The Lakewood BlueClaws and Philadelphia Phillies announced a four-year extension of their Player Development Contract (PDC) on Tuesday. With the four-year extension, the BlueClaws will remain the South Atlantic League affiliate of the Phillies through at least the 2020 season.
"The Phillies are pleased to extend our partnership with the BlueClaws," said Steve Noworyta, Phillies Assistant Director of Player Development. "This is a top-class facility with outstanding fan support in a great community. It's a tremendous place for our players to continue their development and we're excited to continue the relationship."
Noworyta and BlueClaws General Manager Chris Tafrow formally signed the papers on the field in a ceremony prior to Tuesday's BlueClaws game.
The BlueClaws have been a Phillies affiliate since their 2001 inception. In that time, the team has won three South Atlantic League championships (2006, 2009, and 2010) and, in 2010, became the first South Atlantic League team since 1993-1994 (Savannah) to win back-to-back league titles.
This year, the BlueClaws are in first place with less than two weeks remaining in the season as Lakewood tries to get back to the post-season for fourth time in franchise history.
69 former BlueClaws have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, with 42 of those players debuting with the Phillies. Ryan Howard was the first to debut, on September 1st, 2004, with his 2002 BlueClaws teammate Gavin Floyd debuting two days later.
Current Phillies that played with Lakewood include Howard (2002), Carlos Ruiz (2001), Maikel Franco (2011-12), Cameron Rupp (2011), Severino Gonzalez (2013), Hector Neris (2011), Freddy Galvis (2008), and Aaron Altherr (2011-12).
Former Phillies first-round pick J.P. Crawford, now with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, played for Lakewood in 2013-14, while Double-A Reading teammates Dylan Cozens (2015) and Rhys Hoskins (2014), who are 1-2 in Minor League Baseball in home runs, are both former BlueClaws as well.
"The partnership between the BlueClaws and Phillies has been tremendous for the BlueClaws and the entire Jersey Shore. Many future Phillies and big league stars have played here, and we look forward to the next great wave of future Phillies over the next several seasons," said BlueClaws General Manager Chris Tafrow. "We are excited to extend our agreement with the Phillies."
Ryan Howard (#29) and Cole Hamels (#19) are the only two former BlueClaws players to have their numbers retired by the team.