After an exciting 2009 regular season, follow along with MiLB.com as the Minors' best teams face off in an attempt to take home their league's title.
Mahoning Valley vs. Staten Island
Best-of-3 series begins Monday, Sept. 14
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Staten Island Yankees
It took Mahoning Valley just two games to put away the Brooklyn Cyclones in the first round of the playoffs, but Staten Island, which went 8-2 over the final 10 games of the regular season to take the division from Brooklyn, will likely present a tougher challenge.
The Yankees won all three regular-season games against the Scrappers, and their play over the last few weeks has been dominant. Standout right-hander Adam Warren, who was subpar in his semifinal start and is slated for the Game 1 start in the Finals, gave up nine earned runs -- total -- over 12 starts for Staten Island this year. A return to form for Warren would all but assure at least one win for the Yankees.
All-Star middle infielder Jimmy Paredes, who hit .500 and doubled in the semifinals, along with Zolio Almonte, Dangelo Mack and Carmen Angelini all have the offensive tools to change the outcome of any game over the course of a few at-bats.
The Mahoning Valley pitching staff is fronted by three starters who posted sub-2.50 ERAs this season. Vidal Nuno limited the Cyclones to just one hit over five innings Wednesday, and his 2009 ERA of 2.05 proves that performance was no fluke. Marty Popham, who missed his last start due to illness, will be an equally tough obstacle for the Staten Island hitters if he's feeling better in time for his next start. Brett Brach, the Scrappers' Game 1 starter, struck out 61 while walking 20 this season.
Scrappers leadoff man Jordan Henry, who led the league with a .408 on-base percentage, was 0-for-8 with no walks in Round 1, so he undoubtedly comes into this series with an increased focus. That Mahoning Valley advanced despite Henry's mini-slump can be at least partially attributed to Jason Kipnis's frighteningly hot hitting. The 2009 second-round pick's two home runs lead the circuit in the postseason, and his .429 average is second.
Staten Island makes its fifth straight playoff appearance this year, and it won the New York-Penn League championship in both 2005 and 2006. Mahoning Valley won a league title in 2004, but this is the Scrappers first time back in the playoffs since.