Durham Bulls: East Division champion
It just wouldn't be a Triple-A postseason without the Durham Bulls.
The Bulls left nothing to chance, preferring to seal their own destiny. Roman Quinn and Josh Lowe homered and combined for six RBIs to power Durham to a 10-1 win over Charlotte at Truist Field, giving the Rays affiliate the opportunity to compete during the Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend.
Durham used a six-run fourth inning to break open a 3-1 game and reach the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
Buoyed by an offense that leads the International League in OPS (.792), slugging (.451) and homers (211), the Bulls flexed their muscles with 13 hits, six coming in the fourth when 11 men came to the plate. The offense proved to be more than enough for Taj Bradley, who won for the second time in three starts.
Baseball's No. 20 overall prospect limited Charlotte to one run, yielding just four singles and a walk with three strikeouts in six innings.
Durham, which won the Triple-A Final Stretch last season, will meet Nashville for the International League Championship on Saturday in Las Vegas. The Bulls have scored the IL crown six times and the Triple-A title twice, most recently in 2017.
Pacific Coast League
El Paso Chihuahuas: East Division champion
The El Paso Chihuahuas have only been in existence for nine seasons. Over that time, they've celebrated five division titles. Their latest comes with a trip to Las Vegas.
Despite some drama in the ninth, Triple-A El Paso held on for a 3-2 win over Oklahoma City, clinching a playoff berth by capturing the Pacific Coast League East crown.
The Chihuahuas have been carried all season by their offense, which sports a .283 team average that ranks tops among all full-season Minor League teams. El Paso's 954 runs scored are 32 more than any other team in Triple-A, and the club's 218 homers are 14 shy of Albuquerque's Triple-A leading total of 232.
Since their inaugural season of 2014, the Chihuahuas have reached the postseason five times, winning two conference titles and a league championship in 2016. This year, they'll be aiming for a Triple-A crown behind No. 5 Padres prospect Eguy Rosario, who homered in his team's clinching game.
Nashville Sounds: West Division champion
What's another inning when you've already played a full season to earn a playoff berth? After letting go of a three-run lead late, Nashville shut the door in the 10th inning, securing a 6-3 win over Louisville and a trip to Las Vegas to play for a spot in the Triple-A National Championship.
The Sounds' 89 wins lead the International League, potentially giving them an edge over the circuit's East Division winner in a one-game Triple-A semifinal matchup. Nashville's offense leads the IL with a .788 OPS and 185 stolen bases, while its pitching staff ranks second with a 3.99 ERA.
The Sounds are in the postseason for the first time since 2016, when they were an Athletics affiliate and a member of the Pacific Coast League. The franchise last won a title in 2005, its first year of its first stint as a Brewers affiliate. Milwaukee's prospects -- led by outfielders Sal Frelick (No. 2) and Joey Wiemer (No. 3) -- will attempt to bring another trophy back to the organization.
Pacific Coast League
Reno Aces: West Division champion
The Aces didn't win their game against the River Cats, but they didn't need to. The D-backs' Triple-A affiliate clinched a spot in the playoffs after Tacoma's 19-9 victory over Las Vegas. Reno will take on El Paso, Oklahoma City or Round Rock to determine who gets to play the International League winner for the Triple-A National Championship.
While the Aces' 77-62 record isn't dominating, the team holds the largest division lead in Triple-A at nine games. Reno dominated on the road, earning 40 of its 77 wins in the visiting team's ballpark. The Aces played all-around solid baseball to claim the West title -- their pitching staff stands second in the league in WHIP, while the offense is fifth in OPS. Lefty Tommy Henry also sports the lowest ERA among qualified pitchers on the circuit (3.74 in 113 innings).
Reno will be competing for its first league title since 2012, when the club defeated Sacramento and Omaha before winning the Triple-A National Championship Game. It will also be the Aces' first playoff appearance since 2017.
Erie SeaWolves: Southwest Division second-half champion
Erie entered the day tied in the standings with Bowie, and after tiebreakers were factored in, the SeaWolves either needed a win or a Baysox loss to clinch the second-half title. Bowie dropped its contest to Akron, 8-5, giving Erie a playoff berth for the first time since 2019.
