It’s been a long off-season (the BlueClaws haven’t played since September 1st (220 days) and haven’t played at home in 224 days, but that all changes tonight, as Shawn Williams leads Lakewood into their 15th season here at the Jersey Shore.
RHP Ricardo Pinto gets the ball on Opening Night for the BlueClaws, who will utilize a 6-man starting rotation this year (Pinto, LHP Josh Taylor, RHP Tyler Viza, RHP Ranfi Casimiro, RHP Chris Oliver, and LHP Elniery Garcia).
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Today’s Game Notes (more if you click the link)
Welcome to Opening Day…Welcome to the 15th Opening Day in BlueClaws history as the team kicks off the 2015 season at FirstEnergy Park against Kannapolis (White Sox).
New vs Old…The Phillies played in Kannapolis (as the Piedmont Boll Weevils) prior to the BlueClaws coming into existence in 2001…That year, the Kannapolis franchise changed their name to the Intimidators…The BlueClaws lost the first game in franchise history, 4/4/2001 at Kannapolis.
On Opening Day…The BlueClaws are 6-8 all-time on Opening Day, winning last year in Savannah 6-3 to snap a two-year Opening Day losing streak… Lakewood is 2-12 all-time in home openers, losing the first 10 before a win over Kannapolis in 2011 (Kannapolis topped Lakewood 9-2 in the 2013 season opener)…Last year, the BlueClaws dropped the home opener 6-0 to Hagerstown.
In And Out…The BlueClaws and Kannapolis will play 15 times this year, eight in Lakewood and seven in Kannapolis…The teams next meet -May 14-17 at Kannapolis…The Intimidators won last year’s season series 7-3.
Well Regarded…The BlueClaws have five players ranked among the top 30 prospects in the system per Baseball America: #5 Carlos Tocci, #13 Deivi Grullon, #14 Ricardo Pinto, #21 Cord Sandberg, and #30 Elniery Garcia.
Six-Man Rotation…The BlueClaws will open the season with a six-man rotation, the first time they have done so (not including 2013 when LHP Yoel Mecias & RHP Miguel Nunez piggy-backed and alternated starts at the beginning of the year)…Lakewood did use a six-man rotation in July/August last year upon Mecias’ return from injury.
PT for JT…Jiandido Tromp was given the chance to play everyday with Williamsport last year, and the 20-year old from Aruba responded by leading the league in home runs (14) and adding 16 stolen bases…Tromp had 4 HRs in 368 ABs prior to time with Williamsport last year, where he hit 14 HRs in 259 ABs…This is his 3rd stint with Lakewood and he played in the last two NY-Penn League All-Star Games.
Familiar Face…Carlos Tocci returns to Lakewood for a third straight season, but for the first time, he is not the team’s youngest player (Deivi Grullon, born 2/17/1996)…Tocci opened the 2013 season with Lakewood at age 17, the youngest player in team history and is one of just 10 players to play for the team as an 18-year old: (Freddy Galvis, Anthony Gose, Zach Collier, Jason Knapp, Sebastian Valle, Jonathan Singleton, Jonathan Villar, Domingo Santana, Maikel Franco, JP Crawford, Deivi Grullon)…Galvis, Santana, and Tocci are the only 17-year olds.