Stud prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton started the season in Chattanooga before eventually making their big league debuts.
A crowd of 2,275 witnessed the first Southern League championship for the hometown Lookouts since 1988. Shannon Wilkerson drove in the runner with a single to center and advanced to second on a throwing error by Brett Phillips. But Chattanooga still had Kepler, the Twins Minor League Player of the Year.
Kepler’s homer was his third of the postseason after he hit nine during the regular season. The organization’s No. 4-ranked prospect (according to Baseball America) finished the season batting.318/.410/.520 with 80 runs scored, 9 home runs, 71 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 118 games between High Class-A Fort Myers and Chattanooga.
Baxendale used 95 pitches to get through five shutout frames before turning the game over to the bullpen. The Lookouts topped the Biloxi Shuckers 4-0 off the strength of a Heiker Meneses triple, doubles and a Max Kepler solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. Right-hander Nick Burdi relieved Hurlbut for 1-2/3 innings and, while he didn’t give up any hits or runs, he likely gave Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz some blood pressure spikes when he walked four Shuckers in his appearance.
Wheeler stayed in for the top of the ninth inning. Over the final three games of the Championship Series at AT&T Field, the Shuckers went 2-for-27 with runners in scoring position. The first batter popped out to second base and the Lookouts were two outs away.