Posts Tagged ‘West Michigan Whitecaps’

Get Your Bus Leagues Eat On

Man v. Food samples the Homewrecker Dog (photo courtesy of Travel Channel)

Man v. Food samples the Homewrecker Dog (photo courtesy of Travel Channel)

The Travel Channel show Man v. Food is touring minor league parks tonight at 10pm ET. I talked to some of the people who make the food that host Adam Richman will sample tonight for an ESPN article, but the quotes I selected aren’t going to make it into the finished product, so I’m going to share them here.

The show visited the Yankees A affiliate the Charleston RiverDogs (home of the ambidextrous pitcher and owned by Bill Murray, Michael Veeck, and former AL President Gene Budig), the independent Gateway Grizzlies, and the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit A). The show looks fun, so check it out.

Follow in Man v. Food’s Footsteps

Gateway Grizzlies
GCS Ballpark (2002) – 6,000
2301 Grizzlie Bear Blvd. Sauget, IL 62206
Frontier League, Independent

Signature Food: Baseball’s Best Burger. A standard bacon cheeseburger with a twist: the bun is a Krispy Kreme donut cut in half. Condiments are discouraged.

“The hardest part is convincing someone to try it,” says Grizzlies Events Coordinator Jeff O’Neill. “A lot of people will look at the idea and think it sounds disgusting. It is truly amazing to see the reaction once they try it. The combinations of the sweet bun, the saltiness of the bacon and burger and the bitterness of the cheese melt all together for a little taste of heaven.” 

West Michigan Whitecaps
Fifth Third Ballpark (1994). Capacity 10,071.
4500 West River Dr. Comstock Park, MI
Midwest League, Detroit Tigers Class A
Whitecaps in the Majors: Brandon Inge, Joel Zumaya, Cameron Maybin

Signature Food: The Fifth Third Burger. Five beef patties, topped with chili, nacho cheese, American cheese, salsa, sour cream, chips, and lettuce. One a one lb. bun.

Josh Kowalczyk is the Whitecaps promotions intern in charge of the massive burger. According to his meticulous records, nearly 2,000 Fifth Third burgers have been sold this season. 476 intrepid souls have attempted to eat it over the course of nine innings, and an amazing 298 of those succeeded in eating the whole… thing.

Kowalczyk remembers the scene when Adam Richman and the Man v. Food crew came out to the ballgame. “A lot of people found out he was coming, and it was absolutely crazy,” he recalled. “Our attendance that night was 7,921, but more people watched him than the ballgame. He talked to people everywhere in the stadium.”

Charleston RiverDogs
Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park AKA “The Joe” (1997). Capacity 6,000.
360 Fishburne St. Charleston, SC
South Atlantic League, New York Yankees, Class A
Famous owners: Mike Veeck, former AL President Gene Budig, and comedian Bill Murray.
RiverDogs in the Majors: B.J. Upton, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, Orioles Manager Dave Tremblay.

Signature Food: The Homewrecker Dog. A ½ pound frank is the palette. 25 potential toppings are your colors. The standard condiments are all here, but a true connoisseur will experiment with the likes of sweet-potato mustard, fried okra, and cole slaw.

“Mike Veeck firmly believes in the motto ‘Fun is Good’,” says team representative Andy Solomon. “Which means entertaining the fan from the time he purchases a ticket to the time he leaves the parking lot. Bill Murray sometimes attends games as an ordinary fan in the left field bleachers, with his hat pulled down over his eyes. Other times, he comes out on the field and takes part in the Sumo wrestling. You never know.”

A lack of predictable fare is part of the RiverDogs mystique. Just peruse the concessions board (), which features unique items like the Elvis (peanut butter and bacon), the Tijuana Tornado (a true “hot” dog), and Ye Olde turkey leg in addition to the Homewrecker.

The Z-Meter: 6/29/2009

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.

