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RHowardLakewood BlueClaws

The definitive history.

In 2001, the Philadelphia Phillies initiated a working agreement with the Lakewood BlueClaws, a newly relocated team in the Class-A South Atlantic “Sally” League. The BlueClaws had previously played in North Carolina as the Cape Fear Crocs; the franchise dates back to 1963. The team’s first manager, Greg Legg, was a former infielder who played a handful of games with the Phillies in 1986 and 1987. Among the noteworthy players on Lakewood’s 2001 roster were catcher Carlos Ruiz—who started for the 2008 World Series team—and veteran pitcher Wayne Gomes, who made two starts for the BlueClaws prior to a trade to the Giants. The team went 60–79 in 2001.

In 2002, the BlueClaws drew 13,003 fans to a game against the Hickory Crawdads to set a Sally League record. In the team’s lineup that day was 22-year-old first baseman Ryan Howard, who was drafted a year earlier out of Missouri State University. He hit 19 CHamelsCardhomers in 135 games for the BlueClaws in 2002. Two years later, he became the “first” BlueClaw to reach the majors, playing in 19 games with the Phillies. The following season, he was named NL Rookie of the Year. In May of 2007, Howard returned to Lakewood to play a pair of games while rehabbing a strained left quad. He also played for Lakewood during a rehab stint in 2012.

In addition to Howard and Ruiz, other noteworthy position players who played in Lakewood on their way up to the majors include Michael Bourn, Domonic Brown, Travis D’Arnaud, Freddy Galvis, Jonathan Villar, Domingo Santana, Maikel Franco, JP Crawford, Roman Quinn, Rhys Hoskins, Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery. Pitchers Gavin Floyd, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco, JA Happ, Randy Wolf, Antonio Bastardo, Hector Neris, Ken Giles and Seranthony Dominguez are also among the more successful Blue Claws.

The Blue Claws finished atop the standings in 2010 and 2018. They won the playoffs in 2006, 2009 and 2010 to capture the Sally League crown.

 

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