Pipeline preview: Pair of championship series on deck

Fight for Carolina, Northwest leagues to get underway on Saturday

Pipeline preview: Pair of championship series on deck

As playoff baseball continues across the Minor Leagues this weekend, the championship series will begin Saturday in two circuits.

In the Carolina League, Class A Advanced Potomac will travel to Myrtle Beach for Game 1 of the best-of-five Mills Cup series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Later in the evening, across the continent, the Northwest League championship series will get under way with Vancouver hosting Hillsboro in the best-of-three series. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET.

Potomac defeated Lynchburg in two games in the semifinals, advancing to the championship series for the second year in a row. After getting swept by Salem last year, Potomac is seeking its first championship since 2010. Its roster features catcher Pedro Severino and second baseman Tony Renda, the Nationals' Nos. 12 and 18 prospects.

Renda was named to the league's post-season All-Star team last week after hitting .307/.381/.377 with 19 stolen bases in 107 games. He won the Carolina League batting title and finished fourth with 127 hits, despite spending a month on the disabled list in the first half due to a right quad strain.

Severino played most of the year as a 20-year old, celebrating his 21st birthday on July 20. He threw out 36 percent of would-be basestealers and hit .247/.306/.399 with nine home runs in 94 games.

Myrtle Beach needed three games to dispatch Salem, winning the decisive game Friday, 5-0. Its victory set up a rematch of the 2008 Mills Cup, which Potomac won in four games. The Pelicans have not returned to the championship series since and are seeking their first title since 2000.

Myrtle Beach's lineup underwent significant changes in the second half of the season, as the Rangers promoted several prospects to Double-A Frisco. While catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielders Nick Williams and Nomar Mazara have moved up in recent weeks, the Pelicans lineup still features center fielder Lewis Brinson, the Rangers' No. 8 prospect. The 20-year old hit .288/.354/.458 with 13 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 89 games between Class A Hickory and Myrtle Beach this season.

In the Northwest League championship series, Vancouver is looking to win its fourth consecutive title. Hillsboro, meanwhile, is in just its second year since moving from Yakima. The Hops won both the first and second half South Division championships and enter the weekend on a six-game winning streak.

During the regular season, the Canadians pitching staff was led by left-hander Jairo Labourt, who won the Northwest League ERA title with a 1.77 mark in 15 starts. But the Blue Jays' No. 16 prospect pitched the Canadians to the finals Thursday night, making him unavailable to start this weekend.

Vancouver's offense is led by 18-year old infielders Franklin Barretto and Richard Urena, the Blue Jays' Nos. 8 and 19 prospects. Barretto hit .311/.384/.481 with six home runs and 29 stolen bases in 73 games this season. Urena spent most of the regular season with Rookie-level Bluefield, moving up to Vancouver in late August for the playoff push. He hit .308/.354/.424 with two home runs and six stolen bases in 62 games between the two levels.

Hillsboro features Stryker Trahan, the D-backs' No. 15 prospect. The 20-year old began the season with Class A South Bend, but moved to Hillsboro in July after hitting .198/.264/.367 with 13 home runs in 95 games in the Midwest League. He performed better with Hillsboro, hitting .257/.344/.496 with six home runs in 30 games. He also has returned to catching part-time, after exclusively playing the outfield for the first time in his career in South Bend.

Saturday's Minor League playoff schedule is also highlighted by Game 3 of the Florida State League championship series. Class A Advanced Fort Myers beat Daytona at home in the first two games of the best-of-five series at home and will be attempting to finish off the sweep as the series moves across the state to Daytona. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Top prospect probables
Aaron Blair (D-backs' No. 4), Mobile at Jacksonville
Grant Holmes (Dodgers' No. 4), Ogden at Orem
Nate Karns (Rays' No. 15), Durham vs. Columbus
Antonio Senzatela (Rockies' No. 20), Asheville at Savannah
Chris Stratton (Giants' No. 8), Richmond vs. Akron
Jake Thompson (Rangers' No. 6), Frisco at Midland
Vincent Velasquez (Astros' No. 8), Lancaster vs. Inland Empire
Logan Verrett (Mets' No. 19), Las Vegas at Reno

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.