June 2014

50th Midwest League All-Star Classic

East Division vs. West Division

classic1Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: We started off this seasons’ baseball trip with a bang this year, right here in Michigan with the 50th Midwest League All-Star Classic. The doors opened at 4:00, so when we arrived we were able to watch some of the West players during batting practice. We were really lucky it turned out to be such a beautiful day, too, as the forecast called for some rain, and thankfully we never got a drop.

classic2classic3There were plenty of things going on to keep fans entertained during the three hours until the first pitch, also. Joining the hometown mascots Crash, Franky, and Roxy, were Big Lug (Lansing), Johnny (Fort Wayne), Lou E. Loon (Great Lakes), and Fang (Wisconsin). The mascots did a great job all night and throughout the game. Crash and Lou E. Loon really stood out from the others, though, in entertaining the crowd.

classic4classic5classic6classic7classic8Fans were also lucky enough to get down on the field and get some autographs from the all-stars. They didn’t give us a whole lot of time, but I was able to get most of the East team to sign a baseball for the kids. It was fun talking to the players, also, even the ones from opposing teams we don’t get to see that often. All the players were great with the fans, and seemed very happy to be participating in the game.

classic9

Me with the Whitecaps Javier Betancourt

Me with the Whitecaps Javier Betancourt

Another pre-game activity was the ‘Lost Art of Bunting’ contest. Players from each team had a chance to try bunting the ball onto select targets down the first and third base side. This year’s winner was Mallex Smith, and outfielder for the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

classic11Also on hand to sign some autographs was Detroit Tigers’ legend Willie Horton. Being a World Champion for the Tigers in 1968, he was someone my parents watched back in the 60’s and 70’s. We made sure he signed a ball for both of them, and I tried to get Horton in a photo with my dad, but there was some bad lighting. Still better than nothing, though. There was a long line for autographs, but it moved pretty quickly. Almost comical, though, as you couldn’t have him personalize an autograph or get an actual picture with him.

classic12classic13Now, on to the game itself…which was a blowout. You’d think an all-star game would be pretty competitive, but the West shut down the hitters from the East almost the entire game. In fact, the East was no-hit for 7 2/3 innings, before South Bend’s Marty Herum wrecked it. The Whitecaps’ starting pitcher Jonathan Crawford took the loss for the East, giving up one run in two innings of work. The ‘Caps Buck Farmer came in and pitched a scoreless fifth inning. He struck out one, walked one, and hit one batter. He leads the Midwest League with 87 strikeouts. Wynton Bernard played left field the entire game, going 0-3 with a walk, and leaving two runners on. Second baseman Javier Betancourt came into the game in the fifth inning. Although he was tied for the league lead in hits, he went 0-2 with a line-drive out and a ground-out. West Michigan pitchers Austin Kubitza, Chad Green, and reliever Joe Mantiply did not make an appearance.

classic14classic15classic16classic17classic18classic19classic20classic21classic22classic23The MVP award went to Hershel ‘Boog’ Powell of the Beloit Snappers. Boog went 1-3 with two walks, two stolen bases, and a two-run double. Even though the games wasn’t a close one, it was still an exciting experience for any baseball fan. And, hey, at least I caught a game ball! Final score: East 0, West 7.

classic24Here’s a video from my YouTube channel:

All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball

 

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Little League in full swing!

Even though we haven’t been to as many games this season as we’ve liked, it doesn’t mean that baseball is not a big part of our lives. Between the both boys in Little League, I’m up at the ball fields five nights a week. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being able to coach my kids in baseball is one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. I’m very happy to be spending this time with them, and helping them learn the great sport of baseball. Lily isn’t playing softball anymore, but she does help me coach Brian’s tee-ball team. She’s been there, and knows how I do things by now, and I enjoy being able to spend that time with her, also. This is also the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball, and it’s already turning out to be a special year. The biggest change the kids are enjoying this year are the team names instead of sponsor names. Trevor, especially, is getting a kick out of this!

Trevor is playing for the CUBS:

cubs1cubs2cubs3Brian is playing for the ANGELS:

angels1

Great catch, Brian!

Great catch, Brian!

angels3angels4And the coach:

coachPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

Whitecaps Update 6/14

suarez1Alumni Update: Well, we’ll start off with former ‘Cap Eugenio Suarez, as he finally earned his first start at short stop for the Detroit Tigers. He was first promoted on June 4th, and made an appearance that night in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. Suarez reached on a fielder’s choice, and advanced to second on an errant throw. While sliding into second base, however, he ‘twerked’ his knee, and has been waiting to get a start until it felt better. That start came last night, and he made the most of it in his first at bat, hitting his first major league home run. He ended up 1-3 on the night with a base on balls and two runs scored, also. Another former West Michigander that has been playing well for the Tigers is third baseman Nick Castellanos. He has sported back-to-back-to-back three hit games, and also hit a dinger in last nights win over the Boston Red Sox. He is now hitting .271 this season, not bad for a rookie.

