By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns
→Another week of action, another new leader down south. Mississippi’s win over Pensacola on Sunday allowed the Braves to claim a half-game advantage over both the Wahoos and BayBears as the South Division race heads to the wire.
→Montgomery & Birmingham also seem to be headed for showdown in the North, which includes the final five games of the season head to head at Riverwalk Stadium.
→Tennessee is holding onto hope. The Smokies are mathematically alive, but desperate for positive movement this week in order to stay that way.
→Jackson became the first team mathematically eliminated from the post-season. The Generals, alongside the Suns, will still play meaningful games in the role of spoiler down the stretch.
→Three Southern League series remain on the schedule for each club to determine the four team playoff field in pursuit of the league championship.
Southern League Spotlight…
This week’s spotlight rests on the tremendous parity in the Southern League, as well as, what remains to determine who survives to fight in the 2015 post-season. As mentioned above, just three Southern League series are left on the schedule to settle the two remaining playoff spots. That’s roughly fifteen games depending upon the specific teams.
At the end of play this coming Sunday, just over one week will be left. Chattanooga and Biloxi have already secured spots by virtue of their first half division titles.
Entering the final two weeks, six of the eight other Southern League clubs remain alive the settle the second half championships. This is remarkable, when considering that 125 regular season games are in the books.
This also means each Southern League team will be playing meaningful games right down to the end, even if it is in the role of spoiler. With the way these races have unfolded in August, the fast-aproaching first week of September is in our spotlight. Every sign points to a dramatic and memorable finish.
–Rankings listed use the format Baseball America/MLB.com–
–MLB.com rankings indicated for players not with their current organization on opening day–
Montgomery– Daniel Robertson (MLB.com #5) logged four hits and scored four runs in a single contest on Thursday to continue his impact at the plate for the still surging Biscuits.
Everyone up and down the Montgomery lineup seems to be contributing, yet Cameron Seitzer’s consistent efforts last week overshadowed even Robertson’s noteworthy game. Seitzer secured Player of the Week honors with seven extra base hits, five of them doubles and nine runs driven in. Seitzer ended the week slugging .909 for the North Division leaders.
Jacksonville– A return to form by Viosergy Rosa (#23/-) helped the Suns string together their best week of the season. Rosa homered twice in the midst of back to back double-headers to close out Jacksonville’s most recent home stand.
Mississippi– Right-hander Lucas Sims (#2/#7) has grabbed further attention around both the Braves system and the Southern League. His two most recent starts earned him Pitcher of the Week honors. Sims went 2-0 with a 0.79 E.R.A., fanning fifteen batters in the process.
Birmingham– Christian Marrero has been a staple in the Barons lineup all season. The White Sox outfield prospect drove in half the club’s run total on Sunday, with three RBI’s to lead the way in a much needed win. His play continues to help Birmingham keep the pace with the division leaders in attempt to set up an opportunity for payback in a final showdown with the Biscuits to mark early September.
Pensacola– Highly ranked Cincinnati prospect Phillip Ervin (#14/#11) blasted his first Double-A home run against Chattanooga on Saturday. Ervin would make it two homers in the pat four games, during which he has gone 4-for-12 with three RBI’s alongside the two runs scored.
Chattanooga– Lookouts batting leader Max Kepler (#12/#6) posted another four hit performance, this time in front of his dad and grandfather, who made the trip to Pensacola on Wednesday. The German born Twins star used the contest to raise his average to a league-best .342.
Biloxi– Infielder Orlando Arcia (#2/#1) added yet another chapter to his amazing 2015 season, notching his first professional two-homer game this past week. The highly regarded Brewers prospect and Southern League MVP candidate now has eight home runs on the season.
-Weekly honors handed down by the league office each Monday at Noon-
▪ Player of the Week: Cameron Seitzer (Rays), INF, Montgomery
▪ Pitcher of the Week: Lucas Sims (Braves), RHP, Mississippi
Series To Focus On…
Mississippi Braves @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Sunday August 23 – Thursday August 27
Pennant race baseball in its truest form has arrived at Bayfront Stadium for the first time in franchise history. Mississippi took control of the division by taking game one. That same prize will be up for grabs during each game of this series.
While every series seems to have an elevated importance this time of year, this stands as the lone series of the full week which features teams struggling for a second half division crown going head to head. Whatever the result, and whether they or Mobile possess control at the time, just ten games will remain to settle the score as these two contenders depart Pensacola Thursday night.
A Look At The Standings…