Whitecaps Update

Stealing Second: The West Michigan Whitecaps still sit in second place in the MWL Eastern Diviscapslogo.jpgion with a record of 18-12, nine game behind the red hot Fort Wayne TinCaps. They remain 3.5 games ahead of the third place South Bend Silver Hawks. The Whitecaps have already secured a playoff spot, though, but hope to gain some ground on the TinCaps. The first playoff game will be at Fifth Thrid Ballpark on Sept. 10.

Player of the Week: ‘Caps outfielder Ben Guez was named Player of the Week (July 20). He’s been hot at the plate since the All-Star break batting .373 with three home runs and 20 RBI’s. For the season he’s slugging .261 with seven homer and 42 RBI’s in 62 games. Guez is the sixth Whitecap to earn Player of the Week honors this seaon (Casey Crosby, Luke Putkonen, Bryan Pounds, Billy Nowlin, and Ronnie Bourquin). Pitcher of the Week: Casey Crosby was named MWL Pitcher of the Week (July 26). Crosby is a 2009 MWL All-Star and has a record of 8-3. His ERA is 2.92 and has struck out 101 batters so far this season. Last Monday he threw five hitless innings against the Kane County Cougars. Crosby is the first Whitecap since Mike Hernandez in 2006 to win the award twice in one season. 

Hot Bat: Right fielder Avisail Garcia has had a hot bat his last seven games. He’s hitting .423 with four runs scored and four RBI’s.  

Matt Nokes: Former Detroit Tiger Matt Nokes will be appearing at Fifth Third Ballpark on August 31 as part of ‘Tiger Fridays’. Matt was a rookie with the Tigers in 1987 when he was third in Rookie of the Year voting, was selected to the American League All-Star team, and won the Silver Slugger Award. He batted .289 and hit 32 home runs that season.

Newest Beach Bum Never says Die

Thinking that Jeff Willmcarthur.jpgiams being picked up by the Yankees was a ‘feel good’ story, maybe this one outshines it a bit. The Traverse City Beach Bums just signed infielder and former Florida Gater Brandon McArthur to patrol third base at Wuerful Park.

What’s amazing, is the path and adversity that McArthur has gone through to get to this point. His biggest hurdle was battling back from a severe head injury after a random act of violence in October of 2003 that put him in a drug induced coma at Tampa General Hospital. He was attacked outside a Gainsville night club and hit his head on the sidewalk.  The doctors were’nt sure he’d even survive after having to remove 5% of his brain during two life-saving operations. When he was finally awake in November and went to use the restroom, he immediatly hit the floor, forgetting how to walk. He also permanatley lost his sence of taste and smell, as well as the names of all of his teammates. The doctors informed him he’s never play baseball again, and told his family that he would be paralyzed and unable to communicate.

Over the next year or so, McArthur would prove the doctors wrong. After regaining his ability to walk and talk, he next turned his attention to baseball-hitting off a tee, then slowly throwing, and taking batting practice.

On February 11, 2005, McArthur took the field at McKethan Stadium-as the Florida Gators starting third baseman. He and the Gators would go on to the best season in school history. They won the SEC Championship and even made it to the finals of the College World Series, eventually losing to Texas.

Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends. In his sophomore campain, McArthur would miss ten games with a deep bone bruise and reoccuring shin problems. He still went on to hit four doubles, two triples, two home runs, and drive in 20 runs. In 2007, his season would begin and end in the first game of the season. McArthur tore his ulnar collateral ligament during a routine throw to first base and had to suffer through a whole year of rehab. He would come back as a starter in 2008, though, only to rupture his anterior cruciate ligament. Playing injured, he still batted .367 with 20 RBI’s.

McArthur was granted a sixth year of eligability by the NCAA, and in 2009 he posted a career-best .338 average with 14 doubles, three home runs, and 20 walks. He was a .301 career batter with the Gators, with 36 doubles, eight triples and ten homers. He also earned the Academic All-SEC award and SEC-All Freshman Team honors.

Off the field, McArthur was even more valuable to his school and community. Here’s a small list of his activities: Florida Student Athlete Advisory Counsil, speaker for Fellowship of Christain Athletes, frequent visitor to the pediatric unit at Shands Hospital (where he re-habed), wheel-chair basketball with Special Olympians, speaker at ‘Youth Quake’ Christian youth event, member of Big Brothers, and speaker at the March of Dimes Health Conference in 2008 and participated in the Climb for Cancer Sports Camp.

Wow. I got tired just reading and typing all of that. Truely, this is a special individual who would not accept defeat in the wake of tragedy. Now he’s  a professional baseball player. If the Beach Bums criteria of signing players is high character, then I think they just out did themselves. McArthur was a 2003 draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, so maybe he can work his way back up to that level.

Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums

From Bum to Yankee

This is a pretty good reason to watch independant pro baseball, and ‘feel good’ story if I every heard one. On Monday, Jeff Williams, a closer for the Frontier League’s Trwilliams.jpgaverse City Beach Bums, had his contract bought out by the New York Yankees. He has been assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League. Williams was signed by the Red Sox out of college (Colorado State-Pueblo) but never saw action in there system.

So Williams spent two and a half seasons playing independant pro ball with the Beach Bums. In that time he became the Bums single season career record holder for saves. He converted 26 straight saves dating back to June 6, 2008. That including 13 this season which is tops in the league. Williams was also and All-Star this season and even earned the save in that game by hurling a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included two strikeouts.