The SeaWolves amassed 41 wins in the second half to give them 80 on the season overall. The Tigers' Double-A affiliate was one of the best road teams in the league, winning 23 contests in visiting ballparks in the second half, while sporting one of the best all-around offenses (third in the league in OPS at .753) and pitching staffs (second in ERA at 3.79).
Righty Chance Kirby led the circuit's qualified starters in ERA with a 2.62 mark -- no other hurler had an ERA under 3.90 -- as well as average-against (.197) and WHIP (0.94). Slugger Quincy Nieporte led the league in homers (31) and RBIs (91).
The SeaWolves will be playing for their first league title.
Frisco RoughRiders: South Division second-half champion
Frisco entered the final weekend of the Double-A season in a tight race with Midland and Amarillo. But before any tiebreakers had to be calculated, the RoughRiders came out swinging, topping Northwest Arkansas, 11-6, en route to the second-half title.
Rangers No. 5 prospect Justin Foscue provided the power with a homer and a double as part of a four-RBI night. Third-ranked Evan Carter reached base four times and scored thrice to help key the victory.
Just before the win, Midland knocked themselves out of contention with a loss to Wichita, while Amarillo posted a 7-0 blanking of San Antonio that was too late.
The RoughRiders fittingly totaled five doubles on Friday, bringing their league-leading total to 122 in the second half. Boasting the Rangers’ top two pitching prospects in Jack Leiter and Owen White, the Double-A affiliate ranked second in the circuit with a 4.54 ERA since the halfway mark.
Frisco will face San Antonio in the Texas League semifinals. Game 1 of the best-of-3 series is set for Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Riders Field.
Portland Sea Dogs: Northeast Division second-half champion
Ceddanne Rafaela picked the perfect spot for his first grand slam.
With his club looking to lock up a postseason berth for the first time in eight years, baseball's 100th overall prospect broke the game open in the seventh with a slam and Portland cruised to a 12-7 win over Somerset at TD Bank Ballpark. The victory clinched the Northeast Division second-half title and a playoff date with ... the Patriots.
After falling behind in the opening frame, the Sea Dogs took control, scoring eight times from the third through fifth innings. Homers by Boston's No. 21 prospect Christian Koss, No. 24 Wilyer Abreu and Tyler Dearden helped Portland take a 8-2 edge.
Somerset cut the lead to four, but Rafaela's seventh-inning clout eliminated any remaining suspense over the final three innings. The salami was the No. 4 Red Sox prospect's 12th homer for the Sea Dogs and 21st overall. The 21-year-old is slashing .303/.346/.549 with 63 extra-base hits, 86 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 113 games.
The victory improved Portland's second-half record to an Eastern League-best 43-22, a far better run than its 30-39 mark in the first half of the season.
Austin Wells, the No. 4 Yankees prospect, homered for the second consecutive day to give him 20 for the year.
Wichita Wind Surge: North Division second-half champions
It was a nail-biter, but in the end, Double-A Wichita came away with a hard-earned 3-1 victory over Midland to claim the North Division second-half title, setting up a tilt with Tulsa to decide who will play in the Texas League Championship Series.
Five Wichita pitchers combined to hold the RockHounds to one run despite the offense being outhit, 10 to eight. Third baseman Yunior Severino was the sole provider of offense for the Twins’ Double-A affiliate, smacking a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the opening frame and a solo jack on a full count in the fourth.
Midland threatened to tie in the eighth when a walk, an RBI single by Tyler Soderstrom and a ground-rule double by Logan Davidson cut the lead to two and put runners on second and third with one out. Right-hander Osiris German came in and ended the threat on just four pitches.
After going just 35-33 in the first half, the Wind Surge completely flipped the script in the second half, recording a blistering 40-24 record to put them at 75-57 on the season.
Montgomery Biscuits: Playoff berth
Seven was indeed a lucky number for the Biscuits.
Double-A Montgomery is headed to the postseason for a seventh consecutive year after blanking Rocket City, 7-0, at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium. The victory pushed the Biscuits' second-half record to 39-24, a marked improvement from their 28-34 first half.
Mason Montgomery allowed two hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings to earn his second Double-A win. The No. 7 Rays prospect has been superb in his first full-season campaign, posting a 2.21 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 167 punchouts in 118 innings across two Minor League levels.
