The Charlotte Stone Crabs finished the first half of the 2013 season with a 29-38 record (14-20 home, 15-18 away). The team sits in fourth place in the FSL South Division, behind the leading Fort Myers Miracle by 16.5 games, but ahead of the Palm Beach Cardinals by a game, and the Bradenton Marauders by three and a half games.
Interestingly, the Stone Crabs’ overall first-half record in 2012, under then-manager Jim Morrison, was identical to 2013’s: 29-38. The Stone Crabs rounded off the second-half at 26-41, a result they hope to improve upon under present manager Brady Williams.
Out of 70 games in the first half, three were cancelled and five were doubleheaders forced by rain. A trio of these doubleheaders came in the month of June: the Stone Crabs split each one. Considering the moodiness of the Florida summer, it would not be surprising if four or five more are played before the close of the year.
This half was strongly characterized by a multitude of injuries. Curt Casali, Shay Crawford, Luke Bailey, Alejandro Segovia, Jake Hager, and Ryan Brett all saw a DL stint, with Brett being the most recent placement (June 12). The first four players have since recovered. Casali returned shortly after being named to the FSL All-Star team: since his comeback, the catcher has hit a homerun and overall gone 3-for-9 (.333). Crawford re-entered the field on June 17 in relief, welcoming himself back with a scoreless two and two-thirds innings against the St. Lucie Mets. Bailey arrived on June 2 and is hitting .220 this season. Segovia was hit on the head with a pitch and has hit .300 since his return on June 10.
Brett and Hager, the Stone Crabs’ double play combo, are both benched by dislocated shoulders and comprise two players remaining on the DL. Reliever Bruedlin Suero has not pitched since May 5, and left-hander Grayson Garvin’s Tommy John Surgery has kept him off the mound since late 2012. Second baseman Juniel Querecuto and pitcher Wilking Rodriguez have also been sidelined all year.
Despite the prevalence of injuries especially in May, the Stone Crabs used that month as the kick-start to strong offensive production. The team skipped from last place out of all FSL teams in hitting with a 49 point jump: now, they sit in third with an overall .266 average. A pair of players sustained notable hitting streaks in May. Drew Vettleson coined hits in eight consecutive games, while Taylor Motter’s bat seared with a streak that spanned eleven games and included his first triple and homerun. Hector Guevara used May as a trigger for RBI production: he drove in 15 and presently holds the team lead with 32. Kes Carter, the reigning Claw Digest Hitter of the Month, ended May with a .323 batting average – a soaring improvement from April’s .174 mark.
On the mound, the Stone Crabs have seen positive development. Ryan Carpenter had won three consecutive starts before his loss on Wednesday evening against the St. Lucie Mets. Carpenter still, however, is tied for fourth in the FSL with 68 strikeouts. Fellow All-Star Jesse Hahn, even after the promotion of his piggyback reliever Jake Floethe, has displayed great tenacity. Hahn boasts a nearly one-to-one ratio in strikeouts per innings pitched, with 43 punch outs in 44 innings. Not to be forgotten, top prospect Felipe Rivero, who consistently hits 95 mph with his fastball – a relatively unusual sight in left-handers – trails Carpenter by only one win for the team lead.
The bullpen has proven to be a tricky spot for the Stone Crabs. Relievers came and went regularly: Kevin Brandt and Chris Kirsch were recently demoted to short-season affiliate Hudson Valley, though both performed decently in their stints with Charlotte. Of the steadier relievers, Lenny Linsky is one of note. The right-hander, who put up a stellar month of May, has unfortunately struggled in June. Linsky thus far has surrendered 15 runs over five games this month, including a game-winning run Tuesday night against St. Lucie. Despite the recent command issues, Linsky, as well as fellow reliever Nate Garcia, holds five saves to his name and is incredibly threatening when his pitches are intact. Both pitchers attested to their strength in May, with Linsky keeping a sub-one ERA (0.63) in 14 innings and Garcia holding opponents to a mere .209 batting average in nine games.
The Stone Crabs’ recent efforts paid off as the team hailed five All-Stars in the June 15 game versus the FSL North division: Curt Casali, Jake Hager, Ryan Carpenter, Jesse Hahn, and third baseman Richie Shaffer. Shaffer, Casali, and Carpenter all made appearances in the game, the former two each smacking a hit and Carpenter pitching a scoreless inning.
With 11 games remaining in June, the Stone Crabs look to improve upon the existing record of 6-10. The squad faces Bradenton and Jupiter, twice each, to round out the month.
The Stone Crabs’ schedule from here on out consists of 70 games equally split between home and away. A new half and a renewed chance to move up in the FSL South division awaits the team tomorrow night in Bradenton, where the first pitch against the Marauders is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Team Stat Leaders
- Batting Average: Jake Hager (.290)
- Doubles: Drew Vettleson/Taylor Motter (14)
- Triples: Kes Carter (5)
- Homeruns: Alejandro Segovia (7)
- RBIs: Hector Guevara (32)
- Stolen bases: Taylor Motter (19)
- Wins: Ryan Carpenter (6)
- ERA: Jesse Hahn (1.23)
- Innings pitched: Ryan Carpenter (74)
- Strikeouts: Ryan Carpenter (68)
- Saves: Nate Garcia/Lenny Linsky (5)
- WHIP: Ryan Carpenter (1.27)