PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Prospect Of The Day
Memphis righthander Mitchell Boggs (Cardinals) needed to finish strong to wrest the PCL ERA title away from Nashville lefty Lindsay Gulin. He got there by allowing only one run on three hits (one of them a solo homer) in seven innings against playoff-bound Oklahoma. The 24-year-old Boggs struck out six and walked two to finish 9-3, 3.45 on the season.
Omaha 1B Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) capped a very strong season by going 2-for-4 with a double (four), a run, an RBI and two walks. He hit .313/.457/.629 with 37 homers, 14 doubles and a minor league-leading 104 walks in his time with Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas . . . Las Vegas CF Xavier Paul (Dodgers) went 2-for-4 with a double (28) and a run scored . . . It was a tough season, but Salt Lake RHP Nick Adenhart (Angels) improved to 9-13, 5.76 with five solid innings yesterday. He limited Tucson to one run on five hits in the Sidewinders’ final game before they head to Reno, Nev., for the 2009 season. Tucson will be home to the Toros next season, an independent team in the Golden League . . . Colorado Springs RHP Greg Reynolds (Rockies) struck out a season-high nine batters in 6 2/3 innings against Las Vegas. He allowed three runs on 10 hits, walking two, but kept the ball on the ground for the most part, allowing six groundouts and three fly outs.
Conference division winners meet in the first round of the PCL playoffs, which begin Wednesday, with Oklahoma (Rangers, 76-68) traveling to Iowa (Cubs, 83-59) to vie for American supremacy, and Salt Lake (Angels, 83-60) heading to Sacramento (Athletics, 83-61) to settle Pacific bragging rights.
As usual, Sacramento has the league’s top pitching staff, with strong showings in ERA (4.41, second), strikeouts and fewest walks allowed. However, many of the pitchers who helped them get there—particularly lefties Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden—are now in Oakland. Considering that Iowa plays most of its schedule in the neutral American Conference, their third-place showing in runs scored (just a tick behind Colorado Springs and Las Vegas) means they have the most dynamic offense among playoff teams. First baseman Micah Hoffpauir, 28, is a big reason why. In a mere 290 at-bats, he hit .362/.393/.752 with 25 home runs and 34 doubles. Most impressive of all, he drove in 100 runs in just 71 games. If Oklahoma is going to win it all (and enjoy home-field advantage for the Bricktown Showdown), they’ll have to do so without league MVP Nelson Cruz (.342/.429/.695, 37 homers, 99 RBIs), who was called up to the Rangers.
Prospect Of The Day
Indianapolis righthander Dan McCutchen (Pirates) atoned for a rough two-start stretch, in which he allowed eight runs on five homers, to shut out Western Division-winner Louisville on five hits for seven innings. The 25-year-old McCutchen struck out nine Bats while walking none (for the third straight start) to improve to 7-9, 4.03 in 19 Triple-A starts. He gives up his share of fly balls (0.82 ground/fly out ratio) and, thus, home runs (22, fourth-most in the IL), but McCutchen limits damage by not walking anybody (1.4 per nine innings).
Two IL hurlers pitched complete games on the season’s final day: Charlotte knuckleballer Charlie Haeger (White Sox) threw an 88-pitch, seven-strikeout, one-run gem against Durham, and Toledo RHP Virgil Vasquez (Tigers) struck out 10 in a 109-pitch shutout at Columbus . . . In his second start back from the Olympics, Rochester LHP Brian Duensing (Twins) surrendered three runs on eight hits (including two homers) in 5 1/3 innings. On the bright side, the Red Wings defeated Buffalo 9-8 with a little help from CF Jason Pridie, who went 3-for-5 with a solo home run (13), a double (21), two strikeouts and three runs scored. Despite struggling with strikeouts (152 in 138 games), the 24-year-old Pridie led the IL with 16 triples and hit .270/.305/.435 with 25 stolen bases . . . Like Pridie, Buffalo LF Trevor Crowe (Indians) ended his season on a high note, going 3-for-5 with a solo home run (five), a double (12) and two runs scored. The 24-year-old hit an aggregate .302/.381/.485 in 344 at-bats for Buffalo and Double-A Akron.
Games begin Wednesday, with Louisville (Reds, 88-56) hosting Durham (Rays, 74-70) and Pawtucket (Red Sox, 85-58) hosting Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees, 88-56) in best-of-five series. The winners will play for the Governor’s Cup.
Scranton’s deep pitching staff led the league in ERA (3.67) and finished near the top in strikeouts (1,088) as well as fewest walks (407) and home runs allowed (109). Pawtucket, though, finished a close second in ERA (3.69) and boasted a much stronger offense, as they led the IL in runs scored (752), walks (540) and home runs (176). But can they get it done in the playoffs without league MVP Jeff Bailey (.301/.405/.562, 25 homers, 75 RBIs), who is currently in the big leagues?
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