Four pitchers combined to twirl a two-hit shutout for Quad Cities to lead the River Bandits to a 5-0 blanking of Cedar Rapids in Game 5 of the High-A Central Championship Series. The victory clinched the first ever crown in the High-A Central division. A.J. Block, Zach Haake, Caden Monke and Nathan Webb combined to allow eight walks, a pair of hits and fanned 15 over nine frames. Game 4 hero Logan Porter opened the scoring for the River Bandits with an RBI knock to center in the first, and Tucker Bradley capped the scoring with a solo shot to left in the fourth and a sacrifice fly to center in the fifth.
Not wasting any time
On the eighth pitch of Game 3 of the High-A East Finals, Nick Gonzales blasted a two-run home run for Greensboro and the Grasshoppers never looked back en route to a 6-5 victory over Bowling Green. The moonshot sailed over the wall in left-center field before it exited the ballpark. The long ball was the fourth-ranked Pirates prospect's 18th of the year. Greensboro leads the best-of-5 series 2-1 and will have a chance to clinch the championship in Game 4 on Monday.
Getting on track
In his third game since joining Triple-A Round Rock, Sam Huff connected with his first long ball for the Express -- and he made it count. The fifth-ranked Rangers prospect crushed a 2-0 fastball off the equipment shed beyond the wall in straightaway center field in the ninth inning. It's the 23-year-old's 14th dinger of the year.
Kings of the South
In what was a slugfest early on, the Double-A South Finals was ultimately decided by a pitchers' duel in Game 5, and it was Mississippi that outlasted Montgomery, 2-1, in a decisive Game 5 to claim the franchise's first title since 2008. Right-hander Alan Rangel twirled a gem as he allowed an unearned run on three hits and a walk over six frames. Rangel retired 12 Biscuits in a row from the first inning to the fifth. A go-ahead solo home run in the fifth from Greyson Jenista proved to be the difference -- it was his third dinger of the series.
This one will last a lifetime
For the first time in Charleston franchise history, the RiverDogs are league champions. The club dominated in a 9-2 victory over Down East in a decisive Game 5 of the Low-A East Championship Series. At the plate, Rays No. 26 prospect Osleivis Basabe and third baseman Ben Troike each had three hits to lead the way to Charleston’s first ring in the organization's 41-year history. In their inaugural season as a Rays affiliate, the RiverDogs finished 82-38 (tied with High-A Bowling Green for the most wins in the Minor Leagues) and triumphed in the five-game set with the Wood Ducks after leading the series 2-0.
Tacking on in the Final Stretch
The thrilling MiLB home run race between MJ Melendez and Miami's Griffin Conine may have come to a conclusion with the finale of the regular season, however, that doesn't mean that the fourth-ranked Royals prospect is done mashing. Melendez cranked his 40th home run for Triple-A Omaha in the second inning -- a towering two-run blast -- before notching No. 41 on the year with another two-run tater in the ninth. The 22-year-old never hit more than 19 dingers in a single season in his career.
One at-bat after breaking up a combined no-hitter, Drew Waters cranks his second home run in as many days for Triple-A Gwinnett. The third-ranked Braves prospect launched a hanging slider over the fence in right and then unleashes as smooth a bat flip as there is. The 22-year-old has mashed 11 long balls through 99 games this season.
Age is just a number
Now here's a story to tug on the heart strings. Joe Beimel, a 44-year-old Padres farmhand, notches his first Triple-A save in 15 years. The southpaw came into the Chihuahuas game with the bases loaded and nobody out against the Skeeters. He retired Michael Papierski on a sacrifice fly, then induced Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson to fly out. Beimel now has four career saves in the Minors and five in the Majors -- three for the Dodgers (2006-08), one for the Nationals (2009) and one for the Mariners (2014-15). He's also pitched for the Pirates (2001-03), Twins (2004), Rays (2005), Rockies (2009-10).
All Triple-A teams are competing in the Homers That Help challenge as part of the Final Stretch of the season to raise money for worthy causes. The two clubs setting the pace faced off again Saturday. Indianapolis and Omaha have nine so far, worth $450 to their respective charities. Michael Chavis belted his 13th for the Indians, while the Storm Chasers rallied to a tie atop the leaderboard in their 12-3 victory with a grand slam by Angelo Castellano and dingers from Dairon Blanco and Ryan McBroom.
