The Standings: The West Michigan Whitecaps are still treading water in the Midwest League Eastern Division, but are sinking a bit. They are currently 21-22 in the second half, and are six games out of first place. They hit a little speed bump with a five-game losing streak, but have bounced back and won two games in a row from the talented Lansing LugNuts, 7-1 and 6-3, who ran away with the first half title. Manager Ernie Young, though, will have to have some Aces up his sleeve, if the ‘Caps are going to capture a playoff spot this season…
Ferrell Honored: Whitecaps pitcher Jeff Ferrell has been named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for July 30-August 5. Ferrell had an extremely impressive showing against the Lake County Captains last week in the ‘Caps 6-0 shut-out win. He retired all of the 21 batters he faced before being taken out of the game after seven perfect innings of work. His outing included 11 ground-outs and six strikeouts in 79 pitches, and gave up only three hits. Ferrell, just 21 years old, underwent Tommy John surgery just 14 months ago. He started the 2011 campaign with the Whitecaps, before injury his elbow that led to the surgery. He missed the rest of last season and the start of this season, before joining West Michigan in May. So far, he has a 4-4 record with a 4.42 ERA, with 60 strikeouts, and holding the opposition to a .209 batting average. Ferrell is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina and a 26th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers.
Fifth-Third one of fifth best: The Whitecaps home, Fifth-Third Ballpark, was mentioned as one of five Minor League ballparks on the Fox News website recently. The story titled ‘Five Minor League Baseball Parks You Have To Visit’, stated that the stadium in Comstock Park, Michigan has the best food for baseball fans. The Fifth-Third Burger certainly still packs a mighty punch. The story can be found here: http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2012/08/01/five-minor-league-baseball-parks-have-to-visit/?intcmp=features
MudHen Marathon: The Tigers Triple-A affiliate in the International League, the Toledo MudHens suffered a tough 10-9 loss Monday night to the Rochester Red Wings. One-run losses are always hard to swallow, especially when they are in extra innings….19 innings to be exact. The contest took over 6 1/2 hours to compete, and featured plenty of former Whitecaps. For the Red Wings, Clete Thomas went 2-8 with a walk and two runs scored. Wilkin Ramirez was 4-9 with a double, run scored, and an RBI. Pitcher Luke French threw for 3.1 innings, giving up two hits and five strikeouts. For the MudHens, Andy Oliver pitched 2.0 innings giving up one hit and striking out 3. Luis Marte gave up one hit, but was burned for two runs in just 0.1 innings. Luke Putkonen pitched five innings, giving up four hits, no runs, and striking out three. Jose Ortega threw for 2.0 innings giving up six hits and three runs.
Rond-on the move: Former Whitecaps pitcher Bruce Rondon has been promoted from the Double-A Erie Seawolves to Toledo. He fills a spot after on of the MudHens’ pitchers was injured in the 19-inning loss. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski stated that he believes that he’s ready for the Triple-A level, though. Rondon started the season at Lakeland, going 1-0, with a 1.93 ERA, with 15 saves, and 34 strikeouts. With Erie, he was 0-1 with a 0.83 ERA, with 12 saves on 23 strikeouts. He struggled with his control last season with West Michigan, issuing 7.6 walks per nine innings, but his walk-to-strikeout ratio this season is 3.8.
Fifth-Third Ballpark photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
Ferrell photo courtesy of MLive.com
Thomas photo property of Minoring In Baseball
Frontier Field–Rochester, NY: I really like Frontier Field, so I’m glad we were able to see two games here. And as this is the third time we’ve seen the Red Wings on this trip, I was starting to become a fan. Add the fact that there are five former Whitecaps on the Rochester roster (Clete Thomas, Wilkin Ramirez, Casey Fien, Luke French, and Mike Hollimon), and I’m a Red Wings supporter! There seemed to be a more festive atmosphere for the Red Wings than the E-Yanks, and they even had an autograph booth going, where I took the opportunity to have pitcher Matt Maloney sign a game ball for Brian (a future pitcher himself). As with the other ballparks we’ve doubled up on, we got seats a little higher up than last game to get a different perspective of things. Still great seats as always. The mascots Spikes and Mittsy were very active with the crowd, especially kids like myself. We even had a chance to chat with the Red Wings GM Dan Mason, who was extremely friendly. It’s nice to see these guys down interacting with the fans, and he was very interested in our trip and how his club and stadium compared to the others we’ve been to. The game itself was a lot of fun, and we were even treated to some extra innings, as Louisville bested the Wings 4-2 in 11. I was thrown another game ball, and made another amazing catch, so still went home happy! It was a long night, but well worth everything. Had to get a good nights sleep, as we had two games in Buffalo on tap for the next day. Final: Bats 4, Red Wings 2 in 11 innings.
Today the Seattle Mariners traded left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for former Whitecap pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles.
“We had an opportunity to acquire two starting left-handed pitchers under the age of 23, including one with Major League experience”, Seattle general manager Jack Zdurienecik said in a statement.
French has mostly played with Detroit’s AAA farm club Toledo Mud Hens this season, but has had five starts with the Tigers. He is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in those games for Detroit. In a game against Seattle on July 23, he limited the Mariners to just two hits in 5 1/3 innings. Playing for West Michigan in 2006 and part of 2007, he was crucial in helping the ‘Caps winning back to back Midwest League titles. He was named MWL Pitcher of the Week on 07/23/06. French was an eighth round pick of the Tigers in 2004, coming out of high school in Colorado. The 6’4″, 220 pound lefty, basically hurls three pitches. His fastball is ‘Reagan Era’ at 86-88, but can hit 90 at times. He can also toss a 76-78 mph slider and a sinking change up at around 74-76.
Robles pitched for West Michigan in 2008, and pat of this season before being promoted to High-A Lakeland. His 2008 totals are 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 23 games. He only gave up two home runs and struck out 79. This season in only 11 games with the ‘Caps, he was 4-4 with a 4.23 ERA, and struck out 71. Robles is a bit more of an unknown, as he didn’t focus on pitching until after he was signed by Detoit as a free agent out of Venezuela. His fast ball averages 91-94 and has peaked at 96. Unfortunately, it goes down to 89-90 from time to time. His arm noticably slows down and flattens during while throwing his curce, so that’s something he’ll have to adjust in the Minors.
Good luck to both Luke and Mauricio in this new chapter of their careers. All the best in Seattle, and we appreciate your time and efforts in the Tigers organization. Seems like ‘win-win’ for both teams on this one. Detroit’s hold on the AL Central is hanging by a string, so hopfully Washburn and keep runs off the board, as the Tigers are having trouble scoring them.
Photo courtesy of Farm1.Flickr