August 2011

More Accolades for 2011 Whitecaps

Three Whitecaps are Midwest League post-season All-Stars

Third baseman Nick Castellanos, second baseball Hernan Perez, and catcher Robert Brantley have been named to the 2011 Midwest League All-Star team for the post season. Castellanos had a slow start to his first full pro season, but became one of the best players in the league though-out the course of the season. The nineteen year-old is fourth in the league with a .310 batting average, a team leading 71 RBI’s, and six home-runs. Castellanos is leading the league in hits with 147 (the ‘Caps record is 158 set by Robert Fick in 1997) and is tied for the league lead in doubles with 34. He’s solid in the clutch, also, batting a whopping .398 with runners in scoring position.

Lily posing with Nick on Opening Day

The twenty year-old Perez, from Venenzuela, returned from the Whitecaps last season to become the starting second baseman in 2011. He played shortstop for the ‘Caps last year, and has made some great plays on the infield at Fifth-Third Ballpark. This season he’s hitting .267 with eight home-runs and 40 RBI’s. He leads West Michigan with 67 runs and 22 doubles. He represented the ‘Caps at this seasons All-Star Game also.

Despite being promoted to Lakeland last month, Brantly has been honored as the top catcher in the MWL. He hit .303 with seven home-runs, and 44 RBI’s, and had 16 doubles. Behind the plate he threw out 34% of the runners trying to steal against him. I’m glad we had a chance to watch these guys plays this season, and look forward to following them up through the Tigers system.

Burgos MWL Pitcher of the Week

Whitecaps hurler Alex Burgos has also been named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for August 22-28. The left-hander threw eight scoreless innings last Thursday against the Lake County Captains, helping his team to a 12-innings 1-0 victory. Since joining the Whitecaps in June, Burgos has gone 6-4 with a 2.20 ERA in 14 starts. He’s struck out 82, while only giving up 55 hits this season, and has allowed opposing batters to only hit .190 against him. Burgos is the second West Michigan hurler to win the award this season, joining Kyle Ryan from July. We were lucky to see Alex pitch the Whitecaps to victory on Star Wars night on July 9.

Burgos hits the mound on Star Wars night July 9th

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps and M.I.B.

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Whitecaps and Tigers Extentd Relationship

At least I know that two of my kids will graduate high school while the ‘Caps are still affiliated with the Tigers. Seriously, though, this move makes sence, and it’s good to know we’ll keep seeing future Tigers come through the system. I’ve always wondered if the Tigers had any interest in possibly moving affiliation to the Lansing LugNuts or the Great Lakes (Midland) Loons, but I guess that question has been answered. This move also will help attendance at Fifth Third Ballpark, and bring fans from all over western and northern Michigan. Grand Rapids is a great town, and also hosts the Red Wings top AHL affiliate in the Griffins. The Tigers had already signed on for West Michigan through 2014, but the extention now goes to 2018. The Whitecaps CEO Lew Chamberlain is also happy about the deal, as he stated to the Grand Rapids Press:

“For the people of West Michigan and the fans, it’s really important for them now to know that we will be developing young Tigers for years to come. Because that is the exciting part of it. When you turn on your TV and see guys like Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn and Alex Avila. Guys that you watched here just a few years ago, and to know that we are going to continue to do that is what is really fun and exciting for me. This has been a terrific relationship between the two organizations from top to bottom, and now we don’t have to worry about what might happen next year or at the end of 2014. So There is some stability there, and that was important. The Tigers have provided us the great players and great teams, and they understand what we are all about as an organization.”

Spoken like a true business man. At least my favorite baseball teams know how to make a relationship last…

The Whitecaps are still looking for a playoff spot, but trail both Fort Wayne and Great Lakes by two points. After a rough start, they’ve played pretty consistantly in the second half of the season with a 26-24 record (58-61 overall). They have only 20 games left in the season, though, with ten at home. Below are some pics of the ‘Caps recent series with Great Lakes and the Dayton Dragons. 

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps and Grand Rapids Press

Whitecaps’ Ryan MWL Pitcher of the Week

West Michigan’s Kyle Ryan has been named the Midwest League’s Pitcher of the Week for his efforts against the Lansing Lugnuts last Thursday. In the first game of a double-header, he threw six hitless innings, struck out three, and walked three. He even picked off a baserunner and retired 17 of the 20 batters he faced off against. Ryan never allowed a runner to reach scoring position and came three outs from the Whitecaps first no-hitter in just over a decade. He was pulled after the sixth innings after his pitch count reached 80.

Ryan was a 12th round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2010 out of Auburndale High School in Florida. So far this season, he is 4-8 with a 3.46 ERA and has a team high nineteen starts. He leads the Whitecaps in quality starts with 13, and has allowed only 122 hits, has struck out 69, and only walked 26 in his 109.1 innings of work. The quality pitching of hurlers like Ryan, Alex Burgos, and Kevin Eichhorn are instrumental in the ‘Caps moving up from 5th place in the MWL Eastern Division. The team is only five games back, so there is still hopes for the playoffs.

In Eichhorn’s last outing, he threw a complete game, and had his own no-hit bid going until the sixth inning in a game against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. He ended up only allowing four hits by the Hot Rods, gave up one earned run, while striking out two and walking one hitter. Sixteen of his outs were ground balls. At one point in the game, he retired fifteen batters in a row. Eichhorn increased his record to 8-3, but is 5-0 in his last ten starts. His ERA is 3.47, but was only 2.69 in those last ten outings. His eight wins leads the team.

Following up Eichhorn’s complete game, Burgos struck out a career high ten batters in the Whitecaps victory over the Dayton Dragons. He retired 17 of the first 19 hitters he faced off against, and took a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning. The left-handed Burgos is now 6-2 on the season. A fifth-round draft pick in 2010, he missed the first two months of the season after developing bicep tendonitis during spring training in his throwing are.

Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

Super Season of Softball

It seems like Lily’s softball season,  and the summer, just began. Last week, though, it all came to an end in an exciting conclusion to the season. Her team made it to the semi-finals of the Sault Girls Softball League playoffs, but lost 11-15 to the eventual championship team. So close, but she had three hits in the game and had a lot of fun. This is her first year in this softball league, as she been playing baseball with the boys the last few seasons. She adapted very well and really liked playing in an all girl league. With two brothers bugging her at home, she likes playing with the girls a bit. She played a lot of catcher and some outfield, and her hitting improved a lot over the course of the season. All of the coaches are softball players with the local high school, so they have a great rapport with the kids and relate to them well. The league really stresses fun and fundamentals, with constant instruction and encouragement during practices and games. She already stated she wanted to play next year in this league, so I know she had a lot of fun. Trevor stated he might pick up the bat and glove and play baseball next season after a year in soccer, and Brian will be starting T-Ball. Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time at the ball fields!!!!

Photos property of M.I.B.

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