No. 28 prospect Brett Wisely left the yard and Diego Infante also went deep to pace a Biscuits offense that pounded out 12 hits, three from Niko Hulsizer, who opened the scoring with his 17th roundtripper. Blake Huntadded the victors' fourth long ball of the day in the sixth.
With six games remaining in the regular season, Montgomery and Pensacola, which claimed the first-half Southern League South Division title, are tied for first with identical 67-58 records.
Florida State League
Dunedin Blue Jays: West Division second-half champions
Blame it on the rain? Not quite.
The Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays clinched the second-half title in the FSL West by way of a rainout on the final day of the season, but there's no denying the club proved itself playoff worthy over the last several weeks. Dunedin was 16-13 at home in the second half and posted an astonishing 22-12 record on the road.
No team puts together that kind of prolonged success without doing things well in every aspect of the game, but the Dunedin pitching staff did some heavy lifting, leading the FSL in the second half with a 3.26 ERA -- 57 points lower than Palm Beach's second-best ERA -- a 1.21 WHIP and a .223 average-against. Left-hander Trey Cumbie was a rock, going 6-1 with a 1.26 ERA over 19 appearances out of the bullpen.
Estiven Machado, Toronto's No. 26 prospect, was among the FSL's most consistent hitters in the second half, batting .281 with a .373 on-base percentage. That performance boosted his season slash line to .263/.342/.345. Tenth-ranked Blue Jays prospect Josh Kasevich, whom the organization selected in the second round of the Draft in July, posted a .344 OBP for the second-half champs.
The Blue Jays are slated to meet the Twins-affiliated Fort Myers Miracle in the best-of-3 West Division series beginning Tuesday.
Lake County Captains: East Division second-half champions
O captain! My captain! The Lake County Captains are heading to the playoffs.
First baseman Joe Naranjo hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to put Lake County in front for good, securing a 3-2 win over Fort Wayne and the Midwest League East second-half title for the Captains. A semifinal matchup with the Great Lakes Loons is now on the docket.
Lake County starter Aaron Davenport surrendered a run in the first inning and another in the second but settled in nicely to work six innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Christian Cairo delivered an RBI single, setting up Naranjo, who belted his 18th homer of the year to claim the lead. Raymond Burgos struck out four over two scoreless innings of relief and Alaska Abney worked a scoreless ninth to pick up the save.
Tennessee Smokies: Playoff berth
Celebrations were muted by a doubleheader sweep, but Tennessee ended the night with the knowledge that its season would continue past the end of the regular season.
By virtue of a Rocket City win over Montgomery, third-place Birmingham was eliminated from playoff contention. That ensured Tennessee would at worst finish with the second-best SL North record. However, because the Trash Pandas won the division's first-half title, a repeat in the second half would hand the crown to the Smokies.
In short, Tennessee is in, with the precise reason to be determined over the final two days of the regular season.
South Atlantic League
Brooklyn Cyclones: North Division second-half champions
Jeffrey Colon's stellar outing on the mound and Joe Suozzi's late-inning heroics with the bat led the Brooklyn to a 3-0 win over Winston-Salem, bringing the Cyclones' magic number down to one. Minutes later, Hudson Valley fell to Wilmington, ensuring the SAL North title is coming back to Coney Island.
Colon held the Dash off the scoreboard with, given the circumstances, the game of his career. The 22-year-old, enjoying a breakout season in his fourth year as a pro, worked seven innings for the first time in his career and struck out eight while scattering three hits. While Colon did his job, the Brooklyn bats were equally absent -- until Suozzi stepped to the plate in the top of seventh.
Suozzi, who grew up a short drive from Maimonides Park on Long Island, ensured a hero's welcome when the Cyclones return home from their road trip. The 24-year-old fell behind 0-2, worked the count back even and then blasted his eighth home run to put Brooklyn in front. Alex Ramirez and Jose Peroza added RBI singles later in the frame to hand a 3-0 lead to Daison Acosta, who worked the final two innings to lock down his team-leading 10th save.
The Cyclones won its first outright league championship in 2019, claiming the last New York-Penn League crown. Brooklyn opens this year's title chase with a best-of-three series against the Aberdeen IronBirds, the first-half division winner.
