Results tagged ‘ Nick Castellanos ’
For the first time in 2003, the West Michigan Whitecaps will not be playing in the post season and competing for the Midwest League crown. The seven consecutive appearances is a franchise record, though, and shows a commitment to the farm system by the Detroit Tigers. The ‘Caps lost to the Fort Wayne TinCaps on the last day of the season 7-2, to end their bid for the final Wild-Card spot in the MWL’s Eastern Division. Not even the presence of the famous San Diego Chicken could give them a little luck.
“It’s definitely tough,” first baseman James Robbins told the Grand Rapids Press. “Especially from where we started with that slump in the beginning of the season. And then to grind it out and put ourselves in position like we did at the end of the season and today to make the playoffs. The postseason is always something you want, and it hurts a little right now.”
Robbins helped his club out, by driving in Nick Castellanos in the eighth inning of the final game to make it 3-2, but the bullpen couldn’t hold on.
‘This leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Castellanos stated. “We had such a great team win (Sunday), and we definitely thought the momentum was on our side. But they ended up getting hits when it counted and at the end of the day the scoreboard didn’t favor us. It sucks.”
The Whitecaps finished the season with an overall record of 70-69 winning 11 of their last 16 games. As disappointing as the loss is, I like the attitudes of the players. It’s good to see them not taking things for granted and wanting to win as a team. It really speaks well as to the character of these guys. Castellanos also tied Robert Fick’s record for hits in a season with 158. Good luck to him next season, as I’m sure he’ll probably at least be in Double-A. Hopefully we can make it to next year’s opening day, too, as we’ll be missing our baseball throughout the winter.
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.
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.
Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps and M.I.B.
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.
West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods: Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI
Our favorite game of the year is Star Wars night for sure. This time we brought Brian down for the fun, too. It was a beautifull night for baseball, but the real thrill for the kids was seeing all of their favorite movie characters. Me being a Star Wars freak since I was like, five, they’ve been exposed to the movies (original trilogy) for a number of years. We were able to get pics with most of the characters on hand, especially Darth Vader and Boba Fett, who is simply the greatest. There were some Jedi and X-Wing pilots hanging around, but the kids, especially Trevor, favor the Empire and thier legions of Stormtroopers, Snowtroopers, and pilots. Brian wanted no part of Darth Vader, either, as you’ll see he’s not in the picture with him. Darth Vader also threw out the first pitch, and had a little duel with Crash, the mascot. The night ended with a fireworks display with Star Wars theme music. The Whitecaps also wore special Star Wars jerseys. Of all the game I’ve been to so far, I think we’ve only seen the regular ‘Caps jersey’s once! There was a huge crowd again this year, season high 10,528, but we still got to see who we wanted and had time to play in the park there, too. I’m not sure what our next game will be, but it will be hard to beat this night.
In the game, the Whitecaps had a solid offensive effort, beating the Hot Rods 11-3. Top prospect Nick Constellanos had two home runs the game, and went 3-4. He was recently named the Detroit Tigers Minor Player of the Month for hitting .375 with 20 RBI’s in June. He now leads the Midwest League with 94 hits, leads the ‘Caps with 52 RBI’s, and is one of the MWL leaders in batting average with .306 and doubles with 23. Castellanos is a good bet for next seasons Furtures Game if he keeps this pace up. On the mound, Alex Burgos was solid in the win. He allowed three runs on five hits while striking out six, to up his record to 4-1. Three of the hits he gave up were infield singles.
Ok, I’ve been slacking a bit on my Whitecaps coverage, but at least I’ve been to more games this season that the last few years, so that more fun that’s just reading the stats. The Whitecaps are off to a solid second half, so here’s hoping they can stay hot and continue their playoff streak. Inserted are photos from the ‘Caps recent series with the Fort Wayne TinCaps from the Grand Rapids Press. Happy 4th of July everyone….
First Half: The Whitecaps really struggled early this season, with such a young roster, but were able to battle back a bit. They ended the first half 32-37, which was good for 6th in the eight team division. What’s impressive, is that they went through a rough 12 game losing streak early in the season, so being able to recover from that is a positive sign.
Second Half: West Michigan is off to a solid start in the second half of the season, going 7-4, which is good enough for second place in the East one game behind the Dayton Dragons. Outfielder Jeff Rowland is off to a great start in this second stint. He’s batting .400 with four doubles, six walks, and a .600 OBP. The pitching staff is also getting the job done for the Whitecaps. Their starters have had seven quality starts in the first 10 games and are 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA. The team has gone 17-8 since June 3 and are almost at .500 for the entire season.
Team Leaders: Rookie sensation Nick Castellanos is emerging as a team leader, despite having a slow start to his first full pro season. He’s leading the ‘Caps in batting average with .306, RBI’s with 48, and SLG% with .441. James Robbins is leading the team in home runs with 10, and Luis Castillo is tops with a .369 OBP. On the mound, Kevin Eichhorn leads the team in three categories of his own: wins with 6, SO with 68, and a 1.17 WHIP. Antonio Cruz has the best ERA with 3.29, and Bruce Rondon is tops with 15 saves.
