Merloni carries Cats to Showdown win
Audio: Cats wrap up the Triple-A title
Complete Bricktown Showdown coverage
Review the Pacific Coast League playoffs
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Branch Rickey is staying put. Not that should come as a surprise. But there was a rumor circulating around AT&T Bricktown Ballpark on Tuesday afternoon that the Pacific Coast League president would step down following the game.
According to the rumor, Rickey was going to retire, if not at game's end then at the end of the calendar year, to be replaced by the league's vice president of business operations. When made aware of the rumor, Rickey laughed and then quickly shot it down.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I plan on being around for a while."
Rickey is the 17th president in the history of the PCL and has held the post since 1997. He had served as the president of the Triple-A American Association when that league dissolved.
Where did he come from?: When the Richmond Braves last saw Brandon Jones, he was dousing his teammates with champagne at The Diamond after sweeping a doubleheader from Durham to win the International League title. Jones got the call from Atlanta shortly after the victory informing him that he would be joining the parent club.
Yet, after joining the Braves in Washington over the weekend he found himself on a plane for Oklahoma City to rejoin Richmond on Tuesday morning. While some people might have been surprised, Jones wasn't. He said the Braves told him when they called him up that he'd be rejoining Richmond for the Bricktown Showdown before coming back to Atlanta.
"Coming back isn't really tough," Jones said. "I knew I'd be coming back, so..."
Jones was a big reason why the R-Braves advanced, hitting .333 (11-for-33) in nine playoff games. He had a homer, six walks and an on-base percentage of .436. The 23-year-old outfielder combined to hit .295 with 19 homers and 100 RBIs in 138 games with Double-A Mississippi and Richmond this season.
He was greeted with some good-natured ribbing in the clubhouse prior to Tuesday's games with shouts of "Hey, big leaguer" and "Mr. Major Leagues" as he unpacked his bags. He was 0-7 with an RBI in two games for Atlanta.
"It was a lot of fun," Jones said. "Very, very exciting. It's something I'll never forget, being able to hang with some of the players I grew up watching. I was with them during Spring Training, but this was the regular season."
Speaking of recognition: DeFrancesco has won three PCL championships in five seasons with Sacramento yet remains without a Major League job. He was hopeful of joining Oakland's staff after last season, but the call never came. Though he's expected to join the A's this weekend, there's no guarantee he'll have the opportunity to be with the parent club on a full-time basis next season.
"It's out of my control," he said. "I've been through it so many times. Hopefully these things will take care of themselves. I just want to get through this winter."
DeFrancesco has a 935-831 record in 14 seasons as a manager in the Oakland system. He has a 413-307 record with the River Cats and managed Phoenix to a title last year in the Arizona Fall League.
This and that: Roster moves at the Triple-A level, particularly this time of year, are common. But the Braves experienced some shuffling that was almost of record proportion. Richmond had 143 roster moves this season and used 58 players during the regular season, two shy of the club record set in 2005. ... Richmond may not play in the PCL, but that doesn't mean the franchise isn't familiar with Oklahoma City. The Braves played here as part of the Triple-A Alliance between the IL and the defunct American Association between 1988-91. Richmond entered the game with a 2-7 record in Oklahoma City. The R-Braves were swept in the Triple-A Classic Championship by Indianapolis, which was absorbed into the International League when the AA folded. ... Sacramento reliever Brad Ziegler began the season with Midland in the Texas League but quickly demonstrated that he could handle more, so he was bumped up to the PCL and continued to flourish. He quietly put together one of the most impressive seasons by a reliever in the Minors this year, going 12-3 with a 2.41 ERA in 50 games. He struck out 62, walked only 18 and limited the opposition to a .227 batting average. "Hopefully he'll see a Major League camp next year, either as an invitee or on the roster," DeFrancesco said. "He's no different than a guy like Chad Bradford as a situational right-hander."
Kevin T. Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.