Columbus mauled Tacoma 12-6 in this year's Triple-A National Championship Game, bringing the International League its second straight victory in the five-year-old showdown. Similarly, the Clippers blitzed through the IL playoffs with a core of Indians prospects promoted from last year's Double-A Eastern League winners, the Akron Aeros. Does this mean we can pencil the Indians in as American League champs in 2011?
More notable than the upward mobility in the Indians system, this September we saw four minor league clubs repeat as league champions: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern), low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic), high Class A San Jose (California) and high Class A Tampa (Florida State). Three other teams finished as runners-up this season after winning it all a year ago: Triple-A Durham (International), Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast) and Double-A Midland (Texas). View the entire ’09 champions table here.
|ORGANIZATION STANDINGS • DOMESTIC CLUBS ONLY|
|1||Cardinals+||431||327||.569||104||Johnson City (APP)||Memphis (PCL)|
|3||Yankees||371||318||.538||53||Tampa (FSL)||Trenton (EL)|
|7||Giants||363||330||.524||33||San Jose (CAL)|
|13||Angels||351||341||.507||10||R. Cucamonga (CAL)|
Lake County (MWL)
|18||Royals+||373||385||.492||-12||NW Arkansas (TL)|
|19||Red Sox||341||354||.491||-13||Greenville (SAL)|
|21||White Sox||345||360||.489||-15||Winston-Salem (CAR)|
• Some organizations prefer to operate seven minor league affiliates instead of the customary six. Those seven orgs—Cardinals, Rays, Mariners, Mets, Royals, Orioles and Astros—are designated in the chart with a (+). Surprisingly, the Lucky Seven finished with a higher winning percentage (.506) than did their six-affiliate counterparts (.498). Note: The Orioles will drop to six affiliates for the ’11 season, but the Blue Jays will pick up the slack by adding the discarded Bluefield franchise to their stable, giving them seven affiliates.
• Much like the Giants did a year ago, the Cardinals handily compiled the best minor league winning percentage—and that's no easy feat with seven affiliates to stock with players. The Gulf Coast League Cards were perfectly mediocre at 28-28, but every other affiliate won at least 10 more games than it lost. Rookie-level Johnson City demolished the Appalachian League on its way to a title; Triple-A Memphis finished 28 games over .500 and advanced to the Pacific Coast League finals; and the Cardinals' four full-season affiliates finished with an aggregate .562 winning percentage.
• The Twins had a rough year on the farm to be sure, but remove brutal Double-A New Britain (.310) and Triple-A Rochester (.340) clubs from the equation and Minnesota is sitting pretty at 205-195 (.513).
• Latin American summer leagues are not reflected here, but for the curious: All 30 organizations fielded a team in the Dominican Summer League this season, with the Cubs, Mets, Orioles and Yankees doubling up. (That's a 34-team league, but is that unprecedented by baseball standards?) On the other hand, just seven orgs bothered with the Venezuelan Summer League: the Cardinals, Tigers, Mariners, Phillies, Pirates, Rays and Reds. Five seasons ago, in ’06, the VSL boasted of 10 teams, three of which were split ventures, meaning that 13 teams were represented.
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