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Bucs' Marte, Johnson shine in Dominican finals

Starling Marte wrapped up his impressive campaign in the Dominican Winter League by earning Most Valuable Player honors in the playoff finals as his club, Escogido, completed a five-game sweep of Aguilas in the nine-game series.

Marte, approaching his first date as the Pirates' Opening Day left fielder, went 2-for-4 in Tuesday's series-clinching, 3-0 victory and was 11-for-21 in the series, collecting at least two hits in each game.

In 11 postseason games, Marte batted .422 overall after hitting .304 in 29 regular-season games.

Escogido's pitching ace in the playoffs was another member of the Pirates organization. Left-hander Kris Johnson threw six shutout innings in the series clincher and also pitched the games that got Escogido into the playoffs, and then into the finals.

Johnson thus emerged as the playoff ace after pitching only 27 innings in the regular season. In 32 1/3 innings in the playoffs, Johnson allowed four earned runs. All told, Johnson had an ERA of 0.91 in Dominican Winter League play, allowing 37 hits -- none of them home runs -- while featuring a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 50-13.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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