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Chattanooga Lookouts win Southern League championship

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Minnesota's Double-A affiliate wins its first title in nearly 30 years.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

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:

  1. This is the first championship for Chattanooga since 1988, and
  2. Core members of the Lookouts' roster has now won three championships in four years.
Manager Doug Mientkiewicz has now won a pair of championships himself, the first coming with the Fort Myers Miracle. Mientkiewicz's teams were a combined 161-113 (.588) in his two seasons with the Miracle. Another championship and a 76-61 record as a manager at Double-A will make him a hot commodity this winter as teams around the league search for their next skipper. The Twins certainly don't regret giving Ron Gardenhire's vacancy to Paul Molitor, but losing Mientkiewicz would still be a loss for the organization.

What's more impressive than Mientkiewicz's record as a manager, or the two minor league championships he's won (along with other two-time winners), is the group of seven players who have won an incredible three since 2012.

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.

Get a complete look at who performed for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2015 at BaseballReference.com.