Strong Second-Half Shows Promise From Lakewood

The Lakewood BlueClaws were home to one of the best prospects in baseball for part of the season when Cole Hamels arrived. After that, the young BlueClaws team seemed to find themselves and showed progress throughout the season, finishing the second half of the South Atlantic League season above the .500 mark.

In years to come when people think back to Lakewood's 2003 season, one name will be mentioned. Cole Hamels. Hamels, 19 came to the BlueClaws on May 11th. In 13 starts he was 6-1 with a 0.84 ERA. Hamels did not allow any earned runs in his last 28 innings. He was second in the SAL with 115 strikeouts. In just 74.2 innings he allowed only 32 hits and walked 25. I was lucky enough to see him pitch. Dominating is the only way I can think of to describe his pitching. He was promoted to Clearwater on July 26th

The BlueClaws finished the 2003 season with an overall record of 57-81. They did manage to finish the second half one game over .500, at 35-34. Injuries played a big part during the season. Pitcher Lee Gwaltney was out for a while with a shoulder injury,while fellow pitcher Zack Segovia was out for a few months with an elbow injury that may require surgery. While Gwaltney came back very strong, Segovia struggled a little in his last apperance. In Gwaltney's last three outings he held the other teams scoreless carrying no hitters as far as the seventh inning. Outfielder Rod Perry was gone for most of the season with a groin injury that will require surgery. First baseman Ryan Barthelemy was lost for the last few weeks after he broke his cheekbone thanks to an errant throw by Carlos Rodriguez.

Some of the names to watch for from this season's BlueClaws:

Starting pitchers: Lee Gwaltney (8-8, 3.06), Alfredo Cabrera, Nick Bourgeois (7-10, 4.42 with 10 strikeouts in his last two starts).

Relievers: Beau Richardson (6-5, 2.66 with 16 saves), Daniel Hodges (2-0, 0.82 with three saves and no earned runs in 12 of his 14 apperances for the side arm thrower), and Jarrod Lawson 1-0, 2.60 with four saves).

Infielders: First baseman Andy Jarvis (3-11-.267; Great fielder who needs better batting coach), Third baseman Terry Jones (11-66-.240; Poured on the power late in the season).

Outfielders: Centerfielder Chris Roberson (led South Atlantic League with 59 stolen bases; features a great arm).

Catcher: Tim Gradoville (2-32-.234; Should be fine if he can overcome injuries).

Utility Players: Second baseman/Outfielder Jeremy Isenhower (3-39-.245; Solid all around ball player), Outfielder / Catcher Mark McRoberts (17-38-.177; Great fielder with power. Led BlueClaws in homeruns), DH/Second baseman Nick Italiano (0-1-.222 in 3 games. Good power, will need more time adjusting to SAL pitching; has great speed).

Overall this really wasn't that bad a season. You just have to remember that it is low single A baseball, and they are still learning. The important thing is that they showed strong improvement in the second half of the season.

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