Results tagged ‘ Whitecaps ’
This is just a quick post, as we’re getting ready to head south to the Grand Rapids area for Star Wars Night at the Whitecaps game tomorrow night. The fans in West Michigan have been pretty busy, as the ‘Caps have had plenty of promotions on the current home stand. On Wednesday, the 1998 Midwest Championship team was honored and the ‘Caps wore throwback jerseys of the ’90′s. Last night was special, not only because it was ’70′s night, but of the visitors to Fifth Third Ballpark. First, Benjamin Hill of MiLB.com was on hand doing his baseball thing. He gets involved in all aspects of the team, including the concessions, promotions, and between inning games. Ben is simply my hero, and you can check out all of his hi-jinks at Ben’s Biz Blog. Also attending last night game, were member of the AHL Champion Grand Rapids Griffins and the Calder Cup trophy. Area fans had the opportunity to get photos with coach Jeff Blashill, players, and the Cup. I really would’ve loved to have been at last night game to meet Ben and the Griffins. Tonight is also a special night, as Detroit Tiger legend Lou Whitaker will be there to sign autographs for fans. Being a second baseman, I idolized ‘Sweet’ Lou growing up here in Michigan. My Little League obligations have kept me in town, though, but we’ll be at Star Wars night tomorrow!
Photo courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps
There’s nothing like kicking off the second half of the Minor League Baseball season with an in-state rivalry. The Great Lakes Loons hosted the West Michigan Whitecaps at Dow Diamond in Midland, MI for the second season opener, taking two out of the three games. The Whitecaps took the first game by the score of 6-3. The ‘Caps were led offensively by Jeff Holm, who went 3-5 with a pair of doubles. Lance Durham and Connor Herrell also had two hits each for West Michigan. Herrell was making his professional debut after being drafted by the Tigers earlier this month, was 2-4 with a double, a run scored, an RBI, a base on balls, and a stolen base. The Loons actually opened the scoring in the first inning on a solo home run by Tyler Ogle. On the mound, relief pitcher Chad Smith earned the win, while Angel Sanchez took the loss, being charged with five earned runs, and nine hits over 5.1 innings. As a team, the ‘Caps had 11 hits in the game, and scored six unanswered runs.
Game two of the series was another exciting game, with Great Lakes taking the 9-7 win. Loons short stop Corey Seager went 3-4 with a pair of home runs to lead the offense. The Whitecaps battled back from being down 5-0, with a run-scoring triple by Holm and a three-run shot by Jake Stewart in the fourth. In the fifth, Jared Reaves and Devon Travis each hit doubles, and Herrell had a run-scoring base hit. Loons reliever Arismendy Ozoria earned the win, while Logan Ehlers took the loss for the ‘Caps. The Whitecaps had the bases loaded in the ninth, but the comeback fell short, as Jason King grounded out.
The Loons won the rubber-match also, 2-1, with a walk-off in the ninth-inning. Tyler Ogle blasted a double off ‘Caps relief pitcher Josh Turley that scored the winning run. Geoff Brown earned the win for Great Lakes, with Turley getting the loss. The star of the game, however, was West Michigan’s starting pitcher Jake Thompson, who struck out ten batters, a career high. The Tigers’ 19-year-old prospect gave up only three singles, and only one runner was in scoring position through the first eight innings. Tough loss for the ‘Caps and Thompson, but the win put the Loons’ fans into a frenzy!
Photo courtesy of Danielle McGrew/The Saginaw News
The West Michigan Whitecaps‘ second baseman Devon Travis (pictured above) earned a spot on the Midwest League All-Star team with his play this season, especially with his bat. He currently leads the league in hits and average at .350. Believe it or not, Travis wasn’t even a starter for the MWL East at the game in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday night. That actually worked out well, however, as he was put into the game as a defensive replacement in the second inning. During his at bat in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Travis lined a shot down the right field line for a triple that scored three runs. He was 2-2 in the game, getting a base hit in his first at-bat.
“I don’t know if I can put into words (how I feel).” Travis stated to MLive.com. “There are so many great players on this field tonight. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to play against the best in the league. I’m just so thankful.”
The MVP almost got away from him, though, as the East took a 5-2 lead into the ninth, but the relievers couldn’t hold on to it. The West came back to tie the game at five all, but Travis was saved by Dalton Pompey of the Lansing LugNuts, who hit a walk-off single to score the winning run. Whitecaps’ reliever Jose Valdez pitched 0.2 innings with a strike-out. Starting first baseman Jeff Holm went 0-1 with a base on balls in the game, but still had fun giving his teammate a face full of shaving cream.
