Panas, Romano power Dunedin to sharing Florida State league title
“You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”
The words were uttered by Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessup in the movie a Few Good Men.
We have seen young minor leaguers leaving Florida Auto Exchange Stadium stop and look at the names on the wall down the right field line. On the wall are the names of former Dunedin Blue Jays who went on to play in the major leagues.
From Jeremy Accardo and Russ Adams to Dave Weathers and Vernon Wells.
Will I be on there some day they wonder?
The tradition continues ... every one of the 2017 Dunedin Blue Jays wants to be on that wall.
Everyone will not.
And Wednesday night by sweeping a doubleheader across the Courtney Campbell Causeway against the Tampa Yankees all was right with the world as the Dunedin Jays were declared co-champs of the class-A Florida State League. With Hurricane Irma headed Florida’s way there will not be a final played between Palm Beach and Dunedin.
After losing the opener, Dunedin spent 18 innings and nearly six hours in Tampa to become champs as Connor Panas (Etobicoke, Ont.) hit two solo homers for a 5-3 win in the third and deciding gamme over Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field
Dunedin won Game 2 by a 4-1 decision as Vladimir Guerrero and Cavan Biggio each homered.
RHP Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont,) held the Yankees to a run on five hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings.
In the deciding game, Panas went deep twice first a solo shot in the second and then again in the seventh to tie the score 2-2.
“At that point, 0-2, I thought I was going to get a slider, and honestly just in my head I was [thinking], ‘Just put the ball in play and make something happen,’” Panas told MiLB.com. “[Caleb Frere] threw me a fastball inside, down and low, and you know I put my hands to the ball and it left the yard.”
Jake Thomas broke the tie with an RBI single to left with two outs in the ninth off reliever Jordan Foley. D.J. Davis followed with a two-run double to left.
Zach Jackson gained the win for the Blue Jays after giving up a run on two hits and a walk and fanning one over the final 1 2/3 frames.
It depended upon what scout I asked this summer but if we asked 10 it was a 50-50 split as to who was the better Dunedin prospect. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Bo Bichette?
Bichette finished his season with a Minor League-best .362 average over 110 games between Class-A Lansing and Dunedin, including .384 in 70 games at Lansing. Minor League Baseball declared Bichette the Midwest League batting champ, although he did not have enough at-bats to qualify. If league officials had dropped an 0-for-61 (which is enough to qualify and within the rules) on him with the Lugnuts he still would have led the pack.
Guerrero, 18, had a .425 on-base percentage to lead the minors. He had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 62-to-76 while hitting .323, with 13 homers and .910 OPS between Lansing and Dunedin.
Guerrero was ranked No. 5 over-all and Bichette No. 29.
And the last two seasons the Jays have seen Dunedin grads make the majors in 2016: Ryan Schimpf, Dustin Antolin, Danny Barnes, Andy Burns, Chad Girodo, Jayson Aquino, Matt Dermody and Jeff Hoffman.
And this season: Dwight Smith Jr., Richard Urena, Anthony Alford, Ian Parmley. Taylor Cole, Chris Rowley, Casey Lawrence, Tim Mayza, AJ Jimenez and Jairo Labourt.