Friday, December 25, 2015

Friday Five: 5 Durham Bulls Highlights from 2015

This week's Friday Five looks back at 5 cool things that happened last year for the Durham Bulls.  While the team did not make the playoffs, I know Bulls fans are spoiled, there were plenty of things to love about the past season.  Here are my five highlights from 2015 from my favorite Minor League baseball team:

Honorable Mention- Corey Brown Hits Bull, Wins Steak
Every loves the Bull in left field of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Growing up as a Cardinals fan in St. Louis we always had the Stan Musial statue in front of the stadium.  The Bull is slightly larger than Stan and he is in the stadium.  Every once in awhile you can see a player hit a home run off the landmark.  This year outfielder Corey Brown got the job done.  Not sure how many lefties have pulled off this feat......

5. Boog Powell and his Baseball Glove 
The Bulls had Boog Powell for roughly half the season.  He came over in the Ben Zobrist trade with the A's last season and provided a spark at the top of the lineup for the Bulls.  Besides working his OBP magic the speedy spark plug also played one incredible outfield.  Over summer break I took my son to a Sunday game against the Gwinnett Braves for run the bases day.  The Bulls ended up losing the game in extra innings, but we got to enjoy one of the better catches I have ever seen in person....

4. Mahtook's First Hit Home Run 
One of the best parts of watching Minor League baseball is seeing the players you watch end up in the Majors.  It's even better when they get to the Majors and make a positive impact for their team.  Mikie Mahtook spent the 2015 season traveling back and forth between Durham and Tampa.  He struggled to find consistent playing time with the Bulls, but shined off the bench with the Rays putting up a .295/.351/.619 line with 5 homers, 1 triple, and 9 doubles in just over 100 at bats.  Mahtook even picked up his first career hit with a home run against the Blue Jays.

3. Shaffer's Debut Home Run 
Richie Shaffer started the season in Double A Montgomery, spent 70 games in Durham, and then got promoted to the Rays.  Somewhere in there he hit 19 home runs for the Bulls, 7 for Montgomery, and played in the MLB Futures Game.  The highlight of Shaffer's year thought had to be his first Major League hit after being called up for the Bulls.  Self-High-Five.  

2. Motter Everywhere 
The MVP of the 2015 Durham Bulls was a no brainer.  Every night Taylor Motter was in the line-up.  Sometimes he played in the outfield, sometimes he played in the infield, but he was always somewhere.  By the end of the season Motter posted a .292/.366/.471 line with 14 home runs and 43 doubles.  As a fan of the game Motter was a joy to watch and I cannot wait to see him in Tampa.  Remember the name. 

1. Snell Wins Minor League Pitcher of the Year 
Rays prospect Blake Snell spent the end of his 2015 season with the Durham Bulls making 9 starts.  The left handed pitcher had an ERA of 1.83 and struck out 57 batters in just 44.1 innings.  He was pretty special in Double-A too.  All of this great pitching helped Blake Snell pick up Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors from both Baseball America and USA Today.  I am guessing he will start the season in Durham next year.  Go watch him pitch before he's in Tampa.  

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