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Midwest League 2001

West Michigan Whitecaps


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This page profiles the 2001 West Michigan Whitecaps, a Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and a member of the Midwest League.


Except where otherwise specified, all statistics on this page are through the end of the 2001 season.

  • Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Affiliated with the Detroit Tigers.
  • Manager: Brent Gates.
  • Coaches: Joe Georger (pitching), Brian Saltzgaber.

Post-Season Profile

This wasn't a bad team, except by West Michigan standards. Instead, the 2001 Whitecaps were a more-or-less average Midwest League team in a season when several MWL cities were showcasing exceptionally strong teams; in contrast, the 'Caps looked like a weak team.

The parent Tigers ran a lot of pitchers through Old Kent Park over the course of the season; most of them pitched pretty well and one or two--Kenny Baugh and Michael Howell--promise to be real talents. Season-long, Mike Steele was very effective in a closer role, and Frank Perez worked very effectively in middle relief. The overall lack of stability in the pitching staff couldn't have helped.

There wasn't enough hitting, though, even after you allow for the ballpark's strong pitching bias. Forrest Johnson's a genuine power prospect, and Ronnie Merrill showed general, all-around skills. Nook Logan's an incomplete player, but if he can fill in the gaps, he'll be pretty impressive.


MWL Fan's Guide

Season Summary

  • Second Half: 32-38, .457, 5th place, 12.5 behind
  • First Half: 33-34, .493, 4th place, 6.5 behind
  • Pitching: 65-72, 3.72, 34 saves, 1054 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .250, 616 runs, 60 HR, 205 steals (72% success)
  • Errors: 156 (1.14 per game)
  • April: 14-11 (.560)
  • May: 10-16 (.385)
  • June: 14-12 (.538)
  • July: 12-16 (.429)
  • August: 14-15 (.483)
  • September: 1-2 (.333)

  • Best Players on the Team: Closer Mike Steele

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Pablo Arias (3.17, 9-4, 81 strikeouts) or Mike Howell (1.76, 3-0, 42 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Mike Steele (1.16, 19 saves, 4-3)
  • Strikeout Pitchers: Kenny Baugh, Mike Steele, Frank Perez, Manolin Cuello
  • Control Pitchers: Mike Howell, Thomas Farmer, Kenny Baugh, Mike Steele

  • Best Hitter: Ronnie Merrill (.317, 8 HR, 53 RBI; 53 runs scored)
  • Home Run Leader: Forrest Johnson (15)
  • High Batting Average: Ronnie Merrill (.317), John Hannahan (.318)
  • High On Base Percentage: John Hannahan (.409), Michael Woods (.401)
  • High Slugging Percentage: Ronnie Merrill (.450)
  • Notable Baserunners: Ronnie Merrill, Ryan Neill, Nook Logan, Matt Walker, Miles Durham, Michael Woods
  • Notable Batting Eye: Hugh Quattlebaum

July Profile

After seasons of very fine teams, the Whitecap fans find themselves rooting for a squad that's merely average. They do have some interesting prospects....

Kenny Baugh was everything the Whitecap fans hoped for when the Tigers appointed their first-rounder to West Michigan. Unfortunately, his stay lasted but six starts: 2-1, 1.59, 39 Ks in 34 IP. With or without Baugh, the pitching rotation's adequate and the relief is, well, mixed. Mike Steele continues to impress as this team's closer.

2B Michael Woods has been spectacular in his first few games; not a lot of power, but an impressive set of baseball skills. Ronnie Merrill's been rewarded with an earned promotion, leaving the offense largely in the hands of Ryan Neill. There's both speed and power, but no player on this team has both.

Also worth watching: Spot starter Frank Perez.


June Profile

This is not a good team, though there are some interesting players. Without depth or stars, this is a deserving second-division club. The defense is excellent, though.

For West Michigan, this is a decent offense. Ronnie Merrill's a very good player; Nook Logan's a potential star--great speed, wisely used--but still learning the game. There's some power, but it's scattered through the lineup.

Mike Steele's something special, joining the parade of strong closers from the Grand Rapids bullpen. In general, though, the pitching staff's vulnerable. The rotation's decent, and Pablo Arias is pitching very well, but there's no depth in this staff.

Notable mid-season loss: Matt Wheatland.


May Profile

May was pretty rough for the Grand Rapids nine, as they fell from first-half contention. This team has the usual West Michigan strengths--speed, good pitching, excellent defense--but isn't as strong as the usual Whitecap squad.

Shortstop Ronnie Merrill, first baseman Ryan Neill, and outfielder Nook Logan are decent hitters; all have excellent basepath skills, and Neill and Logan are patient hitters willing to take a walk.

As usual, the Whitecaps feature a strong pitching staff. But this isn't the overpowering staff often seen in West Michigan. Pablo Arias and Lee Rodney have pitched particularly well, so far.


April Profile

As usual, the West Michigan pitching staff looks good and the offense has real speed. By Whitecaps standards, this is a very good-hitting team.


Pre-Season Profile

Manager

Brent Gates makes his managing debut with the Whitecaps this summer.


First Round Draft Selection

  • Matt Wheatland (2000, 8th player selected)
  • Kenny Baugh (2001, 11th player selected)

Team Age Information

  • Average Team Age: 21.8
  • Pitchers: 21.9
  • Hitters: 21.7
  • Oldest Player on the Team: Brad Downing (born 5/10/76)
  • Youngest Player on the Team: Matt Wheatland (born 10/18/81)

The average player in the Midwest League is 21.6 years old. Average ages were calculated from the opening day roster; age as of July 1, 2001.

This website has more information about team ages.


Where they played last season

This is a brief portrait of how the team was put together. These summaries are based on the team's opening day roster and will not be revised to reflect roster changes.

Most of last summer's Oneonta team has been promoted to West Michigan this summer, with a few additions from the rest of the organization.

Team          League             W/L    Place    Hitters Pitchers
                                       (Teams)
Lakeland      Florida State (A+) 52/88  14(14)      2       3
West Michigan Midwest (A)        88/52   1(14)      2       3
Oneonta       New York-Penn (A-) 35/41  10(14)      9       7
Tigers        Gulf Coast (R)     34/26  T5(13)      3       3

Many of the new Whitecaps played for two of these teams and are counted twice on this table. One of the new Whitecaps played in another organization last season, while a second did not play professionally. One of these players had a brief Double A appearance in 2000.



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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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