Bichette named Midwest League MVP & Prospect of the Year

Former Lansing Lugnuts infielder Bo Bichette is this year’s Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former Lansing Lugnuts infielder Bo Bichette was named the 2017 Midwest League Most Valuable Player and Prospect of the Year on Friday.

Bichette, who turned 19 a month before the season started, dominated at the plate for the Lugnuts, even flirting with batting .400 for awhile. He batted .384 with 10 homers, 32 doubles, 60 runs scored, 51 runs batted in, and 12 stolen bases in 70 games before Toronto promoted him to the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays in early July. (He is batting .344 with 2 HR, 16 RBI and 8 SB in 30 games with Dunedin.)

The Midwest League also announced its Postseason All-Star Team, which includes Bichette, of course. The Kane County Cougars had three players honored, the most of any team.

The full team, with 2017 MWL statistics through Thursday’s games, is as follows (with two right-handed starting pitchers because there was a tie for that position):

First Base – Emmanuel Tapia (.211 BA, 25 HR, 18 doubles, 64 RBI in 109 games with the Lake County Captains)

Second Base – Robbie Tenerowicz (.313 BA, 11 HR, 22 doubles, 34 RBI in 80 games with the Bowling Green Hot Rods)

Third Base – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.316 BA, 7 HR, 21 doubles, 45 RBI in 71 games with the Lugnuts)

Shortstop – Bo Bichette

Outfield – Jose Siri (.296 BA, 19 HR, 23 doubles, 61 RBI, 39 SB in 112 games with the Dayton Dragons) Siri had a 39-game hitting streak this season, setting a new Midwest League record.

Outfield – Jesus Sanchez (.309 BA, 14 HR, 27 doubles, 77 RBI in 103 games with the Hot Rods)

Outfield – Marcus Wilson (.294 BA, 9 HR, 19 doubles, 5 triples, 46 RBI, 13 SB in 88 games with the Cougars)

Catcher – Chuckie Robinson (.290 BA, 12 HR, 28 doubles, 65 RBI in 93 games with the Quad Cities River Bandits)

Designated Hitter – Li-Jen Chu (.268 BA, 13 HR, 21 doubles, 55 RBI in 110 games with the Captains)

Right-handed Starting Pitcher – Clark Beeker (11-3, 2.03 ERA, two shutouts, 84 Ks, 17 BB in 128.2 innings/20 starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels)

Right-handed Starting Pitcher – Sam McWilliams (11-5, 2.68 ERA, 86 Ks, 26 BB in 121 innings/22 starts for the Cougars)

Left-handed Starting Pitcher – Gregory Soto (10-1, 2.25 ERA, 116 Ks, 54 BB in 96 innings/18 starts for the West Michigan Whitecaps)

Right-handed Reliever – Tommy Eveld (1-0, 0.33 ERA, 14 saves, 33 Ks, 8 BB in 27.2 innings/22 games for the Cougars)

Left-handed Reliever – Wyatt Short (3-3, 3.50 ERA, 13 saves, 58 Ks, 17 BB in 54 innings/35 games for the South Bend Cubs)

Whitecaps skipper Mike Rabelo was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year. West Michigan is 81-38 (.681 winning percentage) so far this season, and the team’s pitching staff has already set a new MWL record with 24 shutouts pitched. The Whitecaps clinched a postseason berth by winning the Eastern Division in the first half of the season, with a 45-22 record.

Posted in 2017 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Dunedin Blue Jays, Florida State League, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

TinCaps’ bid for perfect game ends with two outs in 9th

Fort Wayne TinCaps hurlers Lake Bachar (left) and Jose Galindo came within one out of pitching a combined perfect game Thursday at Four Winds Field. (Photo by Emma Reese/South Bend Cubs)

The Fort Wayne TinCaps nearly pitched a perfect game against the South Bend Cubs on Thursday, losing the bid with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Cubs DH Jhonny Pereda — the No. 9 hitter in the lineup — hit a double to end the perfect game, but he was the only South Bend player who reached base. The TinCaps had to settle for a 7-0 shutout instead of a more impressive, nine-inning perfect game.

But it certainly was still impressive. TinCaps starter Lake Bachar (W, 3-0) struck out seven in seven perfect innings, and presumably was taken out of the game (after throwing 74 pitches, 50 for strikes) because he is still working his way back from a shoulder injury that delayed the start of his season until July. Reliever Jose Galindo went the rest of the way for Fort Wayne, striking out one batter in his two innings of work marred only by Pereda’s double.

Offensively for the TinCaps, designated hitter Jorge Ona slugged his ninth homer and stole his seventh base of the season. Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. hit three doubles — he now has 25 two-baggers this season — and collected his 67th RBI of the year.

Kernels two-hit Bees

Three Cedar Rapids Kernels pitchers combined to two-hit the Burlington Bees in an 8-0 shutout Thursday.

Starter Patrick McGuff walked two and struck out one in four hitless innings. He has pitched for the Kernels all season, but this was his first start.

Reliever Evan Sanders — who got the win — gave up both Bees hits, issued a walk, hit a batter, and struck out two in three innings. Reliever Colton Davis hit a batter but otherwise didn’t allow a base-runner in his two innings, and he notched a pair of strikeouts in the process.

Kernels centerfielder Aaron Whitefield went 3-for-5 with two doubles, three runs batted in, and a stolen base.

L-Kings win on walk-off HR

The Clinton LumberKings beat the Kane County Cougars 3-2 Thursday, winning the game on a walk-off homer by right-fielder Gareth Morgan. It was his 13th round-tripper of the season.

Cougars first baseman Ramon Hernandez also went deep, hitting a two-run shot in the 4th for his 10th home run of the year.

