Results tagged ‘ Melvin Mercedes ’

Formers on the 40-man

It’s that time of year again, and no, not Thanksgiving or Black Friday. It’s about that time the Major League teams needed to get their 40-man roster in order. The Detroit Tigers used this time to release former West Michigan Whitecap utility guy Ryan Raburn. This move was probably celebrated by most Tiger fans, who viewed Raburn as a player favored by manager Jim Leyland, and probably got too many second chances to prove himself over younger more deserving players. Though never one of my favorites, Raburn did show up every day and try his best, so I wish him the best of luck. The positive news is that the Tigers added three more Whitecaps alumni in pitchers Bruce Rondon and Melvin Mercedes, and shortstop Dixon Machado. Rondon played in West Michigan in 2011, going 2-2 with 19 saves. He boasted a 2.03 ERA and 61 strike-outs. He also played in the Futures Game in KC this past summer, impressing fans with his 102 mph fastball. Management has been vocal about giving him a chance to compete for the closing job next season.

Mercedes has been up and down the organizational latter, and has played for the Whitecaps in each of the last four seasons. In 2009, he went 0-1 in just three games played. 2010 saw him go 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA. He played only two games for the ‘Caps in 2011, with no decisions. This past season, he was 0-3 with six saves, and a 2.80 ERA. He’s shown some improvement, but needs to be more consistent to be considered to make the opening day roster. He needs to play either Double or Triple-A, and have a solid year.

Machado also played for the Whitecaps in 2011. He hit .235 with 101 hits, 28 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. He had a rough season this past summer in Lakeland, but hopefully can get his bat going and move up the ladder. The Tigers are in need of a young short-stop in the near future, and he could be the guy to replace Peralta, or whomever Detroit decides to put up the middle at Comerica. I like his speed, though, and the Tigers sure could use solid defense and speed on the base path. It will be fun to track these guys in 2013, and hopefully they might see some action in the big leagues.

Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

Flying Tigers soar to FSL Championship

Despite the West Michigan Whitecaps barely missing out on the playoffs the last two seasons, a good handful of players from last years team are celebrating a Florida State League championship as members of the Lakeland Flying Tigers. The Flying Tigers beat out the Jupiter Hammerheads in five games for the title, with every game being decided by two or fewer runs. The Lakeland fans packing Joker Marchand Stadium were treated to a classic game five, as both teams were held scoreless for seven innings. Starting pitcher Warick Saupold and former Whitecaps reliever Melvin Mercedes combined for a four-hit shutout with their team scoring the only runs of the game in the eighth inning. Former ‘Caps players combined for some offense, as second baseman Hernan Perez singled and was sacrificed to second by Michael Rockett. Marcus Lemon, who started the season in West Michigan, drew a walk to put runners on first and second. With Dixon Machado at the plate, the Flying Tigers executed a double steal, but a throwing error by Jupiter’s catcher allowed Perez to score the first, and winning, run. Lemon would score on a single by Tyler Collins to make the score 2-0. Mercedes then entered the game on the mound, and retired three out of the four batters faced to seal the win and the championship. It was a great moment for Mercedes, and for Perez, who led the FSL in fielding this season.

“I’ve had something of an up and down season”, Perez told The Ledger(Lakeland). “Especially hitting, so getting on and scoring a run when we really needed it made my whole season special.

This is Lakeland’s sixth FSL championship overall, and the fourth for manager Dave Hupport. He also has more minor league victories than any other active manager.

“Of all the championship teams I have had the honor of managing, this one has been the most fun to work with because they’re disciplined, they play hard, they believe in each other, and they won and lost as a team not as a bunch of individuals looking out for themselves,” Hupport also told The Ledger.

In a strange twist of fate, the Flying Tigers were the only team not to have a playing on the Florida State League’s All-Star roster. I guess they’ll have to settle for a championship. This is one of the few bright spots for the Detroit Tigers farm system, as the Flying Tigers and the Whitecaps were the on two affiliates with winning records. We wish all these players luck next season, especially the ones who played in West Michigan also. I’m probably one of the few baseball fans already looking to 2013!

Former Whitecaps infielder Hernan Perez scored the winning run!

 

West Michigan alum Melvin Mercedes earned the save!

Photos courtesy of Michael Wilson/The Ledger

Bad call burns Whitecaps

Fifth Third Field-Comstock Park, MI: The first game of the three-game series between the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Bowling Green Hot Rods was marked by controversy. The highly contested ballgame went into extra innings, and it seems the ‘Caps had the victory as Eugenio Suarez crossed the plate after being driven in by a double by Aaron Westlake. He and Westlake were being mobbed by teammates, although their celebration would be short-lived. Home plate umpire Ben Guttenberger ruled that Suarez did NOT cross the plate, and that he was out after being tagged by a Hot Rods player. Despite the fact that every reply proved that he did touch the plate, the call stood. The Whitecaps went on to lose 2-1 in 15 innings.

Manager Ernie Young told MLive.com: “I don’t know what to say. That’s a call that…Damn, I really don’t know what to say. I’m at a loss for words on that play.”

Westlake now leads the Midwest League in doubles with 34. He was also in shock, after being dubbed the hero for his efforts.

“We were celebrating as a team, it’s already been a long game and you think the game is over and all of a sudden something like that happens. It kind of takes the wind out of your sails. That’s baseball. We still battled together. In the end, we did score that winning run. I’ve got not much more to say about that.”

The Whitecaps pitching staff kept their team in the game the whole time, though. Starter Marcelo Carreno on allowed one run on five hit, while striking out one and walking one. Slade Smith, Jade Todd, and Melvin Mercedes kept the Hot Rods at bay the rest of the way.

The Whitecaps would bounce back in game two of the series, for the 3-2 win. Suarez scored the eventual winning run in the third inning, stomping on home plate just to drive the point home that he had scored. It was another Aaron Westlake doubled that scored him, too.

“I was frustrated about last night, and wanted to let everyone know that I touched home plate”, Suarez  also stated to MLive. com. “I felt so bad right after the umpire’s call because I know that I touched home plate. I  knew it wasn’t my fault and the umpire made a bad call. I tried to forget about it.”

On the mound for the ‘Caps, Jeff Ferrell game up one run on six hits in five innings. Reliever Nick Avila came in and protected the lead in the late innings. Westlake ended up with two doubles and two RBI’s to lead West Michigan offensively.

Bowling Green won the rubber match, though, 10-4. On the hill, West Michigan hurler Chad Smith had thrown four hitless innings before getting knocked around in the fifth. This is just Smith’s third start since being promoted from the short season Connecticut Tigers. He’s been on a pretty strict pitch count and hasn’t pitched more than four innings in his last two starts. He as a 17th round pick by Detroit last year, and is still making his come back after Tommy John surgery last season.

 Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com

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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