South Atlantic League
Rome Braves: South Division second-half champions
The phrase "Rome wasn't built in a day" surely was in reference to the Braves' second-half exploits. The Atlanta affiliate rode the high of a 14-3 stretch and endured a 3-10 spell to ultimately clinch its third division title since the franchise's inception in 2003.
Though Rome's ticket was officially punched when Asheville fell to Greenville, there was cause for celebration minutes later when the Braves held on for a 5-4 win over Hickory. J.J. Niekro allowed one run over five strong innings and he was helped out by a five-run fourth inning, which was punctuated by a grand slam from Kadon Morton, his first home run at the High-A level.
Rome needed five relievers to record the final 12 outs, and it wasn't without a scare. Thomas Saggese connected on a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to cut Hickory's deficit to one, and the Crawdads put two more on base before Austin Smith recorded the final out and his 13th save.
The Braves now have a date with the first-half division champion Bowling Green Hot Rods, with a spot in the SAL finals on the line.
Charleston RiverDogs: South Division second-half champions
After jumping out to an early lead, Charleston needed a few extra innings to secure a second-half division title. Behind a two-homer, four-RBI performance from No. 19 Rays prospect Junior Caminero, the Tampa Bay affiliate defeated Columbia, 11-7, in an 11-inning thriller at Segra Park.
The reigning champions jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the opening inning and tacked on a fourth run in the following frame before the Fireflies answered back with two runs. The RiverDogs extended their lead to 5-2 and Columbia fought back to make the score 5-4 after a Gavin Cross triple and a Dayton Dooney dinger.
Caminero launched his first homer of the night in the top of the ninth to give Charleston some insurance, but Columbia wasn’t going down without a fight. Down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth, Omar Hernandez singled and Cross -- the Royals’ top prospect -- made them pay with a game-tying, two-run jack to keep the Fireflies alive.
Both teams drove in the free runner in the 10th, but Caminero led off the 11th with his second homer of the night to give the RiverDogs a 9-7 lead. Willy Vasquez and Brock Jones both launched solo jacks to cap a four-run frame to propel Charleston to victory. The club earned its 85th win of the season and improved to 39-23 in the second half.
Vancouver Canadians: Playoff berth
Powered by an offensive outburst and a shutdown pitching performance, Vancouver clinched a spot in the playoffs with a 9-1 win over Eugene at Nat Bailey Stadium. The Emeralds sit atop the Northwest League standings by two games, and the league will come down to the wire as the two teams close out the season with the final four contests of a five-game set.
Right-hander Michael Dominguez led the way for the Canadians on the mound, tying his career high with nine strikeouts across six scoreless innings while surrendering only two hits and a walk. Three relievers each contributed an inning of work to close out the victory, with the only Eugene run coming on a wild pitch in the eighth.
The Blue Jays affiliate got things started quickly with No. 30 prospect Dasan Brown cranking a homer to lead off the bottom of the first before the Canadians put up a six-spot in the second, highlighted by a two-run dinger from PK Morris to cap off the frame. Dominguez dominated the Emeralds lineup, retiring 17 of the 20 batters he faced on 86 pitches (55 strikes).
Vancouver is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, when it defeated Eugene for the Northwest League title.
Fredericksburg Nationals: North Division second-half champions
With a magic number of two entering action, the FredNats took care of their own business while getting the help they needed to punch their ticket to the postseason with a second-half division crown. Fredericksburg handily defeated Salem, 15-5 behind an eight-run first inning and some web gems at Carillion Clinic Field. Geraldi Diaz capped the offensive outburst in the opening frame with a three-run homer and finished the game with a game-high four RBIs.
Washington's No. 12 prospect Jackson Rutledge improved to 8-6 after allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven in five frames. Peyton Glavine, son of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tom, followed with a scoreless frame, and Marlon Perez closed out the rout with a scoreless ninth.
The FredNats also needed a loss by Carolina, which came via a 5-4 walk-off win by Myrtle Beach. Fredericksburg improved to 72-54 on the year and 39-21 in the second half. This postseason berth marked the first for the franchise since its relocation to Fredericksburg in 2020. The team will host Lynchburg in the divisional round playoff game to open the postseason on Sept. 13.
