Minor League Notebook: 8/30

It wasn't a great day down on the farm - only Lakeland was able to come up with a win on Monday, and even they lost a game too as they split a doubleheader with Fort Myers. The Whitecaps also have found themselves in a fight to the finish, as they face off against 2nd place Lansing over the next 3 days.

AAA Toledo 64-73, 2nd place in West division
The Mudhens suffered a tough 2-1 defeat on Monday, losing in 12 innings to Indianapolis. After Rick Kirsten turned in an excellent start, going 6 1/3 innings with no runs allowed on 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4. Unfortunately, John Ennis allowed a run in the 9th to send the game into extra innings, and Brian Schmack lost it in the bottom of the 12th. Chad Alexander and Mike DiFelice each had 2 hits for Toledo, but Warren Morris was the only player able to generate a run, launching a solo Home Run in the 6th inning.

AA Erie 75-59, 2nd place in Southern division
Erie is on a bit of skid, having now lost 3 straight. Their latest defeat came on Monday in a 6-4 defeat by Reading. Rick Palma took the loss as the starter, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 3 innings - he also allowed 9 hits. Juan Tejada had a big game offensively, going 4-for-4 with a solo Home Run, his 20th of the year. Ryan Raburn also extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a 2-for-4 day. Chad Meyers also had a solo Home Run in the losing effort.

Juan Tejada has cooled a bit in the second half of the season after a great first half, but his production certainly hasn't completely dropped off. Tejada hit his 20th Home Run, the first time he has reached 20 Home Runs in his career. And even when he hasn't been hitting Home Runs, he's still been driving the ball - he leads the team with 29 doubles, and currently carries a .510 slugging percentage. Despite his power surge this season however, there will still be questions about whether or not he can hit for enough power at the big league level to be a starting First Baseman. So, despite his advances, Tejada will have to prove himself all over again next year in Toledo.

High-A Lakeland 21-40, 6th place in West division
The L-Tigers split a doubleheader on Tuesday, winning the first game (which was continued from a rainout last week) by a score of 11-1, but dropping the 2nd 3-2. In the first, Jeremy Johnson shut down Fort Myers, pitching 8 innings with 1 run allowed on 7 hits. Johnson, who got just his 3rd win of the year, also struck out 3. At the plate, Brent Clevlen had a good game, going 2-for-3 with a Home Run, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored and 2 walks. Chris Maples and Victor Mendez also had Home Runs, while Scott Moore had a 2-run double. In the 2nd, Andy Baldwin started and got a no decision, giving up 2 runs in 4 innings, but allowing 10 hits and striking out just 1. Chris Maples went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Jody Roughton also chipped in with a pair of hits.

It hasn't been a good year for Clevlen, but he seems to have straightened a few things out over the past few weeks, and getting back to being patient at the plate. Clevlen's K:BB ratio is still poor (2.8), but it's improving a bit, and all in all he appears to be more confident when coming up to the plate. His numbers don't do much for him, and he'll certainly be falling on many prospect charts after so much was expected of him after a promising 2003 in West Michigan, but a late surge would re-assure many (especially those within the organization) that he hasn't lost his bat forever.

Low-A West Michigan 37-26, 1st place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps took on Lansing on Monday and didn't fare so well as they attempt to hold off Lansing in the division race. Lansing was victorious 11-1, hitting Brian Rogers hard. Rogers gave up 9 runs (8 of them earned) on 14 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The offense wasn't able to do much either, as they managed just 3 hits and 1 run, the run coming from a sacrifice fly by Kelly Hunt. The Whitecaps remain 2 games ahead of Lansing in the division standings, but still have 3 more games this week with Lansing. These games could very well decide the division winner, as a few more wins by the Whitecaps could capture the 2nd half division crown.

It certainly wasn't Brian Rogers best day - but the team will need him over the next few weeks if they plan on making a playoff run. Rogers still doesn't project very well to the big leagues with (at this point) below average offspeed pitches, and a fastball that rarely gets above 88 MPH. However, Rogers has still been an effective pitcher for West Michigan, and he'll keep moving up the ladder as long as he keeps getting batters out.

SS-A Oneonta 33-35, 3rd place in Stedler division
The O-Tigers game with Auburn was suspended in the 8th inning - no word yet on when it will be made up.

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