Ten Questions with Nick CastellanosSchott in the arm: The Whitecaps have been playing some good baseball lately, and part of the reason must be due to center fielder Austin Schotts coming off of the disabled list. Schotts injured his hamstring while making a play in the outfield in the very first game of the season. He’s shown he’s back and healthy, though, hitting .306 so far in just nine games. He had a monster night on June 1st against the Fort Wayne TinCaps, going 3-4 with two RBI’s on a double and home run. Also helping the ‘Caps is the return of Jeff Holm, who was re-assigned to West Michigan in late May, after spending the first 34 games of the season with the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Holm is hitting .333 with seven RBI’s since his return. With a 4-2 victory over the South Bend Silver Hawks last night, the Whitecaps trail them by only 1.5 games in the for the first place slot in the Eastern Division. The ‘Caps are looking to make their first trip to the playoffs since 2010.

Austin Schotts has helped lead the 'Caps into playoff contention since his return.

Austin Schotts has helped lead the ‘Caps into playoff contention since his return.

The 2014 Draft: I really liked watching or tracking the player draft, and this year it looks like the Tigers have picked some nice prospects. It’s fun to watch the guys come up through the system, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the players from this season’s draft in West Michigan at some point. The Tigers took high school outfielder Derek Hill with their first pick, 23rd overall. I expect Hill to play for the Gulf Coast League Tigers this season, and if all goes well he could start 2015 in West Michigan. Detroit’s second pick, pitcher Spencer Turnbull (Arkansas), may see time with the ‘Caps this season if one of their all-star pitchers gets a promotion.  Their fourth pick, pitcher Adam Ravenelle (Vanderbilt) could see time up here if more than one is moved. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one the catchers drafted, Grayson Greiner (South Carolina-3rd pick) or Shane Zeile (UCLA-5th pick) at some point this season, or even third baseman Joey Pankake (South Carolina-7th pick). All just fun speculation, but we’ll see within the next week or so, as the minor league rosters usually get a shake up after the draft and during their all-star breaks.

monkey2Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

Midwest League All-Star Rosters Announced

Kicking off our annual baseball trip this season will be the 50th Midwest League All-Star Game in Comstock Park, MI in less than two weeks. This will be the first All-Star game of any kind that we have attended, and it will possibly be the highlight game of the trip. The gates to Fifth Third Ballpark will be opening at 4:00 p.m., and we’ll be able to see both teams take batting practice and be able to take part in an on-field autograph session. Also in attendance, joining the Whitecap’s own Crash the River Rascal, will be Big Lug (Lansing), Lou E. Loon (Great Lakes), Fang (Wisconsin), and Johnny (Fort Wayne). There will also being jugglers, stilt walkers, and face painters on the concourse before the game. Sounds like a great place to be a kid, and it’s almost guaranteed we’ll be seeing some great baseball. The Midwest League has announced the rosters for the event, also.

rainy7The West Michigan Whitecaps lead the way with five (or six?) players selected. Infielder Javier Betancourt (.272, 68 hits) and outfielder Wynton Bernard (.298, 14 doubles) were picked as the position players representing the ‘Caps. On the mound, pitchers Buck Farmer (5-4, 2.81 ERA), Austin Kubitza (5-0, 2.02 ERA), and Joe Mantiply (4-1, 2.00) will represent West Michigan. Jonathan Crawford (2-1, 2.27 ERA) is listed on the ‘Cap website, but has yet to be added to the official roster. That’s a very good group for the home-town fans to root for.

starwarsday14The Lansing Lugnuts will be sending four players north on I-96. Starting for the Eastern Division will be first baseman Matt Dean (.297, 3 triples, 2 home runs) and third baseman Mitch Nay (.267, 31 RBI’s). Outfielder Derrick Loveless (.287) will come off the bench, as will pitcher Griffin Murphy (2-2, 1.73). Not a bad group to represent the Lugnuts this year.

Lou E. Loon!!!

Lou E. Loon!!!

Three members of the Great Lakes Loons will also be all-star bound. Starting for the Eastern Division will catcher Kyle Farmer (.308, 15 2B, 33 RBI’s) and outfielder Joey Curletta (.314, 72 hits, 95 total bases). On the hill will Mark Pope, with a 1-0 record and miniscule 0.41 ERA. What the Loons lack in quantity, that definitely make up for in quality. All three players are having great seasons in the Midwest League this year!

You can see the full Eastern Division roster HERE, and the Western Division roster HERE.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

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