West Mich MLN: All-Star 'Caps Shining

The West Michigan Whitecaps began their first Western Division swing of the 2011 season last week, and the initial results were not favorable. The 'Caps were swept in a three game home series against a Quad Cities team that's currently second place in their division.

And although the 'Caps lost by a total of four runs over the course of this series, it had to leave a bitter taste in their proverbial mouths going into their next series against another Western Division foe: Cedar Rapids.

This time, however, the 'Caps did not disappoint. After edging out the Kernels 5-4 in the first game of the series, West Michigan responded with an impressive 6-1 win in the second game of the series behind yet another superb performance by pitcher Josue Carreno (3-6, 5.51).

The Whitecaps went on to dismantle Cedar Rapids in the final game of the series as well, notching a 10-3 blowout, while earning a series sweep in the process.

Furthermore, the 'Caps had an added reason to celebrate this week, as three of their own—catcher Rob Brantly, second baseman Hernan Perez and closer Bruce Rondon (2-1, 2.18, 7 SV)—were selected to attend this year's Midwest League All Star Game.

Brantly, who leads all Midwest League catchers in batting average and runs batted in, has proven all season that he is one of the best catchers, if not the best catcher, in the league. He's also spent most of the season towards the top of the league in nearly every major statistical category, something that has to have Detroit Tigers executives in a good mood.

Perez, who's been a surprising force this season—both in the lineup and at second base—has to be considered the most improved player on the team, and is a very deserving pick for this year's All Star team. His .318 batting average—significantly higher than his average at any point last season—is tied for second best on the team, and his thirty-one runs scored is a team-best.

Rondon, who came out of the gate and instantly made a strong impact on the roster, has been the centerpiece of a dominant Whitecaps bullpen this season. His seven saves puts him at sixth-best in the league, and opponents are hitting for a whimsical .078 average against him.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos has been stepping up as of late, something that Tigers and Whitecaps fans are excited to see from the number two prospect in the organization. His average is up to a solid .262, and he is sitting at third on the team with twenty-six RBI. While his errors at third base continue to be a small concern, Castellanos is proving that he is worth the big contract he was given before the season started.

As previously mentioned, Carreno has been stepping up as of late on the mound, with two solid starts in a row. While he still isn't in great shape statistically, he has helped his team stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Pitcher Kyle Ryan (3-5, 3.54) is starting to adapt to his role as the team's workhorse, although there still isn't a solid number one starter on this team just yet. His 3.54 earned run average is the best out of the team's regular starters, and although he hasn't had the best run support this season, Ryan is still proving to be an above average pitcher for the team.

The 'Caps start a road series in Peoria tonight, where they will continue to take on Western Division opponents. They will then wrap up their Western Division swing against Burlington before returning east for a series against Bowling Green.

Tigs Town Top Stories