Dunedin, Palm Beach become FSL co-champions

September 7th, 2017

The Florida State League postseason ended earlier than usual this year due to the imminent threat of Hurricane Irma, though not before an exciting final day that saw Dunedin and Palm Beach win the North and South Divisions, respectively, en route to FSL co-champion honors.
Instead of following the standard playoff format, Minor League baseball announced Tuesday that this year's FSL champions would be decided by the best-of-three Division series, with Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) to be played Wednesday, and the winners of the North and South Divisions to be named co-champions.
The North matchup between Dunedin and Tampa was the lone series to go three games and proved especially exciting for that reason, as Dunedin rebounded from a Game 1 loss on Tuesday to win both games on Wednesday to take the series, 2-1, and secure their share of the FSL crown.

Starting on the mound in a must-win Game 2, Blue Jays No. 19 prospect Jordan Romano delivered 6 2/3 quality innings, allowing one earned run on five hits and one walk to lead Dunedin past Tampa, 4-1.
Game 2 box score
MLBPipeline.com No. 5 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) paced the offense with his second straight multi-hit performance, going 3-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored, and second baseman Cavan Biggio also connected on a home run en route to a three-RBI game.
The nightcap saw the two teams play to a 2-2 tie until the top of the ninth inning, when Dunedin erupted to score three runs on three hits and two walks. Tampa scored one of their own in the bottom of the frame, but it was not enough as the Blue Jays won the decisive Game 3, 5-3.
Outfielder Jake Thomas delivered the go-ahead hit in the frame with a two-out, two-run single to center field, and D.J. Davis followed with a run-scoring double to extend the lead. Prior to that, Connor Panas had accounted for both Blue Jays runs in the game with a pair of solo homers, giving him three postseason home runs in as many games.
Dunedin received another strong performance from its starting pitcher, as right-hander T.J. Zeuch (Blue Jays' No. 6) allowed one unearned run while firing four innings of one-hit ball with one walk and one strikeout. The 22-year-old right-hander recorded seven of his 12 outs via ground balls, throwing 31 of his 50 pitches in the outing.
Game 3 box score
No. 88 overall prospect Estevan Florial (Yankees' No. 4) was a series standout for Tampa, as he went 4-for-10 with a home run, a triple and three walks while scoring three runs in the three-game set.
On the other side of league, Palm Beach completed its sweep of Fort Myers in walk-off fashion, pushing across a run on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the ninth to win Game 2, 3-2, and secure a share of FSL title.
Game 2 box score
Blake Drake started the rally with a one-out walk and promptly advanced to second base on Shane Billings' single to right field. Fort Myers opted to walk next batter, Cardinals leadoff hitter and shortstop Jose Martinez, to load the bases ahead of Thomas Sptiz, who recorded the game-winning RBI when he was hit with the fifth pitch in his at-bat.
Palm Beach, like Dunedin, received a pair of impressive pitching performances in the series, with Cardinals No. 16 prospect Jake Woodford earning the win in Game 1 behind six innings of one-run ball on Tuesday, and No. 20 prospect Connor Jones following his lead on Wednesday.
Jones, a 22-year-old righty, permitted one unearned run on two hits over six innings. The 2016 second-rounder threw 40 of his 66 pitches for strikes, issuing two walks and striking out four.
Both main cogs in Palm Beach's rotation during the regular season, Woodford and Jones combined to record 16 wins while making 43 starts. Woodford, 20, was particularly good, posting a 3.10 ERA, the best mark among qualified hurlers in the FSL, in 119 innings (23 games/21 starts), while Jones finished the year with a 3.97 ERA over 120 frames (25 games/22 starts).