July 2011

Jacob Turns Heads in Debut; More Former ‘Caps Traded

Jacob Turner MLB debut vs. the California Angels

Jacob Turner made his Major League debut this afternoon, just one season away from pitching in Single-A with the Whitecaps, and two seasons out of high school. Turner is the 15th ranked prospect in all of baseball right now, so this shouldn’t be too much of a suprise to those who’ve been following his career. He didn’t disappoint, either, only giving up two runs against the talented Angels over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up three hits, walked three, and struck out six. Unfortunately, he took the loss, thanks to the efforts of Tigers relief pitcher Phil Joke Coke. Turner recieved a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Comerica Park for his efforts.

“Once they started cheering, I don’t even know how to describe it,” Turner stated. “My body felt like it went numb. That was probably the highlight of my day, to be honest.”

The 20-year-old right-hander also impressed his manager as well as the Tiger fans in attendance and watching him on TV on Fox’s Game of the Week.

“I thought he’d do well,” manager Jim Leyland stated. “I wasn’t sure he’d do quite as well as he did, to be honest with you. But I thought he’d do well.

Turner gave the Tigers a chance to win the game, but the thanks to the anemic offense and the struggling bullpen, he took the loss. He didn’t stay with the Whitecaps too long last season, so we didn’t get a chance to see him pitch down there. He was 2-3 with a 3.67 ERA, and 50 strikeouts with West Michigan in 2010. I look forward to seeing him on the mound in Detroit in the future.

Formers Whitecaps Wells and Furbush traded to Mariners

The Detroit Tigers traded Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, Francisco Martinez, and a player to be named later to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Doug Fister and relief pitcher David Pauley. Martinez is the Tigers 4th ranked prospect, but thought to be expendable due to Nick Castellanos’ progress in West Michigan. The move gives the Tigers a solid number five starter and beefs up the bullpen at bit. It also give Furbush and Wells a chance to be Major League players in Seattle. So far this season with the Tigers, Furbush is 1-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 17 appearances. With the Whitecaps in 2007, he was 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA and 46 strikeouts. Wells started the season with the Tigers, batting .257 with four home runs in 64 games before being optioned to the Toledo MudHens (Triple-A). In 2008, Casper batted .240  with ten home runs in 50 games with West Michigan. I wish them both the best with their new club. They can join former Whitecap pitcher Luke French who was traded to the Mariners in 2009 in a brilliant move that brought pitcher Jarod Washburn (who?) to Detroit.

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

About these ads

Whitecaps Brantly Promoted to Lakeland

West Michigan’s catcher to date and Midwest League All-Star Rob Brantly has been promoted to the High Class A Lakeland Flying Tigers of the Florida League as of yesterday. The twenty-two year-old was leading the Whitecaps with a .303 batting average and .440 slugging percentage. He also tallied 44 RBI’s, 86 hits, seven homers, and 42 runs scored. He also played 52 games with the ‘Caps last season, hitting .255 with 21 RBI’s and 25 runs scored. He was pretty impressive this season the times we’ve seen him play. Good luck to him moving up through Detroit’s system.

“I’m excited, and ready to play some more baseball,” Brantly told the Grand Rapids Press. “I just want to go there and keep swinging the bat, and work on the things I’ve learned here. I just want to keep improving.”

Brantly has been replaced in West Michigan with 2011 Draft Pick Curt Casali. He was the Tigers 10th round pick out of Vanderbilt. Casali comes up from the short season Connecticut Tigers where he batted .278 with ten hits and two RBI’s in ten NY-Penn League games. Also joining the ‘Caps from Connecticut is right-handed relief pitcher Melvin Mercedes who was 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA in eight appearances. Mercedes de-thrones short stop Dixon Machado as having the coolest name on the Whitecaps 2011 roster.

Photos property of M.I.B.

