By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Former Charlotte Stone Crabs have been invading the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster this season.
Starting pitcher Jacob Faria was the most recent ex-Stone Crab to reach the “Show,” becoming the sixth to do so in 2017.
“Watching him pitch the other night, I got some goosebumps,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “He’s just a really good kid. He’s a good human being first. He just happens to be a professional pitcher.”
In a spot start on Wednesday, Faria picked up a victory against the Chicago White Sox, tossing 6.1 innings and allowing just one run on three hits while striking out five and walking just two.
Faria joined fellow pitchers Austin Pruitt, Chih-Wei Hu, Jose Alvarado, Ryne Stanek and Hunter Wood as one-time Stone Crabs to make their debuts in 2017.
“Obviously our track record with pitching is really good, but I think our position players have gotten really good, too,” Johns said.
Faria, the Rays 10th-round draft pick in 2011, went 10-1 when he was wearing a Charlotte uniform. His 1.33 ERA is good enough for second-best in Stone Crabs history for pitchers with a minimum of 50 innings pitched.
For the six to debut this season, they’ve combined to toss 55.2 innings with 29 earned runs, 43 strikeouts and 19 walks. Pruitt has accounted for a majority of those numbers, totaling 23.2 innings with 20 runs and 22 strikeouts.
A total of 41 Stone Crabs have now reached the majors, 25 of whom made it there as a member of the Rays. Faria also was the 25th Stone Crabs pitcher to be promoted to the highest level.
Since Johns took over as manager in 2015, he has now seen seven members of his inaugural team called up to the Rays. In addition to Faria, Hu, Wood, Stanek, German Marquez, Junior Quercuto and Joey Rickard have also made it there.
“I think it speaks volumes to not only our ability to get guys to the big leagues, but to do it such a young age,” Johns said. “It goes back to drafting good players and that’s where it all starts. Some times that goes unnoticed.”
Of all the players Johns has managed who has already made it to the majors, he pointed to Stanek as the most impressive.
“He was a really, really good teammate,” Johns said. “Those things aren’t always noticed, but if he struggled in his outing, he was always cheering on his teammates after that. He never pouted. He always listened to everybody.”
Stanek made nine starts with the Stone Crabs in that 2015 season, and pitched to a 1.78 ERA while going 4-2 with 38 strikeouts.
Johns also noted two other former Stone Crabs who have impressed him, although they’re yet to make it to the majors, they’re
sure-to-be major leaguers shortly.
“They come to the field and they make your job easy because they like to work,” Johns said of first baseman Jake Bauers and shortstop Willy Adames. “Some guys need days off, some guys want days off, but those guys never wanted to sit. If they had to sit, they were mad.
“I loved that about them. They love playing and they love their teammates.”
Adames is the Rays’ organization’s No. 1 prospect, and No. 16 in all of MLB. Bauers is No. 4 for the Rays, and No. 64 for the league, according to MLB Pipeline. Both of them were on the 2015 team.