Streaking Whitecaps maintain best record in baseball

Detroit Tigers prospect Josh Lester hit an extra-innings grand slam that gave the West Michigan Whitecaps their seventh straight win Friday. (West Michigan Whitecaps photo)

The West Michigan Whitecaps beat the Dayton Dragons 7-5 in 12 innings Friday to win their 7th consecutive game and maintain their status as the team with professional baseball’s best record.

The Dragons, who started Friday tied for the second-best record in Minor League Baseball, rallied for three runs in the 7th and 8th innings to tie the score 3-3 and ultimately send the game into extra innings. Josh Lester’s grand slam in the top of the 12th inning won it for the Whitecaps, but not before the Dragons scored two more runs on a Bruce Yari homer in the bottom half.

Lester had three hits in the game, and teammate Jacob Robson had four.

The Whitecaps now have a 33-14 record. The only other team in professional baseball with 33 wins is the Houston Astros, who have 16 losses. West Michigan has a .702 winning percentage, better than Houston’s .673 mark.

The Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs have Minor League Baseball’s second-best record, 32-15 (.681 winning percentage), just ahead of Dayton’s 31-16 record that gives the Dragons a .660 winning percentage.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, International League, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Friedl homers for Dragons three times Thursday

Cincinnati Reds prospect T.J. Friedl homered 3 times over the course of 5 innings Thursday. (Dayton Dragons photo)

Cincinnati Reds prospect T.J. Friedl homered three times for the Dayton Dragons on Thursday — once during the game resumed from Wednesday night, and twice in the first four innings of Thursday’s regularly scheduled nine-inning contest.

Wednesday’s game between the Dragons and the Great Lakes Loons was suspended after 13 innings, still scoreless when rain halted play. (I wrote about Dragons pitcher Tony Santillan’s impressive start in that game in my last post, which you can find here.) That game resumed Thursday morning, and remained scoreless until Friedl hit a solo homer in the top of the 16th inning. Dayton ended up losing the game, however, after Great Lakes slugger Carlos Rincon belted a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom half of the inning for a 2-1 Loons win.

It took only two innings of the second game to replicate that score. The Loons took a 2-1 lead into the top of the 3rd inning, when Friedl hit a solo homer to tie the game. Dayton had a 4-2 lead an inning later when Friedl went deep again, slugging a grand slam to give the Dragons an 8-4 lead.

The Dragons went on to score six more times, including twice on a Jose Siri triple and thrice on a homer by Brantley Bell. They won the second game 14-6.

Friedl is batting .295 with 4 HR, 22 RBI and 9 SB in 44 games this season.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Lugnuts’ Maese strikes out 12 in complete-game win

Lansing Lugnuts RHP Justin Maese struck out 12 batters in seven innings Wednesday. (Photo by Kyle Castle/Lansing Lugnuts)

It wasn’t his best overall start of the season, but Lansing Lugnuts right-hander Justin Maese pitched well enough to win — and strike out a dozen Lake County Captains batters in the process.

Maese gave up four runs on seven hits in seven innings Wednesday, but still got the win in Lansing’s 5-4 victory over Lake County. The game was called after seven innings because of rain.

In addition to striking out 12 batters, Maese didn’t walk anyone. He is now 5-2 with a 4.21 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 16 walks in 57.2 innings/nine starts this season. He has pitched three complete games.

The Lansing offense was led by Bo Bichette, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a run batted in. He also was hit by a pitch. His .371 batting average leads the Midwest League, while his .448 on-base average and .580 slugging percentage rank second in the circuit.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in two runs for the Lugnuts. His .346 batting average ranks second in the league, and his .445 on-base percentage ranks third. His .537 slugging percentage is tied for fifth-best in the league.

Duplantier’s ERA leads pros

Kane County Cougars RHP Jon Duplantier turned in another stellar performance Wednesday, giving up only three hits in six scoreless innings against the Burlington Bees. He struck out two and walked none.