Below’s Above Average Debut; Cruz Cruises Across The Field

Duane Below makes MLB debut with the Tigers

Duane Below with the Whitecaps in 2007

Everyone loves a ‘local boy makes good’ story, so this should make some readers ecstatic. Britton, Michigan native Duane Below made his Major League debut Wednesday night against the Oakland A’s at Comerica Park, about an hour away from his home town. The Tigers lost 7-5, but Below pitched well in his first game and gave his team a chance to win. He threw five innings, giving up three runs on five hits, but only one run was earned. He also had two strike outs in the game. Below seemed pleased with his performance, though.

“It’s nice, it’s exciting,” Below told MLB.com. “[I was] just trying to continue to feel it out and feel what I have to do to get better. I’m still kind of nervous a little bit, I’m still excited, not sure how to take it, because it’s still settling in. It’s a dream. Hopefully I can continue to stay here and help the team win.”

I love it when players sound like little kids when their dreams come true. We were lucky enough to see Below pitch when he was with the Whitecaps back in 2007. The game was a sell-out at the time, with a local boy on the mound, and the ‘Caps picking up an 8-4 win over visiting Fort Wayne. Below also pitched five innings in that game and gave up one run. He posted a 2.97 ERA with West Michigan in 2007, and had a record of 13-5. He was named the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the Whitecaps Pitcher of the Year after leading the Midwest League in strikeouts with 160 in 2007. I was able to scrounge up a couple of pics from that game before my MLBlog days, but nothing real good of Below.

West Michigan beats Fort Wayne 8-4 with Duane Below on the mound

Cruz traded to Kansas City Royals

Now-former Whitecaps pitcher Antonio Cruz was traded to the Kansas City Royals yesterday, in a deal that brought infielder Wilson Betemit to the Tigers. Lucky for Cruz, the Whitecaps were hosting KC affiliate Kane County Cougars, so he just walked across the field to his new dugout and team. He first joined the ‘Caps as an 18-yr-old in 2010, going 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA during ten late season relief appearances. This season, the left-handed hurler was 2-6 with a 3.11 ERA. At the beginning of the season he was a starter, but was moved to the bullpen to limit his innings pitched.

With the acquisition of Betemit, former Whitecap and Tigers staple third baseman Brandon Inge has been designated for assignment and has reported to the Triple A Toledo MudHens. He needs to clear waivers next Monday, but Inge can’t really picture himself playing anywhere but Detroit.

“I could’ve made the decision not to accept the assignment, and maybe get picked up by another team,” Inge stated. “But i live here, my kids go to school around here, I’ve made this home. I still feel, no matter what happens–and no matter what will ever happen–that this is home for me. I’ve spent so many years here, and still plan on spending a lot more here. Everyone goes through rough patches in their career. This is definitely on of them. But I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and I opted not to push them into making a decision where they could release me.”

Inge is a fan favorite, and one of my favorites, but this had to be done. I wish him the best, and hope he can turn things around.

Antonio Cruz traded to the Kansas City Royals

Below photo courtesy of Joel Dinda/mwlguide

Whitecaps game photo property of M.I.B.

Cruz photo courtesy of Emily Jones/MiLB

Star Wars Night-Episode II: Attack of the Kids

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods: Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI

Our favorite game of the year is Star Wars night for sure. This time we brought Brian down for the fun, too. It was a beautifull night for baseball, but the real thrill for the kids was seeing all of their favorite movie characters. Me being a Star Wars freak since I was like, five, they’ve been exposed to the movies (original trilogy) for a number of years. We were able to get pics with most of the characters on hand, especially Darth Vader and Boba Fett, who is simply the greatest. There were some Jedi and X-Wing pilots hanging around, but the kids, especially Trevor, favor the Empire and thier legions of Stormtroopers, Snowtroopers, and pilots. Brian wanted no part of Darth Vader, either, as you’ll see he’s not in the picture with him. Darth Vader also threw out the first pitch, and had a little duel with Crash, the mascot. The night ended with a fireworks display with Star Wars theme music. The Whitecaps also wore special Star Wars jerseys. Of all the game I’ve been to so far, I think we’ve only seen the regular ‘Caps jersey’s once! There was a huge crowd again this year, season high 10,528,  but we still got to see who we wanted and had time to play in the park there, too. I’m not sure what our next game will be, but it will be hard to beat this night.

