League: Eastern League (AA)
Home Field: Hadlock Field
Affiliation: Boston Red Sox
Location: Portland, Maine
Fun Facts: Team was establishing in 1994 as an affiliate of the Florida Marlins, which lasted until 2003. They won the Eastern League title in 2005 and 2006. Hadlock Field built the ‘Maine Monter’ in right feild to replicate Fenway. When a Sea Dog player hits a home run, a lighthouse raises in the outfield in celebration. Team mascot is Slugger the Sea Dog.
Notable Alumni: Josh Beckett, Ryan Dempster, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Edgar Renteria, and Nate Robertson.
Still In Second: The Whitecaps are still standing in second place in the MWL Eastern Division with a record of 32-24 in the second half. They are just unable to catch the almost unbeatable Fort Wayne TinCaps. who they trail by 8.0 games as of this post.
Hot Bat: Short stop Gustavo Nunez has been hot at the plate since returning to West Michigan. Last week Nunez homered from both sides of the plate (including a grand slam), during a nine-run first inning against the Dayton Dragons, a game the ‘Caps would win 14-2. Over the last 10 games he’s batting .357 with three homers and eight RBI’s.
Ups and Downs: Ronnie Borquin has been reassigned to the Whitecaps from the AA Erie Seawolves. He was sent to Erie right after the MWL All-Star game and hit .228 with five homers and 19 RBI’s during his AA stint. Second basebman Brandon Douglas has been placed on the disabled list. Also a MWL All-Star, Douglas is batting .333 with 34 RBI’s in 74 games so far this season in West Michigan.
Alex Avila: Wow, it seems like just last season when I was watching Avila play in a ‘Caps uniform. Oh, wait, it WAS just last season. Spending most of the 2009 season with the AA Seawolves, he was recently promoted to the Detroit Tigers and is making the most of it, going 2-4 in his MLB debut. As of this post, he’s hitting .370 with three home runs, four doubles, and nine RBI’s in just 10 games with Detroit. The Tigers have had a tough time finding a reliable backup at catcher this season that can do anything productive at the plate.
“I guess that’s the reason they called me up”, Avila stated. “They want to see what you can do and how you can play at this level…Any time you’re in the lineup, you just try to do your job. Then, hopefully, you’ll stick up here.”
In his stint with the Whitecaps last season, he hit .305 with 22 RBI’s in 58 games. He was assigned to West Michigan after being drafted out of the Univ. of Alabama. Being his dad is the Tigers assistant GM, baseball must be in his blood.
“Ever since I was young,” Avila said, “all we did was baseball.”
Photo courtesy of The Detroit News
This is a really good article on Independant Pro Baseball. It lists some of the MLB players that took this route to ‘the show’. This is really eye opening, and gives a good description of the baseball played in these leagues. You can check it out HERE .
Here’s another good story about Minor League Baseball and it’s fan base. This makes me fee like I’m not alone with my obsession with MiLB ball. The writer gives you a feel of the game and environment better than I can. I was especially interested in the author’s experience in Burlington, as I plan on taking next years baseball trip to see all the teams in Iowa. You can check this one out HERE
Appleton, WI-August 4-5, 2009: It’s already August, and the kids will going back to school soon, and summer will be officially a thing of the past. Wanting to get one more trip in, we headed west through the U.P. to Wisconsin to take in a couple of Timber Rattler games. We watched the T-Rats play the Kane County Cougars on Tuesday night at 7:05, then for a Wednsday matinee at noon before heading home.
Playing in the Midwest League, the T-Rats are enjoying there first season as a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. This is obviously helping attendance, as the stadium was packed with Brewers fans for both games. Also helping was the fact that Hall of Famer and former Brewer legend Paul Molitor was there signing autographs on Tuesday night. I didn’t even bother to get in line to see him the line was so long. I also enjoy visiting a ballpark for the first time and Fox Cities Stadium didn’t disappoint. Not as big as some of the other Class A ballparks, but really nice and not a bad seat in the house. The lower box seats make you feel like your right on the field. The food was pretty good and the beer was cold, so no complaints there.
The Rattlers lost both games to the Cougars, but both were very competitive. Tuesday night game went to the tenth with Kane County coming out on top 4-2. Wednsday’s game ended 3-1 in favor of the Cougars again. Wisconsin left a lot of base runners in scoring position both games. We saw some good pitching and defense from both teams, too. I have to give props to the Cougars Chris Berroa(pictued) for throwing me a game ball.
Photos property of MIB
Today the Seattle Mariners traded left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for former Whitecap pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles.
“We had an opportunity to acquire two starting left-handed pitchers under the age of 23, including one with Major League experience”, Seattle general manager Jack Zdurienecik said in a statement.
French has mostly played with Detroit’s AAA farm club Toledo Mud Hens this season, but has had five starts with the Tigers. He is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in those games for Detroit. In a game against Seattle on July 23, he limited the Mariners to just two hits in 5 1/3 innings. Playing for West Michigan in 2006 and part of 2007, he was crucial in helping the ‘Caps winning back to back Midwest League titles. He was named MWL Pitcher of the Week on 07/23/06. French was an eighth round pick of the Tigers in 2004, coming out of high school in Colorado. The 6’4″, 220 pound lefty, basically hurls three pitches. His fastball is ‘Reagan Era’ at 86-88, but can hit 90 at times. He can also toss a 76-78 mph slider and a sinking change up at around 74-76.
Robles pitched for West Michigan in 2008, and pat of this season before being promoted to High-A Lakeland. His 2008 totals are 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 23 games. He only gave up two home runs and struck out 79. This season in only 11 games with the ‘Caps, he was 4-4 with a 4.23 ERA, and struck out 71. Robles is a bit more of an unknown, as he didn’t focus on pitching until after he was signed by Detoit as a free agent out of Venezuela. His fast ball averages 91-94 and has peaked at 96. Unfortunately, it goes down to 89-90 from time to time. His arm noticably slows down and flattens during while throwing his curce, so that’s something he’ll have to adjust in the Minors.
Good luck to both Luke and Mauricio in this new chapter of their careers. All the best in Seattle, and we appreciate your time and efforts in the Tigers organization. Seems like ‘win-win’ for both teams on this one. Detroit’s hold on the AL Central is hanging by a string, so hopfully Washburn and keep runs off the board, as the Tigers are having trouble scoring them.
Photo courtesy of Farm1.Flickr