MLN: ‘Caps Still Scratching Their Heads

Starting the second half of the season, no one thought West Michigan would be dipping near last place. It's obvious now that injuries have really crippled this team. Since July 16, the ‘Caps—with the exception of a rainout on Monday— won 2-out of-3 against Beloit and Burlington.

Who is Brandon Douglas? West Michigan found out almost immediately after Audy Ciriaco went to the disable list just whom Brandon Douglas was. Douglas joined the ‘Caps to replace Ciriaco at shortstop. He did not disappoint. In his first game on July 16, he went 2-for-4 with a double. His next game with the ‘Caps against Beloit, he knocked his first home run along with going 4-for-5 with two doubles. Since joining West Michigan he has four mulit-hit games, and has recorded at least one hit in every game since joining the ‘Caps.

So who is Brandon Douglas again? Douglas is an Iowa native that was drafted by the Tigers in the 11th round in last month's draft out of the University of Northern Iowa. He began his journey to West Michigan with the Gulf Coast League Tigers on June 19. Douglas hit .333 with a homer and five RBI in just seven games before he was promoted to short-season Oneonta on June 29. With the O-Tigers he hit .327 with three doubles and one home run in 15 games. It wasn't long before a promotion to the ‘Caps came knocking.

To hail his accomplishments this past week (July 14-20) with the ‘Caps, Douglas became the fifth Whitecap player to be awarded the player of the week. The last ‘Cap to win the award was Roger Tomas on May 27.

July 19 and 18, the Whitecaps pulled back-to-back wins against Burlington and Beloit to give the team some confidence heading into their last two away games with Rudy "The Arrow" Darrow and Alfredo Figaro picking up the wins.

July 20, Jon Kibler pitched a beauty against Burlington going head-to-head in quite the pitcher's duel against Danny Duffy. Kibler allowed one run on four hits in six innings, but once Wilton Garcia came in to relieve, he gave up five runs in the eighth inevitably giving Kibler the unwanted loss.

July 21, their game against Burlington was rained out giving some sort of poetry to their wretched second half season.

Alex Avila has been the only 2008 draft pick, besides Douglas, who has been providing the ‘Caps with some extra needed offense. He's hitting .277 with 26 hits and nine RBI. Sharing time behind the plate and at designated hitter, Avila is slowly molding himself into a player to be counted on.

With suffering from injuries, the team looks to many players to step up to the challenge, but so far no one has really came into their own. Jordan Newton—who was once the team's batting average leader— has had little productivity at the plate in July. Second baseman Justin Henry has been their only consistent player with a .283 average and 30 RBI to date.

When Joseph Tucker came to the ‘Caps, once again, everyone was sure he would provide what was missing from the team. So far he's having trouble finding the ball and getting the necessary runs needed. Though he is quite the utility player, he hasn't fully been used as one, seeing that injuries plague the second half 'Caps. The only bright spot to the team, besides Douglas, has been Figaro, who is inching ever so closely to that win record. He leads the Midwest league with 12 wins and just two losses.

Where are the first half Whitecaps? One can only wonder when we will see them shine again. For now, manager Joe DePastino must continue to adjust the lineup in hopes of a winning mix.

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