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Luhnow has high praise for Lancaster club

HOUSTON -- The Astros have one Minor League affiliate in the playoffs after Class A Lancaster won the first-half title of the California League's South Division with a 16-3 win over Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday.

The JetHawks will have a first-round bye in September before facing the winner of the South Division miniseries in the best-of-five South Division finals. The feat marks the sixth time the JetHawks have won a first-half title in franchise history and the first time they've won back-to-back first halves since 2007 and 2008 as a Red Sox affiliate.

General manager Jeff Luhnow said that Lancaster has the most talent he's seen on a Minor League team. The JetHawks feature former No. 1 picks Carlos Correa and Mark Appel and other top prospects, such as third baseman Rio Ruiz, who hit a grand slam on Wednesday. Danry Vasquez went 5-for-5 as well.

"In my 12 years of doing this, I have not seen a team that's stacked with talent that plays together as a team like this team does," Luhnow said.

When Luhnow was with the Cardinals, the 2006 team at Class A Quad Cities featured future Major Leaguers Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, Jaime Garcia, Chris Perez and Jason Motte. The 2009 Memphis team that won the Pacific Coast League had Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Jay, Brett Wallace, Lance Lynn, Garcia and Mitchell Boggs.

Luhnow says the Lancaster club could have more big league impact players than those clubs.

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