After winning the first two of three games in the Florida State League Championship, the Miami Marlins' high Class-A affiliate, the Jupiter Hammerheads, lost two consecutive games and were eliminated by the Lakeland Flying Tigers. The final game in the series remained scoreless through seven innings, but a throwing error by catcher Jacob Realmuto resulted in a run for Lakeland, ending the scoreless standoff. Noah Perio doubled in the top of the ninth, giving the Hammerheads an opportunity to stage a comeback, but Realmuto grounded out, ending Jupiter's hope for a championship title.
Top prospects Christian Yelich's and Marcell Ozuna's bats remained oddly silent in the finale, shut down by Lakeland starting pitcher Robert Morey's dominating performance. Morey pitched seven innings, allowing one hit, walking one, and striking out eight batters.
The reigning South Atlantic League champions, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, won the Northern Division, but were unable to hold onto their title, falling to the Asheville Tourists in four games. Andrew Heaney's nine strikeout performance stands as of the lone bright spots in a series wracked with poor pitching by Greensboro. Nowhere is this better illustrated than with the Grasshoppers' staff's seeming inability to contain Rockies' prospect Trevor Story, who hit two home runs and doubled twice in the finals.
The results of the league championship series are disappointing, but they ultimately have little relevance to the future of the major league ball club. The minor league season is best judged by the development of the players in the organization. Over the next several weeks and months, Sam Evans and I will be discussing the farm system's progress in the last year and what Marlins fans can expect in the future.