LumberKings second baseman Jhombeyker Morales went 0-for-3 in Thursday’s game, after going 4-for-4 on Wednesday and 3-for-3 with a walk on Tuesday.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Capel, Gutierrez named Midwest League players of the week

West Michigan Whitecaps RHP Alfred Gutierrez is the Midwest League pitcher of the week. It is the second time he earned the honor this season. (Photo by Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

Lake County Captains outfielder Conner Capel and West Michigan Whitecaps RHP Alfred Gutierrez respectively were named the Midwest League offensive player and pitcher of the week for August 7-13.

Capel played in six games during that period, batting .444 (12-for-27) with one homer, one triple, one double, one walk, eight runs batted in, and six runs scored. The Cleveland Indians prospect is batting .243 with 19 HR, 52 RBI and 13 SB in 102 games with the Captains this season.

Capel previously was named the MWL offensive player of the week for the period of May 29 to June 4.

Gutierrez made one start during the last seven days, on Sunday. He struck out 11 batters (including the first seven he faced) while scattering three hits and two walks in seven innings against the Great Lakes Loons. The Detroit Tigers prospect is 9-6 with a 3.29 ERA, one save, 114 strikeouts and 18 walks in 112 innings (21 games/18 starts) this season.

Gutierrez previously was named the MWL pitcher of the week for the period of May 8-14.

Whitecaps win 80th game

The Sunday game started by Gutierrez was won by the Whitecaps, 6-1, giving West Michigan its 80th win of the season. The Whitecaps (80-35) are the first Minor League Baseball team to win that many games this season; the Los Angeles Dodgers (83-34) are the only Major League Baseball team with 80 or more wins.

The Midwest League record for wins during the regular season is 97 by the 1978 Appleton Foxes. The Whitecaps have 21 games left, so they can break the record if they lose only three more games before the season ends on Sept. 4. Their next four games are against the Dayton Dragons, who are 14-35 in the second half. Six games are against the South Bend Cubs, who are 23-26 in the second half. The rest of West Michigan’s games are against the Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Fort Wayne TinCaps, who are 30-19 and 32-17 in the second half, respectively. The Whitecaps are 35-13 in the second half.

The Whitecaps will go for their 81st win of the season tonight, with top Tigers prospect Matt Manning getting his second MWL start. His first start didn’t go too well, as he gave up four runs on three hits and three walks in 1.2 innings. Before his promotion to the Midwest League, however, he posted a 1.89 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 14 walks in 33.1 innings (nine starts) for the short-season Connecticut Tigers.

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Connecticut Tigers, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, New York-Penn League, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Top draft pick Royce Lewis goes 4-for-5 in MWL debut

Kernels shortstop Royce Lewis fields a ball in this Cedar Rapids Gazette photo by Stephen Mally. See more of Mally’s photos from Saturday’s Kernels-River Bandits game here.

Minnesota Twins prospect Royce Lewis — the No. 1 overall draft pick this year — made his Midwest League debut for the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Saturday, and he didn’t disappoint.

Lewis went 4-for-5 (four singles and a strikeout) with a stolen base and a run batted in. He batted leadoff for the Kernels, who beat the Quad Cities River Bandits 9-1. Jimmy Kerrigan and Shane Carrier each homered and drove in two runs for the Kernels.

Lewis was promoted to the Midwest League from the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, bypassing the short-season Appalachian League, which usually would be the next stop for Twins farmhands. He batted .271 with three homers, two triples, six doubles, 38 runs scored, 17 runs batted in, and 15 stolen bases in 36 games in the GCL.

Posted in Appalachian League, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Tatis sets new Fort Wayne record with 21st HR of season

Fernando Tatis Jr 21st HR

TinCaps SS Fernando Tatis Jr. connected for his 21st homer of the season — a new Fort Wayne franchise record — on this swing during Saturday’s game. (Photo by Ryan Cox)

TinCaps shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. set a new Fort Wayne franchise record when he hit his 21st home run of the season in his team’s 7-1 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Saturday.

The previous record of 20 homers in a season was set by Jake Patterson in 1997. That was Patterson’s final season as a professional ballplayer.

Tatis is batting .271 with 21 HR, 66 RBI and 28 SB in 111 games this season. According to the TinCaps, the San Diego Padres prospect is the first 18-year-old in the Midwest League to have at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in a season (based on records dating back to 1963). He is the first 18-year-old Midwest Leaguer to hit 20 homers in a season since Derek Parks hit 24 for the Kenosha Twins in 1987.

If Tatis steals just two more bases in Fort Wayne’s last 22 games of the season, he will join an elite group of Midwest League players who hit 20 homers and stole 30 bases in a single season. The last player to do it was outfielder Corey Patterson, who had 20 homers and 33 stolen bases for the 1999 Lansing Lugnuts. The other Midwest Leaguers who completed the feat were 1987 Beloit Brewers outfielder Greg Vaughn (33 HR, 36 SB), 1982 Madison Muskies outfielder Tom Romano (26 HR, 66 SB), and 1982 Burlington Rangers outfielder Chuckie Canady (20 HR, 51 SB).

Considering how few Midwest Leaguers have achieved the 20-30 feat, it is interesting that two players could join the club this year. Dayton outfielder Jose Siri also is on the verge of it, having 19 homers and 36 stolen bases through Saturday’s Dragons game.

Fernando Tatis Jr 21st HR 2

Fernando Tatis Jr. points to the sky as he crosses home plate after hitting his 21st home run of the season for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. (Photo by Ryan Cox)

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Lansing Lugnuts, Madison Muskies, Midwest League | Leave a comment