TigsTown MLN: 'Caps Madness of May

Being first place in the MWL Eastern division is definitely turning into a dogfight between West Michigan, Lansing and Fort Wayne.

It's been a tough past week for the 'Caps going 3-8 and now just sitting in second place (30-26), just barely above the Fort Wayne Wizards The month of May has been anything but easy for the 'Caps, having gone 12-16. Head scratching best describes their mediocre performance overall.

The Tigers organization has made a few changes to the ‘Caps roster this past week.

After their 6-1 loss to South Bend May 30 the club sent RHP Santo Mieses and catcher Joe Bowen to extended spring training in Lakeland, Florida. LHP Matt Hoffman was promoted to the Whitecaps roster and joined the team the following night. Hoffman was drafted by the Tigers in the 26th round of the 2007 draft out of Owasso High School in Owasso, Okla.

Bowen was 0-for-3 in Friday's game and was hitting .176 (13-for-74) with no home runs and six RBI in 22 games with the Whitecaps. The battle for starting catcher is now over and in the hands of Jordan Newton. Mieses, in 17 starts, was 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA. He gave up three runs in 0.2 innings on Wednesday against South Bend in his last outing. Both players were on the Opening Day roster.

Second change came June 2, when RHP Lauren Gagnier was promoted to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens to make a spot start in Louisville. Gagnier had a respectable start. Though he didn't pick up the win he went 4.0 innings pitched, striking out five, walking five and just gave up two runs. His return to the 'Caps hasn't been made clear yet. Gagnier is in his second season with 'Caps with going 1-5 with a 4.07 ERA through 10 starts. After struggling to start the season, the Cal. St. Fullerton alumni had posted a 2.25 ERA in his last six starts with 38 strikeouts.

Third change came June 3, Kelvin Cedano was sent from extended spring training to take Gagnier's spot on West Michigan's roster. Earlier this season Cedano went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in eight games before being sent back down to extended spring training.

On a good note, the Midwest League announced it's All Stars June 3. Five Whitecaps players were selected to the All-Star Game on June 17 in Midland, Michigan. Selected to the MWL Eastern roster are 1B Chris Carlson, INF Joe Tucker, OF Casper Wells, RHP Alfredo Figaro and LHP Jon Kibler. The only All-Star started will be Carlson, who will maintain first base. Carlson is a Topeka, Kansas native, and has been the 'Caps most consistent hitter this season, hitting .291 with nine doubles, seven home runs and leads the team with 32 RBI. The University of New Mexico alumni was selected in the 29th round of the 2006 draft.

Wells is no slouch either; he's provided much spark to the 'Caps roster and has pulled them out of trouble more times than ever. He is quickest Whitecaps player in history to reach 10 home runs. The Schenectady, N.Y. native, is hitting .237 with 10 homers and 26 RBI. He is third in the Midwest League in home runs. He was drafted in the 14th round of the 2005 draft.

Tucker, a former Kent State University product, is hitting.273 with 15 RBI. Tucker has is the utility man for the Whitecaps, starting games at first base, second base, shortstop and the outfield. The Tigers in the 24th round of the 2006 draft selected Tucker.

Figaro is the big name of the Whitecaps this season. He puts fear in Midwest League hitters. His 7-2 record and 1.22 ERA with 61 strikeouts through 11 starts prove this. He is second in the league with a 1.22 ERA. The Dominican Republic native has two complete-game shutouts this season and was named the MWL Pitcher of the Week on May 5. The Tigers signed Figaro as a minor league free agent on March 7, 2005.

Kibler, a Michigan State alumnus, posted a 5-2 renine starts with one complete game. He was awarded the MWL Pitcher of the Week on May 19. The southpaw from Maryland, was drafted in the 30th round of the 2007 draft.

So where there seems to be darkness for the ‘Caps there is peaks of light. In May Whitecaps fans have seen their boys go up to first and down second and are now fighting to get back first place once again. It might be a hard road, but DePastino and his crew are up for the challenge and have a whole other half season to go.

News and Notes: Ryan Roberson earned a promotion to Toledo, presumably to go ahead and fill the slot opened up when Jeff Larish got the call to Detroit. In addition, while Lauren Gagnier got bumped all the way up to Toledo from West Michigan, Gagnier shouldn't get comfortable, as he's likely headed back to the 'Caps, and was just an emergency starter for the 'Hens when they lost Casey Fossum to the big league club. Also, Brandon Timm was placed on the reserve list for Lakeland, being replaced by Luis Salas from extended spring training.

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