“The highlight of my trip was giving Devon a shaving-creaming right on camera”, Holm stated jovially. “I’ve always wanted to do that.” About his All-Star experience: “It’s fantastic. You play against these guys all year and then you get a chance to play with them. It’s pretty cool. I just tried to do what got me here.”
Holm is batting .281 on the season with six home runs, and is leading West Michigan with 42 RBI’s. Valdez is second in the MWL with 15 saves, and has a 2.84 ERA. Our next game planned is just over a week away, and is Star Wars night in West Michigan. It will be fun to see these All-Stars in action once again.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
The West Michigan Whitecaps are celebrating their 20th season, and along with that allowed the fans to vote for their all-time favorite players. There have been more than 600 optomistic young men that have taken the field for the Whitecaps, with 102 of them breaking into the big leagues. The players were voted for by position in an on-line ballot, and here are the 14 that made the cut.
Manager-Tom Brookens (2007)
Catcher-Brandon Inge (1999)
First Base-Robert Fick (1997)
Second Base-Scott Sizemore (2007)
Shortstop-Brent Dlugach (2005)
Third Base-Nick Castellanos (2011)
Outfield-Matt Joyce (2006), Cameron Maybin (2006), Avisail Garcia (2009-10)
Designated Hitter-Eric Munson (1999)
Relief Pitcher-Francisco Cordero (1997), Ed Clelland (2005, 2007)
You can read the full story HERE on the Whitecaps website. Of all the winners, only Castellanos and Clelland have not played in the Major Leagues. The results are not that surprising, though, knowing the popularity of some of these guys in West Michigan. One of the few positions I voted different was Eugenio Suarez (2012) at shortstop.
Promo photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: As much as I loved my time in North Carolina, it was good to be back in Michigan, and have the home field advantage. It felt comfortable to be back in my own ballpark, and to see the Whitecaps play for the first time this season. After riding in airplanes most of the day, it was nice to be in the fresh air and wandering around Fifth-Third Ballpark. We were also one of the lucky ones to get an Avisail Garcia bobble head at the gate. It was good to see the best mascot in the minors, Crash the River Rascal, hamming it up on the concourse with the kids. I wandered down and watched the Whitecaps warm up, and got some good pics of the team. I was excited to see guys like Devin Travis and Danry Vasquez in action. It was also cool to see new pitching coach Mike Henneman, who was one of my favorite Tigers when I was younger. Henneman seemed to be joking around with his staff a little, and keeping his pitchers loose. It was good to see some familiar faces and be back home, and this will go down as one of the best baseball trips ever.
The game did not go our way, and the Whitecaps home field advantage did them little good as the Hot Rods shut them right down. Starting pitcher Charlie Gillies took the loss, but had no run support. He gave up three runs and struck out three, in just over five innings of work. Both second baseman Jared Reaves and third baseman Mario Martinez went 2-4, but could not help get a run across the plate. Win or lose, however, there’s still no place that I’d rather be. Final score: Whitecaps 0, Hot Rods 4.
Most kids like to spend the day at the ballpark. Some games are better than others, though, and this weekend for young Alex Alder it was one of the best. After his ticket was scanned and he walked through the turnstile at Fifth Third Ballpark, Alex was named as the West Michigan Whitecaps‘ eight millionth fan! Most kids would also be happy to walk away from a game with a foul ball, but look what Alex was awarded:
Men’s or Ladies Seiko watch from Talsma Jewelers
• $100 gift card from Bob Evans
• Eight – 9-hole rounds of golf from Maple Hill Golf
• Tree tops midweek round of golf for two
• Whitecaps 4Topps table package with $88 gift card
• Tigers Tickets
• Whitecaps jersey & other apparel
• Rock the Rapids Concert Tickets
• Giant stuffed animal
The Whitecaps had promotions going on all weekend, too, and all season to celebrate the 20th year of baseball in the Grand Rapids area.
Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps/Facebook
After we watched the Lake County Captains drop a double-header at the Great Lakes Loons, they headed over to western Michigan to take on our Whitecaps. The Whitecaps won the first game of the series by the score of 8-4. West Michigan was led offensively by second baseman Devon Travis, who went 4-5 on the day, with two home runs, and five RBI’s. Travis’ first home run was a bomb over the old-fashioned green scoreboard, but his second one took a little more effort on the base path. He drove the ball to the centerfield wall, and after a missed attempt by the center fielder, he just kept going. Manager Larry Parrish gave him the go-ahead, and he slid safely into home with a ‘in the park’ homer.
“I was running to third base assuming it was a triple,” Travis told MLive.com. “I was hoping that LP (Parrish) wouldn’t send me home. I was too tired. It’s one of those games that you won’t have very often, that’s for sure. I don’t try to hit the ball out, it just happens sometimes.”
