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Jim-Mora-playoffsThe baseball draft is a long, complex process.

Analyzing the draft after the fact is also a long, complex process. I’ll have some draft related thoughts in the coming days, including (eventually) a reranking of the Top 40 with the new draft picks who sign factored in.

But first, we have a playoff berth to celebrate.

The Kane County Cougars ran away and hid from the rest of the division and have already clinched the first half Western Division title in the Midwest League. That means Kane County, no matter what happens the rest of the year, is guaranteed a slot in the Midwest League playoffs.

Kane County is twenty two games over .500 for the season, and an incredible twenty one games over .500 at home. They have the best home record in the league, and absolutely no one is all that close to them. They have accomplished this in large part by by allowing the fewest runs per game by a wide margin. The young pitchers for Kane County have held opponents to just 3.49 runs per game. The next lowest total is West Michigan at 3.82. Even though the Cougars offense is only about average (4.69 R/G), the pitching has been so good that Kane County is enjoying a very favorable disparity in the scoring department.

The Cubs Low A team is a very, very good team. Last year we watched the Daytona Cubs win the Florida State League title. Right now I would have to say that Kane County is the overwhelming favorite to win the Midwest League title this fall. A lot can change before we get to the playoffs, though, including a healthy portion of Kane County’s roster. If you want to see the best team in the Midwest League in action yourself, I would suggest you head to the ballpark fairly soon.

Iowa Cubs : 31-28

The Cubs are tied for second with Oklahoma City and trail Omaha by just half a game. The Pacific Coast League does not do first and second half winners like the other leagues do, but that just means we are set up for what looks to be a long and contested battle for the American North Division title.

Iowa is about to embark on one of their toughest road trips. After playing Colorado Springs at home today, the Cubs take off for Fresno and Sacramento, and then are back home next Tuesday for a game against El Paso. There are no off days in that stretch, either. The Cubs will have a few days where they go straight from the ballpark to the airport this week.

At least, I hope they fly on this trip. That’s a 26 hour one way journey by bus.

Tennessee Smokies : 30-32

The Smokies have been eliminated from contention for the first half division title. They currently sit in second place, ten and a half back from Huntsville. The Smokies will now have to win the second half title to make the playoffs.

Given that they should be getting their entire pitching rotation, not to mention a couple of good bats, off the disabled list soon, I like their chances of taking that division title. On the other hand, they are liable to lose their best bat, Kris Bryant (who now has twenty home runs), to promotion one of these days.

The Smokies are in Jacksonville until Tuesday. Then they make the long (bus) trip back to Kodak for a series against Mississippi starting on Wednesday.

Daytona Cubs : 25-35

Daytona has also been eliminated from first half contention. They now sit sixteen and a half games back in next to last place.

The good news is that the Cubs have been playing a little better of late. Dan Vogelbach is heating up, Jeimer Candelario is showing some flashes, and their pitching staff is continuing to generally keep this team in the game. The Cubs will need to claim the second half title to have any shot of defending their championship, but their odds of doing so are probably a little better than their current record indicates.

The Cubs will have a chance to pad their record a little when they visit historically bad Clearwater (winning percentage of .197 (No, really, I’m serious. It’s .197.) on Monday and Tuesday. Then they head to Dunedin to finish off the first half. The FSL All Star game is next Saturday.

Kane County Cougars : 42-20

Kane County rode a four game win streak in their Division Title, and they currently lead second place Peoria in that division by nine games.

The Cougars stay at home through Monday, and then hit the road for that second place Peoria team. Peoria, by the way, is a Cardinals affiliate. If you’re in the mood to see the Cubs beat up on the Cardinals by proxy, you might see if you can drop by Peoria on Tuesday through Thursday.

And now they’re headed to the playoffs! Well, eventually.

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