While the big league club has struggled in 2017, that hasn’t been the case for the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays, who were named the co-champion of the Florida State League on Wednesday night.
After losing a gut-wrenching Game 1 against the Tampa Yankees, the Dunedin Blue Jays had to win both games of a double header on Wednesday in order to win the best of three series. After a long day of baseball, the D-Jays were able to do just that, winning game 2 by a score of 4-1, and 5-3 in a nail-biter of a series finale. Dunedin will share the Florida State League Championship with the Palm Beach Cardinals, who won their series on Wednesday as well.
The Florida State League had to make a decision on how to handle their playoffs, as they’re location faces the imminent threat of hurricane Irma. Rather than re-locate or reschedule, the league decided to have a best of three semi-final, and name the winners of the North and South division as co-champions.
For the D-Jays, they got a key start from Jordan Romano in Game 2, as he tossed 6.2 innings and allowed just a single run on five hits and a walk. The bullpen took it from there and never allowed the Yankees back in the game.
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr was fresh off of being named ESPN’s top prospect in baseball on Wednesday, and put on a display to show fans why he was a strong choice for the honour. He went 3-4 in Game 1 with a home run, continuing his assault on FSL pitchers. He started the year in Low-A Lansing with the Lugnuts, but has actually ramped up his offensive output a bit more in Dunedin, still just 18 years old. Cavan Biggio also had a big game, with a home run and three RBI to force a third and deciding game.
The night cap was a tight 2-2 game until the ninth inning, when Jake Thomas came through with a two run single, and D.J. Davis followed with an RBI double to put the D-Jays up by a score of 5-2. Connor Pannas also hit a pair of solo shots to account for the other Dunedin runs. The Yankees made things interesting in the bottom half, but could only bring one runner around, closing the game with a 5-3 score, and a Blue Jays’ league championship.
While it’s unfortunate that the Blue Jays won’t get a chance to finish out the playoffs against the South Side champion Palm Beach Cardinals, it doesn’t take away from the accomplishment either. The team went 72-66 in the regular season, and has many bright stars including Guerrero, Biggio, Romano, Bo Bichette, Edward Olivares and many more. It’s unlikely we’ll see any of those names in the big leagues in 2018 (save for MAYBE a late cameo by Guerrero), but the future is a lot brighter on the farm than many fans realize.
The championship was also the first in Dunedin’s history with the Florida State League, which they have been a part of for 33 seasons. Congrats gentlemen!