While West Michigan has seen its far share of positives, such as a good start to the season by CF Jamie Johnson and 1B Jordan Lennerton, as well as strong pitching early from RHP Trevor Feeney (4-3, 3.18) and RHP Ramon Lebron (4-2, 3.63), fans have yet to see one player steal the show on a regular basis.
Following a solid stretch of good play from the 'Caps two weeks ago, the team has fallen relatively flat as of late, going 2-5 in their last seven to take over sole possession of last place in the eastern division of the Midwest League, falling to 16-28 on the year.
One of the disappointments of the season has been RHP Jacob Turner (0-2, 4.15). Although Turner was never really expected to be an ace in the Whitecaps' staff this year and has pitched fairly well, it is somewhat surprising that he has yet to post his first win of the season.
As noted earlier, Johnson started the season well, leading the team in nearly every major batting category, and hanging atop the Midwest League in many categories early in the season. However, we have not seen the same hitter as of late, as Johnson's average has dropped to .289. Keep in mind, though, that this may just be Johnson coming down to Earth after a stellar start to the season, as the 'Caps leadoff man wasn't considered to be a top farm player in the Tigers' system, let alone in single-A ball.
But, as is the case in most things, for every bad, there is usually a good.
May has proven the be a fantastic month for RF Alexis Espinoza, who currently leads the team in batting average (.321), and is proving to be a hot hitter in a pretty average West Michigan lineup.
Although this week has shown otherwise, starting pitching continues to thrive for the most part, as Feeney and Lebron have shown their ability to be a consistent ace on the mound, while 19 year old LHP Giovanni Soto (3-3, 2.11) has kept the 'Caps in nearly every game this season. Even Turner has shown some sparks of brilliance this season.
The problem seems to be putting it all together and firing on all cylinders on a consistent basis. While not every game is going to look well put together, you have to show some form of unity between consistent batting and consistent pitching. This has been where the 'Caps have struggled early. On a regular basis, it seems, when hitting is good, pitching is not, and vice versa. While putting it all together is easier said than done, it is something the Whitecaps will have to do if they want to have a shot at bringing a championship to Comstock Park. Or, at the very least, making it to .500 by the end of the season.
The Whitecaps will be finishing up a road trip against the Lansing Lugnuts over the next four days before bringing baseball back to Comstock Park in a ten game home stand that includes a four game series against the Dayton Dragons, followed by a three game series against the only team in the Midwest League with a worse record than the 'Caps, the Burlington Bees. The home stretch concludes with a three game series against a Chicago Cubs affiliate, the 25-20 Peoria Chiefs.