Welcome back to Countdown 2010, a weekly look at some of the greatest parts of BlueClaws history through the lens of a top ten list. This week, we look at some of the best moments by former BlueClaws in the big leagues. (Click here for list of former ‘Claws that made the majors)
Without further adieu…
10. A BlueClaw Makes the World Series…But it wasn’t Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels. It was Ezequiel Astacio. The right-handed pitcher was here in 2002 (with Howard and Gavin Floyd), and was sent to Houston in the Billy Wagner trade and pitched for Houston in the 2005 World Series. He gave up the game-winning home run to Geoff Blum in game three.
9. Zagurski’s Debut…While relatively uneventful in the big picture, Mike Zagurski reaching the big leagues as fast as he did goes into the list. Remember, he was a BlueClaws pitcher (in Lo-A) when the 2006 season ended. Then on May 25th, 2007 (basically two months of baseball later), he’s in the big leagues. I would guess that we will never see a player go from Lakewood to Philadelphia faster than Mike did.
8. The Big Three…OK, it’s not really a “moment,” but it’s more of a collection. Three pitchers, three different organizations. But now Josh Outman (A’s), Matt Maloney (Reds), and Carlos Carrasco (Indians), the three big arms on the 2006 SAL Champion BlueClaws, are all fighting it out for spots on other rosters, not the Phillies. It’s pretty cool to see. Outman debuted in 2008, Maloney and Carrasco in 2009.
7. Pretty Cool…Not only did Ryan Howard win the 2006 Home Run Derby in Pittsburgh, but he also hit a Hit It Here sign to win 500 airline flights for a lucky fan.
6. Gavin Floyd Can’t Catch a Break…When he was with the BlueClaws in 2002, he pitched a nine-inning no hitter, and lost to Lexington 1-0. During the 2008 season, he took one no-hitter into the eighth, and another into the ninth (details here). I figure if you can get 25 outs you can get 27 right? Just kidding.
5. Bourn is Golden…Certainly one of the fastest former BlueClaws, Michael Bourn won a Gold Glove Award in 2009, becoming the first former BlueClaw to take that award. Sent to Houston in the Brad Lidge trade, Bourn now plays under former Phillies, now Astros GM Ed Wade, who drafted him in 2003. Some more on MLB.com here.
4. First Rookie of the Year…You’ll keep seeing his name pretty frequently here and elsewhere. Ryan Howard won the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year Award despite not coming up to be the full-time 1B until July 1st. In just 313 at bats he hit .288-23-63 and set the stage for what would be a special 2006.
3. Pitching the Clincher…That would be Cole Hamels in 2008, putting the Phillies into the World Series for the first time in 15 years with a sparkling outing, giving up just one run over seven innings and allowing three over 14 innings and winning both of his starts. He would of course be named the 2008 World Series MVP. He went 4-0 in the playoffs that year with a sub-2 ERA.
2. Our First MVP Alum…Many minor league clubs go years and years without having an alum win the MVP Award. It took the BlueClaws six years. Ryan Howard (see a trend?) was named 2006 NL MVP. He hit .355-30-78 in a monster second half to win the award just one year after winning Rookie of the Year (Cal Ripken, Jr.)
1. Phillies Win the World Series…How can it not be number one? They had five former ‘Claws (Howard, Hamels, Happ, Kendrick, Ruiz) on the roster, and it was an original BlueClaw, Carlos Ruiz, who caught the last out, when Brad Lidge fanned Erik Hinske.