BlueClaws in Caribbean Series Final

February 8th, 2016

CaribbeanSeriesThe BlueClaws had an impact in the just-completed Caribbean Series final which took place last night.

Sebastian Valle (2009) and Chris Roberson (2003) both played with the winning squad from Mexico, and it was Valle who tied the game with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Off what pitcher did Valle get the game-tying single? His 2009 BlueClaws teammate Jesus Sanchez.

You can read more about the final here.

Roberson played with Mexico in this event as he has played with Monterrey in the Mexican league for the last six years. He went 2-2 in the game.

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Pettibone Signs With Cubs

February 2nd, 2016

Best of luck to 2010 BlueClaws pitcher Jonathan Pettibone who has signed a minor league contract with the Cubs. The contract includes an invite to spring training, which gets underway in just a few weeks.

His last significant big league time was in 2013 when he went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA but he’s missed time with shoulder injuries the last two seasons, including all of 2015.

With the BlueClaws, Pettibone went 8-6 with a 3.49 ERA and was the winning pitcher in the clinching game in both playoff rounds – the South Atlantic League Division Series against Hickory (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 9 K) and the South Atlantic League Championship Series against Greenville (5 IP, 7 H, 2 R/ER, 5 K).

We wish Jon the best of luck with the Cubs.

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Q&A: Josh Norris of Baseball America

February 1st, 2016

Several weeks ago, Baseball America released their annual Phillies Top Ten Prospects listings, which you can view here. In conjunction with that list, we spoke to Josh Norris of Baseball America. Josh was in charge of the Phillies rankings this year. You can read our conversation below.

  1. The Phillies were obviously able to re-tool their entire system in a relatively short period of time through several trades of established big league players. How does the system now compare with others in terms of overall top-end talent and depth?

The system is much-improved, for sure. Crawford is a Top 10 prospect in the game, and Williams and Thompson are in consideration for the Top 100 prospects as well.  That’s a good start. Andrew Knapp made one of the biggest jumps in recent memory with his run through Reading, Cornelius Randolph put together an excellent start to his professional career and the Top 10 rounds out with a pair of lottery tickets in Franklyn Kilome and Adonis Medina. It’s a much deeper system than it was a year ago.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Trivia Time

January 21st, 2016

Here’s a great trivia question that got brought up at the Phillies Winter Banquet last night at Woodlake Country Club.


In the BlueClaws first-ever home game (4/11/2001 vs Hickory), who were the two managers? We know Greg Legg managed the BlueClaws…



Mackanin, who of course now manages the Phillies, noted that for the opener, the dugout tunnels were not ready, so if a player had to run to the clubhouse during the game, he had to go up the stairs right past the fans.


By the way, Hickory’s pitching coach that year was Bob Milacki, who was the pitching coach for the BlueClaws during their championship season of 2009.

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Crawford Among Five BlueClaws to Get Phillies Spring Training Invites

January 6th, 2016

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The Phillies announced earlier today a list of players from within their organization and not on their 40-man roster that will receive invites to big league spring training, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater on February 17th.

Of the players above, five played for the BlueClaws (left to right in above photo):

  • SS JP Crawford – The Phillies top prospect was their first round pick in 2013. He played with the BlueClaws in 2013 and the first half of 2014 before a mid-season promotion to Clearwater. He split 2015 between Reading and Lehigh Valley.
  • C Andrew Knapp – A 2nd round pick in 2013, Knapp played with the BlueClaws in 2014, hitting .290 in 75 games. In 2015, he was Eastern League MVP, hitting .360 with 11 home runs with Reading.
  • C Gabriel Lino – Lino came to the Phillies from the Orioles in 2012 and played part of 2012, 2013, and 2014 with the BlueClaws. He split 2015 between Reading and Lehigh Valley.
  • C Logan Moore – Drafted in 2011, Moore played 30 games with the BlueClaws in 2012.
  • 1B Brock Stassi – Drafted in 2011, Stassi hit 3 home runs with the BlueClaws in 2012, including an inside-the-park home run on July 3rd.