Facing elimination for the second straight night, Down East once again mashed its way to a convincing victory in Game 4 of the Low-A East Championship Series against Charleston. Led by Keyber Rodriguez, who clubbed a game-tying long ball in the fourth inning and a go-ahead two-run knock in the sixth, the Rangers affiliate forced a decisive Game 5 on Sunday with a 9-3 victory. After a solid outing from No. 29 prospect Owen White, relievers Destin Dotson and Theo McDowell combined to twirl four hitless frames with four strikeouts and three walks.
With a complete team effort from Montgomery in Game 4 of the Double-A South Finals against Mississippi, the Rays affiliate forced a decisive Game 5 on Sunday. Right-hander Miller Hogan paced the squad with six scoreless frames, scattering four hits without issuing a walk and whiffing seven. Montgomery's offense was clicking on all cylinders, led by Ford Proctor, Niko Hulsizer and third-ranked Rays prospect Xavier Edwards, who combined for seven knocks, six runs scored and five RBIs.
Everything was working for Ryan Rolison as the left-hander twirled five scoreless frames while allowing a season-low one hit and three walks for Triple-A Albuquerque. The third-ranked Rockies prospect also matched a season high with eight strikeouts. Rolison retired the first 10 Aces he faced before yielding a single to Cooper Hummel. The 24-year-old also whiffed four straight between the fourth and fifth innings. It's the second scoreless outing for Rolison this year.
Facing elimination and with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, Logan Porter seized his opportunity to play hero for Quad Cities as he launched a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left field to extend the High-A Central Championship Series to a decisive Game 5 against Cedar Rapids on Sunday. The Royals catching prospect was 0-for-3 in the game going into the final frame, but he did not miss the fastball offering from lefty Zach Featherstone to lead off the ninth. Porter found the seats 14 times in 77 games with the River Bandits this season.
Going for lots of extra bases
Not only is Spencer Torkelson two long balls away from hitting the 30-homer plateau in his first professional season, but the top Tigers prospect has showed there's more to his swing than that. In addition to his 28th homer for Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, Torkelson doubled twice. He has 57 extra-base hits (27 of them two-baggers).
Flexing the clutch gene
The M-Braves are a win away from the Double-A South title and a knock off the bat of Shea Langeliers in Game 3 is a key reason why. The second-ranked Braves prospect laced a go-ahead RBI double to left in the seventh for Mississippi before the club posted a six-run frame in the eighth to put the game out of reach. Montgomery rallied late with a five-run ninth, but the M-Braves held on for the 11-9 victory at Trustmark Park.
Slamming into a sweep
Double-A Northwest Arkansas completed a sweep of the Double-A Central Championship Series after a grand slam by Brewer Hicklen in the fourth inning put the Naturals ahead for good. The Royals outfield prospect broke a 1-1 tie with the towering dinger to left. It was the only knock of the game for the 25-year-old who posted a .417 average in the series.
A grand effort
It was all he could do to help a late rally by Double-A Montgomery, but a ninth-inning grand slam from Xavier Edwards was simply not enough to overcome a significant deficit in Game 3 of the Double-A South Finals. The third-ranked Rays prospect launched a 3-2 pitch over the fence to pull the Biscuits to within three runs late, but the club could not complete the comeback as they dropped the game 11-9 to Mississippi. Edwards finished with three knocks in the contest.
Facing elimination in Game 3 of the Low-A East Finals, Rangers infield prospect Thomas Saggese lifted Down East to a 7-5 victory over Charleston after hitting for the cycle. The 19-year-old hammered an RBI ground-rule double left-center in the first inning, laced an RBI triple to center in the third, lined a base hit into center in the fifth and crushed a solo shot to left-center in the seventh. It's the first career four-hit game for the 2020 fifth-round Draft pick.
Taking care of business
It was obvious early on that Bradenton wanted no part of extending the Low-A Southeast Championship Series as the Marauders flexed for four home runs en route to a convincing 11-3 victory to complete a sweep of Tampa. Designated hitter Abrahan Gutierrez led the way with a pair of dingers as Bradenton notched it's second league title in the franchise's 12-year history. The only other championship for the club came in 2016.
It came down to the final swing of the game, but Bo Naylor delivered the walk-off knock with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, and Akron completed a sweep of Bowie for the Double-A Northeast title. Cleveland's sixth-ranked prospect clinched the first championship for the RubberDucks since 2016. It was a come-from-behind victory for Akon as the club scored six runs across the eighth and ninth innings to clinch the title.