Inland Empire 66ers: South Division second-half champions
It was a win-and-in situation for Single-A Inland Empire, and the 66ers punched their ticket to the postseason with a 4-3 victory over Visalia in 10 innings at Valley Strong Ballpark. The win, combined with a 10-6 loss by Lake Elsinore. clinched the second-half division crown for the 66ers.
Angels' eighth-ranked prospect Adrian Placencia led the way offensively for the 66ers with a two-hit effort that included a two-run homer to open the scoring in the first inning. Right-hander Jorge Marcheco was solid on the hill, allowing three runs on three hits without issuing a walk and fanning seven over five frames. Then Inland Empire's bullpen took over as Roman Phansalkar, Dayan Reinoso and Fernando Guanare combined to whiff six over five scoreless frames.
Inland Empire will face Lake Elsinore in the first round of the playoffs on Sept. 13.
Fresno Grizzlies: North Division second-half champions
It was déjà vu all over again for Fresno as the first-half North Division champs repeated by clinching the second-half crown with a 12-6 win over San Jose at Excite Ballpark.
Sixth-ranked Rockies prospect Benny Montgomery led the charge with a career-high five-RBI performance -- which included his sixth dinger for the Grizzlies. Catcher Braxton Fulford also had his power on display as he finished with a pair of homers, a double, four RBIs and four runs scored for Fresno. The Grizzlies have won 17 of their last 19 contests.
The club improved to 80-47 on the season and 40-22 in the second half to secure the best regular-season mark in the league. The Grizzlies paced the circuit this year in hits (1,240), doubles (272) and homers (161). They will face San Jose in the first round of the playoffs.
San Jose Giants: Playoff berth
San Jose may have lost 12-6 to the reigning North Division champ Fresno, but the Giants still punched their ticket to the postseason after a 4-3 loss by Modesto to Stockton in 10 innings. Since Fresno won both halves, San Jose earned a trip to the playoffs with the next best divisional record.
San Jose produced a 32-30 mark in the second half of the season. San Francisco's fourth-ranked prospect Grant McCray, recently promoted to High-A Eugene, still stands second on the circuit with 92 runs, fifth with 127 hits and 10th with a .291 average and 69 RBIs.
Paced by Seth Lonsway's 119 strikeouts (fourth-best in the league) and Nick Sinacola, who stands second with a .386 ERA among qualified hurlers, the Giants led the Cal League with a 4.08 ERA this season. They will face Fresno in the first round of the playoffs.
Florida State League
Palm Beach Cardinals: Playoff berth
Entering action with a magic number of one, Palm Beach took full control of its postseason destiny with a 4-3 victory over Dunedin at TD Ballpark.
With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, Jimmy Crooks III sent a ground ball to second. Dunedin's Manuel Beltre threw the ball away on the play while Chris Rotondo scampered home on the play with the decisive run.
Reliever Gustavo J. Rodriguez (3-2) shut down the Blue Jays at the plate en route to the victory. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over three frames. Andrew Marrero gave up two hits and a walk but struck out the side to pick up his 11th save.
While the Cardinals still have a chance to clinch the second-half FSL East Division title, it won't change their date with St. Lucie in the postseason on Sept. 13. Palm Beach improved to 65-59 on the year and 36-25 in the second half of the season.
South Bend Cubs: West Division second-half champions
They lost the game, but won the title. With an assist from Quad Cities topping Beloit, South Bend made a date for the postseason despite losing their contest against Lansing. The Cubs went 37-22 (.627) with a +44 run differential in the second half to build up enough of a lead to become the first club to seal a second-half bid.
South Bend was strong on both sides of the ball during the second half. Top Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong and his .317 average helped the club best the Midwest League with 514 hits. From the bump, South Bend led the league with a 3.50 ERA, getting dominant starts from Chicago's No. 22 prospect, Porter Hodge.
Somerset Patriots: Northeast Division first-half champions
Down to his team's final strike in a winner-take-all matchup for the Northeast Division title, top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe delivered.
Volpe belted a two-run, walk-off homer to left-center, rallying Double-A Somerset from a deficit in the 10th to a 6-5 win over Hartford that gave the Patriots a first-half Northeast Division title.
