Opening night feels like it was just yesterday. The sun was shining, fans were lined up outside Russell E. Diethrick Park in great anticipation, the aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers filled the air, and the Jamestown Jammers were set to begin their 21st season in the Southern-Tier. Several months, and 75 games later, the 2014 season has officially come to a close. As I pointed out last week, there were plenty of ups and downs along the way, but there was an abundance of intense action, and high quality entertainment along the way as well. In the second year of affiliation with the Pittsburgh Pirates, many young draft picks, and several players on rehab assignment, made their mark on the 2014 season.
The Jammers heart and resilience was tested within the first several weeks of the season. After starting the 2014 campaign 3-8, the Jammers would reel off an impressive five game winning streak to even their record back up at .500. Jamestown’s offense was led early on by catcher Taylor Gushue, the 4th round draft pick out of the University of Florida. Gushue hit five home runs in the Jammers first six games, including a two home run game against the Williamsport Crosscutters June 17th.
Heading into July, the Jammers sat at 8-9, and continued their see-saw season throughout the month. At the beginning of the month, the Jammers fell victim to a 10-game losing streak. However, the team’s fight was again put on full display as they reeled off an impressive seven game winning streak to put their record at 15-18 as of July 18th. Outfielder Carl Anderson, the 19th round pick out of Bryant University in Rhode Island, really picked up his game in the month of July, and played a huge role in keeping the Jammers afloat. Anderson had five mutlti-hit games throughout the month, and went on to finish second on the team in hits in 2014, with 59. Anderson’s efforts would be rewarded with an All-Star appearance in August at MCU Park, which is home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. On July 26th, catcher Kevin Krause, the 9th round pick out of SUNY Stony Brook, hit a walk-off home run in extra innings to defeat the Batavia Muckdogs, in what was arguably one of the Jammers best wins of the season.
July was also when Andrew Lambo made a brief appearance in Jamestown during a rehab stint. Lambo is now currently playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is playing an important role for Pittsburgh down the stretch. On September 2nd against the St. Louis Cardinals, Lambo picked up two hits for the Pirates, while hitting second in the Pittsburgh lineup. Lambo’s appearance in Jamestown might have been brief, but his big-league experience made a huge impact on a young Jammers team.
In August, players like Chase Simpson, Sam Street, Montana DuRapau, Jordan Luplow, Tyler Eppler, and Kevin Ross really began picking up momentum in their first professional seasons. Simpson, the 14th round pick out of Wichita State, went on a tear in August, and went on to lead all qualified Jammers in batting average, with a .286 clip, and in home runs, with seven.
Sam Street was stellar out of the Jammer bullpen all season long. In 16 appearances, Street had a stellar ERA of 0.98, and struck out 21 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Street was another Jammer who was selected to represent the Jammers in 2014 New York-Penn League All Star Game in Brooklyn. DuRapau was given the Most Valuable Pitcher award for the Jammers in 2014, and had a 3-2 record on the season, with an impressive ERA of 2.21.
Luplow hit a walk-off home run in game one of the doubleheader the last day of the season (September 1st), and put an exclamation point on his fine first season. The third round pick out of Fresno State consistently hit at the top of the Jammer lineup, led the team in hits (61), and hit .277. He was given the Most Valuable Player award for the Jammers at the end of the year.
Eppler was another one of the Jammers best pitchers in 2014, and might have the best chance of making it to the big leagues. His tall frame, and electric stuff will play well in the Major Leagues if he continues to grow and develop.
Ross seamlessly made the adjustment from shortstop to first base at the beginning of the season, and was one of the most consistent Jammers all season long. In 44 games for the Jammers, Ross hit.