TigsTown's No. 21 prospect Duane Below and right-handed pitcher Brooks Brown were the only players to stay in Erie the whole season. Below spent the season in Erie recovering from Tommy John surgery. The left-hander got stronger as the season went on and finished the year with a respectable 7-12 record. He was limited to roughly 75 to 80 pitches a game, and no more than 30 to 35 in an inning.
"Duane did well this year," said manager Phil Nevin. "It's hard to get wins when you're limited to the pitch count he was on. There was a lot of growth though at the end of the year."
Brooks Brown was making a transition as well. Brown began the season as a relief pitcher for the ‘Wolves but moved into the starting rotation following the promotion of L.J. Gagnier to Toledo. He did not disappoint finishing the year as the team leader in wins with 12 and the Eastern League leader in complete games with four. Brown also tied for the lead in shutouts with two.
Andy Oliver made his official professional debut with the ‘Wolves this season before being called up to make five starts for the Tigers. While in Erie TigsTown's No. 2 prospect showed why the Tigers brass are excited by the left-hander. Showcasing a fastball that hits 95 MPH plus, with a slider that has the potential to be an out pitch Oliver went 6-4 in Erie.
"He's going to be a good one," said Nevin. "Not too many guys have his stuff, especially as a left-hander."
This season also had some feel good stories. Utility infielder Shawn Roof earned a promotion to Toledo.
"Roof has been in Erie for awhile now and we were starting to call him the mayor," Nevin said.
Roof hit only .223 during his stint in Erie but his versatility is a component that is needed in any organization.
The other feel good story may be the best of them all. Catcher Max St. Pierre started the year off in Erie and provided some fireworks before he was promoted to Toledo. On his 30th birthday the minor-league veteran hit a walk-off home run. The best part of the St. Pierre story though is that after 13 years in the minors he finally made his Major League debut
"I couldn't be happier for him," said Nevin.
The SeaWolves year is also a story of ups-and-downs as they finished with a 66-76 record. It began on a down as the Erie dropped the first eight games of the year on the road. The team returned home and found its stride. Erie found themselves in first-place in the Eastern League Western Division by the middle of May.
"It's too early to be worried about our record," Nevin said at the time. "We just have to worry about playing well each series."
May 20 started a downward spiral. The ‘Wolves were in first for less than 24 hours after dropping the finale of a three game series against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Erie proceeded to drop the next eight games. It was there second such streak of the season, but the worst was yet to come.
The month of June was horrendous for Erie. The team went 0-12 at home and 5-22 overall for the whole month. June took any chance of the ‘Wolves contending for the Western Division away. There was a nine game losing streak in the month and an 11 game losing streak that carried over into the month of July.
"It was hard losing all those games," said Michael Bertram. "No one wants to play that bad we just couldn't get out of the funk."
The month of July, August, and a week into September was a little bit of a different story for Erie. A youth movement came from Lakeland over these months in the forms of TigsTown's No. 23 prospect Charlie Furbush, No. 19 Brandon Douglas, and No. 29 Brayan Villarreal, No. 33 Kody Kaiser, No. 47 Adam Wilk, No. 41 Alden Carrithers, No. 16 Billy Nowlin, and No. 15 Lester Oliveros, Rawley Bishop, and others.
Erie closed out the season strong and many of the young players that finished the season here will be possibly starting in Erie next year.
"This is a good group of guys," said Nevin. "I look forward to managing many of them next season."
"We want to build on how our season ended," said Below. "I want to do better and the team wants to compete all season long next year."
Thanks to the way things ended and the nucleus of players that moved up from Lakeland together Erie should have a strong ball club next year.