Duplantier dropped his ERA to 0.56 in 48.1 innings (nine games/eight starts) this season, which leads all of professional baseball. He is 5-0 with 56 strikeouts and 11 walks, has a 0.72 WHIP, and opponents have a .149 batting average against him.

Bees starting pitcher Andrew Vinson took the loss despite giving up only one unearned run, one hit and one walk in five innings. He lowered his ERA to 5.93 in 30.1 innings/seven starts this season.

Kane County Cougars RHP Jon Duplantier leads professional baseball with a 0.56 ERA. (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

Another sharp start for Santillan

Dayton Dragons RHP Tony Santillan gave up only two hits and one walk in eight shutout innings against the Great Lakes Loons on Wednesday, in his first start since taking a perfect game into the 7th inning against the Bowling Green Hot Rods last Friday.

The scoreless game was suspended after 13 innings due to rain, and will be resumed Thursday morning.

Santillan is 2-2 with a 2.35 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 19 walks in 53.2 innings/10 starts this season.

Cincinnati Reds prospect Tony Santillan has a 2.35 ERA in 10 starts this season. (Dayton Dragons photo)

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Dayton Dragons, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment

QC’s Perez Ks 10 while no-hitting Peoria for 7 innings

Quad Cities River Bandits LHP Cionel Perez (Photo by Sean Flynn)

Cuban left-hander Cionel Perez has had a rocky start to his professional baseball career, but on Monday he looked like everything the Houston Astros hoped for when they signed the then-20-year-old for $2 million last winter.

After starting the season in extended spring training, Perez made his first pro start for the Quad Cities River Bandits on April 27. Only one of his four starts (his second one) could be considered a good outing, and he started this week with a 9.64 ERA after giving up 15 earned runs in 14 innings pitched.

His fifth start was a different story. Perez handcuffed the Peoria Chiefs for seven innings Monday, keeping them hitless while striking out 10 and walking one before being removed because of his pitch count. His ERA dropped to 6.43 and he picked up his third win of the year.

Right-hander Kevin Hill pitched the last two innings for the River Bandits, allowing one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out three and was awarded his first save of the season.

Marcos Almonte and Chuckie Robinson each drove in two runs for the River Bandits. Almonte hit a two-run homer and Robinson hit a two-run double.

Juan Yepez, whom the St. Louis Cardinals acquired from the Atlanta Braves for Matt Adams on Saturday, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his Chiefs debut.

You can read more about Perez’s performance in this MiLB.com story, in which writer Tyler Maun interviewed Quad Cities pitching coach Drew French.

Posted in Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Tatis, Reed named Midwest League players of the week

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the Midwest League offensive player of the week. (Photo by Jeff Nycz/Mid-South Images)

Fort Wayne TinCaps shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and Kane County Cougars LHP Cody Reed respectively were named the Midwest League offensive player and pitcher of the week for the period of May 15 to 21.

Tatis, son of the former major-leaguer of the same name, batted .462 (12-for-26) with three homers, three doubles, one triple, six runs batted in, nine runs scored, three walks and one stolen base in his last seven games. He had a 15-game hitting streak that ended with an 0-for-3 performance Sunday.

Overall this season, Tatis is batting .285 with 6 HR, 24 RBI and 9 SB in 41 games. The San Diego Padres prospect turned 18 in January.

Reed made one start last week, and it was a dominant performance. The Arizona Diamondbacks prospect pitched a nine-inning shutout — the first for a Cougars hurler since 2004 — allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out nine batters.

In seven starts this season, Reed is 3-1 with a 1.08 ERA, 47 strikeouts and nine walks in 41.2 innings. His ERA and his 0.82 WHIP each rank third in the Midwest League.

Reed turns 21 next month.

Kane County Cougars LHP Cody Reed is the Midwest League pitcher of the week. (Photo by Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

Posted in Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League | Leave a comment