Taylor Trammell‘s emphatic stomp on home plate at the end of a jubilant home run trot put both a literal and figurative final step on the Amarillo Sod Poodle’s improbable ninth inning comeback to claim the Texas League Championship. After a subsequent three-run blast by Hudson Potts, Amarillo claimed an 8-3 victory Sunday afternoon to grab the pennant in the franchise’s first year of existence.
Trammell, who turned 22 this week, launched a 2-2 fastball into the Tulsa bullpen for a go-ahead grand slam to lead the Sod Poodles all the way back from an 0-2 series deficit and from trailing 3-0 after seven innings.
The blast by Trammell, acquired from Cincinnati in a three-team trade that involved three big-leaguers in July, put an exclamation point on a stellar postseason in which he hit .310/.356/.643. Ranked among the game’s top outfield prospects, Trammell struggled in the weeks after the trade, but turned it on over the final three weeks of his campaign.
While Trammell’s heroics will certainly be what many remember from the first Padres affiliate Texas League champions since 2013, many contributed to the victory.
Aaron Leasher delivered four shutout innings in just his third appearance for Amarillo. The lefty, who joined the Soddies after a strong year with Lake Elsinore, came into Sunday’s contest having allowed 11 earned runs in seven innings between his one regular season appearance and a start that went sideways during the Midland series. The Padres’ sixth-rounder in 2017 retired the first six batters he faced, but had to work out of two-out jams in both the third and fourth frame. The Morehead State product worked a total of 131 innings on the year and should open the 2020 campaign back in the Panhandle.
Evan Miller capped off a strong run through the playoffs, picking up the win with a clean inning of work and two strikeouts. The righty allowed just one runner and struck out nine over 5.2 scoreless postseason innings. Miller didn’t make it out of Fort Wayne until this year, but the 2016 draftee broke out in the first half for Lake Elsinore. He was a solid contributor out of the Amarillo bullpen once he got promoted after appearing in the Cal League All-Star Game.
Lefty Travis Radke recorded the final out in the Sod Poodles’ campaign, getting a called third strike to finish a refreshingly boring bottom of the ninth inning. The 26-year-old, who worked 2.1 innings for the save Saturday, finished a year he began in Lake Elsinore by closing out three straight victories in the Texas League playoffs. A 25th-round pick out of Portland back in 2014, the Tommy John surgery alum has posted a 2.22 ERA since getting back to competition in 2017. The lefty with a plus over-the-top breaking ball and equally stellar facial hair did not allow a run in 6.1 playoff innings.
While the Soddies’ offense was held in check most of the day, Edward Olivares and Potts both finished the season with a flourish. Olivares, 23, went 4-for-5 on the day to end the playoffs with a 1.022 OPS. The talented outfielder was one of the club’s top contributors through the regular season, but had slumped in August. He’ll likely open his third year in the organization — and second on the 40-man roster — in El Paso next spring.
Potts, widely ranked among the Padres’ top 20 prospects coming into the year despite a rough stint in Amarillo at the end of his age 19 season last year, got off to a rough start again in 2019. But after three weeks on the injured list in June, the big corner infielder rebounded nicely, dropping his strikeout rate below 20% in August. With his 3-for-5 performance Sunday, including the monster three-run shot to left that capped Amarillo’s scoring, Potts finished the playoffs with a .256/.268/.462 line and just seven strikeouts in 41 plate appearances. While he still has to make improvements in pitch selection, the Texas native remains a key performer to watch in 2020.
Coverage Note: With the 2019 minor league season over, MadFriars turns to our offseason coverage. You’ll get level-by-level breakdowns, interviews with front office staff and affiliate broadcasters, and a look ahead before our individual and group top prospect lists. From all of us, THANK YOU for your continued support and making us part of your reading!