There has been a noticeable lack of minor league coverage on this site considering two of the Rays’ affiliates are in the playoffs. This obviously annoyed Mitch Talbot and Evan Longoria. On Saturday night, the two of them got together and realized that being up 2 games to none in a best-of-five series was not good enough and decided to take it up a level. So what did they do to get our attention? Talbot, the Rays minor league pitcher of the month for August, pitched a complete game 5-hit shutout. Not enough to impress us? Also consider he struck out 14 (!) and walked none (!!). Not bad for a playoff game. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Longoria came through with his half, hitting a 2-out, 2-run walk-off home run to complete the series sweep.

Still, it was Talbot’s performance that has us completely in awe. Remember, this is the “other” guy in the trade that sent Aubrey Huff to Houston. All of the sudden this trade is looking decidedly one-sided. Huff is a free agent to be and Houston is still on the outside of the playoff chase. Ben Zobrist has already been promoted to majors and is looking like he can be a very dependable major league player for years to come. Talbot came to the Rays with mixed reviews. He was decent with Corpus Christi the first half of the season, but there was no indication that he would be the pitcher that he has been in the second half for Montgomery. Including his playoff start, Tobot is now 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA in 11 starts since the trade. Baseball is a long season and the advancement to the majors is a long process so we find it hard to imagine that there will ever be very many games that could cause a player to jump significantly in our Trade Value Index. However, Mitch Talbot’s performance on Saturday is one of those rare games. To step up like that in a playoff game and so thoroughly dominate a good team is an amazing accomplishment.

Montgomery will now face Huntsville in the best-of-5 championship series starting Wednesday.

The Devil Rays’ other minor league playoff team is the Visalia Oaks. After losing their opening game in convincing fashion, the Oaks came back and won the next two games to win the best-of-3 series against Stockton in the first round of the California League playoffs. The Oaks are now facing the San Jose Giants in the championship round. They lost the opener 3-2 on Friday, but rebounded on Saturday to even the series with a 4-2 win. The series now moves to Visalia tonight for game 3 and tomorrow for game 4.



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