Throughout the Pacific Coast League in 2014, records were broken and accomplishments came in flurries both on and off the field, making the 2014 campaign one of the most memorable in the league's 112-year history.
The most notable individual achievement of 2014 came out of Albuquerque, where the Isotopes' center fielder Joc Pederson attained one of the rarest feats in league history. Pederson belted 33 home runs and stole 30 bases during his MVP season to become just the fourth member of the PCL's 30/30 club, and the first from the league's modern era. The last player to join the club was Frank Demaree in 1934, who hit 45 homers and swiped 41 bags in 186 games for the Los Angeles Angels. The two other members of the 30/30 club are PCL legends Tony Lazzeri (1925) and Lefty O'Doul (1927).
Pederson was not the only player in the PCL to showcase his power and speed this season. Fresno shortstop Chris Dominguez and Round Rock center fielder Jared Hoying both obtained over 20 home run and 20 stolen bases, marking the first time the league has had at least three 20/20 players in the same season since 2003.
On the hill, the PCL had 28 pitchers with over 100 strikeouts this season, the most the league has seen since 2003. Noah Syndergaard held the top spot by punching out 145 batters, becoming the fifth Las Vegas pitcher to ever lead the league in strikeouts. Iowa's Chris Rusin was three whiffs away from joining the 100-strikeout club, but did throw the PCL's first no-hitter since 2009 when he held New Orleans hitless on May 7.
At 41 years old, Brett Tomko made history on the mound by pitching for both Omaha and Colorado Springs during the season. The Sky Sox were the ninth PCL club Tomko had been a member of in his career, surpassing Eddie Mulligan (1919-38) for the record of most clubs played for in a career.
History was also made on defense as the Memphis Redbirds executed one of the most flawless defensive seasons in PCL history. The Redbirds committed just 82 errors in 143 games, setting a new PCL record for fewest errors in a season. The club also owned a .984 fielding percentage, tying them with the 2007 Nashville Sounds for the best defensive mark in PCL history.
The PCL remained at the forefront in player development with 114 players making their MLB debuts throughout 2014, the highest total for the league in the past four years.
More than half of the PCL's clubs were also graced with their organization's No. 1 prospect on their roster at different points in the season. One of those players was Iowa third baseman Kris Bryant.
The Chicago Cubs' top prospect was promoted to Iowa from Double-A Tennessee in June, where he hit 21 homers for the I-Cubs. Bryant connected for a total of 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A to earn Minor League Baseball's Joe Bauman Award. Bryant also took home USA Today's and Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year Awards. He is the seventh PCL player to ever receive the honor from USA Today and the 12th to be recognized by Baseball America since 1981.
From individual performances to electrifying playoff races, the season's excitement went all the way through the final day of the regular season.
Labor Day featured Sacramento and Reno meeting in a winner-take-all game to decide the Pacific Northern Division champion. The drama lasted ten innings, with the Aces pulling out a 2-1 victory to advance to the postseason.
Reno took the momentum into the playoffs as they knocked off the Pacific Southern Division's top team, the Las Vegas 51s, three games to one in the opening round. In the American Conference, Omaha also won its series three games to one over Memphis, to move on to the PCL's Championship Series for the fourth year in a row. The Storm Chasers are now the third club in PCL history to reach the Championship Series in four consecutive years, joining the San Francisco Seals (1943-46) and Albuquerque Dukes (1980-83).
In a rematch of the 2012 Championship Series, history looked to repeat itself when Reno went ahead 2-1 in the series, placing them one win from their second ever PCL title. Omaha had other plans, as they defeated the Aces 11-2 in Game 4 to force the PCL's first Game 5 in a League Championship Series since 1998.
In Game 5, the Storm Chasers were led by starting pitcher Aaron Brooks, who was the PCL's Postseason MVP winning all three of his starts. Brooks capped his playoff heroics by tossing a complete-game 4-0 shutout to secure Omaha's second-straight PCL title. The PCL Championship is also their third in four years, making them the second PCL club to ever win that many in a four-year span.
Omaha continued to make history by winning the Triple-A National Championship Game in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a 4-2 win against Pawtucket. The Storm Chasers joined Sacramento (2007-08) and the International League's Columbus Clippers (2010-11) as the only clubs to ever win back-to-back Triple-A National Championships.
The excitement on the field in 2014 was well received by fans, as the league drew over 7 million fans for the seventh time in PCL history and the first since 2010.
Sacramento led the league in attendance for the second-straight season, bringing in over 600,000 spectators to Raley Field. The River Cats were followed by Round Rock, Albuquerque, and PCL newcomer the El Paso Chihuahuas.
The Chihuahuas and their new downtown ballpark, Southwest University Park, set a new attendance record for Minor League Baseball in El Paso with 548,937 fans. Of the 67 home openings during their inaugural season, 48 were sellouts.
Colorado Springs also established a new single-season attendance record, drawing 350,374 fans to the 27-year-old Security Service Field.
Albuquerque and Reno achieved new single-game attendance records, both coming on the Fourth of July, while Colorado Springs and Oklahoma City received their highest single-game attendance totals since the renovations of their respective ballparks.
The 2015 season attendance poses to be even better, with the Nashville Sounds opening their new stadium, First Tennessee Park.
The PCL will also play host to Triple-A Baseball's two prestigious events in 2015. The Triple-A All-Star Game will take place at Werner Park in Omaha on July 15, while El Paso will showcase their ballpark at the Triple-A National Championship Game on September 22.