JUPITER, Fla. - The Jupiter Hammerheads' 2013 season was anything but uninteresting. Despite failing to defend their 2012 Florida State League South Division title, the Hammerheads 2013 campaign featured plenty of highlights - including two nine-game winning streaks, a combined no-hitter, 10 walk-off hits - and countless individual achievements.
Following a 0-8 start to the season, the Andy Haines led Hammerheads rallied to win 36 of their remaining 60 games in the first half, a two-month span that included two nine-game winning streaks and an 18-3 record from April 28 to May 20. They finished the month of May with a 19-9 record.
Jupiter's momentum was crushed by Mother Nature late in the first half. During a 14-day stretch from May 28 to June 10, the Hammerheads played four double-headers and six extra-innings games, including a 14-inning loss to the St. Lucie Mets on June 9. Jupiter finished out the first half on a 9-13 skid, 9.5 games behind first-place Fort Myers.
Overall, the Hammerheads endured 26 rain delays in 2013. They had seven games postponed, four suspended and three cancelled. Others in the Florida State League had much worse luck, however. The Daytona Cubs, for example, lost 14 games to weather. The Hammerheads lost just three and led the entire league with 137 games played.
Despite starting the second half with a 12-15 record, Jupiter rallied - once again - with a seven-game winning streak from July 15-22.
The final game of the streak saw starter Angel Sanchez and relievers Colby Suggs and James Nygren combine on a nine-inning no-hitter against the Clearwater Threshers, the Hammerheads' second combined no-hitter in team history.
With a league-leading ERA that straddled the 3.10 range in late July, the Hammerheads remained in playoff contention until the final week of the season. Late season promotions drained their talent-rich roster, however.
Top prospects Justin Nicolino and Andrew Heaney were promoted to Double-A Jacksonville within two weeks of each other in mid-to-late July, following right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, whose fantastic first half earned him a promotion in early June. All three pitchers led the Florida State League in ERA (DeSclafani, 1.67; Nicolino, 2.23; Heaney, 0.88) when they were promoted.
Top offensive performers Isaac Galloway and Austin Barnes were promoted to Double-A in late July and early August. Galloway led the team in hits, runs, home runs and RBI at the time of his promotion. Barnes led the Hammerheads with 64 games caught behind home plate.
Closer Nick Wittgren was promoted to Double-A in late August after leading the Florida State League with 25 saves. He posted a sparkling 0.83 ERA, allowing just five earned runs in 54.1 innings.
Brent Keys was another late-season call-up from Jupiter. After winning the South Atlantic League batting crown in 2012 with a .335 average, Keys won the Florida State League batting title in 2013, hitting .346 in 381 at-bats. Keys also set the Jupiter team record for batting average, eclipsing Logan Morrison's .332 batting clip in 2008.
Keys and Nicolino won the Miami Marlins' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month awards in May, the first of many individual awards for the Hammerheads.
Nicolino was also named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year for his dominating performance in a Hammerheads uniform. In 96.2 innings (18 starts) with Jupiter, Nicolino went 5-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 64/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Keys and Wittgren were also recognized with year-end awards, being named to the Florida State League Post-Season All-Star Team. The trio followed six Hammerheads players - plus the entire coaching staff - who were named to the 2013 All-Star Team in June: Nicolino, Wittgren, DeSclafani, Barnes, Galloway and Ryan Rieger.
DeSclafani (June 3-10) and Scott Lyman (Aug. 19-25) were recognized with Florida State League Pitchers of the Week awards.
Jose Urena and Josh Hodges rounded-out the starting rotation that led the Florida State League with a 3.13 ERA. Urena led the team in starts (26), innings (149.2) and strikeouts (107). Hodges finished second in all three categories.
Both right-handers were dominant at home in 2013. In 16 starts at Roger Dean Stadium, Urena was 8-1 with a 2.03 ERA. Hodges was even better, posting a minuscule 1.61 ERA in 72.2 innings at The Dean.
Although the core of Jupiter's 2013 squad were 2012 Class-A Greensboro graduates, former Hammerheads Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna - key contributors to Jupiter's 2012 South Division title - spent limited action in Advanced-A while rehabbing injuries. Both went on to enjoy success at the big league level in 2013, while many of their Major League teammates also spent time in a Hammerheads uniform on rehab assignment.
Twelve Major Leaguers spent time rehabbing with Jupiter in 2013, including: Chris Coghlan, Adeiny Hechavarria, Casey Kotchman, Joe Mahoney, Jeff Mathis, Logan Morrison, Donovan Solano, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Valaika, Henderson Alvarez, Jose Ceda and Nathan Eovaldi. The Hammerheads went 30-31 with big league rehabbers in the lineup.
If the individual performances turned in by several of Jupiter's key contributors are any indication of their future success, it won't be long before they're in the same lineup with the likes of Stanton, Morrison and former Hammerhead Jose Fernandez in Miami.
For more information on the Jupiter Hammerheads, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Miami Marlins, please call (561) 775-1818 or visit JupiterHammerheads.com. For tickets and more information about Roger Dean Stadium, visit RogerDeanStadium.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.