TigsTown MLN: The 'Caps Budding Star

The Whitecaps continue to battle along with their youth continuing to make it an uphill battle for the defending Midwest League champions, albeit defending champs without much similarity to last year's team. The ‘Caps did receive a new pitcher earlier this week though, and which player is coming into his own right in front of the eyes of those at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The lone roster move of the week wasn't a big one, but still one to note after the roster spot opened up with the promotion of Randor Bierd to AA Erie. Ed Clelland has been activated onto the roster and has taken his place in West Michigan's bullpen. Clelland, who has spent the entire 2005 season on the ‘Caps disabled list, spent 2004 with Oneonta after being selected in the 2004 amateur draft by the Tigers in the 20th round. West Michigan will likely use the lefty as a situational reliever out of the bullpen.

Also, a little bit of good news on the injury front. Josh Kauten, who was placed on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his side, appears to be recovering just fine and will likely be back with the club within the next week, barring any setbacks. That of course will cause a controversy, as Kauten will likely move back into the rotation, yet there isn't a spot open currently.

That doesn't even take into account Eric Beattie, who is still strangely absent from competition and remains down in extended spring training, where the Tigers' roving instructors are attempting to get Beattie back to where he was a year ago. Some believe the issue is just mechanical, but others think there may be something more there that Beattie is struggling to overcome. Needless to say, this is not a good situation for the Tigers second round pick of a year ago.

On to better news, a pair of promising signs came this past week from the rotation. First, starter Andrew Kown got his first win of the season on Tuesday, shutting out Dayton over six innings. Kown hasn't had the start he or the organization had hoped for, including extensive praise from one scout who proclaimed "Kown will be the first of the Tigers' 2004 draft to make the big leagues." No telling if that will happen yet, but even though he has only one win in eight starts, his ERA is just 3.50 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is almost 3-to-1.

The other good news from the rotation came from Josh Rainwater, who despite taking a loss, pitched well, giving up a run on two hits in his four innings of work. Rainwater was anxious to get back into the mix after spending six weeks in extended spring training, but he's getting the opportunity now.

Wilkin Ramirez had a bit of a slow start, and is still having his share of struggles defensively, but he's making his presence felt offensively. He is currently second on the team in average at .283, is tied for the team lead in home runs with four, and leads the team with 24 RBI as well as 11 stolen bases. Ramirez's late run has been driven by a recent surge that included five hits, two runs and two RBI over a three game stretch.

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