Published Monday, September 9, 2013 AT 11:30 PM / Updated at 11:30 PM
PCL Championship: Players to watch
Rob White Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA
LHP Chris Dwyer: Dwyer (10-11) finished sixth in ERA (3.55), tied for fifth in wins, tied for second in starts, third in innings pitched (1592⁄3) and third among starters with a .234 opponent batting average. He turned in a strong, clutch outing in a must-win game his last time out, Sept. 1, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven in six innings to beat Round Rock, though he walked a season-high seven.

RHP Yordano Ventura: Suspended less than an hour before the start of Game 1 of the Oklahoma City series for a still-unspecified violation of team rules, the hard-throwing Ventura — like Dwyer — will be well-rested before taking the mound in Game 2 against Salt Lake: his last outing was Aug. 29 at Iowa. After allowing three earned runs in 26 innings (1.04 ERA) in a five-start stretch, Ventura gave up 10 earned runs in 16 1⁄3 innings (5.51 ERA) in his last three.

RHP Michael Mariot: Though Omaha never completely designates one pitcher as its “closer” under manager Mike Jirschele, Mariot is as close at it gets right now. The former Nebraska pitcher is on a roll, ending the regular season with a streak of 21 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He followed that up with three more scoreless innings for the save in the opening game against Oklahoma City.

OF Lane Adams: Called up from Class AA Northwest Arkansas only after the regular season ended, the left fielder injected spark into the Omaha offense by hitting .273 (3 for 11) with a triple and scoring three runs. His speed led to one infield hit and a throwing error, plus a stolen base and two more errors — one on a pickoff attempt and another on a wild throw by the catcher.

C Mitch Canham: With the strong-armed Manny Pina still questionable for the series, the veteran Canham could continue as the Chasers’ everyday catcher. The 28-year-old, a star on Oregon State’s CWS championship teams, hit .265 while playing mostly at Northwest Arkansas but also in two brief stints with Omaha, and posted a solid .365 on-base percentage.

SALT LAKE
1B Efren Navarro: The All-PCL first baseman finished fifth in the league with a .326 average while hitting a league-high 39 doubles and ranking fourth with a .404 on-base percentage. He had a strong playoff series against Las Vegas, hitting .636 (7 for 11) with six walks for a .722 on-base percentage as the Bees won 3 of 4. Navarro, 27, is a .312 hitter in three Class AAA seasons who played briefly in the majors in 2011.

RHP Tommy Hanson: Game 2 starter opened the season in the Angels’ rotation after offseason trade with the Braves, for whom he was 45-32 with a 3.61 ERA in four seasons. He was eventually optioned to Class AAA in August after going 4-3 with a 5.59 ERA in 13 big-league starts. He was 0-2 with a 5.49 ERA in four starts for the Bees, then gave up three runs in six innings for a no-decision in his Game 2 start against Las Vegas.

RHP Billy Buckner: Back in 2007, Buckner was an up-and-coming Omaha Royals prospect who went 9-7 with a 3.78 ERA before eventually moving up to the majors with Kansas City. Now 30, he’s gone up and down a couple of times with the Angels this year, clearing waivers and returning to Salt Lake. He went 1-0 with a 4.67 ERA in 17 1⁄3 big-league innings and is 7-4 with a 4.87 ERA in Class AAA.

3B Andy Marte: Perennial prospect never matched colossal expectations — he never played more than 81 games in six big-league seasons (none since 2010) — while hitting .218. But he hit .362 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 26 games with Salt Lake and went 4 for 5 to help the Bees win Game 2 against Las Vegas — but he didn’t appear the rest of the series, reportedly with a shoulder injury.

2B Matt Long: Long hit .287 with 11 homers, 52 RBIs, 17 steals and a .371 OBP. Long, 26, was a 30th-round pick out of Santa Clara in 2009. He started this season in Class AA and has hit a combined .293 with 14 homers, 71 RBIs and 20 steals.

SCHEDULE
Game 1: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Salt Lake RH Matt Shoemaker (11-13, 4.64 ERA) at Omaha LH Chris Dwyer (10-11, 3.55)
Game 2: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Salt Lake RH Tommy Hanson (0-2, 5.49) at Omaha RH Yordano Ventura (5-4, 3.74)
Game 3: 7:35 p.m. Friday, Omaha LH Justin Marks (6-13, 4.58) at Salt Lake RH Jarrett Grube (7-5, 4.47)
Game 4: 6:35 p.m. Saturday, Omaha RH Brian Sanches (10-3, 3.20) at Salt Lake RH Billy Buckner (7-4, 4.87), if necessary
Game 5: 2:05 p.m. Sunday, Omaha LH Chris Dwyer (Game 1 starter) at Salt Lake RH Matt Shoemaker (Game 1 starter), if necessary

About Rob White

Rob White is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers UNO and the Omaha Storm Chasers. You can follow Rob on Twitter (@RWhiteOWH) or email him at rob.white@owh.com.