St. Lucie captures Florida State League crown
Mets 6, Blue Jays 3
The St. Lucie Mets needed an improbable home run to take Game 1 of the Florida State League Championship Series. In Game 2, they took full control of their destiny.
New York's Single-A affiliate took home a league title for the first time since 2006, defeating Dunedin, 6-3, at Clover Park to cap off a 4-0 playoff run. The Mets also swept the Blue Jays in the FSL Finals for the crown 16 years ago, during another undefeated run through the playoffs.
"I feel completely honored to be a part of this group," St. Lucie manager Robbie Robinson said. "With all the turnover that we've had and everything that we've accomplished over the year, we maintained a steady record. ... To have this Draft group come in and buy into the winning mentality and do their thing is a really special moment with everyone." Full story »
Mets 6, Blue Jays 5
If there was anyone St. Lucie could have counted on to hit a homer when they needed one, it was Carlos Dominguez.
The 22-year-old led the club with 20 dingers in the regular season, so it wasn't a big surprise when he smacked a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth inning to move the Mets within a victory of their first league title since 2006. With Kevin Parada standing at first base and two away, Dominguez took a big rip at the first pitch of his at-bat and swung through the outside pitch.
On his next swing, he didn't miss, crushing the 0-1 offering to center field.
It was the only long ball of the game for St. Lucie, which used four singles to score its other four runs of the contest. It was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams scoring twice in the first frame before a single by Tanner Murphy gave the Mets a lead in the third.
Cade Doughty answered with a two-run homer to put Dunedin back on top. Josh Kasevich made it a 5-3 game with an RBI single in the fourth, but St. Lucie began rallying in the seventh. Parada knocked in a run to cut the deficit in half before Dominguez worked his magic two frames later.
Righty Raimon Gomez tossed 3 2/3 perfect innings in relief to shut the door for the Mets. Box score
Blue Jays 3, Mighty Mussels 1
Dunedin took an early lead and never looked back in decisive Game 3 of the FSL West Division semifinals, advancing to the best-of-3 Championship Series against East Division winner St. Lucie.
Toronto catching prospect Victor Mesa got the scoring started with a second-inning RBI single to left, and Josh Kasevich (No. 10 in the system) worked a walk to plate another run two batters later.
Cade Doughty, the Blue Jays' No. 11 prospect, poked a single up the middle in the fifth to extend the Dunedin lead to 3-0. Doughty added another base hit in the eighth.
Cancel your plans tomorrow night in Dunedin we have a championship series to play! pic.twitter.com/1XUsHCUyin— Dunedin Blue Jays (@DunedinBlueJays) September 17, 2022
Blue Jays starter Lazaro Estrada permitted one hit while fanning a pair over four shutout frames, and Conor Larkin claimed the victory with two scoreless innings -- perfect but for a walk -- out of the bullpen. Ben Baggett held Fort Myers to one hit in the ninth, picking up his second save of the postseason.
Thirteenth-ranked Twins prospect Tanner Schobel was 2-for-4 in the losing effort, tallying the Mighty Mussels' only RBI with a single in the sixth.
The Blue Jays will host the St. Lucie Mets in Game 1 of the Finals on Sunday. Box score »
Mets 3, Cardinals 2
Through the first five innings of Game 2, St. Lucie didn’t have an answer for Palm Beach, largely due to the stellar performance by Cardinals starter Tink Hence. But a late three-run frame was all the Mets needed to earn a victory and a spot in the Championship Series.
Palm Beach jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a two-run double from Victor Scott II, just his fifth two-bagger in 33 games this year, while St. Lucie didn’t record a hit until the fourth.
But the Mets got to work in the sixth when the first four batters reached base, and a passed ball and a wild pitch tied the score. With a runner on third and nobody out, Kevin Parada roped a 109.8 mph single that lined off the third baseman's glove to bring home the eventual winning run. It was the catcher's second hit and second RBI of the postseason.
Joel Díaz was phenomenal in relief for the Mets, turning in six scoreless innings and setting down the final 13 batters of the game to secure the victory. Box score
The celebration is on at Clover Park as Joel Diaz is relieved of his jersey by his teammates! 🥳— St. Lucie Mets (@stluciemets) September 16, 2022
We're on to the Florida State League Championship Series!🎉#StJuicy #Mets #MiLB pic.twitter.com/8J1frfp6Vb
Mighty Mussels 7, Blue Jays 5
With its back against the wall, Fort Myers forced a decisive Game 3 with a come-from-behind victory over Dunedin. Both teams scored in the first frame, but the Blue Jays held a three-run lead going into the bottom of the eighth before Fort Myers slammed its way to a win.
The Mighty Mussels scored five runs all with two outs. The first two batters reached base to start the frame, but Dunedin picked up two quick outs. Kala'i Rosario singled up the middle to plate one run before Misael Urbina drew an eight-pitch walk to load the bases for Keoni Cavaco. The third baseman smacked a grand slam to put Fort Myers ahead for good.
