The Daytona Cubs of the 2000’s have been for the Florida State League what the New York Yankees of the 1950’s were for the majors,and Tuesday night was no exception. Hosting Dunedin in the first Florida State League playoff matchup of the year, the Cubs, who have won four of the last seven FSL titles, routed the Blue Jays 11-1. Fourth overall pick Kyle Schwarber homered and drove in four to back up a strong six inning, one run performance by Rob Zastryzny as Daytona put the game out of reach 9-0 in the fourth.
Dunedin (71-66), first-half winners the FSL North Division continue their three game series with Daytona (67-69), the second half champs, Wednesday night in Dunedin. If necessary, game three will take place Thursday night in Dunedin.
The winner of the series will take on the victor in the South Division competition, which also began Tuesday night, to much more riveting results.
Fort Myers (82-57), the Twins affiliate and winners of the first half South Division title, travelled to take on Bradenton (78-61), the Pirate’s affiliate and second half winners. With Bradenton’s Tyler Glasnow and his league leading 1.74 ERA facing off against Brett Lee (2.45 ERA) of Fort Myers, a pitchers duel was expected. By the end of the second inning, Bradenton held a 7-3 lead. By the fourth, the game was tied 7-7. Bythe sixth, Fort Myers had taken an 8-7 lead, which held for the remainder of the game.
Glasnow did his usual, striking out the opposition with a heater that touches the upper 90’s, but as he missed bats, he also missed the strike zone. The 22 year old right-hander ultimately left with after 3 innings with eight strikeouts but also six earned runs allowed and six walks issued.
Lee, meanwhile, fell victim to his own defense. With two outs and Bradenton’s Eric Wood on second, Lee got Justin Maffei to hit an easy out to shortstop Aderlin Mejia, only to see him miff the ball, allowing Maffei to reach. A double, a single, and then two more fielding errors – both by third baseman Nick Goodrum. Before the end of the inning, Lee was out of the game, having allowed 7 unearned runs to score.
The two clubs head over to Fort Myers for game two of the series Wednesday night. In the event of a Bradenton win, the rubber match will be played there Thursday night.
Before the games began monday, the Florida State League announced its award winners: a Player of the year (MVP), a pitcher of the year (Cy Young), and the post-season All Star team. Pirate Fans should be quite familiar with this year honorees.
MVP: Josh Bell earned a promotion in July and consequently played only 84 games in the Florida State League, but his play in that short sample was strong enough to beat out contenders with full seasons on their ledgers. Bell, the No. 32 prospect in baseball, per MLB.com, paced the circuit by wide margins with a .335 average, 19 points higher than the runner up, a .502 slugging percentage, 44 points higher, and an .886 OPS, 70 points higher. Though his power vanished with his promotion, while in the FSL, the Bradenton third baseman collected nine home runs, 20 doubles, four triples and 53 RBIs.
Cy Young: While Bell is Pittsburgh’s top hitting prospect, Tyler Glasnow is the team’s top minor league hurler, and he proved it this year in the Florida State League. The former fifth round pick led the league with a 1.74 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, finishing second in strikeouts (157) and third in wins (12). His strong play earned him the 19th slot on MLB.com’s prospect rankings.
All Star Team.
Justin O’Connor (Carlotte) – One of this year’s breakout prospects, O’Connor slugged .482 with 10 home runs and 31 doubles in 80 games for Charlotte. A first round pick from 2010, O’Connor struggled in his first few professional seasons but ranks as the Rays’ 14th prospect after his strong 2014.
1B Viosergy Rosa (Jupiter) – 24 and a bit old for High-A, the Marlins first base prospect finished second in the FSL with 78 RBIs, to go along with a .291/.355/.439 line. He was promoted to Double-A on August 12th.
2B Gloskar Amaya (Daytona) – A plus runner with good defense at second, the 20 year old Cubs prospect quietly had a strong season at the plate, with a .379 on base percentage, 14 stolen bases, and a .747 OPS.
SS Leonardo Reginatto (Charlotte) – The Brazil native continued his trend of hitting for average and little else. With a .316 average, Reginatto finished as the runner up to the batting title, but didn’t homer and collected just 16 doubles.
3B Colin Moran (Jupiter) – Traded to Houston at the trade deadline and promptly promoted to Double-A, Moran played only 89 games but made the most of it, with a .294 average and 21 doubles.
UT INF Nathan Orf (Brevard County) – After signing with Milwaukee as a an undrafted free agent last year, Orf played nothing but second base for the 2013 season. This year, he has defined the word “utility,” playing at all nine – yes, nine, including pitcher, – positions on the diamond. He enjoyed a strong season at the plate as well, finishing second the in the league with a .388 on base percentage and hitting 30 doubles.
LF Jake Cave (Tampa) – The 21 year Yankees prospect hit .304 with a .354 on base percentage in 90 games before earning a promotion to Double-A Trenton.
CF Charlie Tilson (Palm Beach) – A shoulder injury sidelined a teenage Tilson for his first professional season in 2012, but he has had a returned strong. The Cardinals’ 7th best prospect hit .303 in Class-A Peoria last year before posting a .308/.357/.418 slash line with a league leading 8 triples for Palm Beach. He moved up to Double-A Springfield in July.
RF Josh Bell (Bradenton) - The circuit’s player of the year led the league in slugging, average, and OPS as he moved into the upper echelon of baseball prospects.
OF Dwight Smith Jr. (Dunedin) – 21 year old Jays prospect posted near identical .284 average and .365 on base percentage as last year, but tacked on some power, slugging .453 with 46 extra base hits.
Adam Brett Walker (Fort Myers) – The circuit’s home run king with 25 has as much raw power as any player in the Twins’ system not named Miguel Sano.
Jose Berrios (Fort Myers) – The six foot, 187 pound Berrios is doing his best prove the conventional wisdom about undersized right-handers wrong. The Twins’ 2012 first round pick went 9-3 with a 1.96 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 96 1/3 innings before getting the call from Double-A New Britain.
Taylor Cole (Dunedin)- One of professional baseball’s biggest surprises, Cole upped the velocity of his fastball and began missing bats like Aroldis Chapman. The Jays prospect led all of minor league baseball with 181 strikeouts, 171 of which came in the FSL, and finished fifth in the circuit with a 3.07 ERA.
Tyler Glasnow (Bradenton – The Pitcher of the Year award winner and the most highly ranked prospect still playing in the FSL led the league in ERA and finished second to Cole in strikeouts.
Angel Nesbitt (Lakeland) – Tigers prospect allowed just 3 runs in 34.1 innings, striking out 36 and collecting 19 saves before moving up Double-A Erie.
Arik Sikula (Dunedin) – The FSL saves leader with 36, Sikula, also boasts a 1.60 ERA and 60 strikeouts to just 8 walks in 43 1/3 innings.