Click here for more from Phillies.com.

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BlueClaws Staff: Build-a-Mini-Plan

January 6th, 2016

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Each year at this time, BlueClaws fans across the Jersey Shore are beginning to put together their BlueClaws Mini-Plans, selecting the seven games that will be a part of what is the most popular BlueClaws ticket package. We’re here to help with the difficult decisions. We asked our staff to put together their BlueClaws Mini-Plan, and their answers are below.

For more information on BlueClaws Ticket Packages, click here. To order, call 732-901-7000 option 3 or click here to order online.

To see a current version of the promotional schedule, click here (pdf).

Mini Plans are below the fold. If you order a package “a la carte” (ie, “I’ll take the Kevin Fenstermacher”), we’ll give you a ceremonial first pitch at one of your games and a picture with that staff member.

Read the rest of this entry »

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BlueClaws Year In Review

December 30th, 2015

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Previous Years In Review can be found in the blog archives by clicking here.

As we flip the calendar from 2015 to 2016, let’s first look back at another exciting season of BlueClaws baseball.

The year saw five BlueClaws play in the All-Star Game, a sixth, outfielder Herlis Rodriguez, was named to the league’s post-season All-Star team. The highlights were long, and some of the games were quite exciting. A trip down memory lane:

Let’s Get This Party Started: Is there a better way to start a season than with a walk-off win? We think not. Opening Night (April 9th), Carlos Tocci delivered the walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the BlueClaws a 2-1 win over Kannapolis. the BlueClaws would go on to win five games in walk-off fashion this year.

Mother’s Day Meet-Up: There were few better on-field moments this year than when BlueClaws outfielder Herlis Rodriguez squared off against none other than his twin brother Helmis Rodriguez, Asheville pitcher, on Mother’s Day. The two hadn’t faced each other since they were very young back in Venezuela. Herlis, however, went 0-3.

Lock It Down: Matt Hockenberry led the BlueClaws with 19 saves, but none was as dramatic as his save on July 17th at Rome. The BlueClaws were clinging to a one-run lead. Two of the first three batters reached, one on a controversial walk. The next batter grounded into a force-out to put runners at first and third before Ozzie Albies, the runner at first base took second on indifference. So a base hit would win the game for the Braves. Hockenberry threw a breaking ball to Omar Obregon, thinking he had strike three to end the game. Called a ball. Then, from the dugout, BlueClaws manager Shawn Williams was ejected, arguing the call. After a bit of a wait (Hockenberry played catch to stay loose), he struck out Obregon to end an emotional BlueClaws win.

Out of Nowhere: No player took a more obscure path to the BlueClaws than Jairo Munoz. A former Royals prospect, Munoz spent time working in a convenience store while awaiting a second chance. But you don’t need to hear it from me. Read it from Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Long Time Coming: The Boll Weevils picked up a walk-off win over Kannpolis on July 11th on a Herlis Rodriguez RBI single. It was the first Boll Weevils win since 2000. Of course, that night, the BlueClaws became the Boll Weevils, the Phillies South Atlantic League affiliate prior to the BlueClaws coming into existence in 2001.

18th Inning Walk-Off: On August 8th, the BlueClaws and Hickory played two games, but it wasn’t your traditional double-header following a rain-out. It was just one, long game. Herlis Rodriguez drove in a run in the seventh and Hickory tied the game in the eighth. The bullpens then took over, with neither team scoring until the bottom of the 18th. In fact, neither bullpen gave up a run. Crawdads first baseman Jonathan Meyer came in to pitch the bottom of the 18th. Cord Sandberg hit a 3-run home run and the BlueClaws won 4-1. It was the second longest game in FirstEnergy Park history behind a 22-inning game against Hagerstown in 2006.

All-Star Performance: Five BlueClaws earned the chance to play in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game: OF Carlos Tocci, SS Malquin Canelo, 1B Rhys Hoskins, RHP Ricardo Pinto, and RHP Alexis Rivero.

Saved By The Bell: Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding) was at FirstEnergy Park in 2013. This year, the BlueClaws had their very own Zack Morris, a left-handed pitcher from Maryland who was drafted by the Phillies this year.

