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2022 Minor League first-half clinchings

Somerset clinches on Volpe walk-off; Richmond postseason-bound
Anthony Volpe's walk-off homer secured a playoff berth for Somerset. (Somerset Patriots)
June 26, 2022

June 26

June 26

Eastern League
Somerset Patriots: Northeast Division first-half champions

Down to his team's final strike in a winner-take-all matchup for the Northeast Division title, top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe delivered.

Volpe belted a two-run, walk-off homer to left-center, rallying Double-A Somerset from a deficit in the 10th to a 6-5 win over Hartford that gave the Patriots a first-half Northeast Division title.

Somerset started its season just 7-6 before going on a tear with wins in eight of its next nine games to set the tone for the remainder of the first half. Since the start of that streak, the Patriots have gone 37-19. Their push across the finish line wasn't easy. Somerset was two games back of Hartford with three to play entering the first half's final weekend and finished the job by claiming three of four games from the Yard Goats, including two by one run.

The Patriots have benefited from a pitching staff that has been the best in Double-A this year. Somerset's arms for a 3.36 ERA, which is two-tenths of a run better than second-place Erie, also in the Eastern League. On the offensive side, Volpe ranks in the top 10 in the league in doubles (17, tied for sixth) and extra-base hits (28, tied for sixth) while checking in second with 44 runs scored and first with 27 steals. Full story »

Eastern League
Richmond Flying Squirrels: Southwest Division first-half champions

Double-A Richmond took care of business with a 7-2 win over Portland, but they needed some help from Harrisburg to officially clinch the first-half title. The Flying Squirrels gathered together to watch the final out, and when the Senators took down the Rubber Ducks, the San Francisco prospects erupted in celebration. In the clincher, Richmond was led by top Giants pitching prospect, Kyle Harrison, who struck out 11 across seven innings of two-run ball.

Harrison is relatively new to a solid Richmond pitching staff that leads the league in shutouts (eight) and has allowed the second-fewest homers (61). They're fifth in the league with a 4.01 ERA and have struck out the fifth-most batters (674). The offense has also held its own, slugging the second-most homers (89) posting the third-most RBIs (307) with a .325 OBP (fourth-best) and a .402 slugging percentage (fifth-best). Gameday box score

June 24

Texas League
San Antonio Missions: South Division first-half champions

Double-A San Antonio is heading to the postseason for the first time since 2018 after its 11-2 win over Wichita at Riverfront Stadium. Every Missions batter reached base and seven starters notched multihit efforts as part of a 19-hit performance. No. 17 Padres prospect Reggie Lawson and Brandon Komer limited the Wind Surge to two runs on seven hits.

San Antonio has had a steady presence on both sides of the ball all season. The pitching staff is third in the league with a 4.71 ERA, third with a 1.43 WHIP and has allowed the third-fewest homers (66) on the Texas League circuit. The offense is second in hitting (.274), fifth in OPS (.783) and lead the league with 107 stolen bases. San Antonio is the second Padres affiliate to clinch a first-half title, joining Single-A Lake Elsinore, which clinched on Tuesday. Gameday box score

June 23

Southern League
Pensacola Blue Wahoos: South Division first-half champions

Double-A Pensacola will be returning to the postseason for the first time since 2019. Fueled by a five-run ninth inning that put to rest any thoughts of a comeback by Biloxi, the Marlins affiliate clinched the first-half title with a 10-6 win over the Shuckers at MGM Park. Multiple Blue Wahoos posted multihit nights, but the biggest performance came from catcher Paul McIntosh, who ripped a pair of two-run doubles.

The offensive outburst was a nice cushion for a team that’s relied heavily on its pitching all season. Pensacola’s staff leads the Southern League in ERA with a 3.79 mark and is tied for first in WHIP (1.26). The Blue Wahoos hurlers have allowed the fewest hits (463) and homers (57) as well as the third-fewest walks (225) in 547 total innings. Marlins' No. 3 prospect Eury Pérez leads the staff with a 3.35 ERA, 69 strikeouts, 0.96 WHIP and .196 BAA in 51 innings. Gameday box score

Texas League
Tulsa Drillers: North Division first-half champions

After starting the month of June by losing six of its first nine and dealing with two games being canceled due to COVID concerns, Double-A Tulsa stormed back to win eight of its next 10 to clinch the first-half championship with a 4-1 win over Midland at Momentum Bank Ballpark. Five Drillers combined to strike out 16 while allowing just one run on six hits and four walks.