Debut to the Max
First taste of the Minors' highest level, no problem for Max Meyer. The third-ranked Marlins prospect fanned a career-high 10 while allowing a run on a pair of hits and a walk over five frames for Triple-A Jacksonville. The 22-year-old whiffed a pair in every inning that he was on the hill for the Jumbo Shrimp. Meyer amassed 113 strikeouts over 101 innings pitched with Double-A Pensacola this year.
This is something that Royals fans hope becomes a familiar sight in Kansas City in the near future. Top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. and No. 3 Nick Pratto went back-to-back for Triple-A Omaha in the third inning. Witt crushed a moonshot to left before Pratto made a souvenir for a fan sitting on the lawn beyond the right-field wall. For both, it was their 17th home run with the Storm Chasers this season... For good measure, Pratto added a second dinger in the sixth -- his 33rd of the year.
It hasn't taken long for Oneil Cruz to make himself at home since being promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. The third-ranked Pirates prospect went yard in his debut with the Indians and found the seats again -- launching his second long ball in his third Triple-A game. The 22-year-old clubbed 12 homers with Double-A Altoona through 62 games this season.
The cycle is complete
Although Jeremy Peña fell short of back-to-back milestones Thursday, there was a cycle in the Minor Leagues. Josh Fuentes got it done for the Triple-A Isotopes against the Aces. The Rockies farmhand started off his night with his second triple, singled to lead off the third, roped a ground-rule double in the fifth and capped it off with a grand slam in the sixth. Fuentes plated six on his career night.
Thisclose to back-to-back milestones
In his last game Tuesday night, Jeremy Peña hit the home run trifecta for the Triple-A Skeeters. He almost made history again with a cycle in his next game Thursday. The fourth-ranked Astros prospect lined a ground-rule double in the first inning, tripled in the third and belted his ninth homer for Sugar Land in the fifth. But he couldn't come up with the single after El Paso third baseman Ivan Castillo robbed him of an infield hit in the sixth with a sharp play and Peña walked in the eighth.
That's the spirit!
We're early into the Triple-A Final Stretch that will crown a champion based on winning percentage for the 30 teams after the last five home games and five road games of the season, but clubs are really getting into the concept. And they're particularly high on the "Homers That Help" component that donates $50 to the charity of the team's choice for each home run hit during the Final Stretch.
Checking up on the heir to the throne
The Minor League home run king-in-waiting belted his second home run in four games for Triple-A Omaha, an opposite-field shot to left in the second inning against Indianapolis. That gives MJ Melendez 39 in 116 games this year and 11 since he was promoted to the Storm Chasers. Fun fact: the fourth-ranked Royals prospect had 32 over 268 games in his previous three seasons in the Minor Leagues.
Going out on a high note
Hot on the heels of recording his 1,350th career managerial win Wednesday, Triple-A Storm Chasers skipper Brian Poldberg announced Thursday that he will be retiring after 21 seasons. The 64-year-old has racked up 475 victories during his seven years with Omaha, second on the franchise's all-time list to Mike Jirschele's 995 wins in 14 seasons. Poldberg's final game at the helm for the Royals affiliate will be against the Iowa Cubs on Oct. 3.
The right dog for the right job
It's been a great week for bat dog sightings. Buffalo's guest bat dog, Rookie, drew national attention for his "faux paws" on Wednesday. Triple-A Durham bat dog Ripken deservedly earned the spotlight for perfect retrieval of Wander Franco's bat after the Rays' rehabbing shortstop drew a walk in the first inning Thursday. Franco was slotted into the lineup at first base for the Bulls in his first appearance with the club since his June 22 callup.
There's a lot of fire power in a Low-A West Championship Series chock full of top-notch Giants and Rockies prospects. Wednesday's big bat belonged to Patrick Bailey. San Francisco's No. 8 prospect only collected nine homers in 82 games across three levels in the regular season, but put together the second multihomer game of his career to put San Jose within one victory of the crown.
Talk about a marquee matchup
The rivalry between the Mets and Yankees' Triple-A affiliates got an adrenaline boost from a couple of rehabbing pitchers -- Noah Syndergaard and Jameson Taillon. After a brief rain delay, the Mets' fireballer threw a 1-2-3 inning for Syracuse, inducing a flyout and a couple of groundouts before exiting the game. The Yankees' ace gave up a couple of runs on four hits while striking out two over three frames for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Rookie of the Year
There are rookies and then there is Rookie. Everyone likes to watch the latter because he can do no wrong, even when he interrupts the action. The official bat dog for the Trenton Thunder (and the Buffalo Bisons, by extension) is hosting Tops Dog Day at the Ballpark for the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate at Sahlen Field.
