West Mich MLN: 2011 Proving More Exciting

Last year's West Michigan Whitecaps team sat at the bottom of the division for most of the season. And although they managed to surge late and get a playoff spot, fans spent most of the season filled with a degree of disappointment in their ball club.

While this year's team isn't at the top of their division—statistically or in terms of talent, thus far—they have been arguably more exciting to watch, and are currently sitting in the middle of the division at 15-20.

After an impressive sweep of the Dayton Dragons last week, the 'Caps followed it up with a series split against South Bend. West Michigan lost a few nights ago against Great Lakes, and weather, not surprisingly, prevented them from playing last night.

One of the most exciting aspects of the season, thus far, has been the development of third baseman Nick Castellanos.

Castellanos started the season in a bit of a shaky fashion, though that isn't surprising considering he skipped college to come to the Tigers organization. However, as of late, Castellanos has proven why he is considered to be one of the best prospects in the organization. He is in the top five in nearly every major offensive statistical category for the team, and has fulfilled his role of being a clubhouse leader very nicely.

First baseman James Robbins and catcher Rob Brantly continue to be the most proven hitters in the lineup, though. Both are at the top of the team in most statistical categories, as they have been for most of the season. Brantly has really been the centerpiece for the team, as his experience in West Michigan combined with his raw talent and positive attitude has proven to be a great success.

Center fielder Luis Castillo has had a relatively surprising impact on the ball club, at least from a consistency standpoint. His .346 batting average is second best on the team—behind Brantly—and his .410 on base percentage leads the team, making him a constant threat to start a rally for the 'Caps.

On the mound, pitcher Kyle Ryan (2-4, 3.27) may not have the best record, but he has proven to be, at the very least, a very serviceable pitcher for the club. He has not had the greatest amount of run support, though, which is a big contributing factor to his record. However, his fairly low ERA has to be something that the Detroit organization is excited about.

It seems that the move of Ramon Lebron (1-0, 1.23) to the bullpen has proven to be a very beneficial one. Last year, Lebron struggled as a starter, and was eventually demoted. This year, though, Lebron has shown that he is a force coming out of an already pretty strong bullpen.

The Whitecaps travel to Bowling Green to finish their road swing, before returning home on May 20 to begin a home stand against Fort Wayne.


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