Results tagged ‘ Curt Casali ’

West Michigan alums get invites

Being a non-roster invitee to major league spring training, is like being in high school, and getting a birthday party invite from the prettiest girl in school. For six former members of the West Michigan Whitecaps, being invited to the Detroit Tigers camp must seem pretty sweet. The Tigers have 17 non-roster invites in all.

Of all the invitees, utility man Don Kelly has the most experience at the big league level. He recently re-signed with the Tigers, after being told after the World Series that there would not be room for him on this years roster. Kelly played for the Whitecaps back in 2002, batting .286. He had 21 doubles and 59 RBI’s, plus an impressive .728 OBS. Kelly only hit .186 at the major league level last season, but due to his versatility and experience he may have a chance to crack the roster. An obstacle in his way, though, is that the Tigers are looking for a right-handed hitter to platoon with Dirks in left field, and Kelly is a lefty.

opening20day200091Top prospect Nick Castellanos (pictured above with Lily) will be at the Tigers camp, also. He did his time in West Michigan in 2011, when he was just 19 years old. After a slow start, he really had a solid season, hitting .312, with seven home runs and 76 RBI’s. He patrolled third base at Fifth Third Ballpark, but was moved to the outfield last season, after Miguel Cabrera took over the hot corner in Detroit. Castellanos made 23 errors at third for the ‘Caps, and ended the year with a .917 fielding percentage. With his defense not being his strongest asset, the move could be good for him, but he just needs time to develop those skills, so I doubt that he’ll be making an appearance at Comerica this season. Be patient, though, his time will come. Castellanos was the Tigers Minor League Players of the Year in 2011, also.

Two of the three catcher invited to camp played for the Whitecaps, too. James McCann was the Tigers’ second round pick in 2011 after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Arkansas. He played nine games for the Whitecaps in 2011 also, hitting only .059, with two singles and one double. He only made one error, though, and threw out 4 runners out of 19 attempting to steal. Curt Casali was also drafted by the Tigers in 2011, after playing his college ball at Vanderbilt University. He played parts of two seasons in West Michigan, 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he played 25 games hitting .227, with two home runs and 14 RBI’s. He only made one error behind the plate, and threw out seven base runners. In 2012, his average increased to .288, with 12 doubles, eight home runs, and 25 RBI’s. He only allowed on passed ball, and threw out 20 potential base stealers. In my opinion, the Tigers are still a little weak at catcher, so if either of these guys has their bat catch fire, they have an outside chance of making the roster.

Kenny Faulk pitched for the Whitecaps back in 2010. His record was 5-4 with an impressive 2.16 ERA. He made 12 saves, giving up no home runs, and striking out 78. His ERA inflated last season at the Double-A level, so he’ll need to bring that down a bit before getting consideration. I’d have to gauge his fast ball, and see his secondary pitches before making an informed opinion on his chances to make the team, though. I look forward to seeing him in spring training, and hope he can earn a spot.

suarez1Another weakness in Detroit is at the short stop position. Last season, though, the Whitecaps’ Eugenio Suarez won the Golden Glove as the best short stop in the minor leagues. He played 119 games at short, and 15 at second base, so he does have versatility at middle infield. He had a .971 fielding percentage, with 257 put-outs and 349 assists at short. He had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at second. At the plate, Suarez hit a very respectable .288, with 34 doubles, had 64 RBI’s, and stole 21 bases. Keep in mind, these are all in 2012 at the Single-A level. He’ll still need a few more seasons to develop, but the Tigers I’m sure are very happy with the way he’s progressing, and I’m confident he’ll be scooping ‘em up at Comerica in no time. Just not this year.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

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Whitecaps split with Lansing

The West Michigan Whitecaps evened their record to 16-16 with the split of a four game series against the Lugnuts in Lansing. The Lugnuts, who are currently the best team in the Midwest League, won the first two games of the series by the scores of 2-0 and 4-3. The Whitecaps fought back to win the next two contests. On Monday, the two teams were tied 1-1 from the second inning on, until West Michigan rallied for four runs in the eight inning. Brandon Loy and Eugenio Suarez each singled, and Dean Green reached first on a bobbled bunt to load the bases. They scored one run on a fielder’s choice, and Suarez then scored on a wild pitch. Curt Casali hit a single that scored two runs, to give West Michigan the 5-1 victory. The winning pitcher was Wilsen Palacios, who improved his record to 2-2. He struck out five batters and did not issue a base on balls.

Tuesday’s morning game was an offensive battle, as the Whitecaps knocked a season high 15 hits, on their way to the 7-6 win. Patrick Leyland went 3-5, and hit a single in the ninth inning to put the Whitecaps in the lead. Casali also had three hits, while Suarez went 2-4 with three RBI’s. Green hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, tying the game at 5. On the mound, Michael Torrealba was the winner, retiring two batters in the ninth. Dan Bennett struggled, but was able to earn the save for West Michigan. The team returns home for a series with their other in-state rival, the Great Lakes Loons.

Photos courtesy of the Lansing State Journal

Whitecaps go .500 in Iowa

The West Michigan Whitecaps ended their quick six game swing of eastern Iowa going 3-3, winning the series against the Quad Cities River Bandits and dropping two games to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The road trip started out rough for the ‘Caps, losing 5-1 to the River Bandits and mustering very little offense. The bounced back to take game two, though, by the score of 2-1 thanks to a suicide squeeze pulled off by Brandon Loy. Loy layed a nice bunt between the pitcher and first, while Chad Wright, who singled to get on base, beat the throw to the plate. Warwick Saupold earned his very first professional victory coming out of the bullpen. The Whitecaps would also win the rubber match, in a wild game where they and Quad Cities combined for 17 walks, six wild pitches, and four errors. Jason Krizan led the offense going 3-3, while catcher Curt Casali had two RBI’s. Starter Tommy Coulier earned the win, despite his bullpen giving up four consecutive walks in the 9th to make it a close one, before retiring the Bandits for good.

The first game between the Whitecaps and the Kernels was rained out, but they made it up the next day, having a double-header on the last day of April. Another rough opener to a series, as the Kernels won the game with a walk-off home run in the 9th. Kyle Ryan pitched a complete game, but suffered the loss, while Casali homered for West Michigan. The ‘Caps would win game two, however, on the back of Patrick Leyland’s 3-run dinger, and Eugenio Suarezs’ 3-5 performance, including a double and RBI. Nick Avila earned the victory, despite giving up three hits and two home runs of his own. In the rubber match to welcome the month of May, the Whitecaps basically had their a$$#$ handed to them. Brandon Loy got the only hit of the day, a double, for WM. ‘One hit…that’s all we got? One G*% D@*^ hit? Don’t worry…no one’s reading….’

Photos courtesy of The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)

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.

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