WMI MLN: Castellanos Taking It Up a Notch

When the West Michigan Whitecaps began their 2011 season back in April, the majority of the hype was around last year's first round pick for Detroit, third baseman Nick Castellanos. Now over halfway through the season, Castellanos appears to be through the growing pains and necessary adjustments.

The star third baseman had his biggest game of the season in West Michigan on Saturday, going 3-for-4 while notching his first multi-home run game of his professional career against Bowling Green. The organization's second-best prospect now has six home runs on the season.

After blowing out the Hot Rods on Saturday, the 'Caps stuttered a bit last night, dropping the second game of the series 11-7. West Michigan now sits at 9-8 on the second half of the season, four games behind division-leading Dayton. They are 41-44 on the season.

Castellanos now leads the Whitecaps in batting average, hits, doubles, triples, runs batted in, total bases, and slugging percentage, making him one of the most prolific hitters in the Midwest League this season. His batting average is good for fifth in the Eastern Division, and the third baseman is fourth in the division in runs batted in.

As a team, West Michigan now leads the Eastern Division in batting average, with an impressive .259. They were also tied for the division lead in hits. However, they have had a bit of trouble capitalizing on these opportunities, as they are fifth in the division in runs batted in.

On the mound, starter Kevin Eichhorn (7-3, 3.46) has been a model of consistency for the 'Caps in fifteen starts this season. His seventy-four strikeouts leads the team, as does his seven wins. Although Eichhorn didn't have a great start in his last game—he gave up four runs and nine hits in 6.1 innings against Lansing—he still did enough to get the win, something that pitching coach Mark Johnson often references as a focal point when talking to his pitchers.

Reliever Michael Torrealba (5-2, 2.61, 3SV) has started to emerge from the woodwork as one of the top relievers coming out of the bullpen for West Michigan. He is second on the team in saves, behind All Star Bruce Rondon, who leads the Eastern Division in saves with sixteen. He is also second in appearances out of the bullpen behind Rondon, with twenty-four.

Torrealba's impressive contribution is a welcome addition to Rondon and Ramon Lebron (3-1, 1.83, 1 SV), continuing to make West Michigan's bullpen one of the strongest and deepest in the Midwest League, albeit the Eastern Division.

As a team, the Whitecaps are fourth in the Eastern Division in earned run average, sitting at a respectable 3.82. They also lead the division in complete games, and lead the entire Midwest League in home runs allowed.

The West Michigan Whitecaps conclude their three game series against Bowling Green tonight, before hitting the road for another Western Division swing against Wisconsin.

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