Starting pitcher #20 Alex Burgos

In the game, the Whitecaps had a solid offensive effort, beating the Hot Rods 11-3. Top prospect Nick Constellanos had two home runs the game, and went 3-4. He was recently named the Detroit Tigers Minor Player of the Month for hitting .375 with 20 RBI’s in June. He now leads the Midwest League with 94 hits, leads the ‘Caps with 52 RBI’s, and is one of the MWL leaders in batting average with .306 and doubles with 23.  Castellanos is a good bet for next seasons Furtures Game if he keeps this pace up. On the mound, Alex Burgos was solid in the win. He allowed three runs on five hits while striking out six, to up his record to 4-1. Three of the hits he gave up were infield singles. 

Aren’t they a little short for Stormtroopers?

“If Trevor won’t turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps his sister will…”

The most feared Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy…

I need to win this…for the kids, that is

Lead off hitter #16 Luis Castillo

At 85 degrees, it was more like Tatooine than Hoth…

Photos property of M.I.B.

Whitecaps Update: 2011 Mid-Season Report

Ok, I’ve been slacking a bit on my Whitecaps coverage, but at least I’ve been to more games this season that the last few years, so that more fun that’s just reading the stats. The Whitecaps are off to a solid second half, so here’s hoping they can stay hot and continue their playoff streak. Inserted are photos from the ‘Caps recent series with the Fort Wayne TinCaps from the Grand Rapids Press. Happy 4th of July everyone….

First Half: The Whitecaps really struggled early this season, with such a young roster, but were able to battle back a bit. They ended the first half 32-37, which was good for 6th in the eight team division. What’s impressive, is that they went through a rough 12 game losing streak early in the season, so being able to recover from that is a positive sign.

Second Half: West Michigan is off to a solid start in the second half of the season, going 7-4, which is good enough for second place in the East one game behind the Dayton Dragons. Outfielder Jeff Rowland is off to a great start in this second stint. He’s batting .400 with four doubles, six walks, and a .600 OBP. The pitching staff is also getting the job done for the Whitecaps. Their starters have had seven quality starts in the first 10 games and are 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA. The team has gone 17-8 since June 3 and are almost at .500 for the entire season.

Team Leaders: Rookie sensation Nick Castellanos is emerging as a team leader, despite having a slow start to his first full pro season. He’s leading the ‘Caps in batting average with .306, RBI’s with 48, and SLG% with .441. James Robbins is leading the team in home runs with 10, and Luis Castillo is tops with a .369 OBP. On the mound, Kevin Eichhorn leads the team in three categories of his own: wins with 6, SO with 68, and a 1.17 WHIP. Antonio Cruz has the best ERA with 3.29, and Bruce Rondon is tops with 15 saves.

All Stars: Representing the Whitecaps in this year Midwest League All-Star game were Bruce Rondon, Rob Brantly, and Hernan Perez. Rondon pitched a scoreless 0.2 of an inning with one strikeout. Brantly went 0-3, while Perez went 0-2 in the East’s 8-3 loss to the West. In this season’s MLB All-Star game, catcher Alex Avila of the Tigers has been voted in as the starter. He’ll be joined on the American League roster by Matt Joyce (TB) and may face the National League’s Jair Jurrjens (ATL) on the mound.Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press

Life’s A Beach

Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Evansville Otters: Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI

We finally made it down to Traverse City this week for our first Beach Bums game of the season. The weather was beautiful, and the kids were able to play on the play ground inside the park for a while. The kids were happy that their Papa could meet us there, too, as he always spoils them rotten. What I really like about Wuerfel Park is that the concourse goes completely around the interior of the park, so we could take Brian for ‘walks’ and he can see the entire field, while we can keep track of the game. Lily and Trevor helped out a lot watching their little brother, and were rewarded with some ice cream. Not a huge crowd for a game during the week, but that’s fine with us, as the kids needed to run around a bit. It’s hard to ask them to just sit and watch a game when they’ve been in the car for a few hours. Our next game will be Star Wars night at the Whitecaps next weekend. That should be a memorable night.