Somerset started its season just 7-6 before going on a tear with wins in eight of its next nine games to set the tone for the remainder of the first half. Since the start of that streak, the Patriots have gone 37-19. Their push across the finish line wasn't easy. Somerset was two games back of Hartford with three to play entering the first half's final weekend and finished the job by claiming three of four games from the Yard Goats, including two by one run.
The Patriots have benefited from a pitching staff that has been the best in Double-A this year. Somerset's arms for a 3.36 ERA, which is two-tenths of a run better than second-place Erie, also in the Eastern League. On the offensive side, Volpe ranks in the top 10 in the league in doubles (17, tied for sixth) and extra-base hits (28, tied for sixth) while checking in second with 44 runs scored and first with 27 steals. Full story »
Richmond Flying Squirrels: Southwest Division first-half champions
Double-A Richmond took care of business with a 7-2 win over Portland, but they needed some help from Harrisburg to officially clinch the first-half title. The Flying Squirrels gathered together to watch the final out, and when the Senators took down the Rubber Ducks, the San Francisco prospects erupted in celebration. In the clincher, Richmond was led by top Giants pitching prospect, Kyle Harrison, who struck out 11 across seven innings of two-run ball.
Harrison is relatively new to a solid Richmond pitching staff that leads the league in shutouts (eight) and has allowed the second-fewest homers (61). They're fifth in the league with a 4.01 ERA and have struck out the fifth-most batters (674). The offense has also held its own, slugging the second-most homers (89) posting the third-most RBIs (307) with a .325 OBP (fourth-best) and a .402 slugging percentage (fifth-best). Gameday box score
San Antonio Missions: South Division first-half champions
Double-A San Antonio is heading to the postseason for the first time since 2018 after its 11-2 win over Wichita at Riverfront Stadium. Every Missions batter reached base and seven starters notched multihit efforts as part of a 19-hit performance. No. 17 Padres prospect Reggie Lawson and Brandon Komer limited the Wind Surge to two runs on seven hits.
San Antonio has had a steady presence on both sides of the ball all season. The pitching staff is third in the league with a 4.71 ERA, third with a 1.43 WHIP and has allowed the third-fewest homers (66) on the Texas League circuit. The offense is second in hitting (.274), fifth in OPS (.783) and lead the league with 107 stolen bases. San Antonio is the second Padres affiliate to clinch a first-half title, joining Single-A Lake Elsinore, which clinched on Tuesday. Gameday box score
Pensacola Blue Wahoos: South Division first-half champions
Double-A Pensacola will be returning to the postseason for the first time since 2019. Fueled by a five-run ninth inning that put to rest any thoughts of a comeback by Biloxi, the Marlins affiliate clinched the first-half title with a 10-6 win over the Shuckers at MGM Park. Multiple Blue Wahoos posted multihit nights, but the biggest performance came from catcher Paul McIntosh, who ripped a pair of two-run doubles.
The offensive outburst was a nice cushion for a team that’s relied heavily on its pitching all season. Pensacola’s staff leads the Southern League in ERA with a 3.79 mark and is tied for first in WHIP (1.26). The Blue Wahoos hurlers have allowed the fewest hits (463) and homers (57) as well as the third-fewest walks (225) in 547 total innings. Marlins' No. 3 prospect Eury Pérez leads the staff with a 3.35 ERA, 69 strikeouts, 0.96 WHIP and .196 BAA in 51 innings. Gameday box score
Tulsa Drillers: North Division first-half champions
After starting the month of June by losing six of its first nine and dealing with two games being canceled due to COVID concerns, Double-A Tulsa stormed back to win eight of its next 10 to clinch the first-half championship with a 4-1 win over Midland at Momentum Bank Ballpark. Five Drillers combined to strike out 16 while allowing just one run on six hits and four walks.
