Season Review: West Michigan Whitecaps


I am continuing on with a look at our minor league system, and the seasons some of the Tigers prospects had in 2012. I now head to West Michigan, where in the past, playoff appearances were a semi-regular occurrence. This season was a little different however. The Whitecaps failed to make the playoffs, but it wasn’t a bad season by any stretch. There were some good player developments in West Michigan, not to mention that the Whitecaps overall record was tied for 5th best. With the playoff format in the Midwest League, they just came up short in both the first and second halves.

Here is a look at some of the players that highlighted the ‘Caps roster.

Position Players:

There are a couple of guys that really highlighted the ‘Caps roster, but West Michigan got some contributions from some guys like Dean Green and Curt Casali before they moved on to Lakeland. Positionally, it was a war of attrition, as some guys got injured, some moved up, and some guys just didn’t perform.

Eugenio Suarez

Suarez has to be considered the Tigers best player in West Michigan this past season. He did fade down the stretch, but that isn’t necessarily unexpected, since he was playing his first full year in pro ball. Overall, he hit .288 on the season, posting an OPS of .789. Suarez isn’t blessed with flashy tools, but his game is enhanced by good instincts, and he does possess good doubles power with some speed. Defensively, it looks like he is going to stick at SS, and an aggressive assignement to Erie might be in the cards in 2013.

Steven Moya

Moya was having a heck of a season before he hurt his elbow, and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his arm. The Tigers expect that Moya will be back early next season, as position players tend to be able to return a little bit faster from this surgery. Before the injury? Moya before the injury? Well, he just saw a dramatic increase in his slugging and hit for better average. He also raised his walk rate, and decreased his K rate as well. Moya still has a way to go, but he will be an intriguing guy to watch in 2013.

Aaron Westlake

I’ve never been overly enthusiastic about Westlake and his chances. To me, he should of crushed the Midwest League. His OPS was solid for the league at .711, but I guess I expected more. He did in fairness pick it up and perform better in the 2nd half, but he is going to have to impress in 2013 to be considered a real prospect.

Brandon Loy

Never been a big fan of this draft pick as well. He isn’t even an all glove SS anymore. He is an all glove 2B.

Jason King

Guy is gritty. Doesn’t strike out a ton, walks some, has some pop, but gonna have to see more at the plate from him. Was a little bit older for the Midwest League like Westlake, and has a past checkered with injury.

Pitching Staff:

The staff had quite a few guys repeat this season and pitching was probably the strength of this team. Nobody on the West Michigan staff is going to wow scouts with their radar gun readings, but most of the staff shows a good ability to throw strikes.

Marcelo Carreno

Carreno to me is the gem of the group. The gem being a potential mid-rotation innings eater. I know that doesn’t sound flashy, but not everyone can be Justin Verlander. Carreno, who turned 21 this summer, features a low 90’s fastball on most nights, a solid breaking ball and change. He is strong, and does have some ability to miss bats. The BB rate is where people should be impressed. In 139 innings, Carreno walked just 28. His 3.23 ERA was much better than last year, and he should be one of the staples in the Lakeland rotation next summer.

Kyle Ryan

I’m not sure what to think of Ryan at this point. Like Carreno, he repeated in West Michigan. Unlike Carreno, there wasnt much of an improvement anywhere. His ground ball and K rates remained pretty much static. His ERA went up half a run, but that could be due to luck. His BB rate decreased a little bit. I think the main thing is I didn’t get any reports that his stuff has seen the uptick that I was looking for. Ryan has a 6’5″ frame that I believed we would see a noticeable velocity increase by this point. It hasn’t happened yet, but he is still a guy the Tigers should be patient with.

Thomas Collier

Collier was the steadiest, and probably best performer for the ‘Caps out of the rotation in 2012. Collier features essentially average stuff across the board, but shows good command and ability to mix his pitches. While I like him, and thought he was a heck of a pick in an otherwise rough 2011 draft, his ceiling remains that of a back end starter.

Jeff Ferrell

Ferrell missed almost all of 2011 with Tommy John, but is still only 21 years old. As he got stronger this season, he began to show some flashes that made him a little bit intriguing when the Tigers drafted him. While Ferrell did post an ERA of 3.91, 8 of his last 9 starts were really good, including a 7 inning outing in which he didn’t allow a hit. Ferrell has a good arm, and as he continues to build strength, he could surprise in the future.

Jade Todd

Todd is another lefty that the Tigers were planning on getting some increased velocity from when they drafted him. There hasn’t been a ton of that, and due to injuries over the past couple of years, Todd just really hadn’t developed. This year was a bit of a different story as Todd was moved to the pen where he thrived. The 22 year old Todd posted an ERA of 1.65 for the ‘Caps this season before getting a real late call up to Lakeland, where he continued to pitch well in the playoffs.