In the game, the Beach Bums broke out the bats, scoring 12 unanswered runs. The Bums were sparked by a big fifth inning rally, scoring six runs. The offense was led by shortstop Jose Vargas, who had two two-run doubles and a solo home run during the game. He ended the game 3-4 with five RBI’s. Designated Hitter Chase Birch also knocked a two-run shot over the fence in the fifth. On the mound, Bryan Banes earned his fifth win of the season (5-0). Final Score: Beach Bums 12, Otters 4.

That is one big PBR!

Brian with his Papa and SunTan

Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, Mi

Photos property of M.I.B.

All American Girl

Lily started her games last week, and she is really doing well. She’s hitting the ball hard up the middle, and usually it’s the first or second pitch. The umpire uses a pitching machine and the girls all bat around. The league really stresses fun and skill development over competition. Lily has played all over the field, including catcher, first, outfield, and even a little second base like her daddy. She wasn’t sure if she was going to play this season, so she missed out on the travel team try-outs, but maybe next season. The try-outs are in October, so a long way to go until then. The league is run by the high school softball coach, and the teams are coached by the high school girls. They’re really great with the kids and give them solid instruction. No game this week due to the holiday, but I can’t wait until her next game. Nothing makes me happier than watching my kids play ball. Trevor is playing soccer this season, but said he’s going back to baseball next year, and Brian will be old enough to play t-ball next year, too. I don’t get a lot of sleep with all the things we have going on, but they are definitely worth it. There’s a new website where you can track you kids baseball career, so I can track her here:

http://mybaseballcareer.com/8NQHy

Photos property of M.I.B.

Tiger Trails

Tracking the minor league affiliates of the Detroit Tigers

The Pat Venditte Rule

sports and everything in between

Bullpen, Baseball & Sock Talk

MLB news and baseball ramblings w/an Oaktown twist! Brought to you by the original Oakland A's Socks Girl ...

Southern Ballhawk

Minor League Ballhawk In The Southern States

A Few Witte Words - by Emily Witt

Artist, Writer, Photographer, Reds Fan.

The Life Of A Wilmington Ballhawk

Baseball Fan and Ballhawk

The Ballpark Guide

This is the travel blog for Malcolm MacMillan, founder of TheBallparkGuide.com. Visit the website for comprehensive guides to Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball stadiums.

Dodger Blue World

My addiction to the Dodgers and baseball. I love Our Lady of Chavez Ravine (OLOCR) Dodger Stadium. If you come to Dodger Stadium, I'd love to show you around.SABR & Baseball Reliquary member

MiLB Snap Shots

As a freelancer, Tom Priddy has been photographing Minor League Baseball for more than 15 years. These are his photos and the stories behind them.

The Canuck Cubbie

Father, Husband, Screenwriter, Brew Master and Cubs fan. oh yeah, I'm Canadian too, eh?

Hoppers Fan

A fan's perspective on the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Class A South Atlantic League affiliate for the Miami Marlins.

Cans of Corn

Baseball Notes From a Female Fan

HardballTalk

Baseball. Baseball. And then a bit more baseball.

From the Nest

The Great Lakes Bay Region's inside perspective on all things baseball...plus other curiosities.

TheRunFactory.com

Running up, over and through the cogs

Beck's Blog

Tracking the Tigers with MLB.com beat writer Jason Beck.

Ballparks on a Budget

Baseball is better in person- take yourself out to the ballgame!

Ben's Biz Blog

The Greatest Minor League Baseball Blog of All Time

This is a very simple game...

You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You hit the ball...Of course, baseball fans know that this line from Bull Durham is far from true, part of the humor of the movie and a huge part of the fun of the game. This blog is a space to talk about baseball, being a baseball fan, all of those things that make the game fun and the Angels, because they make baseball fun for me.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 517 other followers