Tulsa’s pitching staff has been solid all season, posting 624 strikeouts (ranked second in the league), a 1.37 WHIP (second) and a 4.79 ERA (fourth) while walking the third-fewest batters (261) and allowing the second-fewest hits (488). The Dodgers affiliate's offense has held its own too, ranking third in OPS (.790) and slugging (.446) while topping the circuit in home runs with 93. Gameday box score
Lynchburg Hillcats: North Division first-half champions
A lot of things needed to happen for Single-A Lynchburg to clinch, but when all was said and done, the Guardians affiliate took care of business by sweeping a doubleheader over Delmarva to claim the first-half title. Game 1 starter Will Dion fanned eight over six frames en route to a 3-2 victory, while Game 2 starter Jack Leftwich went all seven innings, striking out nine and retiring the final 11 batters he faced in a 5-1 win.
On the season, the Guardians affiliate's staff posted a 3.84 ERA, good for fourth in the league, a 1.28 WHIP (third-best) while striking out 714 (second). Lynchburg’s offense posted a .351 OBP (third) while swatting 104 doubles (tied for fourth) and drawing 320 walks (third).
Myrtle Beach Pelicans: South Division first-half champions
Single-A Myrtle Beach has been dominant all season long, but couldn't clinch without a little late-inning drama. The Cubs affiliate took down Kannapolis, 7-6, in 10 innings to capture the first-half title. After falling behind 6-1 through five frames, the Pelicans scored six unanswered runs for a 7-6 lead. A wild pitch with two outs tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Myrtle Beach capitalized on the free runner to take the contest.
With a 47-19 record, the Pelicans have racked up the most wins in the Minor Leagues with a farm-best run differential of +149. They lead the Carolina League with 337 RBIs and 388 runs scored and have the second-most hits (549), third-most homers (56), second-best average (.250) and third-highest OPS (.738). While the offense was stellar, the pitching has been even better. The Myrtle Beach staff leads the circuit with a 3.03 ERA (the second-lowest team ERA in the Minors), 1.24 WHIP, 21 saves and eight shutouts while surrendering the fewest homers (28) and second-fewest hits (444). Gameday box score
Great Lakes Loons: East Division first-half champions
On June 9, the Dodgers' High-A affiliate stood 8.5 games behind Dayton with a 28-24 record. But Great Lakes turned on the jets and went 12-1 after that to zip past the Dragons and grab the first-half crown with a 40-25 mark. The comeback was completed when the Loons rallied to a 4-2 victory over Fort Wayne.
Great Lakes stands third in the Midwest League in runs scored (317) and RBIs (290), led by Jonny DeLuca and Imanol Vargas. Outfielder DeLuca has posted team highs of 41 runs (fourthbest in the league) and 38 RBIs (eighth-best), while first baseman Vargas has compiled a .265/.411/.858 slash line with 34 runs and 20 RBIs. The pitching has contributed greatly as well, with an overall ERA of 3.75 (third-best on the circuit). Dodgers No. 13 prospect Nick Nastrini leads the squad with 71 strikeouts over 44 2/3 innings (including seven in the clincher) and Michael Hobbs is tied for third in the league with six wins. Gameday box score
Fresno Grizzlies: North Division first-half champions
For the second year in a row, Single-A Fresno is playoff bound. After dropping five in a row to second-place San Jose, the Rockies' affiliate took control of their own destiny with consecutive wins over Modesto to secure the first-half title with a 4-2 win at Chukchansi Park. Grizzlies starter Jarrod Cande allowed two runs over five innings and the Fresno bullpen tossed four scoreless frames behind him to secure the victory.
The well-rounded Grizzlies showed out on both sides of the ball in the clincher as they’ve done all year. They lead the California League in a plethora of offensive categories, including OPS (.804), slugging (.445) and homers (78), and are second to San Jose in team ERA (4.09) and WHIP (1.39) while surrendering the third-fewest walks of any team. Gameday box score
South Atlantic League
Bowling Green Hot Rods: South Division first-half champions
The Hot Rods are ... well, hot. Bowling Green rattled off four straight wins to capture back-to-back division titles and its third in the last four seasons. The Rays' High-A affiliate celebrated after beating Greenville, 4-0, behind five innings of one-hit ball from starter Mason Montgomery, who matched a franchise record with 12 strikeouts.
