Back in April, we thought there would be a few particularly positive things coming from this season. The hype surrounding the 'Caps—even the Tigers organization as a whole—was the arrival of RHP Jacob Turner, Detroit's first round pick in the 2009 draft. He did not disappoint.
After going 2-3 with a 3.67 ERA in ten starts with the 'Caps, the stats may seem a little misleading. However, manager Joe DePastino kept Turner on a tight pitch count the entire season, probably resulting in a lack of wins. His effort was enough, though, to push him to the 2010 Midwest League All Star Game in Fort Wayne, in which he threw a scoreless inning of baseball.
The team's other All Star, pitcher Giovanny Soto, was a bit more of a surprise going in to the season. After starting the season outside of everyone's radar, Soto instantly impressed. Soto was able to blossom even more once Turner was promoted to high A Lakeland, making Soto the team's de facto number one starter going in to the second half of the season. However, this was short lived, as Soto was traded to the Cleveland Indians, and sent to the team that would later be the 2010 Midwest League Champs: the Lake County Captains.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was the pitching of Trevor Feeney, who not only broke the record for innings pitched this season, but did so consistent fashion. Feeney was probably the only pitcher for the 'Caps who featured the same thing every game: consistent, hard nose pitching. In fact, Feeney's style probably epitomized the team this season: tough, rugged, and blue collar. They rarely won with style; instead, they played small ball and won by getting on base.
Offensively, the entire season belonged to 3B Wade Gaynor. From start to finish, Gaynor was the most consistent hitter in the lineup, as well as being the most powerful hitter. Many people around the organization are calling him potentially the next third baseman for the Tigers. Even the team's current third baseman, Brandon Inge, said that he wouldn't be surprised if Gaynor was the one to replace him.
Two 'Caps will continue to play winter baseball in the Winter League. Outfielders Alexis Espinoza and Avisail Garcia will try and continue to build their skills, as both were already quite impressive throughout the season.
In seeing all of this, you have to assume that at least a few future Detroit Tigers were on this year's West Michigan team. Along with Gaynor and Turner, many people are watching Garcia and reliever Kenny Faulk as two people who could make a run at the majors. First baseman Jordan Lennerton was also impressive while with the club, but Miguel Cabrera's lock on the position combined with Lennerton's lack of power means that a major league run may be improbable.
As a whole, the season could be described in a variety of ways. On the one hand, the 'Caps got off to an abysmal start, and many were expecting them to be a non-factor in the postseason. But, DePastino made sure to keep a loose, upbeat locker room all season, and it proved to pay off. The team came roaring back in the last couple months of the season, beating up on top-tier teams like Lake County and Great Lakes to move from the bottom of the division to a wild card spot. Unfortunately, they lost in the final game of the first round series to Lake County.
All in all, the season was nothing short of a success, despite the slow start and the playoff loss. Any team that can come back from last place in a division and end up making a run at a championship, has to think that their season was not a loss.