Promoted:

Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)
Matt LaPorta: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
Daniel Bard: Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) to Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Mat Gamel: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Fernando Martinez: Buffalo Bisons (AAA) to New York Mets (MLB)
Matt Wieters: Norfolk Tides (AAA) to Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
Antonio Bastardo: Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA) to Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
Andrew McCutchen: Indianapolis Indians (AAA) to Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)Antonio Bastardo: Reading Phillies (AA) to Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA)

Madison Bumgarner: San Jose Giants (A) to Connecticut Defenders (AA)

Yonder Alonso: Sarasota Reds (A) to Carolina Mudcats (AA)

Pedro Alvarez: Lynchburg Hillcats (A) to Altoona Curve (AA)

Mauricio Robles: West Michigan Whitecaps (A) to Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+)

Still not a lot to see here. Many players are coming off of mid-season injuries, some all-star games have been played, and a couple of players have made jumps.

One amusing side-note, however. Justin Smoak, who spends most of his time with the Frisco Roughriders, recently spent two games with the Arizona League Rangers while rehabbing an injury. In two games and six at-bats, Smoaky managed a slugging % of 2.000, and an OPS of 2.714. I’d say he’s feeling better.

Our primary mover this week was Pedro Alvarez, who’s steaming toward Pittsburgh as fast as he can. His power numbers in Lynchburg earned him a promotion to Altoona. Mauricio Robles made a small leap from A to A-Advanced, which is actually interesting, since he was coming off an injury. Usually, don’t you rehab at a lower level?

We’ve also noticed that Michel Ynoa has been assigned to the AZL Athletics, but hasn’t accrued any stats yet. We’re dying to get him on the meter, so we’ll keep an eye out.


The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, waiting for the call that will change their lives.

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 16 Games – 7W – 4L – 3.90 ERA – 35 BB – 75 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .273 – 50 R – 12 HR – 33 RBI – 59 BB – 0 SB – .508 SLG – .920 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .302 – 55 R – 3 HR – 26 RBI – 18 BB – 27 SB – .420 SLG – .765 OPS

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): 15 Starts – 4 W – 7 L – 4.92 ERA – 25 BB – 84 K

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .320 – 41 R – 3 HR – 29 RBI – 25 BB – 13 SB – .444 SLG – .829 OPS


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

 

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .258 AVG – 33 R – 8 HR – 36 RBI – 37 BB – 0 SB – .411 SLG – .767 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): 15 Starts – 6 W – 6 L – 3.35 ERA – 29 BB – 76 K

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .265 AVG – 49 R – 11 HR – 47 RBI – 53 BB – 0 SB – .498 SLG – .899 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .331 AVG – 30 R – 6 HR – 29 RBI – 35 BB – 0 SB – .483 SLG – .928 OPS
 
Andrew Locke, OF – Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros): .323 AVG – 44 R – 11 HR – 71 RBI – 25 BB – 0 SB – .505 SLG – .877 OPS
 
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): 8 Games – 7 Starts – 5 W – 1 L – 1.96 ERA – 12 BB – 38 K
 
 
Jeanmar Gomez, RHP – Akron Aeros (Indians): 11 Starts – 6 W – 2 L – 2.79 ERA – 14 BB – 54 K
 
 
Yonder Alonso, 1B (injured) – Carolina Mudcats (Reds): .246 AVG – 4 R – 1 HR – 8 RBI – 6 BB – 1 SB – .377 SLG – .686 OPS
 
Kyle Drabek, RHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 5 Starts – 4 W – 0 L – 2.43 ERA – 13 BB – 26 K
 
Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Altoona Curve (Pirates): .120 AVG – 6 R – 2 HR – 5 RBI – 1 BB – 0 SB – .400 SLG – .548 OPS
 
 

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .228 AVG – 26 R – 12 HR – 30 RBI – 16 BB – 1 SB – .447 SLG – .733 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .259 AVG – 43 R – 8 HR – 43 RBI – 15 BB – 7 SB – .417 SLG – .714 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .256 AVG – 41 R – 4 HR – 28 RBI – 37 BB – 16 SB – .350 SLG – .707 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .316 AVG – 42 R – 15 HR – 46 RBI – 7 BB – 4 SB – .535 SLG – .886 OPS

Shooter Hunt (rehabbing in Gulf Coast League), RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): 7 Games – 5 Starts – 0 W – 1 L – 10.70 ERA – 33 BB – 18 K

