Luke Erickson: Are any Nats affiliates playoff bound?

If you've been following the Nationals' minors closely (*ahem*), you'd know this ranges from virtually impossible (DSL Nats, Syracuse) to almost laughable (Potomac, Harrisburg, Auburn; all in last place by several games).

Two of the affiliates, however, are in contention. If you're one to bring the tartar sauce while going after your white whale, you might make the argument that these two teams - the Gulf Coast League Nationals and the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns - are the ideal. The former has a lot of guys just entering pro ball (or leaving their home country), the latter is populated with a lot of guys playing a full season for the first time.

Don't call me Ishmael, but I do think playoff baseball in the minors has some value. Not for the affiliates, because they get a couple of extra gates. In fact, playoff games are often poorly attended because tickets can't go on sale until the last minute.

The benefit, in my opinion, is for the players. Playoff baseball is playoff baseball, no matter what the level is. Even in the minors, the intensity ratchets up and the games have a different rhythm and pace to them.

Winning may not be the goal in the minors, but there's something to be said for learning how to win (and how to fail) that fits that goal of development while experiencing just a little of the pressure that some of these players may feel later. Plus, for most of these players, it may be their only chance to play for a professional title in their careers.

Of course, that's presuming these two teams can hold on and/or finish first. Photo finishes are common in the Sally League and rain can often wreak havoc in the GCL, especially if it comes in the last week of August and time runs out to make up games.

Luke Erickson blogs about the Nationals' minor league affiliates for Follow him on Twitter: @nats_prospects. His thoughts on the Nationals' farm system will appear here as part of's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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