Travis leads the Whitecaps with four home runs and 14 RBI’s, and is hitting .362 in 15 games. Parrish has been in pro baseball for 41 years, and stated he’s never seen a player knock a traditional home run and inside-the-park home run in the same game. On the mound, Yorfrank Lopez earned the win for the ‘Caps, striking out three batters in five innings, and giving up three runs. In relief, Brennan Smith worked three innings, allowing no runs and striking out four. The next day was another first for Travis, though, as he witnessed a little thing called snow, that we see way too much of here in Michigan.
“The guys were giving me a hard time because I was really excited. I was walking out of the gym, and I saw snow, and I started jumping around because I was excited my first time seeing it ever come down. I was definitely happy to see it, but I’m glad we didn’t have to play in it.”
The snow wasn’t all that kind to the ‘Caps, however, as they lost the second game of the series 8-5 to Lake County. They would bounce back in the rubber match in a big way, though. They won 10-1, on the back of Danry Vasquez and his four hits, four RBI’s, and two stolen bases. And he has country music to thank for it…. Manager Larry Parrish convinced him to listen to country instead of latin music in the locker room, and the rest is history.
“I think I will do it again,” Vasquez told MLive.com. “I will be superstitious.”
Vasquez played in West Michigan last season, before being moved to the Connecticut Tigers of the NY-Penn League, but is batting .302 with 11 RBI’s this year.
“I’m just much different than last year.” He stated. “I feel more comfortable, and I feel much stronger.”
Also pitching in offensively, Jeff Holm contributed two hits, with a triple and two RBI’s. Relief pitcher Josh Turley earned the win, with three strike outs in two innings. Julio Felix also pitched two innings with only one hit, and Jose Valdez took care of the ninth. In all, a pretty good way to end a home stand.
The West Michigan Whitecaps are competing in their 20th season in the Midwest League. To celebrate this event, the team is having the fans vote on the best players they’ve seen in each position for the last two decades. Even three managers are up for the vote, in Bruce Fields, Matt Walbeck, and Tom Brookens. All three won the Midwest League Championship in West Michigan. Catchers such as Brandon Inge, current Tiger Alex Avila, and Miami Marlin Rob Brantley are all up for the best behind the plate. At first base, I think that Robert Fick has the inside edge. He was voted into the first Whitecaps Hall of Fame, and has the honor of hitting the last home run in Tiger Stadium. That’s just my vote, though. Second base is my favorite position, so I’ve followed the players there pretty closely. It will be tough for me to choose only one of my favorites such as Scott Sizemore, Justin Henry, and Brandon Douglas. At short stop, in my opinion, the vote might come down to current Tiger Ramon Santiago, or last’s years MiLB Gold Glove winner Eugenio Suarez, which is a tough call. At the hot corner, top prospect Nick Castellanos may be the favorite despite being moved to the outfield last season with Lakeland and Erie. He may get a push from guys like Wade Gaynor and Wilkin Ramirez, though. Fans are allowed three choices for outfielders, and there are plenty. While players like Matt Joyce, Cameron Maybin, Cody Ross, and Brent Clevlen have all seen action at the MLB level, Gorkys Hernandez had a great season in West Michigan in 2007. He was also named the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year that year. Fans are also allowed to vote for three pitchers. Players like Andy Van Hekken, Casey Crosby, Duane Below, and Joel Zumaya all found success on the hill in West Michigan. Rounding out the relief pitchers, fans can vote for two, including Michael Torrealba and Anthony Claggett. This is another great way the Whitecaps are celebrating so much success the last 20 years. VOTE NOW!
Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
Just a quick entry before the kids and I head off downstate. The West Michigan Whitecaps have gotten off to a pretty good start this season. An early record of 3-2 isn’t amazing, but we’ll take it in this Michigan weather. After a great 7-6 comeback win against the Dayton Dragons on opening day, they followed that up with a nice 6-0 shutout. They faltered the next couple of games, losing to Dayton by the scores of 8-3 and 4-1, however. The ‘Caps bounced back in a big way, taking the first game of the series with the Fort Wayne TinCaps 11-4. Jake Stewart is currently leading West Michigan with a .462 average, followed by fellow outfielder Michael Hernandez at .429, and second baseman Devon Travis hitting .381. Travis is also one of the RBI leaders for West Michigan at five, tied with outfielder Jeff Holm, and trailed by Lance Durham with three. It’s a little early to judge the pitching stats, but Endrys Bicendo and Brennan Smith lead the team with four strike-outs each. Today’s game with Fort Wayne has been rained out, and the weather doesn’t look good for the rest of the week. High percentage of rain is anticipated for both games in Great Lakes and Lansing we planned on going to.