INTRA-DIV: The Mudcats went 50-39 versus Carolina League Southern Division opponents in 2017. They finished with winning records versus the Dash (19-5), Pelicans (13-8) and Wood Ducks (11-10), but were just 7-16 versus Buies Creek this season.
HEAD-TO-HEAD PERFECTION: The Mudcats finished a perfect 13-0 when playing the Dash at home in 2017. Carolina last swept a Carolina League opponent in their overall home season series back in 2015 after finishing at 7-0 versus the Frederick Keys in Zebulon. Carolina also finished the 2015 season going 13-3 versus the Keys overall. The (Southern League) Mudcats also finished 5-0 at home versus the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in 2006.
STREAKING: The Mudcats finished the 2017 season with a season best seven game winning streak and back-to-back sweeps versus Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach… Carolina went 6-4 in sweeps.
THE ALL-STARS: Six Mudcats were named mid-season Carolina All-Stars in 2017, while two earned post-season All-Star honors. The mid-season All-Stars included Isan Diaz, Jake Gatewood, Nate Griep, Freddy Peralta, Cody Ponce and Corey Ray. Griep and Lucas Erceg, meanwhile, were both named to the CL post-season team.
KING OF THE BIG FLY: Jake Gatewood won the 2017 Carolina League All-Star Classic Hitting Challenge (Home Run Derby) on June 20 at Haley Toyota Field in Salem, Va. Gatewood homered 13 times in both the first and second rounds before winning the All-Star Game Home Run Derby with a final round total of 15 home runs. A then 17-year-old Gatewood also won the 2013 Junior Home Run Derby at the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities at Citi Field in New York and the 2013 Baseball Factory Home Run Derby at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Video: Jake Gatewood talks HR Derby and more
POWs: Three Mudcats earned Carolina League player/pitcher of week honors in 2017, with the first (of four total weekly awards) honor earned by Lucas Erceg on July 31. Monte Harrison won the same award the very next week on August 7 (7/31-8/6: .344/.364/.719, 7 G, 11-for-32, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 CS) and Jordan Yamamoto won the final pitcher of the week award of the season on September 5 (8/24-9/4: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 14.0 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 14 SO). Erceg was a two-time Carolina League Player of Week award winner having won the award first on July 31 (7/24-7/30: .478/.520/1.043, 7 G, 11-for-23, 6 XBH, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1.563 OPS) and again on August 28 (8/21-8/27: .500/.621/.773, 6 G, 11-for-22, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 7 BB, 4 K).
Video: Mudcats' Erceg makes a great play
CLOSING TIME: Nate Griep became the Mudcats' all-time saves leader after closing out his 29th save of the season on 9/2 vs. Myrtle Beach. Griep also earned a save in his final appearance of the season and finished the year with a franchise record 30 saves (34 SVO). Those 30 saves were were also the second most in Minor League Baseball in 2017. Chris Mobley set the previous Mudcats record of 28 saves in 2008. Griep also set a franchise record for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers during the 2016 season after finishing with 23 saves last year.
WALK THIS WAY: Trent Clark broke the Mudcats' single season record for walks after reaching via base on balls for the 98th time on 9/2 vs. Myrtle Beach. Tracy Sanders owned the previous franchise record after totaling 97 walks in 1997. The Carolina League record for walks in a season is 161 and was set by Salem's Gerald Davis in 1981 (.306/.504/.613, 611 PA).
HAWAII KO: Jordan Yamamoto finished the 2017 season just one inning shy of officially qualifying for the Carolina League lead in earned run average. Yamamoto went 9-4-1 and pitched to a stellar 2.51 ERA over 22 games, 18 starts and 111.0 inning pitched. Yamamoto led Carolina League pitchers with at least 110.0 innings in earned run average (2.51), while also finishing third in average against (.221) and fourth in SO/9ip ratio (9.16). Yamamoto's final start of the season came on September 3 where he struck out seven, walked one and scattered seven hits versus the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He finished his final outing with a 73 game score and worked through seven complete frames on 105 pitches (68 strikes). The scoreless outing was his third straight scoreless start and stretched his end-of-season consecutive innings scoreless streak to 21.1 over his last four starts. Yamamoto finished 4-1 with a 0.27 ERA over his last five starts (9.27 SO/9ip, .176 AVG) and ended the year at 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA (lowest among CL starts with at least 110.0 IP).
Video: Mudcats' Yamamoto gets a strikeout
20/20 CLUB: Monte Harrison and Troy Stokes Jr. were two of only 10 players in Minor League Baseball to finish the 2017 season with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Harrison reached the 20/20 club after hitting his 20th home run and stealing his 21st base while going 3-for-6 with a home run and two stolen bases on 8/17 at Down East. Harrison totaled 21 home runs and 26 stolen bases between Low-A Wisconsin (11 HR, 11 SB) and High-A Carolina over the course of the 2017 season. Stokes began the year with the Mudcats and totaled 14 homers and 21 steals in 100 games before finishing the season with six home runs and nine stolen bases over 35 games with Double-A Biloxi.
POWER AND SPEED: The Mudcats were one of only five teams in Minor League Baseball to total at least 100 stolen bases (174) and 100 home runs (101) in 2017.