Tulsa’s pitching staff has been solid all season, posting 624 strikeouts (ranked second in the league), a 1.37 WHIP (second) and a 4.79 ERA (fourth) while walking the third-fewest batters (261) and allowing the second-fewest hits (488). The Dodgers affiliate's offense has held its own too, ranking third in OPS (.790) and slugging (.446) while topping the circuit in home runs with 93. Gameday box score

Carolina League
Lynchburg Hillcats: North Division first-half champions

A lot of things needed to happen for Single-A Lynchburg to clinch, but when all was said and done, the Guardians affiliate took care of business by sweeping a doubleheader over Delmarva to claim the first-half title. Game 1 starter Will Dion fanned eight over six frames en route to a 3-2 victory, while Game 2 starter Jack Leftwich went all seven innings, striking out nine and retiring the final 11 batters he faced in a 5-1 win.

On the season, the Guardians affiliate's staff posted a 3.84 ERA, good for fourth in the league, a 1.28 WHIP (third-best) while striking out 714 (second). Lynchburg’s offense posted a .351 OBP (third) while swatting 104 doubles (tied for fourth) and drawing 320 walks (third).

Carolina League
Myrtle Beach Pelicans: South Division first-half champions

Single-A Myrtle Beach has been dominant all season long, but couldn't clinch without a little late-inning drama. The Cubs affiliate took down Kannapolis, 7-6, in 10 innings to capture the first-half title. After falling behind 6-1 through five frames, the Pelicans scored six unanswered runs for a 7-6 lead. A wild pitch with two outs tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Myrtle Beach capitalized on the free runner to take the contest.

With a 47-19 record, the Pelicans have racked up the most wins in the Minor Leagues with a farm-best run differential of +149. They lead the Carolina League with 337 RBIs and 388 runs scored and have the second-most hits (549), third-most homers (56), second-best average (.250) and third-highest OPS (.738). While the offense was stellar, the pitching has been even better. The Myrtle Beach staff leads the circuit with a 3.03 ERA (the second-lowest team ERA in the Minors), 1.24 WHIP, 21 saves and eight shutouts while surrendering the fewest homers (28) and second-fewest hits (444). Gameday box score

June 22

Midwest League
Great Lakes Loons: East Division first-half champions

On June 9, the Dodgers' High-A affiliate stood 8.5 games behind Dayton with a 28-24 record. But Great Lakes turned on the jets and went 12-1 after that to zip past the Dragons and grab the first-half crown with a 40-25 mark. The comeback was completed when the Loons rallied to a 4-2 victory over Fort Wayne.

Great Lakes stands third in the Midwest League in runs scored (317) and RBIs (290), led by Jonny DeLuca and Imanol Vargas. Outfielder DeLuca has posted team highs of 41 runs (fourthbest in the league) and 38 RBIs (eighth-best), while first baseman Vargas has compiled a .265/.411/.858 slash line with 34 runs and 20 RBIs. The pitching has contributed greatly as well, with an overall ERA of 3.75 (third-best on the circuit). Dodgers No. 13 prospect Nick Nastrini leads the squad with 71 strikeouts over 44 2/3 innings (including seven in the clincher) and Michael Hobbs is tied for third in the league with six wins. Gameday box score

California League
Fresno Grizzlies: North Division first-half champions

For the second year in a row, Single-A Fresno is playoff bound. After dropping five in a row to second-place San Jose, the Rockies' affiliate took control of their own destiny with consecutive wins over Modesto to secure the first-half title with a 4-2 win at Chukchansi Park. Grizzlies starter Jarrod Cande allowed two runs over five innings and the Fresno bullpen tossed four scoreless frames behind him to secure the victory.

The well-rounded Grizzlies showed out on both sides of the ball in the clincher as they’ve done all year. They lead the California League in a plethora of offensive categories, including OPS (.804), slugging (.445) and homers (78), and are second to San Jose in team ERA (4.09) and WHIP (1.39) while surrendering the third-fewest walks of any team. Gameday box score

June 21

South Atlantic League
Bowling Green Hot Rods: South Division first-half champions

The Hot Rods are ... well, hot. Bowling Green rattled off four straight wins to capture back-to-back division titles and its third in the last four seasons. The Rays' High-A affiliate celebrated after beating Greenville, 4-0, behind five innings of one-hit ball from starter Mason Montgomery, who matched a franchise record with 12 strikeouts.

