Last year, the West Michigan Whitecaps lost their ace, Giovanny Soto, in a trade that brought shortstop Jhonny Peralta to the Tigers. Obviously, that move proved to be extremely beneficial. Detroit is hoping that this year's move will be equally advantageous, as the team has received third baseman Wilson Betemit in exchanged for Whitecaps pitcher Antonio Cruz (2-6, 3.01, 1 SV) and former 'Caps catcher Julio Rodriguez.
Another move that will prove to be a hurdle for West Michigan is the loss of catcher Rob Brantly, whose bat has proven to be explosive for the team this season. Brantly will be heading to Lakeland to play for the Flying Tigers, as he was promoted to High-A Lakeland last week.
West Michigan added pitcher Melvin Mercedes, who started last season in the 'Caps bullpen, and catcher Curtis Casali to the roster to offset the losses of Cruz and Brantly.
Sitting at 16-13 in the second half, the Whitecaps find themselves five games out of the division lead behind Dayton, and two games out of the wild card spot behind Great Lakes. They are sitting at 48-50 overall.
Although the team has had a rough stretch in its final stand against the Western Division, they have won their last three, including wins in their first two games against Clinton.
The catcher position seems to be up in the air at this point, as it's likely that time will be split between Casali and Luis Alberto Sanz for at least the immediate future. Casali was hitless in his first two games in the Midwest League, prompting manager Ernie Young to put Sanz in the lineup for last night's game.
Though the team's batting average has steadily declined in the last week, they've still found a way to win games and keep themselves within striking distance for the division lead.
Pitcher Kevin Eichhorn (7-3, 3.65) is expected to take the mound today in West Michigan's final game of the series against Clinton. Statistically, Eichhorn has been the top starter for the 'Caps this season, as he leads the team in wins and strikeouts. He is also near the top in nearly every pitching category.
Following the 'Caps conclusion of their series against Clinton tonight, West Michigan concludes their home stand with a three game set against Lansing.