THIEVERY: The Mudcats totaled a Carolina League high 174 stolen bases and were third in most steals in MiLB this season. Luis Aviles (37 SB, 8 CS) and Trent Clark (37, 5 CS) led the Mudcats and were tied for second in the CL in steals with 37 in 2017. Corey Ray (24 SB, 10 CS) was fifth in the CL in stolen bases, while Troy Stokes Jr. (21 SB, 9 CS) was 10th. Monte Harrison totaled 16 stolen bases and was caught just once over 56 games with Carolina. The club record for steals in a season is 208 and was set by the 2000 Mudcats.
HIDDEN-BALL TRICK: Lucas Erceg successfully executed the hidden-ball trick on 5/3 at Five County Stadium against the Buies Creek Astros and outfielder Kyle Tucker. Tucker, and trailing runner Dexture McCall, had just stolen third and second base respectively when Erceg attempted the play. Erceg applied his tag (on a throw from catcher Mitch Ghelfi) and then bluffed his throw back to pitcher Wuilder Rodriguez before then waiting patiently for Tucker to leave third base. It took approximately :35 seconds for Tucker to step into his lead at third before Erceg applied the tag. Umpires Austin Jones and Ryan Wilhelms (plate) consulted after Erceg applied the tag and eventually decided that Tucker was out. Buies Creek Manager Omar Lopez was ejected after arguing the result of the decision. The out was the second of the seventh inning, in a game the Mudcats eventually won 3-0 (they led 2-0 before the play). The play was featured on MLB Network, SportsCenter, Around the Horn, Highly Questionable and several other television programs.
Video: Carolina's Erceg pulls off hidden-ball trick
DAYMEN: The Mudcats combined to hit .270/.341/.434 and went 21-10 in day games in 2017… Weston Wilson hit a team best .340/.377/.500 over 13 day games in 2017 (17-for-50, 5 2B, 9 RBI)... Cooper Hummel hit .304/.439/.587 with a team best 1.026 OPS over 13 day games in 2017 (14-for-46, 10 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 11 BB).
ON THE SEVENTH DAY: The Mudcats went 16-6 and combined to hit .271 (26 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR) with an average of 5.69 runs/game on Sunday in 2017. That 16-6 Sunday record also included an 11-1 record in Sunday, daytime home games at Five County Stadium. JEKYLL AND HYDE: Carolina opened the month of August at just 3-11 and were batting a combined .188 and slugging .285 over those first 14 games. They then went on to finish the year going 15-3 over their last 18 games while batting .278 and slugging .414 collectively over those 18 games… The Mudcats were 6.0 games back of first at the beginning of August and fell to as many as 10.5 back on 8/17 before finishing just one game back at season's end.
BURNING THROUGH: Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Corbin Burnes began the 2017 season with the Mudcats before a late May (5/29) promotion to Double-A Biloxi. Burnes was 5-0 over 10 starts with the Mudcats and left the Carolina League as the league leader in earned run average (1.05), WHIP (0.88) and fewest baserunners/9ip ratio (8.25). Burnes was also second in the league in lowest average against (.181), third in innings pitched (60.0) and fourth in strikeouts (56) before the promotion. Overall, Burnes went 8-3 with a 1.67 ERA (145.2 IP, 27 ER) with 36 walks and 140 strikeouts in 26 starts between Class-A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi in 2017.
Video: Carolina's Burnes fans ninth batter
NUMBER ONE: Monte Harrison reached SportsCenter's Top 10 countdown twice during the 2017 season, with both plays landing at the number one overall spot in their respective countdowns on 7/31 and 8/10. The first play was a diving catch in left-center against the Wood Ducks at Five County Stadium on 7/31. The second occurred on 8/10 and was a diving catch in right against Lynchburg at Five County. Harrison also began Carolina's 9-2-6-2 triple play, which was featured as SportsCenter's "Golden Moment" on 8/9. The Mudcats have been featured on SportsCenter seven times overall this season (military homecoming surprise on 4/26, Lucas Erceg's hidden-ball trick on 5/3, Trent Clark foul ball lands in fan's cup on 5/5, Weston Wilson proposal on 5/6) and have reached the No. 1 slot of the SC top 10 twice.
FOR THREE: The Mudcats turned a 9-2-6-2 triple play in game one of a doubleheader on August 9 versus the visiting Hillcats. The unconventional triple play was the fifth triple play in Mudcats' team history, the first in the club's Carolina League era and the first triple play of the year in the Carolina League... The Mudcats also turned triple plays on 6/21/95 vs. Greenville (3-5-6-9), 5/5/96 vs. Memphis (5-4-3, 10th inn.), 8/19/08 vs. Mississippi (6-3) and on 7/31/09 vs. Chattanooga (3-2-5).
Video: Mudcats turn triple play
THE STREAK: Jake Gatewood was held hitless on Monday, May 15 and snapped a 23-game hitting streak. The streak was the longest of Gatewood's career and matched the Carolina Mudcats franchise record for consecutive games with a hit, tying Bryson Myles of the 2013 Mudcats (7/15/13-8/11/13). Gatewood hit .372/.443/.628 (32-for-86) with 18 runs, 10 doubles, four home runs, 14 RBIs, 11 walks and a 1.071 OPS during the streak.
A NOT SO HUMBLE DEBUT: Catcher Cooper Hummel made his 2017 season debut on 5/18 and finished a single shy of the cycle while going 3-for-3 with a double, a triple, a home run, two runs and three RBIs. He doubled and scored a run in the third, tripled and drove in a run in the fourth, walked in the sixth and hit a 2-run home run with two outs in the eighth. He also caught five pop outs, picked off a runner at first and reached base safely in all four of his at bats.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.