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

Whitecaps set new MWL record with 24th shutout of season

Anthony Castro pitched the first five innings of West Michigan’s Midwest League record-breaking 24th shutout Friday. (West Michigan Whitecaps photo)

The West Michigan Whitecaps beat the Great Lakes Loons 6-0 Friday for their 24th shutout of the season, breaking the old Midwest League record of 23 set by the 1974 Quad City Angels.

Whitecaps starter Anthony Castro scattered four hits and two walks in five innings, and struck out five batters. He got the win, improving to 9-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 18 starts.

Reliever Trent Szkutnik struck out six batters in four perfect innings to earn his second save.

The Whitecaps offense was led by Danny Woodrow, who went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI.

West Michigan broke the shutouts record in its 113th game of the season, whereas Quad City played 123 games in 1974. The Whitecaps have 23 games left in their season.

Side note: I previously wrote about the two pitchers from the 1974 Quad City Angels who later made it to the big leagues. You can read that post here. What I didn’t note then was that team was managed by Jimy Williams, future skipper of the Toronto Blue Jays (1986-1989), the Boston Red Sox (1997-2001), and the Houston Astros (2002-2004). Williams also played in the Midwest League as a Red Sox farmhand, batting .287 with two homers, 19 doubles, 31 runs batted in, and 10 stolen bases in 115 games with the 1965 Waterloo Hawks. His playing career included 14 games in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Beeker extends scoreless streak

Kernels RHP Clark Beeker pitched seven scoreless innings against the River Bandits on Friday, extending his scoreless streak to 32.2 innings. Cedar Rapids won the game 3-0, ending Quad Cities’ winning streak at nine games.

The Midwest League record for consecutive scoreless innings in a single season is 42, set by Clinton Giants RHP Mark Grant in 1982. The future major-leaguer earned the Midwest League Prospect of the Year Award after going 16-5 with a 2.36 ERA, four shutouts, 243 strikeouts and 60 walks in 198.2 innings. He completed 12 of his 27 starts that season.

Beeker is 11-3 with a 2.03 ERA, two shutouts, 84 strikeouts and 17 walks in 128.2 innings (20 starts) for the Kernels this season. The Minnesota Twins prospect leads the Midwest League in ERA and WHIP (0.92).

Beeker is the reigning Midwest League pitcher of the week, having won the award for July 31-August 6 and the previous period, July 24-30.

Franklin traded to Braves

The Cincinnati Reds announced Friday that they sent minor-league first baseman Kevin Franklin to the Atlanta Braves to complete a four-player, Feb. 13 trade involving Brandon Phillips.

Franklin played 14 games this year and 28 games last year with the Dayton Dragons. He batted .219 with 2 HR and 15 RBI in those 42 games.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

LC’s Aiken throws seven one-hit innings vs. Lansing

Lake County Captains LHP Brady Aiken (Photo by Tim Phillis/TCP Photography)

Despite having an overall disappointing season, Lake County Captains LHP Brady Aiken still has occasionally shown flashes of what made him a two-time first-round draft pick.

Thursday night’s game featured one such flash, as Aiken took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and ended up allowing only one run on one hit (a solo homer by Edward Olivares) while scattering four walks in seven innings against the Lansing Lugnuts. He struck out three batters in Lake County’s 7-1 win.

In 23 starts this season, Aiken is 5-12 with a 4.82 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 85 walks in 112 innings. It is worth noting he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, before the Cleveland Indians drafted him No. 17 overall that year.

Lake County’s Conner Capel went 3-for-5 with one RBI in Thursday’s game, while teammate Mitch Longo went 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI.

LC’s Ryan traded for Bruce

The Indians traded Captains reliever Ryder Ryan to the New York Mets in a one-for-one deal for power-hitting outfielder Jay Bruce on Wednesday.

Ryan made 33 relief appearances for the Captains this season, posting a 4.79 ERA with six saves, 49 strikeouts and 17 walks in 41.1 innings. He pitched one-third of an inning in this year’s Midwest League All-Star Game.

Bruce batted .256 with 29 HR and 75 RBI in 103 games with the Mets this season. He played for the Dayton Dragons in 2006, batting .291 with 16 HR, 81 RBI and 19 SB in 117 games. The 10-year MLB veteran is eligible for free agency after this season.

RHP Ryder Ryan made 33 relief appearances for the Lake County Captains this season. (Photo by Lianna Holub/MiLB.com)

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, Dayton Dragons, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment