On the farm, making the playoffs not a minor matter

Posted: August 26, 2013

ALLENTOWN, N.J. - The main reason for having an extensive minor-league system is obviously to develop players. But that doesn't mean teams don't think it's important to field winning squads that compete in the postseason.

And when minor-league teams make the playoffs it provides extra benefits for the development of young players. Lehigh Valley entered the weekend 31/2 games out of a wild-card playoff spot in the triple-A International League and four games out of first place in its division with 12 games left to play.

If the IronPigs make the postseason, that not only gets their own players more experience under pressure, but it could enable others from the lower levels to compete as well.

"Anyone who says it's not important to make the playoffs is wrong," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies director of player development. "It's not the most important thing, but hopefully as we prepare these guys and develop them, in time I think it is more of an issue."

Lehigh Valley first-year manager Dave Brundage, who led the Atlanta Braves triple-A Richmond team to the 2007 International League championship, said the players' focus and intensity goes up another level when there is a playoff berth at stake.

"At this time of year we understand the importance of everything, and everything kind of gets magnified," he said.

And it makes what could be a drab end of the season that much more exciting.

Lehigh Valley catcher Cameron Rupp put it best when talking about what it would mean to earn a playoff spot.

"When you are fighting for a playoff spot the way we are, the focus every day is to do what you can to help the IronPigs win," Rupp said.

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