Triple-A Salt Lake won its first Pacific Coast League Northern Division title since 2008, double-A Arkansas won the Texas League North Division second half, and both Angels farm teams will open the playoffs Wednesday.
Though Class-A Inland Empire went 69-71, the 66ers played well enough in the first half to earn a postseason berth, and the Angels’ Arizona League rookie league team earned a playoff spot with a 30-26 record.
“Not bad for the No. 30 organization on the totem pole, huh?” Angels farm director Bobby Scales said.
The Angels, through a series of prospect-sapping trades and free-agent signings that robbed them of first-round picks, slipped to the point where Baseball America rated its farm system the worst in baseball entering 2013.
But with its top three clubs making the playoffs, the Angels have to be doing something right, right?
“I don’t care what anyone says, winning is good at any level,” Scales said. “Listen, the idea of player development is to develop players to play in big leagues, whether it’s for your organization or another team because you used them in trades to bring in players.
“Our job is to make them major league players. Part of that, in my opinion, is understanding how to win meaningful games, and right now, we’re playing meaningful games.”
That Salt Lake reached the postseason is not that significant. The club features several fading major league veterans such as Dontrelle Willis, Chad Cordero and Andy Marte, a few potential big league reserves and no top prospects.
But the strong play of several prospects at the lower levels, including pitchers Mark Sappington and Mike Morin, second baseman Taylor Lindsey and first baseman C.J. Cron at Arkansas and outfielder Zach Borenstein, first baseman Michael Snyder, second baseman Alex Yarbrough and shortstop Eric Stamets at Inland Empire, gives the Angels some hope.
“Does this prove anything? Maybe, maybe not,” Scales said of his playoff-bound teams. “But I know the job we’re doing on the field every day and what the roving guys, special assistants and scouts are doing. You don’t win games with bad players.”
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