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Sox Affiliates Ready for Postseason Play

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Jeff Buchanan

Minor League Baseball and MLB draft enthusiast. Blogger at FutureSox.com.

It has been a very successful year for White Sox Minor League affiliates with four of the organizations six U.S. based teams reaching the postseason. While the Great Falls Voyagers still have a couple of regular season games left to play before starting their playoff run, the Birmingham Barons, Winston-Salem Dash and Kannapolis Intimidators have all finished their regular season's and will play their first postseason games either tomorrow or Thursday.

The Birmingham Barons were one of Minor League Baseball's best teams this year and their 92-47 record was the best in the team's history. Their roster at the start of the season was stacked with many of the organizations top prospects including Gordon Beckham, Tyler Flowers, Brandon Allen, Dayan Viciedo, Aaron Poreda and John Shelby, and as you would have expected, they made light work of opposing Southern League teams. Promotions, trades and call-ups removed many of their best players from the first couple of months of the season but they were replaced, and replaced well, by players such as Christian Marrero, Jordan Danks and Charlie Shirek, added to that, mainstays such as John Ely and C.J. Retherford ensured that the Barons didn't skip a beat in the second half. Now ready to make a run for the Southern League crown, the Barons will start their best of 5 series with Jacksonville Suns on Thursday.

The Winston-Salem Dash make their way into the playoff largely thanks to playing in a very weak Carolina League South. You may think that's a little unfair, saying they're only in the playoff due to playing in a weak division, but when you have a 4.30 ERA (2nd worst in the CAR) and are just midpack in runs scored, it's unlikely that you were a good team. The Dash actually allowed more runs (642) than they scored (626). Winston-Salem's offense has been led by a personal favourite of mine, Seth Loman, and postseason All-Star at 3B, Brent Morel, they also have Carolina League manager of the year Joe McEwing in their corner as well as a rotation led by Justin Edwards and Dylan Axelrod. The Dash will play their first postseason game tomorrow night against the Salem Red Sox, who are expected to start Daisuke Matsuzaka, and while anything can and often does happen in the playoffs, don't expect the Carolina League crown to be coming the Dash's way.

The Kannapolis Intimidators' season has been all about their fantastic second half, in which they have a 45-24 record and a .652 winning percentage. Pitching was this team's M.O. as they led the whole of the South Atlantic League with 530 runs allowed thanks to a rotation fronted by two of this organizations more intriguing starters, Charlie Leesman and Stephen Sauer (having Dexter Carter and Dan Hudson for a time didn't hurt either). Even with losing one of it's better arms, Charlis Burdie to the Dash, the Intimidators have one of the most formidable bullpen's in the Minors, backed by Dan Remonowsky, '09 draftee Kyle Bellamy and late season promotion Santos Rodriguez. Other '09 draftees have played large parts in this team's second half run, most notably two early round picks Jared Mitchell and Josh Phegley but also one later round pick, Joe Serafin. The Intimidators will play their first postseason game tomorrow against the Lakewood BlueClaws, with Charlie Leesman getting the start.

The final Sox affiliate to make the playoffs are the defending Pioneer League champions Great Falls Voyagers, who swept their way past the Orem Owlz in the 2008 championship series behind the arms of Dan Hudson and Dexter Carter. This years Voyagers have been led by a steady dose of pitching and offense where the rank 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Pioneer League. The Voyagers have an old team for a rookie ball affiliate and as it stands Trayce Thompson is the only teen on their roster, he's also roughly 2 ½ years younger than anyone else on the team, and it is partly for this reason that they don't appear to be brimmed with future Major Leaguers. The Great Falls Voyagers will call upon it's offensive stars Jose Vargas, Nick Ciolli, Johny Celis and Kyle Colligan to lead the team to victory when they start their playoff run against the Missoula Osprey's this Saturday the 12th.

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