The Fort Myers Miracle, the single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, celebrated their Silver Anniversary season by winning the 2nd Half South Division Championship of the Florida State League (FSL). Unfortunately, they could not win its co-championship best-of-three series against the Palm Beach Cardinals, dropping two straight by identical 3 to 2 scores. Palm Beach is FSL co-champion with the Dunedin Blue Jays, who upset the Tampa Yankees 2-games-to-1. The FSL cancelled its best-of-five championship series due to Hurricane Irma, declaring the two co-champs.
The Miracle finished the 1st half 33 – 35, tied for 3rd place. At the All-Star Break, however, they received an influx of young players from Low-A Cedar Rapids, transforming the light-hitting, good pitching Miracle into a contender with a deep line-up. They began the 2nd half 17 – 5 to finished 42 – 25, defeating the neighboring Charlotte Stone Crabs by 4 games. The Miracle set their all-time home victory mark with 46 wins, including 13 in a row at Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sport Park from August 3 to September 2, with a perfect 12 – 0 August!
Perhaps the season’s highlights were the 7 July home games against the St. Lucie Mets and University of Florida football legend Tim Tebow. These contests drew over 33,000 fans, including a new single-game mark of 9,478 on July 3.
The FSL named Miracle Manager Doug Mientkiewicz to its Coaching Staff of The Year, with Center Fielder Max Murphy on the Post-Season All-Star Team. 3rd Baseman Chris Paul, catcher Brian Navarreto, and pitchers Derek Rodriguez and Sam Clay made the mid-season All Star team, with 1st baseman Zander Weil leading the club with 13 home runs and 67 RBI.
The straw who stirred the championship drink, however, was Brent Rooker, NCAA Player of The Year from Mississippi State and Twins 1st-round draft pick. Rooker began his career at rookie-level Elizabethton, but after smashing 7 home runs in just 22 games, the Twins promoted him to Fort Myers in late July. Rooker justified their faith by slamming 11 home runs and driving in 35 RBI in just 40 games, twice being the FSL Player of the Week. While the Miracle had several players who can make the major leagues, Rooker looks like a potential star!
The Miracle begins their 26th season in early April 2018.