Fun with first-rounders
Triple-A Lehigh Valley is resplendent with first-round picks. In the starting lineup Wednesday were Mickey Moniak (2016, first overall); Adam Haseley (2017, eighth overall); Alec Bohm (2018, third overall) and Bryson Stott (2019, 14th overall). Moniak got the scoring started against the Bisons with his 13th homer for the IronPigs this season. Just waiting on Mark Appel (2013, first overall) to make an appearance out of the bullpen.
Threes are wild
It was an offensive onslaught for Triple-A Reno against Salt Lake as the Aces collected 21 total hits while setting a franchise record with six triples. Every Reno starter collected at least one knock, but the top of the order did most of the damage as the first four batters accounted for 15 hits. Third-ranked D-backs prospect Alek Thomas collected four hits for the second straight night and fourth time this season, and No. 15 prospect Drew Ellis tied his season highs with five knocks and five RBIs while coming up a homer shy of a cycle.
The unconventional hat trick
It was a night to remember for Jeremy Peña who not only notched the first multihomer game of his career, but did it with flair as he also drove in a career-high five runs for Triple-A Sugar Land. The fourth-ranked Astros prospect launched a two-run dinger to right-center in the third before turning on the jets for an inside-the-park homer in the fifth. With two outs in the ninth, a runner on second and the Skeeters trailing by a run, the 24-year-old clobbered a walk-off tater to the deepest part of the park. Peña has found the seats six times in his past seven games.
Battenfield down the hatches
The RubberDucks got everything they could have asked for from their Game 1 starter in the Double-A Northeast Finals. Peyton Battenfield allowed one hit -- a homer by Bowie's Jordan Westburg -- while matching a career high with 10 strikeouts over seven otherwise dominant innings. Fun fact: The last Baysox batter that Cleveland's No. 17 prospect struck out was ... Westburg.
A homer that helps
During the Final Stretch of 10 games, each homer hit by Triple-A teams will net a donation to the charity of that club's choice, with an extra $5,000 going to the team that amasses the most over that span. Cardinals' No. 12 prospect Alec Burleson got the ball rolling -- or actually, got the ball flying out of the ballpark -- with his 22nd homer of the year, his fourth for the Redbirds.
Go Westburg, young man
And the first homer of the 2021 Minor League postseason belongs to ... Jordan Westburg. The subject of Tuesday's MiLB.com Scouting Report, led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run to right-center field for Bowie in the Double-A Northeast Finals. The Orioles' No. 6 prospect belted 15 home runs across three different levels in the regular season.
The desert awaits
It's a good thing Alek Thomas is in the D-backs organization, because he seems to thrive on the heat. The club's third-ranked prospect has gone 14-for-28 in the past six games for the Triple-Aces, and Monday's was the best of the lot. Thomas went 4-for-6 with two triples, a double, an RBI and a run scored.
No Joshing around
Not only did Josh Jung match his career high with four hits for Triple-A Round Rock, the second-ranked Rangers prospect did so while extending his hitting streak to eight straight games. Over that span, Jung has tallied 17 total knocks with eight multihit performances over his last 10 games. The 23-year-old, who also drove in a pair and scored a run, is batting .317/.414/.600 for the Express in September.
Keeping his Witts about him
It's been an impressive year for Bobby Witt Jr., to be sure. It could become downright historic if the top Royals prospect scrounges up four more stolen bases in the next two weeks for the Triple-A Storm Chasers. He'd join an exclusive club with only six other members in the past two decades by posting a 30/30 season.
With the close of regular-season play, a bunch of marquee prospects are already on the move to Triple-A. Starting off, there's Astros' No. 1 Korey Lee making his Skeeters debut Monday night against the Isotopes. And you can expect to see second-ranked Red Sox prospect Triston Casas with Worcester and Marlins' No. 3 prospect Max Meyer with the Jumbo Shrimp very soon.
The week that was
A lot of hustling and bustling took place as teams in the lower levels of the Minors jockeyed for playoff berths. Rookies and veterans alike saved some of their best performances for last, and fourth-ranked Royals prospect MJ Melendez slammed his way to the forefront of the home run chase. Review the action here.