The minor league affiliates of the Seattle Mariners enjoyed a lot of success in 2010, with two clubs bringing home their league titles. While the success wasn't repeated this season, there is one club that still has a shot at a championship here in 2011.
The Clinton Lumber Kings are returning to the playoffs, hosting the first game of their opening three-game series tomorrow as the Second Half Wild Card winner in the Western Division of the Midwest League.
The club won just 63 of their 139 games on the year, but they tied for the second most wins in the second half with Fort Wayne and Lansing. Much of the club's success was tied to the success of their pitching as the club ranked 8th in the 16-team league in team ERA (3.78). The LumberKings ranked 14th in team OPS (.666).
One of the key elements of that pitching success will not be available for their playoff run, though, as Taijuan Walker was shut down by the Mariners organization in early August when he had reached his innings limit. His 2.89 ERA was the 9th best number by starters with 15 or more starts this season in the Midwest League and his 1.12 WHIP ranked 8th.
The LumberKings feature three 2011 draftees, including shortstop Brad Miller--who hit .415/.458/.528 in 14 games--and catcher John Hicks--who batted .302/.324/.439 in 38 games--on offense and pitcher Carter Capps--who struck out 21 batters in his four starts, covering 18 innings--in the rotation.