tennessee smokiesThis will be the final “This Week In The Minors” of the 2013 season, and for this edition I’ll be breaking from the usual format.  We have some playoffs to talk about.

Once the playoffs have wrapped up and the Cub teams have all dispersed for the winter, my minor league coverage will also take a break until after the World Series. At some point this fall, though, we’ll start breaking down the numbers from the minor league season, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the system, and taking hard look at this farm system from the point of view of the Cubs rebuilding efforts.

But for now we have the playoffs, and two teams in this organization are well on their way to a Championship right now while a third is just starting to show some signs of breaking out. We’ll start this run down in the Northwest with the…

Boise Hawks

The Hawks are one win away from taking home the title. They won the first game of the best of three Northwest League Championship Series 5-0 at home on Friday night, and Game Two is in Vancouver today.

Playing in Canada will deplete Boise’s roster a little, but it might not matter. The Hawks are sending Paul Blackburn to the mound, the same Paul Blackburn who allowed just two hits and struck out eight over seven innings in shutting down Salem-Keizer in Boise’s postseason opener. If Blackburn turns in another performance like that we just might see a league title awarded today.

Pitching for Vancouver will be Kyle Anderson. Anderson has fared very differently in his last two appearances against Boise. On July 12th he pitched five scoreless frames and struck out two. On August 10, though, Boise rocked him for five runs on nine hits over four innings.

Game time is 2:05 Mountain Time. There will be no video stream for this one, but you can listen for free from the Hawks website.

Daytona Cubs

Daytona is also one win away.

Yesterday the Cubs got yet another shutout from their pitching staff and turned that into a 2-0 Game Two win. The Florida State League Championship Series is a best of five affair, and the Cubs have a commanding 2-0 lead in that series. One win today in Charlotte and the Cubs are going home with another FSL title.

Yesterday the great starting performance came from Ivan Pineyro. Pineyro allowed just three hits and struck out seven over seven innings. Frank Del Valle pitched the final two innings to seal the win.

Pin-Chieh Chen and Zeke DeVoss split four hits as the first two hitters in the lineup, and the young slugging tandem of Daniel Vogelbach and Kris Bryant doubled (as did Anthony Giansanti and Chadd Krist). Those four extra base hits were all Daytona could come up with, but thanks to the great pitching they were all the Cubs needed.

If you’re counting, over the course of this postseason the Daytona Cubs have allowed just one run, and that was unearned. Through four playoff games this entire team has an ERA of 0.00. We are witnessing one of the most impressive stretches of starting pitching put together by any minor league team at any level of any system this season, and there is no reason to think it can’t last one more game.

No starter has been announced for today’s game yet, but I suspect Corey Black will be taking the mound for the Cubs. Black kicked off this incredible run of postseason pitching earlier in the week.

Game time is 5:00 Eastern Time, and the radio feed will be available for free from the Daytona website.

Tennessee Smokies

The first round of the Southern League playoffs is a best of five series, and that means the Smokies are still alive. Tennessee dropped the first two games on the road in Birmingham before finally finding their offense late in yesterday’s 9-2 victory.

Eric Jokisch has emerged as the late season ace for the Smokies, and he came through for Tennessee again on Saturday. Through 7.2 innings he allowed just two runs on five hits while striking out four. Armando Rivero and Frank Batista finished off the game in scoreless fashion.

Javier Baez hit his first postseason home run as he finished with two hits in this game and John Andreoli added two doubles to complete the extra base hits for the Smokies. Matt Szczur and Christian Villanueva also had two hits.

Now the focus turns to this afternoon when Eduardo Figueroa takes the mound to try to tie the series up. Figueroa shut out Birmingham through six innings in mid August, and his Southern League ERA is a solid 2.38. Birmingham will send the lefty Scott Snodgress to the mound. The Smokies had trouble with Snodgress when they faced him on August 1, but over the course of the season this guy has been hitable. Tennessee will need to hit him if they are to force a decisive Game Five.

Game time is 3:00 PM Eastern Time.  In addition to the free radio feed from the Smokies website, this game will also be available on MiLB.TV.

  • Stevie B

    Is JB swinging for the fences in every PA?
    I love the #’s, don’t get me wrong…but as its been mentioned here before, that approach rarely cuts it in the show.
    Unless, we want an Adam Dunn kinda guy… which we’ll take, I guess…

    • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

      So sick of hearing critisms for a 20y/o player who is putting together a hell of a season. How about letting the kid grow as a hitter.

      • Justin

        Right on, Baez put together one of the best minor league middle infielder yrs ever at the plate yet he still gets blasted. Especially when you consider his age. Dude k’s a good amount, but is an absolute stud. I don’t get it at all…

  • BABIP (MichCubFan)

    StevieB raises a fair point. Baez has done incredible things so far, but he will have to continue to make adjustments as he makes his way up the high minors and into the majors.

    The good news is that he has been making adjustments up to this point while he continues to show incredible power. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.

    • Castro to Barney to Chance

      I think this is the most evenhanded approach to JB. Success at the major league level does not come from success in the minors alone — it takes projecting certain skill sets, predicting the negative impact of weaknesses as competition gets better, analyzing a player’s ability to correct/make up for those weaknesses, etc. I am very excited about him, but dreaming on a free swinging AA firebrand is too dicey a proposition for my tender constitution.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    whats the rule/law on why all our players don’t go to Canada. Im sure you talked about it but missed it.

    • DarthHater

      A player who is a U.S. citizen would need a U.S. passport or passport card in order to travel in and out of Canada. Players who are citizens of other countries and are playing/working in the U.S. under a green card or other work permit would undoubtedly require other documentation. I don’t know exactly what they need, but I’m sure it’s important to have the right papers or you could screw up your permission to continue playing/working in the U.S.

      • Mike

        If the player has a green card, that and a valid passport from his home country would suffice. Otherwise he will need a visa.

  • Starlin Backer

    What more does Baez have to do for you guys to enjoy his season. He has started slow at each level then excelled beyond expectations. He is getting more walks. Unbelievable bat speed which bodes well for not having to swing for the fences once he gets more experience. Geez.

    • BABIP (MichCubFan)

      I don’t see where anybody is not enjoying his season. You are overreacting to something that nobody says or thinks.

      He has been awesome so far…but there is still work that a AA player has to do to make it as a successful major leaguer. There are things he will have to work on to get there…such as striking out less.

  • Stevie B

    Im not criticizing at all. Actually, I was asking a question as I’ve nev seen him play.
    I have seen the home run clips and it looks like he’s swinging like his hair is on fire.
    If he comes to the big show and makes the same adjustments he has while ascending the minors, we have a perinnial all star on our hands.
    Is this possible? Of course. And certainly hope he does.
    Again, not a Danny Downer here….just commenting.