A shutout in the clincher was appropriate for a Bowling Green squad that was led by its pitching staff. The Hot Rods stand second in the South Atlantic League with a 3.55 ERA, trailing only the Aberdeen IronBirds -- who clinched the North Division -- with a 1.26 WHIP. The offense has held its own as well, ranking fifth in the league in batting average (.252) and slugging percentage (.408). Gameday box score

California League
Lake Elsinore Storm: South Division first-half champions

The Storm will head to the playoffs after doubling up Rancho Cucamonga, 14-7. Lake Elsinore clinched its second division title in the past three seasons, aiming for its first Cal League title since 2011.

The Padres' Single-A affiliate has been tough to keep off the bases, as apparent by an on-base percentage (.363) that ranks second in the league. Once they're on, they're off as well. The Storm's 135 stolen bases stands second among the 120 full-season Minor League affiliates. On the pitching side, Lake Elsinore's 4.52 ERA ranks third despite the fact that the league's offenses average nearly six runs per game. Gameday box score

June 19

Southern League
Rocket City Trash Pandas: North Division first-half champions

The Double-A Trash Pandas moved 15 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history and clinched the first-half title in the process after topping Montgomery, 7-2. Rocket City held a 2-1 edge after seven innings but broke the game open with a five-run eighth.

The win secured the first postseason berth for the Angels affiliate, who debuted last season with a 54-56 record. The club has done a majority of its damage at home, going 25-11 at Toyota Field. Rocket City's .351 on-base percentage is second on the circuit while its .255 average and 774 OPS each rank third. On the pitching front, the Trash Pandas stand tied for the league lead in WHIP (1.25) and is second in ERA (4.46). Gameday box score

June 18

Northwest League
Eugene Emeralds: Northwest League first-half champions

The Emeralds' clinch of the High-A Northwest League first-half title came on their 35th victory of the year. Eugene cemented its title with a 13-0 shutout over Vancouver, capped off by a 5-for-5 night from the Giants' No. 3 prospect, Luis Matos.

This marks the second straight postseason appearance for Eugene following their championship win last season. The Emeralds have thus far led the league in home runs (78) and slugging percentage (.413). The pitching staff has posted a 3.42 ERA and a league-best 1.19 WHIP. Gameday box score

Midwest League
Cedar Rapids Kernels: West Division first-half champions

The Kernels' clinch of the High-A Midwest League North first-half title came on their 40th victory of the year, more than any other team in the circuit and six more than any other team in the division. Cedar Rapids picked up its 11th win over its past 16 games with a 9-5 victory over Dayton.

This marks the ninth straight postseason berth for the Twins affiliate. The Kernels had five winning streaks of five games this season, and they lead the Midwest League in runs (341), triples (25), home runs (75), while their pitching staff boasts a league-best 3.10 ERA. Gameday box score

June 15

South Atlantic League
Aberdeen IronBirds: North Division first-half champions

The IronBirds’ clinch of the High-A South Atlantic League North first-half title came courtesy of their 40th win of the season, 11 more than any other team in the division. Aberdeen picked up its 10th win in 12 matchups with Jersey Shore, taking down the BlueClaws, 3-2.

The Orioles affiliate has had six winning streaks of four games or longer this season, first reaching 10 games over .500 on April 30 at 15-5 and hitting 20 games over on June 9 at 37-17. The pitching staff has led the way with a combined 3.63 ERA, second-best in the league. Gameday box score

Florida State League
St. Lucie Mets (East Division first-half champions)

Single-A St. Lucie has been dominant in the Florida State League East. The Mets’ 5-1 win over Tampa put the club’s record at 39-19, eight wins better than second-place Jupiter. St. Lucie has surged on the strength of its offense with a league-best .249 average, 12 points better than Dunedin and Jupiter, and a league-leading .746 team OPS, 24 points better than Fort Myers.

The Mets were just 11-7 entering play on April 29 before they rattled off seven straight wins, the start of a 15-3 stretch. St. Lucie has been nearly impossible to beat at home this season, going 22-3 at Clover Park. Gameday box score

Florida State League
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (West Division first-half champions)

Eight games up on Bradenton and Lakeland, Single-A Fort Myers captured the FSL West crown in part due to its offense, which leads the circuit with 283 runs scored. But the Mighty Mussels also have pitched brilliantly this season with a 2.91 staff ERA that is not only the best in the Florida State League, but the best in all of Minor League Baseball.

They sealed the first-half title with a 5-4 win over Bradenton. Gameday box score