Erie SeaWolves vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League)
Jerry Uht Park-Erie, PA: It’s always fun to see some Detroit Tiger affiliates, and in the SeaWolves I know I would be seeing some players who did some time in West Michigan. Jerry Uht Park is located in downtown Erie, but parking isn’t too bad for its location. We got there plenty early and waited for the gates to open. The team store is right in front of you when you walk in, so we did some shopping and got a t-shirt, pennant, pen, and a C. Wolf plush for Brian. The layout of the ballpark is very unique. Down the third base side, there is an upper level, separated by a walk-way. This is where the press box and suites are located. Behind home plate is pretty open, and down the first base side, there is actually an elevated upper deck. This is fairly rare compared to the other Double-A Eastern League games we’ve been too. The ballpark only holds 4,200, which is small, but it’s intimate, and hard not to fall in love with. I had plenty of time before the game to explore and get some pre-game photos.
We also got to meet the mascot, C. Wolf, and got a photo with him. He was a very active mascot and really is a hit with the fans, especially the younger ones, and there where plenty there for a Sunday matinée.
The game itself wasn’t too pretty for the home SeaWolves. Starting pitcher Jeff Ferrell went five innings, giving up six earned runs on nine hits, and striking out four. Relief pitcher Jose Valdez gave up one more run in the ninth. Offensively, the SeaWolves got off to a good start with a home run blast by Steven Moya, who was 1-3 on the day. Marcus Lemon and Dean Green each went 2-4 on the day, also. Outfielder Jason Krizan went 1-4, but knocked in two RBIs.
We ended the game by playing some catch on the field. I really enjoyed the game at Jerry Uht Park, and this is a team I would really love to come and watch again. Highly recommended for any minor league baseball fan. Final: SeaWolves 3, Flying Squirrels 7.
All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
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.
“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!
All in the family is a good way to describe a small percentage of the West Michigan Whitecaps roster this season. Four of the new Whitecaps players are related to a former or current Detroit Tiger! First is catcher Patrick Leyland, who is the son of Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland. Patrick was drafted in the eighth round of the 2010 draft, and played at short-season Connecticut last year. Manning the second base position in West Michigan will be Colin Kaline, who is the grandson of HOFer Al Kaline. Big shoes to fill for Colin, as Al is one of the greatest Tigers ever, winning the World Series in 1968 and being a 15 time All-Star. Colin also played for the Connecticut Tigers last season. Also patrolling the infield will be Marcus Lemon, son of former Tiger Chet Lemon. Chet was a member of the 1984 World Series Champions during his nine-year stint in Detroit. Marcus was actually drafted by the Texas Rangers, but picked up by Detroit as a Minor League free agent in February. Pitching out of the ‘Cap bullpen this season will be Nick Avila. Nick is the cousin of current Tigers’ catcher Alex Avila, and the nephew of Detroit’s Vice President/Assistant General Manager Al Avila. Like I said, all in the family…
Joining the above mentioned on the 2012 ‘Caps roster, are seven of the Tigers ten 2011 draft picks. These are some decent prospects consisting of first baseman Aaron Westlake, shortstop Brandon Loy, and third baseman Jason King. The Whitecaps have some quality players returning from last season, too, who made a late season run and barely missed out on the playoffs. Outfielder Steven Moya and lefty pitcher Kyle Ryan are two of those returning players, and give the Whitecaps a more experienced ballclub this season. While the 2011 Opening Day roster consisted of six teenagers and twelve players under 20, this year club has just one teenager and five 20-yr-olds. The lone youngster is Danry Vasquez, one of the top 30 Detroit prospect despite having only one professional season under his belt.
The Whitecaps have been a pretty busy crew, though, despite only being in town a few days. Yesterday they held and open practice for the public, and took time to meet the fans and sign autographs. Today, a handful of players like Westlake, Loy, and Moya, participated in the Tigers vs. Mud Hens game in Toledo. They open the season tomarrow in Dayton, Ohio, against the Dragons. It was a nice surprise to see these guys in the lineup on TV, and a chance to see them in action before our game next week. I’m hoping that this is an exciting year in West Michigan!
Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press