Warm Up The Bus: Scott Kingery broke a scoreless tie in the 11th inning of the BlueClaws get-away-day win on July 20th at Rome with a three-run home run on an 0-2 pitch. It made the 15-hour ride back to Lakewood a little more pleasant.

Rhys’ Pieces: After starting the season 9-40, Rhys Hoskins hit .340 over the final two months of the first half, including 21 RBIs in his final 22 games with the BlueClaws. He was promoted to Hi-A Clearwater at the All-Star Break.

All Nine: Tyler Viza became the first BlueClaws pitcher since Lisalverto Bonilla in 2011 to throw nine innings in a game when he gave up one run over nine in a 1-0 loss to Kannapolis on July 27th.

Walk-Off Pick-Off: The BlueClaws win over Hagerstown on August 26th ended like no other. Joey DeNato picked off his 16th runner of the season to end the game.

Skipping Williamsport: Scott Kingery (2nd round, Arizona) and Kyle Martin (4th round, South Carolina) made their pro debut with the BlueClaws. They were the first players to make their professional debuts with the BlueClaws since Josh Ludy in 2012.

Eight of 2,000: The BlueClaws have played over 2,000 games in their history and only eight times has a player had five hits in a game. Drew Stankiewicz became the eighth with his five hits in a 15-8 win over Greensboro on August 30th.

Three of 2,000: The BlueClaws have played over 2,000 games in their history and only three times has a player driven in seven runs in a game. Jiandido Tromp became the third with his seven RBIs (and two home runs) in a 13-3 win at Rome on July 19th.

Happy 4th: Elniery Garcia pitched to a sub-3 ERA during the second half and had one of his best games of the year on July 4th, when he threw seven scoreless innings in a win over Hagerstown.

Trading Places: July 5th was a rare day in BlueClaws history – the BlueClaws lost two of their six starting pitchers when Chris Oliver and Josh Taylor were both traded to the Diamondbacks as part of a trade to net the Phillies with additional signing slots for the international signing period which had just opened.

See you in 2016!

 

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Happy Friday the 13th

November 13th, 2015

Today is Friday the 13th, considered a very unlucky day to most, but not to the BlueClaws. There were no Friday the 13ths during baseball season last year, but after a loss in 2014 to Hickory the BlueClaws are a robust 7-5 all-time on the unlucky day.

It’s safe to say the BlueClaws are not among the 17-21 million people affected by this one-day phobia.

Repeating from a previous post and updating with the most recent Friday the 13th games…

  • 2001: April, W 1-0 vs Hickory (11)…Two future big leaguers, Yoel Hernandez, six, and Eude Brito, three, helped pitch the shutout.
  • 2003: June, L 7-5 vs Delmarva…Led 5-1 but gave up six runs in the eighth inning.
  • 2004: August, W 7-3 and 11-0 vs Greensboro…Michael Buorn went 4-8 over the double-header and Randy Ruiz hit a home run in game two.
  • 2005: May, W 10-4 at Delmarva…Jason Jaramillo went 4-4.
  • 2007: April, W 9-5 at Hickory…’Claws pound out 14 hits including two from Quintin Berry, Adrian Cardenas, Tuffy Gosewisch, and three from Jay Miller.
  • 2008: June, W 4-0 at DEL…six shutout innings from Chance Chapman.
  • 2010: August, W 10-0 vs DEL…Trevor May threw seven shutout innings, Leandro Castro drove in three and Stephen Batts hit a home run.
  • 2011: May, L 4-3 vs HAG…8,217 fans were here to see the Bryce Harper and Jesse Biddle struck him out in the first inning. However, Hagerstown scored four in the second before holding on for a 4-3 win.
  • 2012: April, L 5-1 vs HAG…Ethan Stewart gave up a run over six innings but the Suns scored three runs off the BlueClaws bullpen in a 4-1 win at FirstEnergy Park.
  • 2012: July, W 3-2 vs HIC…Brock Stassi had a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning to give the BlueClaws the lead while Zach Cooper earned the save in his BlueClaws debut.
  • 2014: June, L 8-6 vs HIC…Carlos Tocci, Andrew Pullin, and Andrew Knapp all had three hits but the BlueClaws dropped 10-inning decision to Hickory.

