If there is a word to describe this year’s minor league season, it has to be "parity." A look at the final standings of the regular season certainly supports this description, as there was a log-jam of six teams with either 4 or 5 wins. This continued as the regular season turned into the post-season tournament. Throughout pool play, only one team finished with an unblemished record, and tie-breakers were needed to determine the majority of the seeds for the elimination round. And, while there are still four teams remaining in the elimination round (culminating Saturday at Cheeseman) this round of the tournament has been nothing short of surprising. In pool A, both top seeds were eliminated by lower seeds in games that could be technically described as "upsets" and the remaining four teams have earned their spots, despite the fact that few would have predicted they would be still alive at this stage just one week ago.
While the parity has been obvious, it certainly was not an accident. Beginning with the tryouts and Minor League Draft the league was very deliberate in do all it could to ensure a level playing field for all teams. "What we saw this season in the Minors was an environment where any team could beat any other team on any given day; which is exactly what we wanted for the kids participating in the program," said Dave Jones, Minor League Director. "The fact that we have seen the some of the ‘so called’ favorites eliminated earlier than many thought is certainly a testament to the process we have put in place around player evaluations."
Jones went on to praise the efforts of the league, its coaches and volunteers for creating - and maintaining - a positive environment where every player has an opportunity to succeed. The Final Four of the Minor League Season begins Thursday night as the Orioles take on the Indians, and the Angels take on the Dodgers. This year’s championship will take place on Saturday June 16th - after a morning of activities at Cheeseman Field. The game will start at 2:30.