One name, Alfredo Figaro.
When the season started the top ace on the hill was Ramon Garcia. Garcia has been a steady pitcher, that is no lie. But it is Figaro who has excelled in every start, making hitters guess what kind of stuff he's coming with next.
Could he be an Erie SeaWolf by All Star break? The beauty of this question lies with his future starts, and in return makes the average minor "A" ball player wonder when he's standing sixty feet six inches way, "Will I be Figaro's next K?"
Let's break down Figaro's progress as of late. In six starts, and a Midwest League leading 39 innings pitched, the Dominican flame thrower has fanned 40 batters, walked just 12 and achieved another Midwest leading 0.46 ERA.
May 4, Figaro looked like a young Pedro Martinez, leading his team to a 4-0 complete game victory against the Quad City River Bandits. He went the distance for the ‘Caps having struck out 11, recording no walks and allowing only three hits in his first shut out of the season. Figaro is dominant against lefties and is brilliant with runners on, having a impressive 1.10 ERA.
His talent hasn't went unnoticed. May 5, Figaro was named MWL Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 28 to May 4. The Whitecaps have come into their own since the last road trip. Their 17-13 record boosts them to second in the Mideastern Conference.
Manager Joe DePastino is finally molding out a brilliant pitching repertoire with the likes of Rudy "The Arrow" Darrow, Santo Meises and Andrew Hess in the pen. Noah Krol has been very dependable as of late for DePastino. In the three saves he contains, he has proved to be a permanent closer for the ‘Caps. Besides Figaro, Ramon Garcia and Jonathan Kibler are contributing every time they step on the mound as well. They have a combined 6.27 ERA and walked 10 in six starts.
Offensively there is need for improvement, but certain players seem to be rising from the bench and providing for the ‘Caps. Notably May 2 when the whole team was on their game. The ‘Caps crushed Quad City 16-3 with a magnificent pitching performance by Kibler.
Kody Kaiser is in the lineup now almost everyday. He is positioned from right field to second base and hasn't let his team down a bit. He bats six through eighth in the lineup and is batting .312 to date. His strikeouts are a little high with 26, but he keeps swinging and producing.
Joseph Tucker is the essential utility man for the ‘Caps. He has seen a variety of positions in the lineup and in the field this season. His average has peaked to .313 and has 25 hits. Tucker is swift on the bases, but more importantly gives DePastino options when creating his lineup card.
May 6, catcher Adrian Casanova made his return to West Michigan. The ‘Caps placed Jordan Newton to the DL. Newton's last appearance was May 2 when he went 4-for-6 with two triples against the River Bandits. Before going to the DL Newton was leading the Midwest League with five triples and was hitting .356. His lineup presence will be missed during their road trip.
Casanova was called up once before by the ‘Caps-- April 14-- in place of catcher Joe Bowen. He played four games having hit .385 going 5-for-13 with one RBI. Casanova hopes to bring some help behind struggling catcher Joe Bowen, who hasn't been the same since his injury.
The Whitecaps play a pair of games this weekend against the Lansing Lugnuts before heading on the road to play a series against the Fort Wayne Wizards.
During this road trip possible questions could be answered for ‘Caps fans. Is Figaro a fluke? Will the catcher problem be solved? Can the team's pitching keep it's momentum? When will the big sticks come through?
News and Notes: Freddy Guzman has been moved up to Toledo after doing very well against Eastern League pitching, taking the slot opened up by Matt Joyce. In turn, Justin Justice, who had been tearing it up in Lakeland as of late, will now move up to take the spot in Erie. Juan Cedeno was also moved up to Erie, which coincides with Brett Jensen returning to the disabled list due to an elbow strain. No official move has been made, but Zach Simons will most likely take that open role now in Lakeland.