Ex-Rainiers Battle In Playoffs; PCL News From Vegas

The playoff series with the most ex-Rainiers on the field came to an end last night, when the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If you watched just an inning or two of one of these games, chances are that you saw a former Tacoma player.

The Dodgers advance to the National League Championship Series, where they will face either the Washington Nationals or the Chicago Cubs. That means one-time Rainiers players Chris Taylor and Brandon Morrow will continue their playoff experiences.

Taylor has been batting leadoff for the Dodgers, and starting in center. Last night he doubled and scored a run in the series-clinching 3-1 victory.

Watching on TV, you can really see the swing change that Taylor implemented after being traded to the Dodgers by the Mariners during the 2016 season. He has a big uppercut now, and it seems to really be working for him.

Morrow was originally a Mariners draft pick back in 2006, and Seattle had a tough time determining if he was a starter or a reliever. After many role changes the M’s eventually traded him away, and he has kicked around from team to team while dealing with several injury issues. He’s now 33 years old, healthy, and throwing gas out of the Dodgers bullpen.

On the Arizona side, Ketel Marte played very well in the Diamondbacks four playoff games. He hit two triples in the NL Wild Card victory over Colorado, and then he was 4-for-12 with a homer in the three games against the Dodgers.

No such luck for Taijuan Walker, though. The former Rainiers and Mariners hurler started the opening game of the Division Series and survived just one inning, allowing four runs and taking the loss. He did throw very well down the stretch for the Diamondbacks and had a good season overall.

There are a few other former Tacoma players scattered around the remaining playoff teams. We’ll get to all of them later this week, once we are down to four teams.

We’ve got some PCL news, and it all involves Las Vegas.

The 51s are apparently getting closer to building a new ballpark in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin. They are close enough that they are negotiating to sell the stadium naming rights, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The article suggests the stadium will be done in 2019.

New stadium or not, the Las Vegas 51s will not be a New York Mets affiliate in 2019. The Mets announced that they are buying the Syracuse franchise of the International League, and they will make it their Triple-A affiliate in 2019. That means that Las Vegas will be one of several PCL teams expected to be looking for a new MLB affiliate after the 2018 season. If they get the stadium deal done, Vegas will suddenly be a very attractive option for the western MLB teams. The A’s and Padres immediately jump to mind as strong Vegas affiliation candidates.

The 2018 season will be the final year that the Mets will feed a team in the Pacific Coast League, and they have hired a PCL stalwart to manage the team. Tony DeFrancesco will skipper the Las Vegas 51s this coming season, and he’ll add to his totals as the PCL’s winningest manager in history. Tony D piloted the PCL to a win on the Triple-A All-Star Game at Cheney Stadium back in July.

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