West Michigan Whitecaps
Like Lakeland, the Whitecaps also had their All-Star break this week. West Michigan won all three games they played to go into the break on a four-game winning streak. They finished the first half 36-34, in third place in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
The Whitecaps boasted a pair of All-Stars this season, shortstop Cole Peterson, and right-hander Brandyn Sittinger. Peterson entered Tuesday’s All-Star Game in the sixth, and grounded out in his lone at-bat. Sittinger came on in the eighth, and struck out the only batter he faced.
The game probably would’ve ended in a tie if not for a new minor league rule. With the score tied 2-2 after nine, the teams agreed to play one more inning. Starting this season, when a minor league game goes into extras, each half inning begins with a runner on second base.
The West All-Stars were unable to score in the top of the 10th. With two outs in the bottom half, Montrell Marshall (Dayton – Cincinnati), singled to give the East All-Stars a dramatic walk-off victory.
The outing dropped the righty’s ERA to 3.70, the lowest it’s been all season. Through 10 starts, Manning has struck out 12.6/9, and walked 5.2. Despite missing the first few weeks due to injury, his 68 strikeouts rank in the top 10 in the Midwest League.
Azocar Heating Up
Prior to the season, Jose Azocar made Andy Patton’s list of prospects entering make-or-break seasons. His 2018 got off to a rough start, as he slashed .214/.231/.252 in 30 games for Lakeland. Azocar’s poor start to the campaign resulted in a demotion to West Michigan.
It took a few weeks, but the outfielder finally seems to be coming around at the plate. On Sunday, Azocar notched four hits, extending his hitting streak to six in a row. In 20 games with the Whitecaps, he’s hitting .304 with nine extra-base hits, including five triples. There’s still a long way to go before he’s back on track in his development, but it’s a good start.