DePew uses arm, not bat, to star in extras

Stone Crabs catcher tosses 3 1/3 scoreless innings to win marathon

Jake DePew had not pitched since serving as the closer for Granite City High School in 2010. (Kevin Pataky/

By Robert Emrich / | May 24, 2014 1:28 AM ET

On Monday, it was Jake DePew's bat that helped the Stone Crabs to victory. On Friday, it was something the Rays catching prospect hadn't done in four years that helped produce another win.

Depew scattered seven hits over 3 1/3 scoreless frames to earn the win as Class A Advanced Charlotte outlasted Lakeland, 5-3, in 19 innings at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The 22-year-old backstop entered the game with two outs in the 16th inning and allowed two hits -- all singles -- in each of the final three innings. DePew, who said he last pitched as a senior in high school, kept his repertoire simple, except for one pitch that nearly ended the game.

"Just a fastball, a changeup and I threw one knuckleball," he said. "I've never thrown it in a game, but playing catch I mess around with it every once in a while. It was the first hitter I faced. I was up 0-2, I tried to throw it up there for a strike. He waited back on it and he hit it off the wall for a double. That was the last one I threw."

DePew recorded one strikeout, fanning Tyler Hanover to open the 18th.

"That was real cool," the Illinois native said. "I wasn't expecting that to happen. I just threw a fastball on the outside corner and he took it."

On Monday night, DePew drew a two-out bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 12th to give Charlotte a 7-6 win over Clearwater. Becoming an extra-inning hero in two vastly different roles in two Florida State League games in the same week was a fun experience.

"It's pretty cool to be able to help out the team in different ways," said Depew, the Rays' ninth-round pick in the 2010 Draft. "Whatever I can do to help the team win. I did it at the plate once this week and on the mound. It's pretty cool."

Depew has been serving as the Stone Crabs' backup catcher, batting .236 with seven runs scored in 16 games. In a twist of fate, Justin O'Connor, Charlotte's No. 1 catcher, once pitched to DePew in high school.

"It was a little different," he said of his debut on the mound. "Pretty cool. Me and Justin O'Conner, I caught him in a high school showcase and now he gets to catch me. That's pretty cool to have that happen."

DePew, who said his fastball stayed mostly in the low 70s, found out he'd be called on in the 15th, while reliever Ben Griset was still in the game.

"Griset was in the game before me and he went out for his second inning and they called down and told me he had 30 pitches, and if we didn't win the game before then I was going in. I started getting ready with about 15 pitches left," he said.

O'Conner, the Rays' No. 20 prospect, smacked a two-run double in the top of the 19th to end a 10-inning scoreless stretch. Pat Leonard tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single, the last time a runner crossed the plate prior to O'Conner's two-base hit.

Griset tossed three one-hit innings as the Stone Crabs used four relievers before calling on DePew. Starter Austin Pruitt struck out six and gave up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits over 5 1/3 frames.

Tyler Clark (3-3) took the loss after giving up two runs on two hits over three innings. Flying Tigers starter Kevin Eichhorn was charged with two runs on three hits in 6 2/3 innings, while Alex Burgos fanned eight over four hitless frames.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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