Magical year for Sox Double-A squad
Despite promotions, Birmingham dominated opposition
SEATTLE -- Something special, baseball-wise, took place this season in Birmingham, Ala., where the White Sox Double-A affiliate is located.
That statement really could blanket the organization's complete lower-level performance, with Class A Kannapolis, Class A Winston-Salem and Great Falls all reaching the postseason. The White Sox stand as the only Major League parent squad to have four teams earn berths in the Minor League playoffs.
But if it was a good year overall, then the Barons really were tremendous. Try an amazing 92-47 overall record, 10 1/2 games better than Jacksonville, who finished 24 games over .500.
This team exhibited such dominance that a few talented players who eventually were promoted to the White Sox had thoughts cross their mind about staying and fighting for a Southern League title. And remember, the ultimate goal of any Minor Leaguer is to continue to advance.
"Everybody kind of left, and I was surprised," said White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham, who began the season with the Barons, but now has emerged as a prime 2009 American League Rookie of the Year candidate. "I figured they would want to keep that team together."
"When I got moved up, I actually thought it would be cool to stay down there and win a championship," said White Sox hurler Daniel Hudson with a smile.
Hudson posted a 7-0 record with a 1.60 ERA over nine starts with the Barons. Beckham hit .299 with four home runs and 22 RBIs during his 38-game stint in Birmingham.
Other players who played for the Barons and are currently located on Major League rosters include Tyler Flowers, Jhonny Nunez, Aaron Poreda (Padres) and Brandon Allen (D-backs).
"They still won without a lot of those players, which shows the organization has some good players down there," Beckham said.
Birmingham ultimately was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. But remaining talent such as Jordan Danks, Dayan Viciedo (.280, 78 RBIs) and John Ely (14-2, 2.82 ERA) give the White Sox a solid future base with the former Barons who already have arrived.
"At the start of the year, there were like seven of the top 10 prospects in the organization there," Hudson said. "With that many prospects and to have that many guys in the big leagues at some point, you know you're pretty good."
"It seemed like every game we played, we were going to come back and win in the end or blow them out," Beckham said. "It was a good experience for me. It was fun to play on that team."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.