September 3rd, 2012

And Garcia make it 100!

The newest Major League player, Garcia played for the Whitecaps in 2009 and 2010

Congrats to outfielder Avisail Garcia, who became the 100th West Michigan Whitecaps alumni to play in Major League Baseball. He was called up to the Detroit Tigers Friday from the Double-A Erie Seawolves. He had a key RBI single in the Tigers 7-4 over the Chicago White Sox. He went 2-4 in last nights 4-2, and is now batting .429. Detroit would sweep the series, tying the ChiSox for first place in the AL Central Division. Garcia is the eight former Whitecap to be called up to a MLB team this season, with Tigers bringing up pitchers Casey Crosby, Luke Putkonen, Jose Ortega, and Thad Weber, as well as infielder Hernan Perez. Former Tigers 2007 Minor League Player of the year Gorkys Hernandez debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, and catcher Rob Brantly debuted with the Marlins after being traded to Miami this month. Speaking with MLive.com about the Whitecaps organization was Toby Harrah, former roving hitting instructor, and now assistant hitting coach with the Tigers. He had nothing but good things to say about the organization and quality of the ballpark, coaches, and front office.

“It’s the best environment in the world for playing,” Harrah stated. “It’s a great atmosphere for young prospects. It’s a big-league ballpark where everything is first class. It’s a great way to introduce kids to playing professional baseball.”

Thirteen ‘Caps alumni were even part of Detroit’s Central Division championship team last season, including Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Brandon Inge, Ramon Santiago, Andy Dirks, Ryan Raburn, Scott Sizemore, and Duane Below. The Tigers organization has also used some former West Michigan players for trade, gaining the likes of Miguel Cabrera for Cameron Maybin. Whitecaps vice president Jim Jarecki also spoke with MLive.com about the teams’ milestone.

“We’re proud of them,” said Jarecki. “A good percentage of players who’ve gone on to the majors started here. They put on a professional uniform for the first time here and they are always going to remember that. For us to know that many of them were in Whitecaps uniforms is something that we’re very proud of and lends a lot of credibility to our organization.”

As for Garcia, he was signed by the Tigers back in 2007, and played in West Michigan in 2009-10 as a teenager. He hit .281 in 2010 with 17 doubles and four home runs. With Boesch struggling this season, the right field position could be open if Garcia can make the best of his playing time, and help the Tigers to the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press

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Whitecaps play not too little, but too late

For the second time this season, the West Michigan Whitecaps came up just short of securing a spot in the 2012 Midwest League playoffs. Also, for the first time in franchise history, the ‘Caps will be missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Despite winning nine of their last 13 games, West Michigan was eliminated from the playoff race with a loss to Fort Wayne Friday night. The teams went 15-5 down the stretch in the first half of the season, but were unable to catch Bowling Green for that spot. Maybe they needed a miracle, or…maybe they needed starting pitcher Marcelo Carreno…

Marcelo Carreno recorded 13 strikeouts against the Dayton Dragons on Saturday night

Just one day after being eliminated, Carreno and the Whitecaps came home to Fifth-Third Ballpark and took everything out on the Dayton Dragons. Carreno recorded 13 strikeouts in the 7-1 victory, carving up the Dragons with his nasty curveball. He threw six scoreless innings and finished with game with 66 strikes on 89 pitches. Carreno’s 13 strikeouts were a career high, and the most by a starting pitcher this season.

“My curveball was amazing tonight”, he told the Grand Rapids Press. “Their hitters couldn’t hit my curveball so just used it a lot. Every time I got two strikes on a hitter, I went to the curveball and it was a strikeout. My fastball and change-up was good, too, and I could close my eyes tonight and throw the ball for a strike. We didn’t make the playoffs, and we feel bad about that, but we keep playing hard. We are a winning team.”

Offensively, the ‘Caps scored six runs in the second inning to help secure the win. Eugenio Suarez had an RBI single and Jason King hit a two-out single to make it 6-0. In the fifth inning, Colin Kaline added an RBI single to score King, who had a double to lead off the inning. Kaline, King, and Suarez each had two hits in the game. Unfortunately, it was a little too late for the ‘Caps, but they will still end the season with a winning record. We went to their second-to-last game yesterday, and I’ll post pics of that game soon.

Photos courtesy of Sally Finneran/Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com

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