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Preview: Clips look for way to stop Grizzlies

Indians, Astros prospects face off in Triple-A National Championship
September 22, 2015

EL PASO, Texas -- Find a way.

The Clippers made it their mantra, and the Governors' Cup was theirs.

"We showed up one day -- it was probably a week or two left in the season -- and we had T-shirts [with the phrase] in our lockers," said veteran catcher Adam Moore. "I believe we were one or two [games] back of Indy at that point and we bought into it, cliché or not."

After president and general manager Ken Schnacke inspired his team with the phrase, Columbus took the International League West Division from Indianapolis, then went on to edge the Indians in the Finals and secure a date with Fresno in the Triple-A National Championship at 8:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday (Watch live on MiLB.TV or NBC Sports Network.)

Before the Grizzlies showed up for their workout Monday, the Clippers spilled onto the outfield of Southwest University Park -- many in "Find a way" shirts -- to toss around a Frisbee.

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"They're loving it right now," said Columbus manager Chris Tremie. "The great thing is that we have a bunch of guys who are great teammates and take care of one another and play together. That's something we're about and they enjoy it. It's been a lot of fun."

The Clippers are trying to find a way to pick up one more win as the best team in each Triple-A league square off in a one-game, winner-take-all championship.

"It's different. Usually in baseball, you don't get those situations too often -- most of it comes down to series," Clippers right fielder Michael Choice said. "So it will be interesting -- you don't have many opportunities; you gotta get it done in nine."

The native of Fort Worth, Texas, who was traded from the Rangers for cash on Aug. 21 quickly got comfortable with his Columbus teammates, and it showed. After homering in three straight games and plating six runs, Choice was named Governors' Cup MVP.

"Just clicked at the right time, not much to it, just focusing on trying to make sure I have good at-bats," the UT-Arlington product said. "This is probably the furthest I've ever gone in the playoffs since playing professional baseball, so it's been a good one so far."

Choice and the Clippers will face Astros No. 18 prospect Chris Devenski, who will be making his first Triple-A start. After being named Double-A Corpus Christi's Pitcher of the Year, the 24-year-old got the call to join Fresno in two relief appearances during the Pacific Coast League Finals.

"He was overwhelming, the stuff he was throwing. He was throwing 95, 96 with a plus changeup, a nasty breaking ball. He's ready to go," Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "Hopefully he can give us three or four innings and then we're just going to turn it over to the bullpen. We have some power arms; we have some left-right matchups. James Hoyt has been an outstanding closer for us, and hopefully he'll get a chance to finish the game."

After starting both Game 1's in the International League playoffs, 23-year-old southpaw Ryan Merritt will get the ball for Columbus in the final contest of the year.

"For him to come out here and see this electric atmosphere, it's going to be fun to watch him pitch," Moore said of his battery mate. "He's just as calm as anybody we have in that starting rotation, so he's not going to be overwhelmed by it. He's going to go out there and get the ball and hit his spots and see what happens."

For the 31-year-old Moore, who has spent time at every Minor League level as well as the Majors over 10 seasons, getting the chance to get that final win has been made possible by one unmatched aspect of this squad. On his sixth Triple-A team, including El Paso last season, the backstop said this is the closest Triple-A clubhouse he's ever been a part of.

"Obviously all of us want to be in the big leagues, but at the end of the day, we come out here as a team and play together and just have a blast with each other. The base that we have on this team is one-to-none. I've yet to be on a team like this, and that says a lot," Moore said. "Just the way we get along inside that clubhouse [is so special]. It's very easy to have a bunch of bitter guys in Triple-A. But with that said, this team, through thick and thin, we stuck together."

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.