Season Record: 39-31/45-22
Given their impressive first half of the 2015 season, it would have been hard to imagine the Savannah Sand Gnats outdoing themselves. After languishing near the bottom of the standings for much of the first half, Savannah strung together a ten-game winning streak in June to propel themselves to the top of the leaderboard, clinching the South Atlantic League Southern Division for the first half on the last day of the season. Much like their first half, Savannah experienced a magical run after underperforming early on.
The Sand Gnats kicked off the second half of the 2015 season with various series losses and splits, not winning their first series until the middle of July against the Charleston RiverDogs. After having a six-game winning streak snapped at the end of July and beginning of August, the Sand Gnats went on an amazing run. First, they took three games from the Rome Braves. Then, they swept the Riverdogs, followed by the Braves once again, and then the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Augusta GreenJackets, and the Kannapolis Intimidators. When all was said and done, the Sand Gnats had won eighteen games in a row, and were propelled into first place. Having already won the first half, the Sand Gnats won South Atlantic League Southern Division for the second half as well.
In the South Atlantic League playoff semifinals, the Sand Gnats faced off against Asheville. The Gnats lost the first game of the three-game series, but won Game Two, forcing a win-or-go-home Game Three. In an incredibly tense game, the Tourists narrowly edged the Gnats. The game remained scoreless through eight innings until Asheville shortstop Luis Jean hit a two-run home run to put the Tourists on the board and in the lead. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, Tomas Nido, Jean Rodriguez, and Michael Katz got back-to-back-to-back hits to give the Gnats a run. With the tying run on third, Patrick Biondi hit into a 2-3 groundout to end the game, the 2015 season, and the Savannah Sand Gnats' franchise. A Mets affiliate since 2007, the book is now closed on the Savannah. The team went 636-598 during that period, qualifying for the South Atlantic League playoffs in 2010, 2011, and from 2013 to 2015. The 2010, 2014, and 2015 teams lost in the semifinals, while the 2011 team lost in the finals. The 2013 Gnats won the South Atlantic League championsip.
Already a slick-fielding shortstop, Luis Guillorme had an impressive year with the bat, hitting a healthy .318, which led the team. His .391 on-base percentage was second on the team, only hundredths of a point behind Jonathan Johnson's .396 mark. Guillorme ranked second in the league in batting average and fourth in on-base percentage. Thanks to both his offensive and defensive contributions, Guillorme was named South Atlantic League MVP.
After flashing his potential in half a season with the Kingsport Mets in 2014, the "wild card throw-in" included in the R.A. Dickey trade with the Toronto Blue Jays continued to impress in 2015. The 20-year-old outfielder was among team leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and stolen bases, and tied for the team lead in home runs.
Whatever Jose Leger needed of Rickey Knapp, he was up to the job. The 2013 eighth-round draftee started his season with Savannah as a mid-to-late-inning reliever and spot starter before fully transitioning to the starting rotation in mid-June. As a reliever, Knapp's numbers were fairly pedestrian, if not downright bad: 4.85 ERA in 26 innings, with five walks and 18 strikeouts. When he became a permanent starter, something clicked, leading the Florida native to post a 2.56 ERA in 95 innings, with 19 walks and 78 strikeouts.
Martires Arias began the season as one of the smaller starting pitchers in the Sand Gnats' rotation, standing only 6 feet 7 inches. By the end of the year, not only was he the tallest, but the Dominican right-hander was also the best: His 2.43 ERA led all Savannah starters, as did his 110 strikeouts.