He also leads Traverse City this season with 23 appearanced and a tiny ERA of 0.78. Williams has not allowed a run in his last 16.2 innings of work, including 23 strikeouts. In 2008, he set a single season team record by converting on 15 saves out of 16 opportunities. He appeared in 39 games going 3-4 with a 3. 40 ERA. In 2007 he pitched 38 games and posted an ERA of 4.61 with 52 strikeout.

So, good luck Jeff, in taking your mid-nighties fast ball to the show. It’s a big step up from being a Bum in Traverse City (right in my back yard) to Charleston, SC (where I was training last month). It’s a small world, but then baseball has the habit of uniting the world.

Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums

Tigers and Fun in West Michigan

ballgame.jpgThere’s no better way to spend your birthday than at the ballpark. This year my dad, the kids and I went to the Whitecaps game. We started off at Chuck E. Cheese’s in Grand Rapids so the kids could expell some energy.

At the game, the rain held off and we had a beautifull night. They were playing the Peoria Chiefs again this time. Last year we got to meet Ryne Sandberg while he was managing there. This season former Tiger Barbaro Garbey was in town so he signed some cards for the kids. Garbey was on the Tigers 1984 World Series Championship team, and is currently the hitting coach for the Chiefs. It was also Tiger Friday, so John Wockenfuss was on hand to meet the fans and he signed some cards for the kids, too. They were also giving away bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans. In the end, the ‘Caps won 9-0 and we had a great time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to catch another game in West Michigan this year or not, but we’ll be going to Appleton, WI next month to watch the Timber Rattlers.

Photos property of MIB

Whitecaps Pound Peoria

guez.jpgJuly 17, 2009-Comstock Park, MI:
The West Michigan Whitecaps beat up on the visiting Peoria Chiefs 9-0. The onslaught starting in the first inning, when center fielder Ben Guez hit a two run homer to put the ‘Caps up 2-0. Guez ended up going 3-5 on the night, with three RBI’s. Also helping out was second baseman Mike Gosse who was a perfect 4-4 with a double, two runs scored, and 2 RBI’s. Third baseman Brent Wyatt went 2-5 with a double, triple, RBI, and run scored. All around good offensive game by the Whitecaps. The fact that Peoria had three errors helped out, too.

On the mound Brayan Villarreal pitched a solid five innings. He struck out six and didn’t give up a run. He gave up six hit’s, but he was able to pitch himself out of trouble with the help of his defense. His ERA is now a measly 1.06.

Rain threatened the game, but it turned out to be a beautifull night. After some first inning mist, the rain held off and it actually warmed up a bit. It was also Tiger Friday, so former Tiger John Wockenfuss was there to sign autograpsh. That’s another entry, though.

Photos property of MIB

Minor League All-Star Linkage

AAA ALL-STAR GAME RE-CAP/I don’t like to plagorize, nor do would I waste my time trying to recap a game or write an article that’s already been done. Here are the MiLB.com links to the AAA and MILB.jpgAA Eastern League All-Star Game re-caps.

Both seemed like really good games, with the International League besting the Pacific Coast League 6-5, while in the Eastern League, the South topped the North by the score of 5-3.

Bowie second baseman Miguel Abreu was the Eastern League’s All-Star Game Top Star Award Winner, with two hits, two runs, and two stolen bases. He also made some good plays in the field. Apparently you can only list one link on this site per blog, but you can still get to the AA re-cap when you get to MiLB.com.

Eric Kratz of the Indianapolis Indians was named the Top Star of he AAA All-Star game. He doubled and scored the first run for the International League, then hit a out-of-the-park two run homer.

Whitecaps Update

Pounding The Ball: ‘Caps third basebman Bryan Pounds has been on a roll the last nine games. He’s batting .361 with 15 RBI’s and seven runs scored. Pounds is getting offensive
capslogo.jpghelp from the outfield as well. Left fielder Billy Nowlin is batting .389 with nine RBI’s and seven runs scored. While not patroling center field at Fifth Third Ballpark, Ben Guez is slugging .333, respectively, and has added 11 RBI’s and nine runs scored including a home run in his last ten games.

Snakebitten: The Whitecaps have had a rough time with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this season, dropping 5 of 6 games. Last week the ‘Caps commited four errors that led to three Rattler runs in a 5-2 loss at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton. In the lone ‘Caps win, however, they won 11-2 on the back of 17 hits.

Ups and Downs: Being promoted to West Michigan from the GCL Tigers is short stop Hernan Perez. Perez was batting .255 with five RBI’s in 13 games so far in the Gulf Coast League. He replaces Gustavo Nunez who has been recently suspended. Nunez has been batting .328 with one home run, 24 RBI’s and 37 stolen bases so far this season with the ‘Caps.

Johnny B In West Michigan: This Friday is another Tiger Friday at Fifth Third Ballpark. Former Detroit Tiger fan favorite Johnny B. Wockenfuss will be on hand to sign autographs and meet fans. Wockenfuss played in Detroit from 1974-1983, being traded to Philadelphia before the Tigs won the World Series in 1984. He was a solid utiliy player who played catcher, first base, and outfield. His career BA was .262, slugging 86 home runs and 310 RBI’s. Wockenfuss also managed the Toledo Mud Hens starting in 1987. In 1989 the Mud Hens (Detroit’s AAA farm team) actually beat the Tigers with Wockenfuss himself being the winning pitcher. Had had never pitched in his Major League career. I’ll be on hand this Friday, too, to get my free bobblehead and enjoy the game.