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This Week in the Minors: Naturals headed to the playoffs

It took until the final game of the season, but Northwest Arkansas punched a ticket to the postseason. Omaha, Wilmington, and Lexington are all wrapped up for 2016.

Eric Skoglund (left) and Ryan O'Hearn celebrate their 11th-hour playoff berth.
Eric Skoglund (left) and Ryan O'Hearn celebrate their 11th-hour playoff berth.
Eric Skoglund | Ryan O'Hearn

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. Today, we cover the final week of play for everyone except the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, who made the playoffs.

So the Naturals are going to the playoffs.

A photo posted by Ryan O'Hearn (@brohearn) on

We've mentioned previously that the division race was a tight one, and sure enough, it came down to the final game. With an 8-0 win over Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas advanced and will begin the playoffs tomorrow night at Springfield.

For making the playoffs, the Naturals get to move to the top of the column.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (65-75 overall; 36-34 in 2nd half)

schedule | roster

Four Naturals rained down hits all week: Third baseman Mauricio Ramos with 15 (!!) hits; first baseman Frank Schwindel with 13; shortstop Humberto Arteaga with 12 including three doubles and two triples; and left fielder Ryan O'Hearn with 11, including a double and two home runs.

One of Schwindel's hits was a walkoff single in the 11th inning on Wednesday, just four innings after he made a diving catch on a bunt to start a triple play.

Josh Staumont pitched six scoreless innings yesterday, and achieved this neat distinction by striking out a dozen Travelers:

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (58-82)

schedule | roster

Outfielder Brandon Downes made his Triple-A debut this week, and collected hits in three of his first four starts with Omaha. Downes was a 7th-rounder in the 2014 from the University of Virginia, and will turn 24 at the end of this month.

Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio finished the season with a 3-hit game, and a 10-hit week.

RHP Alec Mills, 24, had a great start spoiled on Friday. He pitched six shutout innings, allowing just one walk and three hits. He also struck out nine, his highest total in a dozen games as a Storm Chaser. However, Kris Medlen came on to relieve Mills as part of his rehab assignment, and immediately coughed up four runs.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (54-84 overall; 27-42 in 2nd half)

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Third baseman Mike Hill had a doubles streak going prior to the final game -- six of his seven hits for the week had been for two bases. Yesterday, he had three more hits, but all were singles.

Infielder John Brontsema made his High-A debut this week, after spending the summer in rookie ball. Brontsema was drafted out of UC Irvine in the 26th round this year.

RHP Corey Ray struck out nine in 5.2 innings on Sunday, with two walks, six hits and two runs surrendered.

A Lexington Legends (52-87 overall; 27-43 in 2nd half)

schedule | roster

First baseman Brandon Dulin socked two dingers in his final week at the plate, bringing his season total to eight in 69 games between rookie level Idaho Falls and Lexington. Dulin is from Lee's Summit, and was drafted out of Longview Community College in KC in 2013.

Julio Pinto, a 20-year-old RHP from Venezuela, finished his season with his best game of the year. He pitched six shutout innings on Friday, allowing just one hit and two walks. He struck out seven, a season high. Kansas City's top draft pick this summer, A.J. Puckett, pitched five scoreless innings, four strikeouts, no walks, and only two hits allowed. Lefty Emilio Ogando struck out eight and walked two in six innings.

Right-handed reliever Gabe Cramer, a product of Stanford University, shut out opponents in all three of his appearances this week.