West Mich MLN: Focus on the Little Victories

When you're a team with a losing record, whether it be in the little leagues or the major leagues, you start to appreciate the little victories more and more as they happen.

So when the West Michigan Whitecaps saw All Star LHP Giovanni Soto (6-6, 2.61) return from the disabled list, they were more than happy to put him back in the rotation. Soto responded with a great performance, allowing two earned runs on four hits over five innings and earning a win.

While solid pitching has been a consistent presence for the Whitecaps the entire season, the loss of RHP Jacob Turner to Lakeland at the All Star Break has definitely had a negative impact on the team. That being said, RHP Jared Wesson (3-1, 2.97) has done well in his role, both as the heir apparent to the number two spot in the 'Caps rotation, and as a de facto ace while Soto was on the DL. Unfortunately, many of the team's pitchers have misleading win-loss records: most notably, RHP Trevor Feeney (7-10, 3.49) whose ERA is towards the top of the Midwest League, despite his poor record.

RHP Victor Larez (6-9, 4.71) has had his role changed as of late, as he has seemingly went from being a reliever to a regular starter in the Whitecaps rotation. Unfortunately, it hasn't translated into great results, as in his last start he was rocked by Beloit, giving up five runs on eight hits over five innings while taking a loss.

Unfortunately, the bullpen has become a little weaker with the loss of of RHP Nate Newman (0-5, 4.83) to the Disabled List a few days ago. Although he has not been the best reliever this season, he has been a consistent arm for the team.

Offensively, the power seems to be lost in the 'Caps bats, at least for their regular power hitters. It has been weeks since the team's two top power hitters, 3B Wade Gaynor and OF Michael Rockett, went yard. However, we are seeing other players step up, at least a to a degree. 1B Tony Plagman has been swinging the bat well since he arrived in Comstock Park. Besides having a .293 batting average—good for second best on the team—he has four long balls as well, and has been one of the few consistent hitters for the Whitecaps in the second half.

Another newcomer, 2B Corey Jones, has also been consistent at the plate, batting .297 in ten games this season. This kind of consistent batting is coming more and more at a premium for the 'Caps, as CF Jamie Johnson has been on the decline a little bit, as his average has dwindled to .285, as he has struggled recently. Accompany Jones with Plagman, Gaynor and OF Avisail Garcia, who is second on the team with 43 RBI, and you would have to believe that the team could start winning on a more consistent basis. But, this has not been the case, as the team still sits at 9-21 on the year, a half game ahead of Dayton. Since they've been sitting in last place for most of the season, though, it is a good sign to see the 'Caps move from last place, even if it is by only a small margin.

After an off day for the 'Caps, the team will go on the road for a three game series against a struggling Lake County team, before returning home for a seven game home stand that includes a three game series against last place Dayton, followed by a four game series against first place Great Lakes.

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