Three Phillies affiliates set to open playoffs this week

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

At the big league level, the Philadelphia Phillies are working to make the postseason, still within striking distance of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves and the NL Wild Card teams with plenty of baseball to go. As far as the Phils' minor league affiliates go, their seasons just wrapped up over Labor Day weekend and three teams are heading to the playoffs. Triple-A Lehigh Valley (84-56), Advanced 'A' Clearwater (77-60, 45-24) and Class 'A' Lakewood (87-51, 46-23) will represent the Phillies organization this postseason in the minors with both Lehigh Valley and Lakewood finishing atop their league in the standings. 

Let's take a quick look into their opening playoff series' as they get underway starting on Tuesday, September 4:

Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (84-56)

Lehigh Valley clinched their first International League Northern Division Title in their 11-year team history and will square-off with their in-state rival, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders to open up the playoffs. The Ironpigs have been a team mixed with prospects and veterans all year. Despite the consistent changes to their roster, they were able to remain consistent on the field. 

Offensively, the 'Pigs were led this season by first baseman Joey Meneses. Recently named as the IL Most Valuable Player and IL Rookie of the Year, Meneses led the league in home runs with 22 and ended the season tied for the lead in RBI (78). His .314 average was good for second in the IL and the .260 year old heads into postseason play having hit .317 over his last 10 games with a homer and five RBI. The Phillies signed Meneses to a minor league contract this season. 

On the pitching end, Cole Irvin was the standout star for Lehigh Valley, earning an IL-best 13 wins and 1.07 WHIP. Irvin was named the IL's Most Valuable Pitcher for 2018, ranking second in the league in ERA (2.67) and innings pitched (155.1), third in strikeouts (126) and fourth in opponents batting average against (.230). Since being named as the IL starter in the Triple-A All-Star Game, Irvin went 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA. Irvin was a fifth round pick of the Phillies from 2016 and has compiled a 28-14 record to go along with a 2.84 ERA in 61 minor league games. He's given up just one earned run over his last 26 innings to finish the season.

Lehigh Valley will have some prospects with big league experience in their playoff run with Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens and Andrew Knapp on the roster. Expect Cole Irvin to start game 1 followed by a combination of Enyel De Los Santos and Tom Eshelman in games 2 and 3. 

Playoff schedule: 

Game 1 @ Scranton/WB (Sep 5 at 6:35 p.m.)

Game 2 @ Scranton/WB (Sep 6 at 6:35 p.m.)

Game 3 vs. Scranton/WB (Sep 7 at 7:05 p.m.) 

Game 4* vs. Scranton/WB (Sep 8 at 6:35 p.m.)

Game 5* vs. Scranton/WB (Sep 9 at 5:35 p.m.)

*if necessary

Clearwater Threshers (77-60, 45-24) 

The Threshers used a strong second half record to earn a playoff spot in the Florida State League playoffs after finishing four games under .500 in the first half of the season. They'll kick-off the postseason with a best-of-three series against the Daytona Tortugas, an affiliate of the Reds. Out of the three Phillies affiliates in the postseason, the Threshers boast one of the more intriguing rosters with prospects Arquimedes Gamboa, Mickey Moniak and Adonis Medina all on the team. Sixto Sanchez is still recovering from an elbow injury that cut his 2018 season short. He intends to play in the Arizona Fall League, though. 

Offensively, the Threshers are headlined by Mickey MoniakMoniak, yet to put together consistent results at the plate, has had an up-and-down year that ended on a high note. After hitting just .250 in June, Moniak hitting .277 in July with a .336 OBP and .311 in August with a .355 OBP to finish off the season with a slash line of .270/.304/.383. After the All-Star Break, Moniak upped his walk numbers by 12 and decreased his strikeouts by 12. Heading into the playoffs, Moniak is hitting .310 with 15 hits. 

Pitching-wise, Clearwater's success has been due in large part to their bullpen. Matt Winkleman of Phillies Minor Thoughts looked at their top relief performers over the last 10 games with Trevor Bettencourt (0.53), Addison Russ (0.90) and Grant Dyer (1.76) leading the way. On the starting pitching side of things, the Threshers will start top prospect Adonis Medina in game one and Alejandro Requena in game 2. Medina has allowed two runs or less in each of his last four starts while Requena has posted a strong 3.00 ERA over his last 10 starts.

Playoff schedule:

Game 1 vs. Daytona (Sep 4 at 7:00 p.m.)

Game 2 @ Daytona (Sep 5 at 7:05 p.m.)

Game 3* @ Daytona (Sep 6 at 7:05 p.m)

*if necessary

Lakewood Blueclaws (87-51, 46-23)

The Phillies Class 'A' affiliate in Lakewood, New Jersey, enters the postseason after winning both halves of South Atlantic League Northern Division play. The Blueclaws led the South Atlantic League in ERA (2.74), complete games (7), shutouts (23), strikeouts (1305) and WHIP (1.16). They will open round one of the playoffs against the Kannapolis Intimidators, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. 

At the plate, the Blueclaws have been led by third baseman Jake Scheiner. Selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, the 23-year-old slashed .296/.372/.470 during the regular season with 30 doubles, five triples, 13 homers, 67 RBI and 65 runs scored. Over his last 10 games heading into the playoffs, Scheiner is hitting .333 with a triple, two homers, nine RBI, seven runs scored, nine walks and six strikeouts. 

On the mound, Lakewood is sending Andrew Brown to the hill in game 1. He'll be followed by Spencer Howard in game 2. Brown, 20, has compiled a 2.10 ERA in 14 games this season for Lakewood, 10 starts. He's allowed three runs or less in nine of his last 10 starts, good for an ERA of 1.99. Meanwhile, Howard gets the nod for game 2 after going 9-8 with a 3.78 ERA during the 2018 campaign. He's finished the season strong, sporting a 2.36 ERA over his final 10 starts, striking out 71. Damon Jones (10-7, 3.41) will take the mound in game 3, if necessary.

Playoff schedule

Game 1 @ Kannapolis (Sep 5 at 7:05 p.m.)

Game 2 vs. Kannapolis (Sep 7 at 7:05 p.m.)

Game 3* vs. Kannapolis (Sep 8 at 7:05 p.m.)

*if necessary

Go to top button