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

LumberKings get their third manager of the 2017 season

Tony Arnerich will serve as the third manager of the season for the Clinton LumberKings, after David Macias resigned from the Seattle Mariners organization to take a coaching job closer to his Nashville home.

Macias accepted a coaching job at Vanderbilt University, of which he is an alumnus. His short tenure with the LumberKings began at the start of the second half, when he took the reins from fired Clinton manager Pat Shine. The LumberKings went 18-27 under Macias after going 31-36 under Shine in the first half.

Wednesday is an off-day for all teams in the Midwest League, so Arnerich will make his debut as Clinton’s manager Thursday. He was serving in his first season as Seattle’s minor-league catching coordinator before being assigned to the LumberKings.

Arnerich played five seasons (2001-05) as a minor-league catcher for the Kansas City Royals and the Florida Marlins, reaching as high as Double-A in both organizations. He had two brief stints in the Midwest League, playing 11 games for the Burlington Bees in 2001 and another 11 games for the team in 2002.

After retiring from playing, Arnerich managed the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods League from 2005 to 2008, and served as an assistant coach for the University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League, Northwoods League, St. Cloud Rox | Leave a comment

TinCaps pitcher sets new franchise record with 17 Ks

Fort Wayne TinCaps RHP Pedro Avila set a new franchise record by striking out 17 batters Tuesday. (Photo by Michelle Davies/The Journal Gazette)

TinCaps RHP Pedro Avila set a new franchise record Tuesday when he struck out 17 batters in Fort Wayne’s 4-1 win over the Great Lakes Loons.

That broke the previous Fort Wayne record set by LaTroy Hawkins, who struck out 15 batters in a game against the Cedar Rapids Kernels during the team’s inaugural season, on June 25, 1993. (The team was known as the Wizards then.)

In addition to fanning 17 batters (including nine straight strikeouts), Avila allowed only one run on three hits and didn’t walk anyone in his eight innings of work. Despite that stellar performance, he got a no-decision because the TinCaps needed 10 innings to win the game.

Although the TinCaps offense managed only two hits in the game — a 1st-inning double by Jorge Ona and a 10th-inning single by Jack Suwinski — they set a new franchise record, too. They drew 14 walks, one more than the previous team record set May 29, 2000, against the Lansing Lugnuts.

Tuesday’s game marked Avila’s 10th start for Fort Wayne this season. The 20-year-old Venezuela native is 6-1 with a 3.23 ERA, 82 strikeouts and nine walks in 61.1 innings for the TinCaps. Originally a Washington Nationals farmhand, Avila was traded one-for-one to the San Diego Padres for major-league catcher Derek Norris last December. Norris was released by the Nationals in March and played for the Rays this season until Tampa Bay released him on June 26.

Applicable MWL records

The Midwest League record for most strikeouts in a single game is 22, set by Decatur Commodores LHP Bob Sprout on Aug. 18, 1960, vs. the Waterloo Hawks. (Fun fact: With an 81-43 record during the regular season, Waterloo was the league’s best team that year, while Decatur’s 51-71 record was the league’s worst.)

The MWL record for most consecutive strikeouts in a game is 10. It was first done by Burlington Bees RHP Art Groza on May 22, 1966, vs. the Dubuque Commodores. It was matched by Dayton Dragons RHP Daniel Renken on June 29, 2011, vs. the Lansing Lugnuts.

The MWL record for most walks drawn by a team in a single game is 20, done by the Paducah Chiefs on May 22, 1949, and the Dubuque Packers on May 22, 1955. Both of those teams were part of the now-defunct Mississippi-Ohio Valley League, a predecessor league whose records officially count as MWL statistics.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Trout gets 1,000th MLB hit on his 26th birthday

Mike Trout connects for his 1,000th MLB hit Monday. (AP photo by Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout doubled for his 1,000th major-league hit Monday, and later added a solo homer to go 2-for-4 on his 26th birthday.

The Baltimore Orioles won the game, 6-2.

Trout has homered on his birthday four times in his six-year MLB career, doing so in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. While that’s just a fun fact, the two-time American League MVP has an undeniably impressive resume — and it really started in the Midwest League.

In 2010 — Trout’s second professional season — he batted .362 with six homers, 39 runs batted in, 45 stolen bases, and 76 runs scored in 81 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. That earned him a promotion to High-A in early July, and he later was named the Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year for that season.

Trout missed over a month of playing time this season because of a thumb injury, but has been typically impressive while healthy. He is batting .346 with 23 HR, 52 RBI and 13 SB in 68 games with the Angels this season.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League | Leave a comment