West Michigan Whitecaps win Midwest League title!

There is indeed a silver lining in 2015 for the Detroit Tigers and their entire organization. Their Single-A affiliate in the Midwest League, the West Michigan Whitecaps, have captured the league championship.

The Whitecaps defeated the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, in a series-deciding game five Monday night on the road in Iowa. They had split the first two games at home and lost the first game in Cedar Rapids before winning the final two games, capping off the comeback for the ‘Caps.

Game 1 – Cedar Rapids 5, West Michigan 0
Game 2 – Cedar Rapids 1, West Michigan 4
Game 3 – West Michigan 2, Cedar Rapids 3
Game 4 – West Michigan 2, Cedar Rapids 1
Game 5 – West Michigan 3, Cedar Rapids 2

The Kernels out-hit the Whitecaps 36-33 in the five games, so it really was a hard fought back-and-forth match-up. The bottom of the order got it done for the Whitecaps in Monday night’s championship-clinching game five. The 5-9 hitters each had a hit, supplying four of the team’s hits on the night. The 8- and 9-hitters, third baseman Francisco Contreras and second baseman David Gonzalez, each had a run batted in as well.

Whitecaps starting pitcher Ross Seaton  did his part tonight to give the team a chance a win. Earning the win, Seaton pitched 6.2 innings, giving up just two earned runs on four hits and one walk, striking out seven Kernels batters.

20-year old closer Joe Jimenez was outstanding in the postseason for the Whitecaps. He converted on four of his five save opportunities, appearing in six games, giving up just one hit and a pair of walks in two innings of work. Jimenez was the Tigers’ representative in this year’s Futures Game at the All-Star break. He had a 1.47 ERA in 40 games (43.0 IP) in the regular season, earning a save in 17 of 20 chances.

Michael Gerber and Joey Pankake, two of West Michigan’s best hitters all season long, came up clutch when it mattered most. The two combined went 7-for-15 in games four and five, in a series where hits and runs were at premium.

Lost in the shuffle of the Whitecaps success down the stretch en route to a Midwest League championship was the absence of one of the Detroit Tigers’ top prospects, center fielder Derek Hill. The 19-year old Hill, who had been on the disabled list since the middle of July, only played in 53 games for West Michigan this season. The multiple stints of missing game time affected his production and contributions to the team, only hitting .238 in 2015. Let’s remember he is only 19, and he is still trying to figure a lot of things out. Now he can look forward to returning to full health by next spring and be ready to play in 2016, wherever he starts the season.

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