By Zane Miller
In the 28-season long history of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the team has gone 5 for 10 in championship finals appearances, to go along with making 16 postseason appearances in total. As of this writing, Wilmington’s best regular season record came in 1994 at 94-44, while their worst came in 2016 at 54-84. These are the top five single seasons by starting pitchers that I felt have stood out the most during the team history of the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
In total, the team has won five championships, coming in 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2019, with their 1999 championship credited as a co-championship shared with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
5. Glendon Rusch (1995)
The 469th overall pick of the 1993 draft by the Kansas City Royals picked up a 14-6 record during the 1995 campaign, pitching 165 and two-thirds innings while allowing five home runs, 32 earned runs and 110 hits for a 1.74 ERA. Wilmington took their 83-55 record to reach the 1995 playoffs, sweeping the Prince William Cannons two games to none in the first round before being swept by the Kinston Indians three games to none in the finals. Rusch would make his major league debut with the Royals in 1997, before exiting the MLB after the 2009 season.
4. Rowdy Hardy (2007)
After being signed as an amateur free agent by the Royals in 2006, Hardy scored a 15-5 showing with the Blue Rocks in 2007, allowing six home runs, 46 earned runs and 144 hits in 167 innings, taking an ERA of 2.48 in the process. Wilmington finished at 75-62 to qualify for the 2007 playoffs, before losing to the Frederick Keys two games to none in the first round.
3. Aaron Lineweaver (1998)
The 589th overall pick of the 1996 draft by the Royals earned a 13-5 record with the Blue Rocks during the 1998 season, giving up five home runs, 52 earned runs and 136 hits in 168 innings pitched to grab an ERA of 2.79. Wilmington fought their way to an 86-54 record to make it to the 1998 playoffs, defeating the Winston-Salem Warthogs three games to one in the finals, winning their third championship in franchise history.
2. Mike Bovee (1994)
The 158th overall pick of the 1991 draft by the Royals went 13-4 with the Blue Rocks in 1994, allowing 10 home runs, 50 earned runs and 149 hits over the course of 169 and two-thirds innings, taking a 2.65 ERA. Wilmington dominated the year with their best regular season record (as of this writing) at 94-44 to reach the 1994 playoffs, sweeping the Winston-Salem Spirits three games to none in the finals, earning their first championship in franchise history. Bovee would make his major league debut with the Anaheim (now Los Angeles) Angels in 1997, in what would be his lone season in the MLB.
1. Brian Harrison (1993)
The 386th overall pick of the 1992 draft by the Royals claimed a 13-6 record with the Blue Rocks in 1993, pitching 173 innings with 16 home runs, 63 earned runs and 168 hits allowed to record a 3.28 ERA. Wilmington screamed to a 74-65 record in their inaugural season to qualify for the 1993 playoffs, taking down the Frederick Keys two games to none in the first round before being defeated by the Winston-Salem Spirits three games to one in the finals.
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