A lot of things have changed since the last time the Cannons made the playoffs, including the team's name and a couple of different major league affiliates.

But now, as they sit atop the Class A Carolina League's Northern Division, Potomac, a Reds' affiliate, is in position to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

Although there are still several weeks left in the league's first half, Potomac will have the division lead once June begins. That may not seem like a big deal, but it would be a major accomplishment for a club that hasn't finished over .500 for a half season since 1998, when it went 43-27 in the second half.

In 1995, when the Cannons last won their division and reached the postseason, they were still known as the Prince William Cannons. Back then they were part of the Chicago White Sox farm system, and they've been through an affiliation with the St. Louis Cardinals and a lot of losing seasons ever since. Potomac's track record is particularly poor considering four of the league's eight teams can reach the postseason -- the division first-half winners face the second-half winners in a league semifinal.

Center fielder Chris Denorfia played on last season's 62-77 team, but he has been a big part of the turnaround this year.

"I know it would mean a lot to the boosters and a lot of the fans if we can get to the playoffs," said Denorfia, the team's leading hitter (.312) through Sunday's loss. "We check the standings every day, we look at what other teams are doing. A feeling is starting to grow in the locker room that we really have a shot at winning the division."

* BLANCO POWERS ON: Tony Blanco still leads the Carolina League in home runs with 15 after he hit a pair in Thursday's 7-4 win against Salem. The Cannons' first baseman has hit more homers than the entire Wilmington team (14).

He has hit almost a third of Potomac's 48 home runs as a team. Only three other players have reached double-digit home runs in the Carolina League.