West Mich MLN: Working to Salvage the Year

While the Detroit Tigers had a trio of their best players sent to Anaheim for the All-Star game, the team's class A affiliate from Comstock Park was busy trying to salvage what has so far been a disappointing season.

Since the team's All Star break, the West Michigan Whitecaps have the worst record in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League, sitting at an abysmal 6-12 in the second half. While the 'Caps had the Captains number in the last series, taking two of three from Lake County at home, they have also suffered through a recent five game losing skid, as they were swept at home by Dayton and lost two of three against South Bend on the road.

While the chances of the Whitecaps making an attempt at a post-season run are all but lost, the team has continued to develop their talent, both at the plate and on the mound.

One of West Michigan's newest additions, catcher Luis Sanz, has been great so far in the lineup. In six games this season, Sanz is batting .333 with six hits. He's also been excellent defensively, as he has yet to give up an error this year. However, as is the case with any young talent, you have to take the good with the bad. Sanz has yet to hit for any real power, as he has no home runs since joining the team. Furthermore, he has yet to get an RBI in the Midwest League, a statistic that is due to change in the very near future.

First baseman Tony Plagman is another player that is starting to gain the attention of scouts and fans in West Michigan. While the 22-year old lefty hasn't been the most consistent hitter on the team, as his average has steadily been less than .240 since joining the team, he has filled it a role that wasn't seen so much with former first baseman Jordan Lennerton, who is now playing in Lakeland; that is, the role of a power hitter. In 18 games with the 'Caps this season, Plagman already has as many home runs as Lennerton was able to accrue in 59 games with the team.

With the large volume of roster turnover that the 'Caps, like many other teams in the Midwest League, have experienced this season, it may be somewhat surprising that the team's offensive MVP has been in a Whitecaps uniform since opening day: third baseman Wade Gaynor.

While Gaynor suffered from a shaky start, he found a way to turn it up at the plate, and has been the West Michigan's most stable power threat. He leads the team in both home runs (8) and runs batted in (38), and is second on the team in average, just behind center fielder Jamie Johnson.

The Whitecaps pitching staff has struggled as of late, perhaps mostly due to the temporary loss of All Star LHP Giovanny Soto (5-5, 2.30), who has been on the disabled list for the greater part of the past week. Meanwhile, the team's workhorse, RHP Trevor Feeney (7-9, 3.49), has yet to have a truly great outing since the All Star break. Despite this, Feeney is on course to potentially break franchise records in both innings pitched and starts. He currently leads the league with 121.1 innings pitched and 19 starts.

The Whitecaps will have an off day tomorrow before playing six games on the road, including a three game series against Clinton and Kane County, respectively. The 'Caps will then return home to face more Western Division foes, taking on Wisconsin and Beloit over six days.

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