[Via email from the Charlotte Stone Crabs' Marketing Manager Jonathan Gantt.]
The Tampa Bay Rays released their annual Minor League Awards for the 2009 season today, and four Charlotte Stone Crabs players received awards: LHP Darin Downs for Team MVP, INF Shawn O’Malley for Best Baserunner, C Nevin Ashley for Best Defensive Player and RHP Matt Gorgen for Best Relief Pitcher.
The Rays reformatted their minor league awards, announcing one Most Valuable Player for each of their nine minor league affiliates, as well as organization-wide awards for Best Baserunner, Best Defensive Player and Best Relief Pitcher.
This year’s winners will be honored during an awards ceremony prior to tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. A pregame autograph session will be held on the right field line from 6:30–7:00 p.m. on Friday featuring many of the organization’s award winners.
Downs earned the MVP award for the Stone Crabs while O’Malley, Ashley and Gorgen earned awards for being the best in the entire Rays organization for their respective categories.
Downs, 24, spent most of the season with Charlotte and made two starts for Montgomery in August. In addition, he was Charlotte’s finalist for the Erik Walker Community Champion Award. In 20 games (19 starts) for the Stone Crabs, he went 12-4 with a 2.00 ERA (121.2-IP, 117-H, 35-R, 27-ER, 23-BB, 111-SO) earning Florida State League All-Star honors. He led all Class-A pitchers in ERA and ranked fourth in the FSL in victories. His combined 2.23 ERA ranked eighth among minor league full-season pitchers. His 12 wins placed second among Rays minor leaguers and 120 strikeouts ranked fifth. Downs’ season ended on August 17, when he was struck in the head by a line drive in Birmingham, Ala., while pitching for the Biscuits. He is expected to make a full recovery for the 2010 season.
O’Malley, 21, was the starting shortstop for Charlotte this season. He stole 40 bases (second in the Rays organization and fourth in the FSL) in 54 attempts. He drew 58 walks, led the FSL with a .388 on-base pct., and ranked fourth in the FSL with 73 runs scored.
Ashley, 25, split the season between Charlotte and Montgomery. Overall, the catcher threw out 48 of 101 (47.5 percent) attempted base stealers and compiled a .993 fielding pct. The FSL midseason All-Star gunned down 55.2 percent (32 of 58) of attempted base stealers as a Stone Crab, which would have led the FSL if he had enough games to qualify.
Gorgen, 22, earned a mid-July promotion from Charlotte to Montgomery. Overall, he went 7-1 with 19 saves and a 1.15 ERA (70.1-IP, 42-H, 11-R, 9-ER, 29-BB, 77-SO). The FSL midseason and postseason All-Star held opponents to a .173 batting avg. and finished second in the Rays organization in saves. With the Stone Crabs, he went 4-0 with 15 saves, a 0.57 ERA (47.2-IP, 3-ER) and a .151 opponents’ avg. in 28 appearances.
The Stone Crabs ended their Inaugural Season on Wednesday after losing to the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League Championship Series. The team went 71-66 in the regular season and earned a wild card playoff berth in the FSL South Division.
Season Seat packages for the 2010 season are currently on sale and start at just $60 for the popular 10-Game Mini Plan. For more information, please call 941-206-HITS (4487) or visit www.stonecrabsbasball.com.