SEVIERVILLE - With the 2016 MLB Division Series Rounds in the past, it is now time to look ahead at the near approaching Championship Series round. The ALCS will feature the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians beginning Friday in Cleveland, while the NLCS will feature the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs beginning Saturday at the famed Wrigley Field.
During the past few years of the Cubs surge to being one of the best teams in baseball, the Tennessee Smokies have seen many of these talents pass through their own backyard. It seems to be a reoccurring theme that many of the new and upcoming players that make it to Chicago pass through the Tennessee Smokies on their way to the show.
These names become more apparent when mentioning the 2016 MLB Playoffs with twelve players who made the 25-Man playoff roster playing for the Smokies at some point in their career. However, the names don't stop with the Chicago Cubs. There will be two players that will appear in the ALCS series as well for the Blue Jays and Indians that played for the Smokies during their career.
The players who successfully made the playoff roster for the Cubs and passed through the Tennessee Smokies throughout their career include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Miguel Montero, Wilson Contreras, Jorge Soler, Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr., Albert Almora Jr., as well as Tommy La Stella, Chris Coghlan, and Jake Arrieta who made rehab appearances for the Smokies.
The former Smokies over recent years continues to grow season after season in the MLB. Kris Bryant finished off his impressive rookie season in 2015 with being honored as the NL Rookie of the year, and is also in the race for NL MVP for the 2016 season. Kyle Hendricks has also made a strong push towards the NL Cy Young award this year, as he hopes to follow up Jake Arrieta's Cy Young Award winning year in 2015.
During Game 3 of the NLDS, 6 of the 9 starters for Chicago were former Smokies. This showcases the direct impact that these players are having in this year's playoff race.
In addition to the players making appearances for Chicago, the players who will play in the ALCS include Darwin Barney of the Blue Jays and Brandon Guyer of the Cleveland Indians. A few other players who made appearances in the Division Series round for the 2016 Playoffs, but will not be advancing to the Championship series include Robinson Chirinos of the Texas Rangers, Jeff Samardzija of the San Francisco Giants, Stephen Drew of the Washington Nationals, and Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals.
There were also some former Smokies who made the 25-Man roster for two of the wild card teams who did not advance as well. These players are Ryan Flaherty of the Baltimore Orioles and Jerry Blevins of the New York Mets.
The former Smokies now playing for the Cubs have already made quite the impact for the club in the 2016 MLB Playoffs. Wilson Contreras and Javier Baez accounted for 3 RBI's in the 9th inning in the dramatic comeback win in Game 4 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants.
The managers of the teams who successfully advanced to the Championship Series round of the MLB Playoffs now have some tough decisions on whether or not to make changes to the 25-Man roster they originally put together for the Division Series. With the new playoff round starting on Friday in Cleveland and the Cubs starting on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the former Smokies continue to have an impact on this year's playoff picture.
The Smokies will commence their 2017 home campaign against the Mississippi Braves on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The full schedule for next season and season ticket information can be found online at smokiesbaseball.com, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at 865-286-2300.
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE SMOKIES
The Tennessee Smokies are the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Members of the ten-team Southern League, Smokies baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for over 100 years. To learn more about the Tennessee Smokies, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com