Sunday, September 15, 2013

Midwest League Playoffs

All photos of the Snappers' 2013 playoff run available on Flickr.

The Snappers got off to a hot start this year and carried it into a first half championship, earning them a spot in the postseason regardless of their second half performance.  A lot of teams will let off the gas a little bit with a postseason spot locked up so early, but the Snappers had themselves a fine first full season as an Athletics affiliate.  I headed down to Beloit for a couple of games to cheer them on during their playoff run.  I'm not going to lie - a big part of the reason I made the drive down there twice was to partake in the ridiculous end-of-the-season concessions firesale that is standard fare in Beloit.  Given that Pohlman Field is perennially one of the lowest attended stadiums in all of the minor leagues and that the Snappers were really only guaranteed one home playoff game, most years the team just refuses to restock the concessions during the final homestand so as to avoid throwing away unsold food.  This means that every year the Snappers make the playoffs, they more or less give food away while supplies last.  Both games I went to were Dollar Beer & Soda and half-price food and I spent less than $30 in total.

The Snappers drew the Clinton LumberKings in the first round and completed the 2-0 sweep in the game I attended.  The story of the day was Dylan Covey.  He is the pitcher the Brewers drafted in the first round in 2010, but ended up not signing when they found out he had diabetes during his team physical.  Covey went on to attend college and the A's drafted him three years later, and he spent most of this year in Beloit.  He got the start tonight in Game 2 and went six strong innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits.  He's not a big power arm with a lot of strikeouts, but he induced a ton of ground balls, which is the prototypical pitcher the A's like to draft.  Guys who throw 95 and strike out 10 command big contracts and are more likely to get hurt, but Covey could be on the fast track to the big leagues if he keeps it up.  John Wooten was the offensive star for the Snappers, as his 2-run double down the left field line in the 5th pretty much put the game out of reach for the LumberKings.

I also went to Game 2 of the Western Division Finals against the Quad Cities River Bandits last Sunday.  The Snappers also won this game, 4-3, to even the series 1-1.  The man of the match in this one was 2B Chris Bostick.  He launched a homerun in the 1st inning as part of a 3-run inning, and the Snappers never looked back.  He also contributed two more hits and another RBI later in the evening.  It's hard to keep track of players on the Snappers since they do not have very up-to-date programs nor a scoreboard with any player information whatsoever, but he ended up having a pretty fine season.  The top prospect at this level for the Snappers is Matt Olson, and he went 0-4 and was hitless for the playoffs as of this game.  The player I was most excited to see in this game was for the other team though - SS Carlos Correa, the #1 overall draft pick last year for the Astros.  He went 1-2 with 3 walks, and it's pretty clear he has quickly gained a reputation around the league, given how they were already pitching him like Babe Ruth.  Looking at his stats now and seeing he hit .320 with 86 RBI primarily out of the 3-hole, I'd say that's warranted.  He reminds me a lot of Manny Machado - stellar defense, hits a lot of doubles right now with not a lot of power, but with his frame and skill, he's going to fill out and be a 25-homerun guy in the big leagues.  Unfortunately I did not get to see Mark Appel, the Astros' #1 overall pick from this year, as he reached an innings limit and was shut down a few weeks ago.  Earlier this season, the River Bandits became the first minor league team in baseball history to have consecutive #1 overall draft picks playing for the same team in the same game.

The Bandits would go on to win on Monday (clearly because I was not there) and eventually defeat South Bend to win their 2nd Midwest League Championship in the last 3 years, which is impressive considering they changed their parent affiliation in that span.

Brewers 65-83, -21.5, eliminated (4 v. Cubs, 3 v. Cardinals)
Reds 84-66, -3.5, -- WC (3 @ Astros, 3 @ Pirates)
Twins 64-84, -21.5, eliminated (3 @ White Sox, 4 @ Athletics)

Erik - 11 (+37 worked)

Peter - 44

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