MLN: 'Caps Like the View From the Top

It took some time, but the Whitecaps are finally on top of the Eastern Division. With strong pitching and their offense coming around they are once again a team to fear.

They are 8-10 in the month of May so far. With number one starter Ramon Garcia gone the 'Caps' rotation is quite different, but new arms seem to be rising from the pen.

May 19: Michigan State alumni Jon Kibler became the third consecutive Whitecaps' starter named pitcher of the week for the week of May 12-18. His two phenomenal starts earned him the honor. He went 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA. On the season he is 4-1 with 40 strikeouts and a 2.06 ERA. May 18, the day before the honor, Kibler allowed only two hits in a complete game victory over the Lansing Lugnuts 4-2. The first run of that game was due to a home run by Manny Rodriguez in the fourth inning, thus ending Kibler's streak of nine in a row retired.

A few moves the Tigers organization had made this week started with activating catcher Jordan Newton from the disabled list. Newton had been on the D.L. since May 6 with a pinched nerve. They will surely need his big stick as he comes back trying to add to his .365 average (26-for-73).

The second move was sending outfielder Mark McBrantey to extended spring training. The Tigers signed McBratney as a non-drafted free agent on June 18, 2007 out of Emporia State University. The Wichita, Kansas native was hitting .186 (16-for-86) with five RBIs in 24 games.

The small, but fierce Kody Kaiser is the essential utility man as he has seen himself play various positions throughout the field. In the 30 games he has played, Kaiser, in 109 at bats, is batting .294 with 32 hits, three triples, and 14 RBIs. Manager Joe DePastino loves the switch hitter's versatility.

Catcher Joe Bowen is having problems at the plate still. In 17 games he's batting only .172 with 23 strikeouts and 5 RBIs. With the return of Newton the catcher position could possibly see some competition in the weeks to come.

Joe Tucker and Chris Carlson are 9 and 10 in the Midwest League in batting averages. In their combined 242 plate appearances the two are finding good pitches and taking advantage of them.

Alfredo Figaro keeps thrilling ‘Caps fans. In his 50.1 innings pitched he's 5-1 with a 1.25 ERA and has struck out 50 batters, which puts him in sixth place among pitchers in the Midwest League. In fifth place is teammate Lauren Gagnier with 51.

Gagnier has started eight games for the ‘Caps, but has had little luck winning games. He's 1-4 on the year with pitching 43 innings and having 42 hits against him, leaving him with a 4.81 ERA.

Surprisingly the stats are not telling the true story of the ‘Caps first place standing. The only visible thing shown in the stats is how the whole team is contributing on hits and runs. West Michigan sits second in three categories in the Midwest league with a combined 385 hits, 213 runs and 190 RBIs.

With the All-Star break being less than a month away, the ‘Caps hope to carry this momentum through and possibly have a few representatives in the game as well. The only for sure Whitecaps All-Star is announcer Dave Skoczen who was selected to announce the game June 17 in Midland.

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