Below the proverbial jump is a glance at where Astros' minor league affiliates from Oklahoma City to Greeneville stand in terms of their potential for postseason play. The post was written as of noon August 23, so click on the links for updated standings in real time.
Oklahoma City (AAA): Longshot, expect September callups sooner than later
To make the postseason of the 4-division Pacific Coast League, Oklahoma City (69-62) must win its division and that would require passing both the Marlins’ New Orleans affiliate (72-60) and Dodgers’ Albuquerque affiliate (75-57) over its final 12 games. Of the final dozen, the next 4 are on the road at the Cubs’ Iowa affiliate (51-81) and are followed by two 4-game home series against Albuquerque and the Rangers’ Round Rock club (62-70). To make up a 5.5 game deficit on Albuquerque in 12 games would all but require a sweep in those head-to-head contests. And even if that happened, Oklahoma City may still need help to overtake New Orleans. So postseason action in Oklahoma City looks unlikely and we should be seeing Redhawks in Astros uniforms on September 4 if not sooner. Click here for updated standings.
Corpus Christi (AA): Lead pipe cinch, in line to host the final 3 games in each of two 5-game series
Corpus Christi (37-21 second-half record) would have to lose virtually all of its remaining 12 games to miss the 2-division Texas League’s postseason. Even if Corpus Christi did blow its 5-game second-half lead over second-place and first-half division champion Frisco of the Rangers' system, Corpus Christi would still make the postseason as the division’s second-best team on the strength of its overall season record (74-54). For Corpus Christi to miss completely, either the 3rd or 4th place second-half team would have to win the half and they are each at least 10 games behind Corpus Christi and at least 5 games behind Frisco. Barring such a miracle, the first 2 games of a best-of-5 divisional championship series will be played at Frisco and the final 3 would be played at Corpus Christi, if needed, unless Frisco wins the second half title in which case the 5th game would be in Frisco. The winner of the Corpus-Frisco series would then advance and host games 3 through 5 of a best-of-5 series with the other divisional champion (either the first-half champion Rockies’ Tulsa affiliate or the Cardinals’ Springfield affiliate, which holds a 6.5-game lead in the second half). Click here for updated second-half standings.
Lancaster (High A): Probably in, as divisional seed #2 or #3
The California League uses an NBA/NHL-style admit-almost-everyone playoff model in which 3 teams from each of its two 5-team divisions make the postseason. With the Mariners’ High Desert affiliate having won the first- and second-half titles of Lancaster’s division, overall season records willbe used to determine which other 2 division members make the playoffs. With 12 games remaining for all clubs, Lancaster and the Padres’ Lake Elsinore club are tied for the top 2 spots at 65-63 with the Dodgers’ Rancho Cucamonga team 2 games back at 63-65 and the Angels’ Inland Empire squad 5 back at 60-68. Lancaster hosts Rancho Cucamonga tonight and then hosts Lake Elsinore for 4 before finishing with 3 at Inland Empire and 4 at the very tough High Desert destination. If Lancaster finishes in the top 2 of those 4, they will play the other qualifier in a best-of-3 with the final 2 hosted by the club with the better record. The winner of that series will advance to a 5-game divisional championship with High Desert (who would host games 1, 2, and 5), and the winner of that division series will play a 5-game league championship series with the champion of the opposite division (likely the Reds’ Bakersfield, Rockies’ Modesto, or Giants’ San Jose affiliate). The recent additions of DeShields, Mier, Aplin, Lo, and Long seem to more than offset the loss of Springer and cause me to like Lancaster’s chances of reaching the postseason. Click here and then click on the Wild Card Standings header for updated divisional wild card standings.
Lexington (Low A): Needs help from Tourists
Lexington has gone into a tailspin losing 7 straight and now must root root root for streaking first-half division champion Rockies’ Asheville Tourists affiliate to overtake the Rome Braves from 3 games behind and win the second-half title, as that would enable Lexington to advance to the postseason as the other divisional qualifier on the strength of having the best overall season record. In 4th place in the second half and 9.5 games behind Rome with 11 to play, Lexington simply has no shot at the second-half title. Their overall record of 67-60 places them one ahead of the Mets’ Savannah club (65-60), 3 ahead of the Yankees’ Charleston club (63-62), and 3.5 ahead of the Giants’ Augusta club (64-64). Their 4 final games are at home against Rome so they could well find themselves with an opportunity to help Asheville overtake them. If Asheville wins the second-half title and Lexington posts the best overall record of the other divisional clubs, Lexington would square off in a best-of-3 divisional championship series with Asheville and host only game 1. The winner of that divisional series would host games 1 and 2 of a best-of-5 league championship series with the champion of the opposite division series (the Marlins’ Greensboro affiliate won the first half and several clubs are vying for the second-half title). Lexington’s playoff chances seem a bit bleak now given their current offensive woes and that Asheville must play 8 of their final 11 on the road. Click for updated second-half standings and click the Overall Standings header for updated season standings.
Tri-City (short-season A): Clinched division, zeroing in on league’s top seed
Tri-City (44-18) has clinched its division of the 3-division New York-Penn League and simply must aim to maintain its 2 game lead over the next best division champion, the Rays’ Hudson Valley club (42-20), to ensure that they will be the top seed and host the lone wildcard qualifier in Round 1. Fourteen games remain so the top seed is far from wrapped up and Tri-City will be hosting the prospect-laden Hudson Valley squad in the final 3 games of the season. If Tri-City staves off Hudson Valley, Tri-City will host games 2 and 3 of a best-of-3 with the wild card qualifier (probably the Mets' Brooklyn affiliate and its equally deep starting rotation Sep 7-9) and as a winner of that series they would advance to the best-of-3 league championship series against the winner of the series between the champions of the other 2 divisions (Sep 10-12 or 11-13) and would again host games 2 and 3. Otherwise if Hudson Valley swipes the top seed, Tri-City would host the 3rd-seeded division champion (the Nationals' Auburn affiliate or Cardinals’ Batavia affiliate) for games 2 and 3 in round 1, and would be the top seed for the Championship series only if Hudson Valley was eliminated in round 1. Click for updated standings.
Greeneville (short-season Rookie): Could sneak in, 1.5 games out with 6 to go
The Elizabethton Twins have clinched Greeneville’s division leaving Greeneville (34-28, 6 left to play) to battle the Johnson City Cardinals (35-26, 6 to play with 1 cancelled game that will not be made up) for the second and final playoff berth from the westernmost of the Appalachian League’s two divisions. Johnson City has the more desirable advantage of being 1.5 games ahead of Greeneville with 6 to play but they also must wrap up their season by playing the 2 best teams record-wise from the opposite division in the Burlington Royals (38-22, on the road) and Danville Braves (33-25). If Greeneville can slip past Johnson City over the course of its own 3-game series with Danville and another with the Bluefield Blue Jays (26-34), Greeneville would host game 1 of a best-of-3 series with the first-place team of the opposite division (Burlington, barring a giant collapse) and that winner would advance to a 3-game league championship series with the winner of the first-round series between Elizabethton and the opposite division’s runner-up (Danville, or else the Rays’ Princeton affiliate). Due to a geographic quirk (Greeneville is the westernmost of the potential playoff clubs) and this being an even-numbered year, Greeneville would host the final 2 games if they reached the league championship series. Click for updated standings.