One of the only teams in the Tampa Bay Rays system to not make a deep playoff run, the Charlotte Stone Crabs still played home to many top prospects throughout the year.
The Tampa Bay Rays Class-A advanced affiliate, the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League finished 74-62 and second in the south division, two and a half games behind the Palm Beach Cardinals.
Charlotte acted as a stepping stone for many this year as they only had four players play at least 100 games for them this season. Many players graduated to or from Charlotte as the year progressed. At the plate Jesus Sanchez was fantastic and Tristan Gray showed a lot of power.
At the mound, Brock Burke had a breakout year along with Blake Bivens. Brendan McKay continued to make progress on the mound while his bat began to slow. With the increased movement of players from the lower leagues to Charlotte and from Charlotte to Montgomery, I want to focus on a few standout performances rather than team leaders for this review.
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Tristan Gray, 2B, LHH
The 22-year-old left-handed hitting second baseman showed the Rays some power this year at Charlotte. The team leader with 13 homers and 69 runs batted in, Gray showed some ability to produce. The second baseman did play in 118 games which also led the team. For him to be more successful moving on he will need to cut down on the strikeouts and increase the amount of walks, his OBP of .300 has some room for improvement.
Robbie Tenerowicz, 1B, RHH
The former 27th round pick saw a dip in power in 2018 but still hit for average over the course of 100 games. Tenerowicz showed discipline at the plate and was able to produce even with the dip in power. 2018 was his third professional season in the Rays system. In all three seasons, the righty has been very consistent at the plate. The only difference was the dip in SLG%.
Jesus Sanchez, OF, LHH
Prior to getting promoted to Double-A Montgomery, the Rays #4 overall prospect and a top prospect in all of baseball was fantastic in Charlotte. Sanchez hit .301 with 10 bombs and 64 RBI’s in 90 games. Sanchez struggled after his promotion, but the 21-year-old has plenty of time to figure things out next year at Double-A.
Lucius Fox, SS, S
Similar to Sanchez, Lucius Fox hit well in nearly 90 games for the Stone Crabs prior to being called up to Montgomery where he would struggle as well. Like Sanchez, Fox is 21 and will have time to figure things out. In 89 games he hit .282 and stole 23 bases.
Brendan McKay, LHP, LHH
Brendan McKay, the Rays #2 prospect continued to impress on the mound but struggled at the plate. He did still show some power hitting 5 homers in 32 game, but he did not hit for average (.201). On the mound though, the lefty appeared in 11 games (9 starts) and struck out 54 in 47.2 innings pitched. He finished with an ERA of 3.21.
Brock Burke, LHP
Burke was impressive at Charlotte but was even more impressive after his promotion to Montgomery. The southpaw struck out 87 batters in 82 innings and finished with an ERA of 3.84. He was very impressive at Montgomery which will be discussed in their review.
Blake Bivens, RHP
The righty was very good prior to his promotion to Montgomery were he struggled. As a Stone Crab he made 10 starts, one of those being a complete game shutout. He struck out 48 in 57.1 innings pitched.
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2018 was a good year for the Charlotte Stone Crabs as many players continued to develop and forge their path to the Major Leagues. Stone Crab fans got the chance to watch some possible future Rays greats in Fox, Sanchez, and Mckay. Next we will review the Montgomery Biscuits, which is where a lot of Stone Crabs ended the year.