I have already looked at Empire State’s matchup against Pawtucket in the first round of the International League playoffs, so now I will look at Trenton’s first obstacle towards an Eastern League Championship. The Eastern Division champs will have to defeat a tough Reading Phillies team and EL MVP Darin Ruf for a shot against the winner of the Akron Aeros-Bowie Baysox series.
While Empire State’s 2012 success was a bit unexpected, perhaps only the Trenton Thunder’s success was more surprising. After losing to Altoona in the EL Championship in 2010, the Thunder had a tough 2011 season, going 68-73 and ending the year fourth in the Eastern Division. As I (wrongly) predicted in my preview of the Thunder, Trenton seemed destined for a similar season. They expected to have many of the same faces and with many of the Yankees’ best prospects still cutting their teeth in A-ball, it looked like it would be another year or two before the Thunder could relive their previous success. Instead, they played some strong baseball and put together a 79-63 season, winning the Eastern division.
Reading, however, didn’t punch their ticket for the playoffs until their last game of the regular season. A victory over the Portland Sea Dogs kept the Phillies one game against the New Britain Rock Cats, who ended the season with a six-game win streak. Reading is looking for their first Championship since they shared the title in 2001. Before that, they had won the EL Championship last in 1995.
(click “view full post” to read more about this matchup) Continue reading Minor League Playoff Preview: Trenton Thunder