Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's kind of dumb that minor league baseball has playoffs (as illustrated by Rusney Castillo)

I get why they are a necessary occurrence.  It's how sports works, and you need to have some sort of meaningful conclusion to the season.  However, MLB's September 1 roster expansion (from 25 to 40) makes the minor league playoffs a bit of a joke.  This year's Triple-A postseason began on September 3, two days after many clubs had just been pillaged of their best players.  What's the point of determining a champion among teams that aren't even using the same guys they did all season?

Nothing brings to light the flaw of holding minor league playoffs quite like the path of Rusney Castillo.  The Red Sox signed the Cuban outfielder (who by all accounts is already a major league quality player, possibly even a star) on August 22.

Castillo played his first professional game in the U.S. on August 31, for the Rookie ball Gulf Coast League Red Sox.  It was the second matchup of a best of three playoff series against the GCL Yankees for the league title.  With Castillo in the lineup the GCL Sox lost that day, but won the next game to capture the championship.

The GCL season now over, Castillo joined the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs for Game 1 of their opening-round Eastern League playoff tilt with the Binghampton Mets.  He played in four of the five contests, with the Sea Dogs dropping the series 3-2.

With no more Double-A games to play, Castillo moved up to Triple-A Pawtucket last night for Game 1 of the International League finals (known as the Governors' Cup) vs the Durham Bulls.  He went 1-for-4 in a 3-2 Paw Sox victory, and could well end up leading them to a league championship.  Win or lose, when Pawtucket's season is over Castillo will likely join the Red Sox.

Castillo is 7-for-23 (.304) in seven career minor league appearances, none of which came in the regular season.  He's taken part in the postseason of three different leagues.  If that doesn't bring the integrity of minor league playoffs into question, what does?

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