2019 Minor League Champions

With the Minor League season over more a bit more than a month, it is time for an overview of the champions of each league, varying from AAA to Advanced Rookie.

International League (AAA)
With a three-run home run by Brady Zimmer, the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians affiliate) took the lead in the championship clincher as they beat the Durham Bulls 6-2, to sweep the Rays’ affiliate in a best of five series.

The Columbus Clippers celebrate (photo: Jay Gehres/Columbus Clippers)

Pacific Coast League (AAA)
Another AAA sweep in the PCL. The Sacramento RiverCats (San Francisco Giants affiliate) were trailing the Round Rock Express (Houston Astros affiliate) by a run in the eighth inning when Abiatal Avelino lined a single off the glove of pitcher Ralph Garza to drive in the game-tying and go-ahead runs as the River Cats completed a three-game sweep of the Express with a 7-5 win, as they won their first Pacific Coast League Championship in 11 years.

But not only did the RiverCats win the PCL, they also clinched the national AAA title by shutting out the Columbus Clippers 4-0. 

River Cats add Triple-A championship to PCL title
The Sacramento RiverCats holding the National AAA championship trophy (photo: MiLB.com)

Eastern League (AA)
The Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees) clinched their fourth overall Eastern League championship as they beat the Bowie BaySox (Baltimore Orioles) 3-1 in a best-of-five series.

Photo: Trenton Thunder

Southern League (AA)
The Jackson Generals (Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate) continued their domination of the Southern League as they clinched their third championship in four years. But it wasn’t an easy victory as the series vs the Biloxi Shuckers (Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) needed five games to be decided. The Generals beat the Shuckers 6-2 in the clincher and repeated for the SL champions.

Texas League (AA)
An all-California Texas League series as first-year Texas League affiliate Amarillo SodPoodles (San Diego Padres affiliate) stunned the Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers affiliate) with an 8-3 win in the fifth and decisive game of the Texas League championship series, thanks to a grand slam home run by Taylor Trammell.
The SodPoodles debuted in the Texas League this year after moving from San Antonio where they played as the Missions. Their place was taken by the Colorado Springs SkySox, who continued to play under the Missions moniker.

California League (A-Advanced)
For the first time since 1978, Visalia has its California League title. In 1978, it was the Visalia Oaks, back then a Minnesota Twins afflilate, that won the Cal League championship. Since then they reached the championship series numerous times but never could clinch a pennant. But this year, things went different. The Rawhide (Diamondbacks affiliate), as the club is now called, beat last year’s champion, the Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres) 3-1 in a best-of-five series.

Photo: Visalia Rawhide

Carolina League (A-Advanced)
Also the Wilmington BlueRocks (Kansas City Royals) have been without a championship for quite a while. The club hadn’t won the Carolina League since 1999. In a seesaw series, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Houston Astros) took a lead in games twice, but as many times, the BlueRocks bounced back to shutout the Woodpeckers 2-0 in the decisive fifth game, partially on a solo shot by third baseman Dennicher Carasco.

Photo: Wilmington BlueRocks

Florida State League
No championship series this year because of Hurricane Dorian. As a result, all playoff games were canceled and for the first time ever, the league didn’t have a champion.

Midwest League (A Full Season)
For the first time since 1989, South Bend can celebrate a Midwest League championship. Back then it was the Southbend White Sox, this year it was the affiliate of that other team from Chicago. The Clinton LumberKings could keep pace with the Cubs in the first two games as they fell 3-1 and 3-2 but in the third game, the South Bend Cubs were much too strong as they beat Clinton 5-0.

Photo: Paul Gierhart/MiLB.com

South Atlantic League (A Full Season)
The Lexington Legends (Kansas City Royals) continued their domination of the South Atlantic League as they threepeated by beating the Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) 3-1. The Legends walked off to their third consecutive championship thanks to a two-run homer by Reed Rohlman.

Northwest League (A Short Season)
For the third time in six years, the Hillsboro Hops won the Northwest League championship. In a best-of-five series, both the Hops (Arizona Diamonbacks) and the Tri-City DustDevils (Padres) used their home-field advantage to the full. After both teams won their two home games, the Hops had home-field advantage in the fifth and decisive game and beat the DustDevils 3-1.

New York-Penn League (A Short Season)
For the first time since 2001, when the New York-Penn League championship series was canceled due to the 9/11 attacks and they were declared co-champions with the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets) won the championship series by beating the Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox) 2-1 in a best-of-three series.

Photo: Gordon Donovan/MiLB.com

Pioneer League (Advanced Rookie)
In a best-of -three series, the Idaho Falls Chukars (Kansas City Royals) fell behind after losing game one to the Ogden Raptors (Dodgers). But in a real tour de force, the Chukars won both game two and game three to bring Idaho Falls its first Pioneer League championship since 2000.

Photo: Kevin Johnson/Ogden Raptor

Appalachian League (Advanced Rookie)
A similar scenario as in the Pioneer League. The Johnson City Cardinals lost game one to the Burlington Royals but bounced back to win game two and three of the best-of-three championship series, to win their fifth overal and fifth championship in ten years. A four-run seventh inning won it all for the Cards as they came back from a one-run deficit to win the game 8-6 eventually.

Photo: Johnson City Cardinals




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