The Chattanooga Lookouts, Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, defeated the Biloxi Shuckers 4-0 tonight to capture a Southern League title.
It was the first league title for the Lookouts since 1988 when they were affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds and it validates a strong year-round effort despite seeing top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano graduate the Major League level and Jose Berrios move up to Triple-A. Southern League Player of the Year Max Kelper was called up to the Twins immediately after the game and there are a handful of other players on the team who factor into Minnesota’s future plans.
The championship also might go a long way for the career of Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz, who could be a sought after managerial candidate at the Major League level after tonight’s victory.
This marks the second straight year that Mientkiewicz, 41, has coached a minor league team in a title-winning season. He managed the Fort Myers Miracle, the Minnesota Twins High-A affiliate, to a Florida State League championship last season and then moved up to the Double-A ranks with many of the same players.
Winning back-to-back titles in the minor league ranks will turn any team’s head that has a managerial opening. After his title winning season in Fort Myers last year the Twins interviewed Mientkiewicz for their job opening, but eventually passed on him and hired Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who had previously been the team’s bench coach. Now a second minor league championship in as many years should have more than just his parent club interested in setting up an interview.
Mientkiewicz is a former first baseman who spent 12 years in the big leagues. In his playing career, he won a gold medal playing with the United States at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and a World Series title with the Boston Red Sox in 2004. However, the organization he knew best was Minnesota. Mientkiewicz spent parts of seven seasons with the Twins, batting .275 and winning a Gold Glove award in 2001.
His playing career ended in 2009 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mientkiewicz got his first coaching job with the Dodgers organization a few years later in 2012, when he served as the hitting coach for Ogden Raptors, an Advanced Rookie ball team in the Pioneer League.