TigsTown MLN: 'Caps Last Gasp Before Playoffs

The ‘Caps have had a better week, and it's been a long time coming. August 21, manager Joe DePastino practically sent his entire bullpen in to finish out the close 6-5 game that Justin Henry's bat won for West Michigan in the bottom of the ninth.

The next few nights weren't nearly as pretty. They dropped August 22 and 23 to Dayton. On the 23rd the ‘Caps were shutout 6-0, giving them 15 shutout losses on the year. The young gun Mauricio Robles came in the 24th to break the two-game losing streak by devastating the Dragons hitters in a 4-2 Whitecaps win. West Michigan would win the next two to better their overall record at 68-63 on the year.

The Tigers organization did make some moves, however, during the week. August 21, the Tigers promoted right-hander Lauren Gagnier to High-A Lakeland, and promoted southpaw Aaron Fuhrman from short-season Oneonta to fill Gagnier's roster spot. Gagnier is expected to debut in Lakeland later this week— making his season quite colorful— for he has appeared with the top four farm teams in the Tigers minor league system in 2008. Gagnier leaves the Whitecaps with a less than perfect 1-8 record, but impressive 3.11 ERA in his last eight starts.

Fuhrman was drafted in the 23rd round of the June 2006 draft. This will be his first appearance in Low-A ball. The Staten Island, N.Y. native was 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA and one save in the 12 games he pitched for Oneonta. Before that, Fuhrman spent the past two seasons of professional baseball with the Gulf Coast League Tigers.

August 25 was a bittersweet date. Top ace, Jon Kibler, was placed on the disabled list. By the minor league rule, a player must remain on the disabled list for at least seven days, which makes Kibler's earliest return date August 30. However, he will be available for the Midwest League playoffs beginning September 3. In a long time coming, the Tigers also activated infielder Roger Tomas from the disabled list after he recovered from a broken hand he suffered June 28.

Other than last night's walk of sac-fly (3-2) win by Joseph Tucker, another piece of good news came in twos. Southpaw Jon Kibler and right-handed pitcher, and once-‘Cap, Alfredo Figaro have been named to the post-season All-Star team— a first in Whitecap history since Jon Connelly in 2003. The Field Managers of all 14 Midwest League teams selected the team. The MWL Post Season All-Star team selects a player for every position, including a right-handed and left-handed starting pitcher and two relievers.

Besides opening day starter Justin Henry, two new Whitecaps that are really coming along this last half of the season are switch-hitting outfielder Chris White and 2008 draft pick Alex Avila.

White is competing with outfielder Kyle Peter for the centerfield slot, while Avila is filling in at catcher in DH; sharing time with Jordan Newton. In the 18 games that White has played, he has compiled a .328 average with 20 hits, eight doubles and five RBI. He's forming into a player that could bring some leverage into the playoffs. Avila, on the other hand, has played in 54 games since his placement on the roster after the All-Star game. He started slow, but came through in several games for the ‘Caps this season. At 5-foot-11, 210-pounds, Avila is an average sized catcher with a cannon for an arm and a great swing from the left side of the plate. The Florida native is batting .305 with 18 runs on 61 hits and 17 RBI.


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