Welcome back to Crawdads Corner! It’s hard to believe but we are already halfway through another season of Crawdads baseball. While the first half doesn’t officially end until Sunday as the ‘Dads wrap up a road trip in Greensboro and Delmarva, the home portion of the first half wrapped up this past weekend.
One week from today, three ‘Dads will represent Hickory at the South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Charleston, West Virginia. Sluggers Curtis Terry and Pedro Gonzalez were named to the team along with leadoff hitter Jonathan Ornelas, who will be starting the game at third base.
Hard-hitting catcher Sam Huff was likely headed towards his second SAL All Star selection before his red hot start this season earned him a call-up to the high-A Down East Wood Ducks. Huff was hitting .333 and had crushed 15 homeruns in 30 games, a mark that was leading all of Minor League Baseball and is still just one homerun shy of the SAL lead despite not having played in the league for six weeks. During his time in Hickory, Huff picked up a Player of the Week Award and was named the Uncle Rays South Atlantic League Player of the Month.
The ‘Dads offense as a whole has mashed 69 homeruns (as of Monday morning) which leads the league. Thirteen different players have collected at least one homerun this season for the Crawdads. The team’s 822 total bases and .420 slugging percentage are also league-best. On the rubber, ‘Dads starting pitcher Yerry Rodriguez is second in the league with a 2.20 ERA through nine starts. The pitching staff has accumulated a 3.38 ERA, which ranks fifth in the league.
The Crawdads have been no strangers to late-inning comebacks this season, treating fans to five walk-offs so far. Perhaps one of the most intriguing walk-offs came on May 11 as Tyler Depreta Johnson delivered a game-winning single in the thirteenth inning for his first hit as a Crawdad. Depreta Johnson, a second baseman, had moved to the mound two innings earlier to provide relief for a taxed ‘Dads bullpen. His walk-off single made him the night’s winning pitcher.
In addition to thrilling moments on the field, the ‘Dads have made it another exciting season full of promotions and contests. The Crawdads Thanksgiving in May celebration featured a potato giveaway and on-field games such as a mashed potato contest where contestants competed to mash potatoes with hammers. The Crawdads are also participating this season in Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversion (“Fun Cup”) to celebrate Latino cultures and traditions. As part of the program, the ‘Dads will take the identity of Las Llamas de Hickory for select games this season. The Llama festivities began this past weekend as live llamas came out to the ballpark and the Crawdads gave away bobbleheads of Conrad riding a llama. While weather spoiled the festivities, cancelling all three games, the ‘Dads will also play as the Llamas on July 17, August 8, and August 25.
The Crawdads kick off the second half at home with a seven-game homestand beginning on Thursday, June 20. Friday will be Disney Night with the Enchanted Elegance Princesses. VIP meet and greet tickets are going fast so call (828) 322-3000 to reserve your spot to have cookies and lemonade with the princesses. The night will be capped off with a post-game fireworks show. On Saturday, comedian Jon Reep will be at the park and the Crawdads will be giving away tee shirts to the first 1,000 fans. We’ll see you at L.P. Frans stadium for an exciting second half of ‘Dads baseball!