Wesson Working to Replace the Departed

As most fans of low-A baseball know, a good thing, such as a successful pitcher or position player, doesn't usually stay very long.

The West Michigan Whitecaps have been no exception to said rule, as they have lost talent like RHP Jacob Turner by way of promotion to Lakeland, as well as LHP Giovanni Soto via trade.

What has been surprising is the response that the 'Caps have made on the field, as well as in the clubhouse. Since losing Soto to the Cleveland Indians, the team has been on fire, and is currently in the midst of an eight game winning streak.

The biggest concern for the team, especially after losing Soto, was centered around who would fill in the void as the team's number one starting pitcher.

For RHP Jared Wesson, working to take over the role was an easy decision.

"'I'm taking it. I'm not going to back down; I want to be a starter," Wesson said prior to a game against the Loons on Friday. "I want to give my team as many innings as I can to keep them in the ball game."

Wesson has had no problem accomplishing that goal. In his first season with the 'Caps, the righty is 5-1 with a 2.40 ERA in ten starts, and has been an intricate part of the team's recent success.

Furthermore, as opposed to Turner, who was a highly touted draft pick in 2009, and even Soto, whose stock has risen this season, Wesson was signed as a free agent by the Tigers after going undrafted last year.

All Wesson's situation has done, though, is morph him into the pitcher that he is this season.

"I'm confident in my stuff. I'm not going to be scared," Wesson said. "I've got a chip on my shoulder because I was a free agent. I have something to prove because I didn't get a shot. I'm just going to compete as hard as I can."

And compete is what Wesson has done. Along with pitcher Trevor Feeney, who is quickly approaching the West Michigan Whitecaps record for innings pitched in a season, Wesson is part of a one-two top of the rotation that rivals teams like Lake County.

Despite his success in Comstock Park, though, Wesson realizes that he still has a lot of work to do before he gets to where he wants to be as a pitcher.

"The biggest thing I need to do is throw for strike one more," Wesson said. "Once you get ahead of hitters, it makes it easier on yourself as a pitcher. If I can control throwing more strikes, I'll be successful."

Throwing strikes consistently has been Wesson's only real weakness this season, as he has allowed 31 walks in comparison to 49 strikeouts.

Like most players on the team, Wesson still believes that the 'Caps have a solid chance of making a postseason run, and thinks that, with quality pitching, the chances are only going to get better.

"If we can win these series here in August, we could have a shot," Wesson said. "People say we're much more team-oriented now. We're just having a lot of fun."

"Honestly, I think that our bats have come along in the second half," he continued. "I'm pretty sure that if we can give our team quality starts, we're going to be in a lot of games. We don't want to set the record for losses for the Whitecaps."

While Wesson's ability to pitch this season may lead some to believe he could be playing high-A ball next season or better, the former 29th round pick of the Florida Marlins knows that all he can do is get on the mound when he's needed.

"Obviously I didn't break with anyone after spring training," Wesson said. "The next step would be Lakeland, but you never know. All that I can do is control what I do on the field, and try to do the best I can to put myself in the best position possible, on any team I play for."

Wesson, along with the rest of the team, had the opportunity to play with both Brandon Inge and Carlos Guillen this week. And while he said that the two Detroit Tigers stars didn't really talk much about the major leagues, they both provided a great example to the clubhouse.

"They just wanted to be part of the team, not say how much better they are than us," Wesson said. "And that's good for us to see, because that's how I want to model myself and how the team should model itself."

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