Develson Aria, who didn't record a save in 43 appearances during the regular season, struck out three and walked one in the ninth to secure the victory. Box score
NOT. DONE. YET. #MusselUp pic.twitter.com/GeWemFRm4X— Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (@MightyMussels) September 16, 2022
Mets 6, Cardinals 1
In the first game of a three-game set to decide the champion of the East Division, a trio of the Mets’ 2022 Draft picks paved the way to victory over Palm Beach.
New York's No. 8 prospect Blade Tidwell, a second-round selection by the Mets this year, was handed the ball for just his sixth professional start and turned in a gem, scattering two hits across 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six and didn't issue any walks. First-rounder Kevin Parada (MLB's No. 40 overall prospect) capped off a three-run fifth inning with an RBI double, and fifth-rounder D’Andre Smith added an RBI single in that frame.
Though the Mets were in full control of the game, it wasn’t until the fifth that the ice was broken. With two outs and a runner on first, Kevin Kendall tripled in the first run of the game before Smith and Parada followed with back-to-back RBI hits. A sacrifice fly by Carlos Dominguez and two balks in the eighth rounded out the scoring for St. Lucie.
The lone Palm Beach run came in the form of a homer off the bat of Jimmy Crooks III, the Cardinals’ 2022 fourth-round pick, in the eighth. Box score
Blue Jays 6, Mighty Mussels 4
Powered by a four-spot in the first inning, Dunedin topped Fort Myers in Game 1 of the semifinals featuring the West Division teams. The Mighty Mussels struck first with an RBI knock from Ben Ross in the top of the first inning, but the Blue Jays struck back in a big way in the bottom of the frame.
Toronto’s No. 11 prospect Cade Doughty put his team in front with a two-run single before a balk and a sacrifice fly by No. 26 prospect Estiven Machado gave Dunedin the lead. Toronto's 2022 third-round pick Alan Roden reached base three times and scored three runs in the victory.
Ross led the way for Fort Myers, recording three hits and two RBIs for the Twins affiliate. Box score
How they got there
Dunedin Blue Jays
Blame it on the rain? Not quite.
The Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays clinched the second-half title in the FSL West by way of a rainout on the final day of the season, but there's no denying the club proved itself playoff worthy over the last several weeks. Dunedin was 16-13 at home in the second half and posted an astonishing 22-12 record on the road.
No team puts together that kind of prolonged success without doing things well in every aspect of the game, but the Dunedin pitching staff did some heavy lifting, leading the FSL in the second half with a 3.26 ERA -- 57 points lower than Palm Beach's second-best ERA -- a 1.21 WHIP and a .223 average-against. Left-hander Trey Cumbie was a rock, going 6-1 with a 1.26 ERA over 19 appearances out of the bullpen.
Estiven Machado, Toronto's No. 26 prospect, was among the FSL's most consistent hitters in the second half, batting .281 with a .373 on-base percentage. That performance boosted his season slash line to .263/.342/.345. Tenth-ranked Blue Jays prospect Josh Kasevich, whom the organization selected in the second round of the Draft in July, posted a .344 OBP for the second-half champs.
Palm Beach Cardinals
Entering action with a magic number of one, Palm Beach took full control of its postseason destiny with a 4-3 victory over Dunedin at TD Ballpark.
With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, Jimmy Crooks III sent a ground ball to second. Dunedin's Manuel Beltre threw the ball away on the play while Chris Rotondo scampered home on the play with the decisive run.
Reliever Gustavo J. Rodriguez (3-2) shut down the Blue Jays at the plate en route to the victory. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over three frames. Andrew Marrero gave up two hits and a walk but struck out the side to pick up his 11th save.
While the Cardinals still have a chance to clinch the second-half FSL East Division title, it won't change their date with St. Lucie in the postseason on Sept. 13. Palm Beach improved to 65-59 on the year and 36-25 in the second half of the season.
St. Lucie Mets
Single-A St. Lucie has been dominant in the Florida State League East. The Mets’ 5-1 win over Tampa put the club’s record at 39-19, eight wins better than second-place Jupiter. St. Lucie has surged on the strength of its offense with a league-best .249 average, 12 points better than Dunedin and Jupiter, and a league-leading .746 team OPS, 24 points better than Fort Myers.
The Mets were just 11-7 entering play on April 29 before they rattled off seven straight wins, the start of a 15-3 stretch. St. Lucie has been nearly impossible to beat at home this season, going 22-3 at Clover Park. Gameday box score
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
Eight games up on Bradenton and Lakeland, Single-A Fort Myers captured the FSL West crown in part due to its offense, which leads the circuit with 283 runs scored. But the Mighty Mussels also have pitched brilliantly this season with a 2.91 staff ERA that is not only the best in the Florida State League, but the best in all of Minor League Baseball.
They sealed the first-half title with a 5-4 win over Bradenton. Gameday box score