A shutout in the clincher was appropriate for a Bowling Green squad that was led by its pitching staff. The Hot Rods stand second in the South Atlantic League with a 3.55 ERA, trailing only the Aberdeen IronBirds -- who clinched the North Division -- with a 1.26 WHIP. The offense has held its own as well, ranking fifth in the league in batting average (.252) and slugging percentage (.408). Gameday box score
Lake Elsinore Storm: South Division first-half champions
The Storm will head to the playoffs after doubling up Rancho Cucamonga, 14-7. Lake Elsinore clinched its second division title in the past three seasons, aiming for its first Cal League title since 2011.
The Padres' Single-A affiliate has been tough to keep off the bases, as apparent by an on-base percentage (.363) that ranks second in the league. Once they're on, they're off as well. The Storm's 135 stolen bases stands second among the 120 full-season Minor League affiliates. On the pitching side, Lake Elsinore's 4.52 ERA ranks third despite the fact that the league's offenses average nearly six runs per game. Gameday box score
Rocket City Trash Pandas: North Division first-half champions
The Double-A Trash Pandas moved 15 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history and clinched the first-half title in the process after topping Montgomery, 7-2. Rocket City held a 2-1 edge after seven innings but broke the game open with a five-run eighth.
The win secured the first postseason berth for the Angels affiliate, who debuted last season with a 54-56 record. The club has done a majority of its damage at home, going 25-11 at Toyota Field. Rocket City's .351 on-base percentage is second on the circuit while its .255 average and 774 OPS each rank third. On the pitching front, the Trash Pandas stand tied for the league lead in WHIP (1.25) and is second in ERA (4.46). Gameday box score
Eugene Emeralds: Northwest League first-half champions
The Emeralds' clinch of the High-A Northwest League first-half title came on their 35th victory of the year. Eugene cemented its title with a 13-0 shutout over Vancouver, capped off by a 5-for-5 night from the Giants' No. 3 prospect, Luis Matos.
This marks the second straight postseason appearance for Eugene following their championship win last season. The Emeralds have thus far led the league in home runs (78) and slugging percentage (.413). The pitching staff has posted a 3.42 ERA and a league-best 1.19 WHIP. Gameday box score
Cedar Rapids Kernels: West Division first-half champions
The Kernels' clinch of the High-A Midwest League North first-half title came on their 40th victory of the year, more than any other team in the circuit and six more than any other team in the division. Cedar Rapids picked up its 11th win over its past 16 games with a 9-5 victory over Dayton.
This marks the ninth straight postseason berth for the Twins affiliate. The Kernels had five winning streaks of five games this season, and they lead the Midwest League in runs (341), triples (25), home runs (75), while their pitching staff boasts a league-best 3.10 ERA. Gameday box score
South Atlantic League
Aberdeen IronBirds: North Division first-half champions
The IronBirds’ clinch of the High-A South Atlantic League North first-half title came courtesy of their 40th win of the season, 11 more than any other team in the division. Aberdeen picked up its 10th win in 12 matchups with Jersey Shore, taking down the BlueClaws, 3-2.
The Orioles affiliate has had six winning streaks of four games or longer this season, first reaching 10 games over .500 on April 30 at 15-5 and hitting 20 games over on June 9 at 37-17. The pitching staff has led the way with a combined 3.63 ERA, second-best in the league. Gameday box score
Florida State League
St. Lucie Mets (East Division first-half champions)
Single-A St. Lucie has been dominant in the Florida State League East. The Mets’ 5-1 win over Tampa put the club’s record at 39-19, eight wins better than second-place Jupiter. St. Lucie has surged on the strength of its offense with a league-best .249 average, 12 points better than Dunedin and Jupiter, and a league-leading .746 team OPS, 24 points better than Fort Myers.
The Mets were just 11-7 entering play on April 29 before they rattled off seven straight wins, the start of a 15-3 stretch. St. Lucie has been nearly impossible to beat at home this season, going 22-3 at Clover Park. Gameday box score
Florida State League
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (West Division first-half champions)
Eight games up on Bradenton and Lakeland, Single-A Fort Myers captured the FSL West crown in part due to its offense, which leads the circuit with 283 runs scored. But the Mighty Mussels also have pitched brilliantly this season with a 2.91 staff ERA that is not only the best in the Florida State League, but the best in all of Minor League Baseball.
They sealed the first-half title with a 5-4 win over Bradenton. Gameday box score