Dunedin adds to system's success

Jays become second Toronto affiliate to clinch first-half title

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | June 10, 2012 7:03 PM

On Saturday, Toronto's Class A affiliate in Lansing clinched a first-half division title. Their Class A Advanced affiliate in Dunedin followed suit Sunday.

The Blue Jays beat second-place Clearwater, 8-3, wrapping things the first-half crown in the Florida State League's North Division. With the win, they moved to 41-20, nine games ahead of the Threshers.

At the top of the lineup, leadoff man Jake Marisnick went 3-for-4 and No. 2 and 3 hitters Travis Snider (on rehab) and Kevin Nolan both went 4-for-5. Kevin Ahrens also drove in two runs, and starter John Stilson (3-0) earned the win, scattering two runs over five innings.

"We were all pretty excited. We knew we had a shot today, and kind of just went out there and took care of business," said Marisnick. "Lot of teams put pressure on themselves [in that situation], but we went out and played our game and got the win."

Dunedin parlayed a league-best offense with the circuit's second-best pitching staff statistically to distance itself from the rest of the North Division pack. The Blue Jays have scored the most runs on the circuit with 340, and have a 3.43 team ERA that ranks behind only first-half South Division champs St. Lucie.

Nolan, the team's shortstop, has been Dunedin's steadiest offensive performer, hitting .320 with a team-best .469 slugging percentage. First baseman Jon Talley's .411 on-base percentage is tops on the squad, and outfielder Marcus Knecht leads the Blue Jays with eight home runs and 40 RBIs. Marisnick, the Jays' No. 3 prospect, is hitting .268 with a .439 slugging percentage.

On the mound, Sean Nolin is 7-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. No. 11 Toronto prospect Asher Wojciechowski is 3-2 with 47 strikeouts against 19 walks in 57 1/3 innings. Stilson sports a 2.82 ERA in 13 starts, and closer Danny Barnes has 17 saves with a 2.36 ERA in 27 appearances.

"These guys went out there and I think they made a statement by being very consistent," said Dunedin manager Mike Redmond, a 13-year Major League veteran. "All in all it's been a great effort. They've worked hard, they deserved it, and it's been fun to be a part of."

Marisnick, MLB.com's No. 52 overall prospect, said the team was ready to attack the second half with the same intensity that served them well in the first half.

"I feel like everybody's thirsty to get better, everybody wants to improve. That's the thing that makes this team special - we had a pretty darn good first half a steam, but everybody still wants to do better."

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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