It looks like the Atlanta Braves’ dominance in the National League East doesn’t just apply to the Major League squad.
While Atlanta boasts the top seed in their division, their low-level Class A affiliate, the Rome Braves, are also in first place in the South Atlantic League.
The difference between the two? Playoff seeds in Class A baseball are determined by season halves. And since every other team has been mathematically eliminated, Rome has officially clinched a Southern division postseason berth.
That obviously doesn’t bode well for the four, Palmetto State teams in the division.
The Augusta GreenJackets, the San Francisco Giants’ affiliate, finished second in the standings, followed by a fourth place finish by the Columbia Fireflies, the New York Mets’ affiliate. The Charleston RiverDogs, who reside under the New York Yankees’ umbrella, finished fourth. And in dead last sit the Greenville Drive, the Boston Red Sox squad.
Still, South Carolina does have something to do with Rome’s success.
From Columbia to the postseason
Rome’s pitching staff has recorded no compete games on the season, and they’re second in the Sally League in saves.
That’s because they have the luxury of handing the ball off to Brandon White, a Columbia native who pitched at Lander University.
White, Atlanta’s 12th round pick in 2016, has one of the best stat lines among relief pitchers this season. Through 21 appearances, he’s given up just four earned runs, good for a 1.20 ERA.
Add that to his 32 strikeouts and eight saves, and it’s clear why Rome wins so many of its close games.
Though a playoff berth is a great accomplishment, White is hoping his play will get him back to the Florida Fire Frogs, Atlanta’s Class A-Advanced squad.
After the All-Star break last season, he was promoted from Rome to Class A-Advanced ball. He only played in 11 games on that level, but Atlanta may be ready to call him up soon as long as he keeps trending upwards.
Promotions and postseason
White won’t be the only Sally Leaguer vying for a promotion. This is usually the most active part of the season for franchises who want to give prospects a chance to prove their worth.
For example, the Fireflies’ best arm, David Peterson, was called up to the Mets’ Class A-Advanced squad on Tuesday. Prior to his departure, Peterson struck out 57 batters through nine starts, and compiled a 1.82 ERA.
The same thing happened to Daniel Spingola, a Chapel Hill native who played college ball at Georgia Tech. He was just promoted to double-A from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Chicago Cubs’ Class A-Advanced team.
In short, the opportunities are there as long as players earn them on the field.
That always results in great, competitive baseball in the second half of the season. And while promotions and postseasons are the two main goals, the fight for South Carolina supremacy also serves as motivation.