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Brent Keys is finishing the year strong in Jacksonville

After an unprecedented rough start to the season, Brent Keys is starting to put things together as the season winds down in Double-A Jacksonville.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

A year removed from being named the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year, Brent Keys status as a prospect has taken a major turn for the worse. In 2013, Keys set the record for highest batting average by a Jupiter Hammerhead, along with leading the FSL in on-base percentage. For a variety of reasons, Keys has not been able to hit the way he did in 2012 and 2013 at Double-A Jacksonville in the Southern League. However, Keys' strong month of August offers hope and optimism for his future with the organization.

After a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, in which Keys hit .319/.382/.391, the Marlins added the 23-year-old outfielder to their roster. What they couldn't have seen coming was the miserable season Keys was about to embark on in Jacksonville. By the end of June, Keys was DFA'd after hitting a mere .238/.371/.265 in 187 plate appearances with the Suns. July didn't treat Keys any better; he only hit . 214/.368/.257 in 25 games. It's hard to tell whether Keys was legitimately having trouble with Double-A pitching, if he was unmotivated by his outright, or exhausted after a long year. Or perhaps he was playing through pain, as an back injury from the start of the season may suggest. Either way, 2014 could not have gone all that much worse for Keys.

Nonetheless, Keys has begun to turn things around at the perfect time for the playoff-bound Suns. In the month of August, Keys is hitting .302/.328/.365 with only 3 strikeouts in 63 plate appearances. Jacksonville has seven more regular season games remaining before the playoffs, but I wouldn't be shocked if Keys makes a second appearance in the AFL after his season ends in Jacksonville.