In 2016, the BlueClaws will play on Friday, May 13th at home against West Virginia.

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BlueClaws Trivia

November 10th, 2015

From this week’s Clawd’s Corner.

Question: Phillies prospect Andrew Knapp was featured earlier in Clawd’s Corner. Knapp was a 2013 2nd round pick out of the University of California. Which of Knapp’s college teammates would play for the BlueClaws in 2015?

Answer: 3B Derek Campbell, who was a 20th round pick of the Phillies in 2013 and played for the BlueClaws this year.

To sign up for the e-newsletter, click here.

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Talking Haskell & American Pharoah

August 2nd, 2015

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Today, Monmouth Park hosts the biggest day in New Jersey racing history as Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will run in the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational.

Tuesday, July 7th was Monmouth Park night at FirstEnergy Park as we ran the BlueClaws Haskell Preview Race (American Pharoah won as you can see above). We also had Monmouth Park track announcer Frank Mirahmadi on the air with us to talk about the horse, his race-calls of American Pharoah’s races from Oaklawn Park (in Arkansas) over the winter, and more.

It’s the perfect day to dust off this interview. Enjoy!

Click here to listen.

Note: In the photo above, on the left, American Pharoah won our Haskell Preview Race, beating Souper Colossal (who finished 2nd in the West Virginia Derby yesterday) and on the right, Buster lined up early to see American Pharoah. Those Buster Bobble-Bellys will be given to the first 1,500 fans on August 9th (one week from today).

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Twin Rodriguez Brothers Square Off On Mother’s Day

May 17th, 2015

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One downside about being a professional baseball player is spending so much time away from your family, but that wasn’t the case for Herlis and Helmis Rodriguez on Mother’s Day at FirstEnergy Park. In fact, not only were the twin brothers re-united at the stadium, they were re-united on the field.

Herlis, a BlueClaws outfielder and Phillies prospect, and Helmis, an Asheville pitcher and Rockies prospect, squared off three times on Mother’s Day at FirstEnergy Park.

“We were waiting a long time for this, and it was the perfect day – Mother’s Day,” said Herlis.

Unfortunately for Herlis, Helmis got him out all three times, twice on groundouts and once on a strikeout. The twins, from Venezuela, had not faced off against each other outside of an intra-squad game – they had always been on the same team – but both brothers knew this was a possibility from back in April when the rosters were unveiled.

“The first thing I thought was ‘I’m going to face him.’ I talked to the manager (Shawn Williams) and told him that we were going to play my brother.”

For Williams, whose brother Brady manages the Rays Double-A club in Montgomery, it was a no-brainer to play Herlis against his twin, and Williams said he enjoyed watching the two twins square off against each other.

“On Sunday, he beat me three times, but I was happy to face him,” said Herlis.

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We’re Back! Opening Day Game Notes

April 9th, 2015

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).

Tickets – 732-901-7000 opt 2 or here.

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 DayThe 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 OutThe 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 RegardedThe 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 FaceCarlos 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.  

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Giles Recalls Lakewood, Readies for Season

January 23rd, 2015

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Ken Giles’ rapid ascent through the Phillies system and into the Rookie of the Year race came as a surprise to many, but not to those that saw him and his 100 mph fastballs with the BlueClaws in 2012. Giles came back to Lakewood on Wednesday for the annual Phillies Winter Banquet and recalled his time with the BlueClaws three years ago.

“The fan experience stands out. It’s one of those things you couldn’t really describe in words,” he said. “It’s so special to me that this is where I started to be a professional baseball player. I soaked in every moment of it, I enjoyed myself, and I never had a point where I was stressing out about anything.”

Giles went 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA with the BlueClaws in 2012, making six starts among his 29 appearances and striking out 86 hitters in 67 innings pitched. He only threw 25 innings with Clearwater in 2013, but returned from injury to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, something that Giles considers a turning point in his career.

