2015 was a wild ride for the Biloxi Shuckers, that saw the team come up just a game short of the Southern League Championship in their inaugural season.
Under second year manager Carlos Subero, the Shuckers embarked on a 55 game road trip to start the season while awaiting the completion of the new MGM Park in Biloxi. They finished 2015 with an overall record of 78-59, which was tops in the Southern League, a game and a half ahead of the Montgomery Biscuits.
Led by top prospects Orlando Arcia, Jorge Lopez, Michael Reed and Tyler Wagner, the Shuckers went 43-25 in the first half of the season, winning the Southern League’s South Division and securing the franchise’s first playoff berth.
While the Shuckers didn’t quite repeat their first half domination in the season’s second half, they still managed to play better than .500 baseball, finishing with a 35-34 record.
Biloxi won their first three games of the season and finished the month of April with a record of 15-7. They continued to enjoy success on the road, going 16-12 in May, including a season-high six game winning streak from May 17th-22nd. The Shuckers posted a record of 16-8 in the month of June before suffering their only losing month in July, wrapping up the month with a 13-15 record. They rebounded in August to go 16-15 and rounded out the regular season with three wins and three losses in September.
The Shuckers came out strong in the first round of the playoffs, sweeping the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in three straight games and setting up a matchup with the Chattanooga Lookouts for the Championship. Biloxi took game one at home behind another brilliant pitching performance from Lopez. They dropped game two but bounced back to win game three in Chattanooga as Wagner and Yhonathan Barrios combined to shutout the Lookouts. Chattanooga evened the series with a win in game four, then topped the Shuckers 4-0 in a deciding game five.
The Shuckers placed a whopping 12 players on the Southern League All-Star team in 2015, including pitchers Jorge Lopez, Damien Magnifico, Hobbs Johnson, Tyler Wagner, Brooks Hall, Austin Ross and Jaye Champan, catcher Adam Weisenburger, first baseman Nick Ramirez, shortstop Orlando Arcia and outfielders Kyle Wren and Michael Reed. Chapman and Wren received promotions to Triple-A Colorado Springs before the game and were unable to participate, but all ten of the other Shuckers players selected suited up for the South All-Stars in their 9-0 loss to the North, with Arcia, Ramirez and Reed all in the starting lineup. Arcia and Ramirez played the whole game and each went 0-for-3 with a walk. Reed finished 0-for-2 and Weisenburger entered the game in the fifth inning and picked up a single in his lone at bat. Wagner and Lopez each worked an inning of relief while Ross, Hall and Johnson each went two-thirds of an inning and Magnifico faced five batters, striking out one.
Games Played: Nick Ramirez (131), Orlando Arcia (129), Tyrone Taylor (128)
Runs: Orlando Arcia (74), Nathan Orf (65), Nick Ramirez (63)
Hits: Orlando Arcia (157), Tyrone Taylor (118), Nathan Orf (116)
Doubles: Orlando Arcia (37), Nathan Orf (26), Nick Ramirez (22)
Triples: Orlando Arcia (7), Michael Reed (5), Nathan Orf (4)
Home Runs: Nick Ramirez (14), Orlando Arcia (8), Victor Roache (8)
RBI: Orlando Arcia (69), Nick Ramirez (63), Michael Reed (49)
Walks: Nick Ramirez (64), Nathan Orf (63), Michael Reed (53)
Stolen Bases: Orlando Arcia (25), Michael Reed (25), Kyle Wren (20)
Batting Average: Orlando Arcia (.307), Kyle Wren (.300), Michael Reed (.278)
OPS: Michael Reed (.801), Orlando Arcia (.800), Victor Roache (.752)
Wins: Jorge Lopez (12), Tyler Wagner (11), Brooks Hall (8)
ERA: Jay Chapman (0.82), Damien Magnifico (1.17), Brent Suter (1.95)
Appearances: Damien Magnifico (42), Jacob Barnes (39), Mike Strong (38)
Saves: Damien Magnifico (20), Yhonathan Barrios (6), Mike Strong (5)
Innings Pitched: Tyler Wagner (152.1), Jorge Lopez (143.1), Hobbs Johnson (117.1)
Strikeouts: Jorge Lopez (137), Tyler Wagner (120), Hobbs Johnson (94)
WHIP: Mike Strong (0.93), Josh Hader (0.98), Jaye Chapman (1.00)
Player of the Year
Orlando Arcia: The top prospect in the Brewers system entering the season, Arcia, who didn’t turn 21 until August, exceeded most expectations as one of the top players in the Southern League in 2015. The shortstop out of Venezuela hit .307 with 8 home runs and 69 runs batted in. He scored 74 runs in 129 games and tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 25 while also winning a Gold Glove Award as the top defensive shortstop in the minor leagues.
Pitcher of the Year
Jorge Lopez: A 22-year-old right-hander whom the Brewers selected in the second round in 2011, Lopez enjoyed a breakout season with Biloxi in 2015, establishing himself as the ace of a very strong Shuckers starting rotation. In 24 starts, he went 12-5 with a 2.26 earned run average. In 143.1 innings of work, Lopez struck out 137 batters while allowing just 36 earned runs and holding opposing hitters to a .205 batting average.