The postseason inherently brings excitement. Tensions are ratcheted up for players and fans while the spotlight grows even harsher on the participants. Eyes already have been poring over prospects all season, analyzing what fluctuations in average and ERA may mean to career longevity. But to be in the batter's box
The postseason inherently brings excitement. Tensions are ratcheted up for players and fans while the spotlight grows even harsher on the participants. Eyes already have been poring over prospects all season, analyzing what fluctuations in average and ERA may mean to career longevity. But to be in the batter's box or on the mound during the playoffs is what every one of them longs for in the short term, and to find success on those stages can bolster the chances of fulfilling their biggest dreams of reaching The Show.
In 2019, Minor League talents took advantage of such opportunities and seized their respective days -- for their teams, for their affiliates and for themselves.
Below are four of the most exciting contests you can watch during the MiLB.TV free preview. Head over to Twitter to vote on which one will be streamed on Facebook Live this Thursday.
Hops' Yerzy mashes walk-off tater
Andy Yerzy hadn't gone yard in a month for Class A Short Season Hillsboro. He was disappointed to have hit .220 during the regular season. But it didn't matter because the page was turned and the slate cleaned as the Northwest League Finals got underway. The D-backs first-base prospect closed out the Hops' Game 1 victory with a clutch long ball in the bottom of the ninth inning. Known as the longest tenured Hillsboro player -- 132 games and counting the night of this contest -- all Yerzy wanted to do was contribute. "We always joke around about me spending nearly my entire Minor League career here," he said at the time. "I would have been excited if anyone else hit the homer, but it was definitely a special moment for me." The shot wasn't just important for that one night -- it pointed the eventual Northwest League champions toward their third crown in seven years. Full story | Highlight: Yerzy walks it off | Watch game
Park nabs victory for Thunder
In the playoffs, yesterday's goat can turn into today's hero. Trenton's Hoy Jun Park was down on himself after committing three errors and struggling at the plate during the first two games of the Eastern League Championship Series. But the Yankees infield prospect more than made up for it by manufacturing the go-ahead run -- the eventual game-winner -- in Game 3 of the Finals. Park stole home in the seventh inning to make any amends he felt necessary. "He had a superstar moment and took it upon himself," Thunder manager Pat Osborn said. "He put the team on his shoulders and said, 'I'm going to score this run somehow.' "That's the type of play you need sometimes to win a game like that." Bolstered by a strong starting performance by Clarke Schmidt, New York's second-ranked prospect, consider Park's mission accomplished for Trenton, which eventually stormed its way to the title. Full story | Highlight: Park steals home | Watch game
Baysox pedal into Finals on Mullins' cycle
Baltimore outfield prospect Cedric Mullins didn't waste any time getting into the groove in Game 4 of the Eastern League semifinals. He belted the second pitch of the game out of the yard en route to racking up a cycle on a five-hit night to lead Double-A Bowie into the Championship Series. And he did so against a varied complement of Harrisburg pitchers to boot. First there was Carson Teel in his Senators' debut. The southpaw allowed Mullins' homer and two singles before giving way to right-hander Jhonatan German. The 2015 13th-round pick raced for a two-RBI triple against Washington's No. 29 prospect in the sixth before wrapping up the huge night with a double off Major League veteran Greg Holland, a righty who signed with Kansas City this past offseason. Full story | Highlight: Mullins doubles to complete feat | Watch game
Downs hits trifecta for Drillers
The final three-homer game in the Minor Leagues in 2019 -- in fact, the final milestone of any sort -- was a doozie. In Game 2 of the Texas League Finals, Jeter Downs belted three solo homers as Double-A Tulsa doubled up Amarillo, 18-9, to even up the Championship Series. All totaled that night, Downs -- then the sixth-ranked Dodgers prospect, now the top Red Sox prospect -- reached base six times and scoring five runs. And the Drillers definitely needed it after the Sod Poodles posted an eight-spot in the bottom of the first inning. So, after shellacking his final homer of the game in the ninth to all-but-seal the victory, Downs may have looked calm, cool and collected as he rounded third base -- even blowing a bubble with his gum -- but his arrival at home plate told the true tale. He pounded his fist against his palm in subtle celebration to punctuate his night and a big win for his team. Full story | Highlight: Downs cracks third long ball | Watch game
Paige Schector is an editor for MiLB.com.