“That was the biggest point in my career, because I had to learn the different side of baseball and how to come back stronger, better, and smarter,” he said. “That helped me going into the AFL and I brought that into the next spring training too. All my pitching mechanics clicked when I came back from the injury.”

Giles was called in to Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage’s office after a game in June, like had happened several times before.

“You’re going to Cincinnati,” Brundage told him.

Giles didn’t realize the Phillies were in Cincinnati and asked if he’d been traded. He hadn’t. He’d been called up, and after debuting on June 12th, became the  61st player to go From The Shore, To The Show (the total list is now 67).

With the Phillies, Giles went 3-1 with a 1.18 ERA and struck out 64 hitters in 45.2 innings pitched and he’s ready for bigger things in 2015 in a bullpen with Jake Diekman and Jonathan Papelbon (if he doesn’t get traded).

“We’re going to be a hard bullpen to face. People are going to say ‘O man we have to face this bullpen,’ kind of like the Royals.  The starter didn’t go long, but they only needed him to go six, because they have the 7-8-9 guy. They have to score runs early.”

Who’s the toughest guy he’s faced? “Definitely Giancarlo Stanton (of the Marlins). He’s just got great bat ability, can hit hard throwers, and if you make a mistake, he’s going to make you pay.”

What did he learn with his first few months with the Phillies? “Be yourself. That’s not trying to showboat or anything, but being yourself. That’s all I did when I got brought up. I’m not going to change who I am, and I’ll be myself around the clubhouse. Once I cross those white lines, I have to be who I am.”

Now, he’s a reliever the National League will have to contend with for many years to come.

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Get To Know: New BlueClaws Manager Shawn Williams

November 20th, 2014

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The announcement was made on Tuesday that Shawn Williams will manage the BlueClaws in 2015, coming from Williamsport where he managed the Crosscutters last year.

You can read the press release here and you can read the story in the Asbury Park Press here.

We had a chance to talk to Williams on Tuesday, and we have some quotes below.

On coming to Lakewood: I cannot wait to get up there. I’ve heard nothing but great things. I played in the South Atlantic League with Columbus (Georgia in 2008) but we didn’t play Lakewood. I’ve heard the stadium is an exciting place to play and have heard great things about the area and the fans. Legger (Greg Legg) told me how awesome it is.

Being a first-time manager last year: It was awesome. I learned a lot from Nelson Prada (who managed Williamsport in 2013 when Williams was a player/coach) and Roly de Armas (GCL Phillies manager) in extended spring training. Doug Mansolino (field coordinator) and Andy Tracy (hitting coordinator) have helped me along the way and the amount of knowledge you learn is priceless for me.

When he figured out he wanted to manage: It was always something I wanted to do down the road, but I didn’t know when it was going to happen. I asked my brother (Brady) who manages with the Rays (Double-A Montgomery last year) and he said I’d know when it was time. I was a player two years ago and they offered me the chance to start coaching and it was something I couldn’t turn down.

Hardest part of managing: It’s a combination of everything. Knowing the personalities of your players and getting the most out of them, during the every-day work that we do and making sure you don’t overwork them. The in-game stuff – learning when to hit and run and when to bunt – is the hardest to learn but a lot of that is knowing your players and what they can and can’t do.

Advice he’s received from his father Jimy, who managed the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Astros: He gives me advice pretty much daily. I talk to him almost every day. He listens to the games, and he definitely has some insight for me, and asks questions about why we did this and that. Probably the best thing is when he comes up and visits and critiques how I coach third base, and I definitely use my dad as much as I can.

Experiences as a kid while his dad was a big league coach and manager: I don’t really remember Toronto but I remember Atlanta and especially Boston. We’d go there during the summers, go on a few road trips, and being around those players was a great learning experience, finding out what you’re supposed to do on a daily basis and how to conduct yourself.

Note: We also asked Williams about some of the players he had last year in Williamsport that could be BlueClaws in 2015. Look for that in the coming days.

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