Danry Vasquez led the West Michigan Whitecaps to a 10-1 victory over the Lake County Captains in today’s Midwest League afternoon game.
Vasquez went 4-for-5 with a triple, 4 RBI and two stolen bases. Baseball America ranks the 19-year-old outfielder No. 6 among Detroit Tigers prospects, projecting him as a solid hitter with plus power potential:
Vasquez has an advanced approach at the plate and good pitch recognition for his age. He has explosive bat speed and a compact, balanced swing. He has a quiet load, creates natural leverage and has a knack for centering the ball. He shows advanced feel for driving pitches the other way and has power to all parts of the park.
Dwight Smith Jr. joins Lugnuts
The Toronto Blue Jays assigned OF prospect Dwight Smith Jr. to the Lansing Lugnuts. His father, Dwight Smith Sr., is best remembered as a Chicago Cubs outfielder who finished second to teammate Jerome Walton in the 1989 National League Rookie of the Year vote.
Dwight Smith Sr. played in the Midwest League in 1986, on a Peoria Chiefs team that included Joe Girardi and Mark Grace. Smith hit .310 with 11 HR, 57 RBI and 53 SB in 124 games; Girardi hit .309 with 3 HR and 28 RBI in 68 games; Grace hit .342 with 15 HR and 95 RBI in 126 games.
The elder Smith is also remembered for occasionally singing the National Anthem before baseball games. He made his pregame singing debut in 1986 when he was with the Chiefs.
“I left my hat on that time,” he told The Spokesman-Review in 1995. “I was so worried about doing it. But I did get all the words right.”
Could a Dwight Smith Sr. rendition of the National Anthem be in the cards for the Lugnuts this season? I hope so.
Tigers sign Valverde, promote Rondon
On Tuesday the Detroit Tigers made a pair of moves to shore up their bullpen, and they both involved former Midwest Leaguers.
They signed former closer Jose Valverde to a one-year deal and announced that he will be the team’s closer again. “Papa Grande” pitched for the South Bend Silver Hawks in 2000, going 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA, 14 saves, 25 walks and 39 strikeouts in 31.2 IP.
The Tigers also promoted RP Bruce Rondon, who was considered for the closer’s job during spring training despite being a rookie. He went 2-2 with a 2.02 ERA, 19 saves, 34 walks and 61 strikeouts in 40 IP for the 2011 West Michigan Whitecaps.
Bowling Green’s impressive start
At the start of the day, the Bowling Green Hot Rods had an impressive 14-4 record — the best in the Midwest League. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz, one of the Hot Rods’ radio guys, noted on Twitter that only two teams in affiliated baseball have better records: the Florida State League’s Fort Myers Miracle (15-4) and the National League’s Atlanta Braves (15-5).
That’s pretty impressive. If you get a chance to check out the Hot Rods in action, do it — they could be the team to beat in the Midwest League this year.