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Midwest League 1999

West Michigan Whitecaps


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This page profiles the 1999 West Michigan Whitecaps, a Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and a member of the Midwest League.

Except when another date is specified, statistics on this page are through the end of the season.

  • Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Affiliated with the Detroit Tigers.
  • Manager: Bruce Fields.
  • Coaches: Joe Boever (pitching), Gary Green.

Post-Season Profile

After May, the Whitecaps had an excellent season, and contended for the second-half title until the season's last days. Manager Bruce Fields had a handful of very talented players, and enough spare parts to make things work. Richard Gomez starred on offense all summer, while Eric Munson and Deurys Reyes provided a boost after the All-Star break. On the mound, Adam Bernero pitched very well, and many bullpen arms held the team together.

You must keep some perspective: Compared to any other Whitecap season, 1999 was a disappointment. Compared to any other team's typical season, this one holds up well.


MWL Fan's Guide

Season Summary

  • First Half: 29-41 (.414), 4th place tie, 9.0 behind
  • Second Half: 39-31 (.557), 2nd place, 2.5 behind
  • Pitching: 68-72, 4.04, 30 saves, 1033 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .253, 696 runs, 73 HR, 197 steals (74% success)
  • Errors: 209 (1.49 per game)
  • April: 8-13 (.381)
  • May: 9-20 (.310)
  • June: 16-10 (.615)
  • July: 17-12 (.586)
  • August: 13-15 (.464)
  • September: 4-2 (.667)

  • Best Player on the Team: Outfielder Richard Gomez

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Adam Bernero (8-4, 2.54, 80 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Shane Heams (5-4, 10 saves, 2.35, 101 strikeouts)
  • Strikeout Pitchers: Shane Heams, Luis Pineda, Kris Keller, Lazaro Gutierrez
  • Control Pitcher: Adam Bernero

  • Best Hitter: Richard Gomez (.303, 8 HR, 81 RBI)
  • Home Run Leader: Eric Munson (14)
  • High Batting Average: Richard Gomez (.303)
  • High On Base Percentage: none notable
  • High Slugging Percentage: Richard Gomez (.457), Eric Munson (.504), Deurys Reyes (.246)
  • Notable Baserunners: Richard Gomez, Carlos Jimenez, Andre Torres, Brandon Inge, Deurys Reyes, Locarlo Moore
  • Notable Batting Eye: none notable

July Profile

I admit it: I'd written these guys off. It was obviously a mistake.

The Whitecaps have scored 525 runs while permitting 516. After you allow for Old Kent Park, the pitching staff has some holes, while the hitting's been doing fairly well. These guys went on a tear in late July.

Only outfielder Richard Gomez stands out in this offense, but manager Bruce Fields is managing to write lineups which score enough to win. Throw in a dash of speed in Andres Torres and Carlos Jimenez; add a bit of power in Brandon Inge; season with late arrivals Deurys Reyes and Eric Munson, who've been devastating so far.

Adam Bernero's an exceptional pitcher who relies more on control than his fast ball; the other rotation starters (Bobby Sismondo, Tim Kalita, and Nate Cornejo) are adequate. Most of the team's strength is in the bullpen: Luis Pineda, Kris Keller, and Clint Smith deserve mention.


June Profile

The Whitecaps had a strong June, but not strong enough to offset their poor season's start. This team's pitching's weak; their hitting's all right though. West Michigan's team plays average defense; on the basepaths, these are aggressive and successful runners.

Left fielder Richard Gomez is an excellent ballplayer whose strengths are well suited to Old Kent Park; in a smaller park, he'd likely hit some homers, but here he hits doubles and triples, then steals bases. Center fielder Andres Torres, a very patient hitter, is the only other obvious talent, but this team's hitters are adequate when they're away from the pitcher's haven they call home.

Starter Adam Bernero shows a lot of promise, as do relievers Shane Heams and Luis Pineda. These guys throw strikes, and it works. Although some of the other pitchers show strong statistics, it's mostly a ballpark effect; I don't see any of them as promising prospects.

Notable mid-season losses: None.

Also worth watching: Catcher Brandon Inge is a converted infielder who's developing nicely behind the plate. His hitting shows promise, too.


May Profile

Things got worse: It's a bad season at Old Kent Park: This is a team with few strengths, and many weaknesses.

Outfielder Richard Gomez, with very good speed, baserunning savvy, and some power (albeit wasted in this ballpark), is this team's sole star. Third baseman Matt Boone and outfielder Billy Rich are good players, and outfielder Andres Torres has command of the strike zone.

Starter Sean Buller's having a good season, highlighted by a no hitter his first time out, and reliever Shane Heams shows hints of real talent. The rest of the rotation is suspect. Short reliever Luis Pineda's pretty wild, but overwhelming when he finds the plate.


April Profile

April was the West Michigan team's worst month ever. The pitching was all right, but the hitters let them down. I expect they're a better team than they've shown, but they're not going to dominate the league this summer.


Pre-Season Profile

Manager

Manager Bruce Fields has managed in the minors for 4 years; 2 were with the Whitecaps, where he's been unusually successful. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about his game-strategy decisions.


Where they played last season

These comments and table are based on opening day rosters.

Most of this team played for the Jamestown Jammers last year; the rest, who are predominantly pitchers, were assigned to the Tigers' GCL team.

Team          League             W/L    Place    Hitters Pitchers
                                       (Teams)
Lakeland      Florida State (A+) 67-72  8(14)       4       0
West Michigan Midwest (A)        83-57  1(14)       2       2
Jamestown     New York-Penn (A-) 32-43 12(14)       8       7
Tigers        Gulf Coast (R)     28-32 8T(14)       5       1

There was very slight movement in the Tigers organization last year; those who moved are counted twice in this table. One player on this team was in another organization last year; two did not appear in professional games last summer. No player on this team appeared above Class A last season.


First Round Draft Selections

  • Nate Cornejo (1998, 34th pick)
  • Andy Yount (1995, 15th pick [Boston])

Returning to the Midwest League

Members of last summer's West Michigan team.

  • Ron Bush (4 games)
  • Shane Loux (P, 28 games)
  • J.C. Mora (88 games)
  • Bobby Sismondo (P, 5 games)

Oldest & Youngest Whitecaps

On opening day, the average age of the Whitecaps was 21.2 years. Follow this link for more information about MWL team ages.

  • Oldest player on the team: Craig Daluz (born February 4, 1975)
  • Youngest player on the team: Carlos Jimenez (born May 26, 1980)


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The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

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This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.


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