All Stars: Representing the Whitecaps in this year Midwest League All-Star game were Bruce Rondon, Rob Brantly, and Hernan Perez. Rondon pitched a scoreless 0.2 of an inning with one strikeout. Brantly went 0-3, while Perez went 0-2 in the East’s 8-3 loss to the West. In this season’s MLB All-Star game, catcher Alex Avila of the Tigers has been voted in as the starter. He’ll be joined on the American League roster by Matt Joyce (TB) and may face the National League’s Jair Jurrjens (ATL) on the mound.Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press
The Streak: The Whitecaps young season has been interesting so far, to say the least. After having the first three games of the season postponed, to a beautifull opening day with 80 degree weather, to their five game winning streak. The unfortunate part, however, is thier current streak that has the team suffering it’s eleventh loss in a row, a new franchise record. The previous record was the inagural 1994 team that endured a nine game losing streak from July 22-30. A streak like this is tough on a ball club, especially the mangaer. Ernie Young made some statements to the Grand Rapids Press:
“We have a young team and we’re going to make mistakes. Right now, we’re taking some lumps, but I expect these guys to keep battling, get better and be professional.” He also stated: “It’s tough on everybody. It’s tough on the players, it’s tough on myself. I go home every night and re-manage the game from that day for anything I could have done differently. My job is to go out there and encourage these guys, let them know I’ve been in their shoes, I’ve done the same things they’re doing. As long as I can keep preaching to the and believe, they’re going to come through.”
Young seems to be the perfect manager to turn this youthfull team around. They’re in the cellar of the Midwest League as of now with a record of 7-14, but they were in last place at the begining of last season while still earning a playoff spot in the second half. The players seem to be taking things in stride, also. Some of the players also spoke to the Grand Rapids Press.
“It’s not like we’re not hitting, it has just been the timing of them,” stated Nick Constellanos. “We’re going to work hard to get through this.”
“Obviously, we’re frustrated,” stated P.J. Polk. “You want to win, but I think we’re as positive as you can be in this situation. Everybody is doinig their part in picking each other up. We’ll be all right.”
It’s only the fist month, so even a small winning streak can even out their record and get them back into the MWL title hunt.
Jonathan Welscott: The Whitecaps had a very special guest announcer on Friday, junior-high student Jonathan Welscott. Jonathan, who just happens to be blind and suffers from a mild for of cerebral palsy, announced the batters in the third inning at Fifth Third Ballpark.
“It was really cool,” Welscott told the Press. “I guess I was a good luck charm for the Whitecaps. I had no idea what it would be like, but it was a cool experience.”
The Whitecap scored three runs in the third while he was announcing. Maybe hire this kid full time? Why not, as announcing is nothing new to this eigth-grader. He’s called middle school and high school games in the past two years including volleyball, basketball, and football. Despite not being able to perticipate in sports, he still loves the games, and has a great attitude for someone who’s undergone more than 20 eye surgeries since he was born.
“Since it is hard to be involved in sports because I’m blind, this is a way for me to be involved in sports and I like doing it.”
This is a ‘beyond baseball’ moment if I ever heard one, people. All the best for this kid.
The Zumaya List: This is formerly known as the disabled list. Whitecaps pitcher Richard Zumaya has recently been put on the DL with shoulder stiffness. The 21-yr-old experienced discomfort after he took the loss in Friday’s game. He joins his brother Joel Zumaya, a career DLer with the Tigers. At least they can keep each other company and get some quality video game time in.
Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press
Continuing with the ‘Ten Questions’ segment over at MiLB.com, Josh Jackson caught up with Nick Castellanos at spring training this year. Nick is ranked by Baseball America as the Detroit Tigers number two prospect in their system. So far this season with West Michigan, he’s hitting .186 with two doubles and four RBI’s in eleven games. Not real impressive numbers so far, but he’s just 19, and getting the playing time, so I’m sure things will turn around for him. We had a chance to meet him on opening day and he seemed real nice and autographed a ball for Lily, so we’re wishing him the best, and hope to see him up with the Tigers here in a few years.
MiLB.com: You only had time to slip into seven pro games last year, all in the GCL. It must be pretty incredible to be playing in the Grapefruit League. Have you been able to take a moment to reflect on that or have you been too concentrated on business?
Castellanos: You know, every day you have to come and play baseball, so I try and stay focused on that. I don’t really think about how I got here, [because] I really don’t have time to look back and appreciate it yet.
MiLB.com: What have you been working on most in camp?
Castellanos: Probably my defense. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot. I’ve been putting in a lot of early work on that, working with my coaches on that a lot.
MiLB.com: When did you start playing third base or having coaches identify you at a third baseman? What other positions did you play?
Castellanos: I played short most of my career, all throughout Little League and high school. Third base is still a little bit new to me, so I’m still learning it a little bit. [The biggest difference is] pretty much the reaction time, the way they’re teaching me to be set up before the pitch. It’s working on slow rollers, working on fielding bunts.
