Sporting a record of 34 wins and 8 losses over their last 42 games, the High Desert Mavericks -- who won the first half title in a one game playoff of sorts -- clinched the 2nd half division title last night. The Mavs, who had a 37 and 33 record in the first half, are now 42 and 17 in the 2nd half, the best record in the 10-team California League by nine games. Their overall season record of 79-50 is the best in the league by 10 games.
Their resounding success in the 2nd half has been largely tied to some of the better prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization. Closer Carson Smith -- a hard throwing right-handed reliever that was selected by the M's in the 8th round of the 2011 draft -- is a perfect 14 for 14 in save opportunities since the break, shutting opponents down to the tune of a .172 average against, a 0.64 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings of work. He's had help in the bullpen from fellow right-hander Tyler Burgoon, who is sporting a 1.01 ERA and .216 opponents' average of his own in 21 appearances. Left-handed starter Cameron Hobson, who started the year in Clinton and who had a 7.67 first half ERA in six starts for the Mavs, has won a league-best eight times in the second half, losing only once and posting a 3.99 ERA while allowing more than four earned runs only one time and pitching the second most innings of all pitchers in the league.
On offense, where the club really shines, the Mavericks were the benefactor of the Mariners trade of Brandon League, landing center fielder Leon Landry, who played for their Southern Division rival Rancho Cucamonga up until the deadline. Landry has hit .407/.433/.725, scoring 24 runs and driving in 25 in 21 games since joining the club on August 1st, stepping in and filling some of the gap left by the departures for Double-A of Stefen Romero and Brad Miller. Also shining for the club in the 2nd half are 3B/2B Steven Proscia and outfielder James Jones, who have both hit .336 since the break. Proscia has 15 HR and 59 RBI -- 2nd best in the league -- in 52 games in the 2nd half and leads all minor leaguers in the organization in HR (26) and RBI (99) on the season. Jones -- a notoriously slow starter during his minor league tenure with the M's -- has 29 extra base hits and a team best 31 walks and 17 steals on his 2nd half ledger. 1B Mickey Wiswall has also turned in a strong second half, hitting .330/.380/.531 with 10 HR and 52 RBI.
The Mavericks have 11 games left in their regular season and with a pitching rotation featuring lefties Hobson and Roenis Elias -- who leads the club in most pitching categories on the year -- and a powerful offense that will be getting Jack Marder back for the playoffs, they figure to be the favorites once the post-season starts.