TigsTown MLN: 'Caps Clinch Playoff Berth

The Whitecaps got great news this past weekend, when their victory clinched a playoff berth for the ‘Caps. But as the team approaches the All Star break, there has been plenty more good news to go around as the team closes out the first half of the year.

The real breakout star for the team has been Ramon Garcia, who found himself sitting atop the Power Rankings for an impressive four straight weeks. Garcia hasn't lost a game since the beginning of April, and has a miniscule 1.55 ERA over his last nine starts. Garcia has also maintained a WHIP under one all season long, adding fuel to such an impressive start. While he is 21 years old and ripe for a promotion, he'll first get an opportunity to represent the ‘Caps in the Midwest League, an honor he certainly has earned.

Another ‘Cap that will be representing West Michigan in the All Star game will be shortstop Mike Hollimon, who was elected the team's starting shortstop. Hollimon has had an up and down year, but he's been consistently patient at the plate – his on base percentage has been consistently more than 100 points over his average. Hollimon had five doubles and seven walks in the past week, displaying both Hollimon's power and patience. ‘Caps fans should enjoy it while they can, because at 23, and with shortstop Brent Dlugach struggling in Lakeland, the time might be coming for Hollimon to make the jump up.

One player that won't find himself on the All Star roster is Cameron Maybin, but that has little to do with Maybin's performance, and everything to do with Maybin's unfortunate finger injury, that sidelined him for over a month. While unfortunate for Maybin and his development, he picked up right where he left off, blasting a grand slam in his weekend return.

The final member of the club that will participate in the All Star festivities is team closer Orlando Perdomo. Perdomo spent a year and a half starting in the Gulf Coast League before the Tigers decided to try him in the ‘pen, and after spending half the season closing for the GCL Tigers, and now another half of a season closing in West Michigan, it's safe to say he'll likely be in the ‘pen for the immediate future. Much like Garcia, Perdomo's ERA and WHIP have both been extremely (under two, and under one, respectively), and he's been reliable when given the ball and expected to hold the lead.

Another reliever that hasn't been getting the recognition of Perdomo, but is pitching maybe even better, has been Anthony Claggett. The little-known-about righty was snagged in the 11th round of last year's draft, and after a solid but unspectacular start, he's turned it on big time this year. Claggett hasn't allowed a run over his last 8 1/3 innings, and before that (his first 20 innings), he didn't allow a single run. If you thought Garcia or Perdomo's ERA was impressive, check out Claggett's; 0.32!

Another reliever who was acquired this past offseason has turned things on after struggling through April. Through the end of April, Ricky Steik's ERA was up near six. But since then, he's calmed down and become incredibly reliable, with an ERA of just 1.66.

Finally, it wouldn't be fair to discuss the Whitecaps without mentioning their new star outfielder; Mike Hernandez. Since being called up in late May, Hernandez has gone on an absolute tear. And he's shown no signs of slowing up yet. Over his last 52 at bats, he's ripped six extra base hits, including becoming just the 2nd player in Whitecap history to hit for the cycle. Things certainly got more crowded in West Michigan's outfield when Maybin returned from the disabled list, but the fact remains that with the way Hernandez has been hitting, he's made it nearly impossible for the team to take him out of the everyday lineup.

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