At shortstop, you have more time to play the ball where you want to play it. But at third base, you just have to react. There’s no time to do anything but catch the ball.
MiLB.com: What was Draft day like for you?
Castellanos: Draft day was a great experience. I had my family there, and I have some of my family in Detroit. I knew [the Tigers] were interested, but not more than some other teams.
MiLB.com: Was it especially exciting to be picked by a team with such a rich baseball history? And by the team that has Miguel Cabrera?
Castellanos: Oh, yeah, of course. It’s been really cool. I’ve looked up to him when I was a little kid, and now I’m here playing on the same team as him. Not very many kids get to have that experience.
MiLB.com: You ended up with a nice signing bonus. Was it weird to suddenly have that money — and to have everybody know about it?
Castellanos: You know, yes and no. I really didn’t think about it like that. My friends and family didn’t treat me any different, so, in a way, no. Everybody treats me the same.
But I don’t need to ask my dad for money when I want to go out for friends, so that’s different.
<p MiLB.com: The Miami area generates a lot of strong prospects. Do you remember playing against Orioles first-round pick Manny Machado at any point?
Castellanos: I played with him on the USA team. We both knew [we'd be in the same Draft class]. We really didn’t talk about it much, but we both knew we were the better ballplayers in the area. We knew that. He did his thing and I did my thing, and that’s why we are who we are.
MiLB.com: In your limited time in the GCL, you put up good numbers. Were you at all nervous, coming into that first pro experience?
Castellanos: My first at-bat, I was a little bit nervous, but I just remembered I was there for a reason. After that, baseball was baseball, and I did well.
MiLB.com: You’ve played in Wrigley Field and in Venezuela and now with the Major League club in Spring Training. It’s a weird question for somebody at the beginning of his career, but what’s been the highlight so far?
Castellanos: Probably Wrigley Field. [That day was] really, really good.
MiLB.com: It’s been reported that you’ll likely start 2011 with [Class A] West Michigan, a couple hours from Comerica Park. What are your expectations or goals for the season?
Castellanos: Just to play smart, play hard and do well. I’m guessing [my family members who live in the area] will come and see me play a couple times.
Heading downstate, I wasn’t very optimistic about this game actually taking place, as all the weather reports called for thunder storms. The baseball gods must have felt generous, though, and after the first three games of the season were postponed from Lansing, the Whitecaps and Lugnuts were finally able to kick the season off in Comstock Park. The sun was shining as I packed the kids kid in the car. The boys stayed back at my sisters due to illness, so I got to spend the day at the ball park with my favorite girl (my daughter, not Avril Lavigne). The weather was sunny as we played catch in the parking lot before the gates opened at 11:00 a.m. When we were finally let into the ball park our sences were overloaded with the smells of popcorn, hot dogs, and freshly cut grass as we recieved out free hats and found our seats. Lily played at the park for a bit before we got in line for autographs on the field at 12:15 p.m. They only allowed about fifteen minutes on the field, so we had to hustle to get her baseball and cards signed. Lily did get to meet the Tigers number two prospect Nick Castellanos and former Major Leaguers Ben Oglivie and Ernie Young. The rest of the day was perfect for baseball, topping low 80’s (a record high for the ‘Caps openers) with a nice breeze for us to enjoy the action.
The game itself was a real pitchers duel, with the Whitecaps winning 13-12 with a walk-off hit in the ninth. Trailing 12-7, they scored the last six runs of the game for the win. West Michigan battled back with a seventh inning two-run homer by Luis Castillo, and a three-run shot by James Robbins to even the score in inning eight. In the ninth inning, Dixon Machado stole second and scored the winning run on a two-out base hit by Rob Brantly. Machado was 4-5 on the day with a stolen base and three runs scored. Brantley went 2-4 with the home run and a two-run double. Bruce Rondon came on in the ninth to close the door and earn the win.
I simply can’t wait for the next ball game we can make it too. Just another month until our trip in May, which will include a Whitecaps game, too.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Today is the official Opening Day for Minor League Baseball, but some MiLB teams such as the West Michigan Whitecaps jump-start the season with an exhibition game. Last night the Whitecaps took the field for the first time as a team to take on the local Grand Valley State Lakers. GVSU is ranked #4 nationally in NCAA Division II play, and have already played 22 games this season. Nick Castellanos scored the only run for West Michigan on a sacrifice by P.J. Polk. The game ended as a 1-1 tie as new manager Ernie Young and Whitecaps fans got a first look at this young team.
Young told the Grand Rapids Press: ” It was good for the guys to get their feet wet, and almost everybody got to into the game, so that was good. It doesn’t matter who the team is, you still have to play. It doesn’t matter if it’s a major league team playing against a single A or double A team. You still have to hit the ball, catch the ball and make plays.” He also stated, “I was excited to get north, and I’m really excited for the season to get under way. I’m sure the kids are going to be excited to get on that bus and head for Lansing to play.”
The Whitecaps play three in Lansing before hosting the Lugnuts in their home opener on Sunday. I’m really hoping the rain holds off and we can get this game in. The kids are pumped and we’re ready to watch live baseball.
Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press