It was only fitting that in a season filled with talk about the quality and depth of the club's minor league pitching prospects, that three different pitchers for three different playoff teams would put up shutout-type efforts leading all three teams to victory. Mobile and Missoula capped off their seasons with league championships and Reno moved to within one game of their league title. Mobile got a masterful performance from Michael Bolsinger and a solo home run from Jonathan Griffin to beat Jackson 1-0 at home and win their second consecutive Southern League Championship 3 games to 1. Up in Missoula, Yoimer Camacho took the mound for the second consecutive time in a winner-take-all game and once again was sterling as the Osprey demolished Ogden 10-0 to win their first Pioneer League title since 2006. It is their third Pioneer championship having also won in 1999. And not to be outdone, Joe Martinez pitched Reno to within one game of the Pacific Coast League Championship with a sensational 7 innings of shutout baseball in their 3-0 win over Omaha. It was a night to remember for Dback pitchers, and perhaps most exciting is that none of these efforts came from any of our higher-rated prospects. The depth of the team's young pitching prospects extends all the way down to the lowest levels. So hats off to the farm directors for the work they've done re-stocking the minor league system from top to bottom.
5 Stars: Michael Bolsinger, Mobile 7 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 ER, W
4 Stars: Joe Martinez, Reno 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 0 ER, W
3 Stars: Yoimer Camacho, Missoula 5 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 ER, W
2 Stars: Jake Lamb, Missoula 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI
1 Star: A.J. Pollock, Reno 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 DBL, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Game summaries after the jump.
Triple A: Reno 3 @ Omaha 0. Joe Martinez rose to the occasion and tossed a gem of a game going 7 shutout innings on 5 hits and 2 walks with 7 strikeouts. He would get all the offensive help he would need in the 3rd inning when A.J. Pollock and Tyler Kuhn hit back-to-back home runs, Pollock's being a 2-run shot. Pollock came to the plate in the 3rd with one out and Keon Broxton on first. He started the at bat by taking 3 straight balls followed by a called strike one. He drilled the next pitch out to left field for a 2-0 Reno lead. Tyler Kuhn then hit the very next pitch to increase the lead to 3-0. That is all the scoring that would take place in this game. Reno would finish with 4 hits and Omaha 5. Sam Demel made it interesting in the 8th when he walked the leadoff hitter. He then faced top Kansas City prospect Wil Meyers and struck him out on 3 pitches. He proceeded to walk the next hitter on 4 pitches bringing the tying run to the plate, but he recovered nicely though and got him on a called third strike for the 2nd out. Joe Patterson was brought in to face left-hand hitting (and experienced Major Leaguer) Mitch Maier and struck him out to end the threat. Jonathan Albaladejo pitched a perfect 9th for the save. A.J. Pollock had 2 of the team's 4 hits adding a double to his big home run. I expect Brett Tomko to get the start in Game 4 tonight, though Brett Butler also has Charles Brewer available. As of midnight last night I couldn't confirm who the starter would be. What we do know is if Omaha wins Game 4 then Trevor Bauer will be pitching in the deciding Game 5 on Sunday afternoon.
Double A: Mobile 1 Jackson 0. Michael Bolsinger faced probably the biggest start in his young professional career and he came through the test with flying colors. He posted 7 shutout innings on just 3 hits and a walk with 5 strikeouts and handed it over to the bullpen holding a slim 1-0 lead. That lead was provided by Jonathan Griffin, who was called up to Mobile from Visalia just before the playoffs, on a solo home run to left field leading off the 3rd inning. That was it for offense in this game as every pitch held the prospect of being a game-changer. Eury De La Rosa took over for Bolsinger to start the 8th and got all the way to the 9th and 2 outs before walking Stefen Romero. That brought up 3rd overall pick C Mike Zunino with a chance to be the hero. All Zunino has done in his 1st year of professional baseball is post a whopping 1.137 OPS with 13 homers in 161 at bats. So manager Turner Ward decided to turn to rightie Bo Schultz and it was the right decision as he got Zunino on one pitch on a fly ball to right to end the game and start the celebration in Mobile. Mobile managed just 5 hits on the night facing tough left-hand prospect Anthony Fernandez. In addition to Griffin's homer, Alfredo Marte addded 2 hits including a double. Congratulations to the Mobile Bay Bears for a terrific playoff stretch after a so-so second half of the season. Some serious credit has to go to several Visalia players who were late call-ups that really helped bolster the offense. That includes Jonathan Griffin, Yazy Arbelo and Michael Freeman.
Rookie: Missoula 10 @ Ogden 0. Facing the league's best team on the road in Ogden in the deciding Game 3 of the championship series was a daunting task for the Osprey, who had taken a beating the night before. But the team that wilted under the pressure was Ogden. Missoula came out smoking by scoring 5 runs on 4 hits, a walk and an error in the top of the 1st inning before a single out was recorded and they never looked back in a celebratory 10-0 cake walk. Starter Yoimer Camacho didn't give the Raptors even a sniff of a chance at a comeback by posting 5 shutout innings on 3 hits and 3 walks with 4 strikeouts. Missoula piled on 2 more runs in the 4th on a 2-run homer from Jake Lamb, and 2 more in the 5th on a 2-run homer by Yosbel Gutierrez to officially make it a laugher. The cream of the bullpen, Chase Stevens, Vince Spilker, and Justin Thompson followed Camacho to complete the shutout. Jake Lamb was the hitting star again as he has been so often down the stretch with a 3 for 5 night and 4 RBI to go with his home run. Socrates Brito added 2 hits, a triple and 2 RBI, and Daniel Pulfer has a pair of singles.
It was quite an exciting run to this championship for Missoula as the team won its final four games of the regular season just to make it into the playoffs, including a 2-game sweep of division leader Billings that was the clincher. Over the past 10 days the team has faced 6 win-or-go-home games and won them all. Both playoff series went the full 3 games and it was one of those runs where you could never predict what would happen. Congratulations go out to all the youngsters who got their first taste of professional playoff baseball. By the end of the season there were several Osprey who made major progress toward getting onto the legitimate prospect lists and may still have futures all the way to the top. Those include names like Michael Perez, Jake Lamb, Alex Glenn, Evan Marzilli, Andrew Velazquez, Chase Stevens and Justin Thompson to name a few. Most of those guys will likely make up the core of South Bend's roster next year, with a few of them maybe even jumping a level to Visalia.