Minor League Playoff Watch: Four Affiliates In the Hunt

The Pittsburgh Pirates organization has four teams that are in the playoff hunt right now. Starting from the top on down, they are the Indianapolis Indians, West Virginia Power, Jamestown Jammers, GCL Pirates and then there is the DSL Pirates2, who already clinched their spot Friday. In an earlier article, we took a look at the possible promotions that could be made for each team as the season winds down, reinforcing these teams for a playoff run. Now it is time to take a look at where each team stands with the minor league season in the final stretch.

If Taillon pitches like he did last night, he could really help Indianapolis in the playoffs

If Taillon pitches like he did Thursday night, he could really help Indianapolis in the playoffs

 

Indianapolis

The Indians could clinch their playoff spot tonight. Their magic number is down to one and they have ten games left in the season. Early in the year, they were the best team in the International League, but injuries to the Pirates and some of their own players as well, really thinned down the lineup and the team is crawling towards the finish line.

Since July 5th, they are 17-27, not the kind of finish you want heading into the playoffs, but they still have some time to gain momentum. Jameson Taillon should get in at least one playoff start and you hope he can carry the success of his last start into the postseason. The Indians will get some help from the Altoona roster for the playoffs.

West Virginia

The Power can make the playoffs in one of two ways. Either they win their division’s second half title, or Hagerstown wins and then the Power just need to have the second best record overall. Hagerstown won the first half title, so the second playoff spot is then determined by season record.

For the second half title, West Virginia trails Hagerstown by a half game. The Power play a doubleheader tonight, so they will make up that half game differential in games played today.

In the overall standings, the Power are 1.5 games ahead of Hickory, two up in the loss column.

There are ten games left on the schedule, six on the road and none against either of the two teams they are battling with in the standings. They have three games each on the road against Savannah and Lexington, both are above .500 teams. Their four home games are against Asheville, a team that has really struggled in the second half.

Jamestown

The Jammers season goes a couple days longer than all the other teams. They have 13 games left on the schedule and six of them are against the Pirates old NYPL affiliate, the State College Spikes. That is important, because the Jammers trail the Spikes by two games in the standings, so this division race is nowhere near being decided.

Jamestown also has another way to get in the playoffs, the good old Wildcard spot. They are currently in the WC lead right now with a 1.5 game lead over the Lowell Spinners.

The schedule favors Jamestown in one aspect, eight of their remaining games are home games. They also play Williamsport and Mahoning Valley a combined seven times and neither team has a winning record on the season.

Jamestown will be interesting to watch down the stretch because they could get some big name players for the final few regular season games and possible playoffs. Both Reese McGuire and Austin Meadows are possible reinforcements that could join the team once the GCL season ends. Depending on how far the GCL Pirates go in the playoffs(if they make it), they could be around anywhere from two games to a full week.

GCL Pirates

The GCL Pirates are a real interesting team to follow. They have Reese McGuire and Austin Meadows, the Pirates two first round picks this year. Blake Taylor, the second round pick, has been pitching great recently, including four perfect innings today. They also have overslot High School signings from this year’s draft that includes starters Neil Kozikowski and Billy Roth, as well as shortstop Trae Arbet and outfielder Nick Buckner. Throw in some talented International players like Wei-Chung Wang, Ulises Montilla, Enyel Vallejo and Danny Arribas. The other starting starting pitcher not mentioned is also interesting, Jon Sandfort, the third round pick from last year. He hasn’t pitched as well as the others, but it should be noted that he is still only 18-years-old.

The GCL Pirates took a two game lead in their division over the Phillies by beating the Yankees1 today. That is a sudden turnaround from the beginning of the week thanks to a six game win streak by the Pirates and losses by the Phillies in their last two games.

The season has four games left and the last two days could be huge. That last series is the Pirates against Phillies and the GCL doesn’t have a Wildcard spot, so winning the division is the only way to get in the playoffs. If the two teams tie, they will play one more day against each other for that final playoff spot.

DSL Pirates2

The DSL Pirates2 came down to yesterday fighting for the Wildcard spot with the Mets2. The Pirates2 needed just one win in their doubleheader(or a Mets2 loss) and they got it, giving them a better winning percentage on the season than the Mets2, who had one game rained out. DSL playoffs start on Monday.

The good thing about having two DSL affiliates in this situation is that you can move players between rosters, so there could be some new faces on the Pirates2 for the playoffs such as cleanup hitter Dennis Hurtarte or pitchers Marcus Beltrez and Carlos Ruiz. Both relievers have been great out of the bullpen all season long and it would give them someone with four years experience in Ruiz and a lefty with Beltrez.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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