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Astros affiliates having banner seasons

CHICAGO -- The improvements the Astros have made in recent years in terms of adding talent to their Minor League system has been evident on the field. Oklahoma City, the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, clinched the Pacific Coast League Southern Division title on Tuesday with a win over Nashville.

The RedHawks join Double-A Corpus Christi, Class A Lancaster and Class A Quad Cities as Astros affiliates that have clinched playoff berths. What's more, short-season Tri-City and rookie league Greeneville are currently in first place, meaning the Astros could have six playoff clubs.

"It's an incredible step forward for the organization," Astros director of player development Quinton McCracken said. "First and foremost, it's a testament to the players themselves. Then you have to go to the coaches and the front office for accumulating the talent, starting with [former general manager] Ed Wade and some of the shrewd moves they made in the years prior, and then [current GM] Jeff Luhnow and the new front office and scouts for acquiring and developing talent.

"Kudos go the players for buying into the system, buying into our developmental plans for each and every one of them, and going out and working hard to get better on a daily basis. They're playing good, sound fundamental baseball, and we're seeing good results while we're developing players."

The Astros' combined Minor League record of 458-340 (.574) entering Wednesday was tops in baseball. Last year, the Astros had the top combined winning percentage among domestic Minor League clubs after being last overall in both 2010 and '11.

Oklahoma City will play the winner of the American Northern Division in a best-of-five series, starting Sept. 4-5 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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