Considering the talent in the Minnesota Twins farm system, it's not a terribly big surprise when one of the organization's affiliates wins a championship. There are two things that make the Southern League championship by the Chattanooga Lookouts more noteworthy than the accolade itself:
- This is the first championship for Chattanooga since 1988, and
- Core members of the Lookouts' roster has now won three championships in four years.
Make it 3 rings in 4 years for #MNTwins Core 7: Max Kepler AB Walker Dalton Hicks Travis Harrison Brett Lee D.J. Baxendale Niko Goodrum— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) September 22, 2015
Max Kepler is the star of that group, illustrated by his callup to the Twins. He'll be with the team for tonight's series opener versus Cleveland. But Adam Brett Walker and D.J. Baxendale had good years, and if you follow the Twins' minor league affiliates then all seven names are ones you recognize. Even if they're not top prospects now, either they were at some point in the past or they constitute something more than organizational filler. No doubt there's still some hope out there that guys like Travis Harrison and Niko Goodrum can develop into role players.
The decisive Game 5 of the series was won 4-0 by the Lookouts, who received five shutout innings from Baxendale followed by four shutout innings from Jason Wheeler. Baxendale, who fell out of our Top 30 prospect list after a disappointing 2014, turned in a 3.80 ERA for Chattanooga this year. It was also a great conclusion to the year for Wheeler, who had struggled mightily in Triple-A to start the season. Considering how terrible Wheeler's August was, September may have restored a semblance of his status as a prospect worth tracking.
Kepler, who was named Southern League MVP, homered in the contest to wrap up a stellar post-season.