the season he hit .353 with 26 home runs and 109 RBI’s. After what he did with Iowa he was deserving of the call-up to Chicago. I hope he does well because this kid can play and I would like to see him behind the plate for many years to come.
From the mound, the top pitcher has to go to Cory Bailey. He is a reliever but he was easily the best for the I-Cubs this year. He appeared in 44 games, including seven in a starting role and ended with a 5-3 record and a 2.86 ERA. Bailey didn’t get a lot of attention during the season but he deserves it now the season is over.
Tennessee Smokies – Record: 37-33 – 2nd Place (Overall)
There is an interesting story in Tennessee. The Smokies actually finished 3rd in the 2nd half of the season but since the Huntsville Stars won the division in both halves, the Smokies got the playoff spot due to their 2nd best overall record.
The Smokies began the playoffs last night at Huntsville and continue through Monday if necessary. The Smokies will play at home on Saturday and, if needed, the playoffs will return to Huntsville for Games 4 and 5. Since Huntsville won both halves of the season they get to play four home games to the one home game for the Smokies.
The best hitter for the Smokies this year was Josh Kroeger. He finished the season at Iowa but he still played 66 games for the Smokies. Jake Fox played 91 games with the Smokies and he led the team with 18 home runs and 60 RBI’s. Gary Cates appeared in 97 games and led the team with 16 stolen bases.
The top pitcher for the Smokies was Mark Holliman. He was 10-11 on the season which was the high for the team in wins and he also had a nice ERA of 3.57. Donald Veal led the team with 131 strikeouts.
Daytona Cubs – Record: 25-43 – 6th Place (Overall)
The best hitter this year for the D-Cubs was Tyler Colvin. He hit .306 in 66 games before moving on to Tennessee where he would finish out the year. Brian Dopirak, the Cubs #1 prospect at one time, led the D-Cubs with 17 home runs and 64 RBI’s. Chris Amador led the team with 19 stolen bases.
From the mound, Mitch Atkins was the best pitcher for the Cubs. He was 8-7 with a 3.13 ERA in 20 starts.
Peoria Chiefs – Record: 40-30 – 5th Place (Overall)
Peoria was the only team tied for the division lead that didn’t get to go to the playoffs. They ended in a 3-way tie with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Swing of the Quad Cities at 40-30. Ryne Sandberg’s first year of managing is in the books and has to be considered a success. The usually quiet Sandberg was very vocal in his managing style. He was only ejected twice during his playing career but in 2 1/2 months of managing, he had already been ejected four times. He may have intimidated his players being a Hall of Famer but once they got past that they realized he was like any other manager they played well. When you have a manager with major league experience you get immediate respect from your players. When you are a Hall of Famer, you get respect plus a lot more.
The best hitters for the Chiefs this season was Blake Lalli with a .295 batting average. In his last 10 games of the season Lalli was .417 on 15-of-36 hitting. The leader in home runs was Wellington Castillo with 11 while Russell Canzler led the team with 54 RBI’s. Matt Camp was the steals leader with 31 in his 91 games played.
From the mound, the best pitcher was Jeremy Papelbon. He was 9-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 39 appearances. Papelbon started eight of those games and was excellent in that role winning four of his last five games.
Boise Hawks – Record: 37-39 – 1st Place (Tied)
Boise did just about everything they needed to do to win their division except win the last game of the regular season. They held a one-game lead over the Tri-City Dust Devils going into their final game. A win would clinch the division for them; a loss would end their season due to advantage in the head-to-head record owned by Tri-City. When it was all said and done, Boise lost 8-1 and lost the chance to continue their season. What makes matters worse is that Boise had won four in a row and had gone from trailing by one game to leading by one.
The best hitter for the Hawks this year was Joshua Donaldson. He hit .340 in 48 games and added nine home runs and 35 RBI’s. Leading the team in home runs was Kyler Burke with 10 while Ty Wright led the team with 44 RBI’s. Tony Thomas led the team with 27 steals and did it in only 45 games.
The best pitcher for the Hawks was Zachary Ashwood. He finished with a 4-3 record and an ERA of 3.28. He appeared in 18 games including 10 in a starting role.
That’s a wrap on the year and thank you to all that read the updates throughout the season.