Collin Cowgill, OF (injured) – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .277 AVG – 39 R – 6 HR – 36 RBI – 29 BB – 11 SB – .445 SLG – .819 OPS

Mauricio Robles, P – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Tigers): 2 Starts – 1 W – 1 L – 9.35 ERA – 3 BB – 12 K

Tim Beckham, SS – Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays): .282 AVG – 30 R – 3 HR – 38 RBI – 21 BB – 4 SB – .404 SLG – .746 OPS

Ezekiel Spruill, RHP – Rome Braves (Braves): 13 Games – 12 Starts – 7 W – 3 L – 1 SV – 3.18 ERA – 14 BB – 54 K 

Brad Brach, RHP – Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres): 32 Games – 0 Starts – 1.64 ERA – 3 W – 2 L – 17 SV – 7 BB – 43 K


NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 14 Starts – 13 W – 1 L – 1.32 ERA – 19 BB – 195 K

Strasburg was the #1 pick in the college draft this season, and will join the Washington Nationals system any old day now.


Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and our trademark irrational sense of whimsy.

The Z-Meter: 5/4/2009

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.

Promoted:

Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)
Matt LaPorta: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)

As OMDQ was kind enough to inform us, Matt LaPorta’s star has continued to rise. The former Brewers prospect was swapped to the Cleveland organization as the key to the C.C. Sabathia trade, which pretty much guaranteed that, barring a catastrophe, we’d be seeing him in the majors this season. Matt hit .333 with 5 homers in 75 triple-A at bats, and the call came. I’m very glad I got a chance to see him play in a double-A Akron Aeros uniform last season, because he’s unlikely to be nearly as accessible now that he’s in the show. Congrats, Matt!

That leaves a gap in our meter, which I’ve chosen to fill with a young A-ball phenom by the name of Mauricio Robles. The Venezuelan import pitches in the Detroit organization for the West Michigan Whitecaps. If you wonder why I chose him, just look at the dude’s walk/strikeout ratio. Cha. Ching.

The Mets’ Fernando Martinez has shaken off a slow April with a red-hot start to May. He’s hitting .542 with two home runs over the first four games he’s played this month. Reading’s Antonio Bastardo continues to yo-yo between the starting lineup and the bullpen, but his most recent start led to a 6.75 ERA and a loss, so relief might be his strong suit. Where there’s (Justin) Smoak, there’s fire. Sorry, had to be done. Red Sox prospect Che-Hsuan Lin had a long six-game hitless streak recently, but is starting to come back, having hit .667 over the past two games in Salem.
gac
And, finally, look at the official photo of Ian Gac here on the right. I thought the poor guy had some rare syndrome that caused him to look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but I finally realized that he was unfortunately placed in front of some sort of logo on the wall that made him look like his earlobes hung down to his shoulders. The uniform line through the cinder blocks eventually tipped me off to the reality of the situation. I’m sure if gills and flippers helped a guy break out of a hitting slump, Ian would seriously consider getting a little genetic modification done.


The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, waiting for the call that will change their lives.

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .261 AVG – 18 R – 1 HR – 6 RBI – 6 BB – 4 SB – .466 SLG – .774 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 5 Games – 3W – 0L – 3.09 ERA – 14 BB – 17 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .224 – 16 R – 3 HR – 11 RBI – 24 BB – 0 SB – .448 SLG – .867 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .385 AVG – 18 R – 7 HR – 27 RBI – 15 BB – 0 SB – .756 SLG – 1.231 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .269 – 15 R – 2 HR – 7 RBI – 6 BB – 11 SB – .387 SLG – .707 OPS

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): 5 Starts – 0 W – 2 L – 4.50 ERA – 4 BB – 31 K

Ramiro Pena, SS – Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees: .313 – 2 R – 0 HR – 4 RBI – 3 BB – 1 SB – .344 SLG – .715 OPS

Matt Wieters, C – Norfolk Tides (Orioles): .270 AVG – 7 R – 1 HR – 6 RBI – 11 BB – 0 SB – .365 SLG – .738 OPS

Fernando Martinez, CF – Buffalo Bisons (Mets): .287 AVG – 9 R – 3 HR – 13 RBI – 5 BB – 0 SB – .529 SLG – .859 OPS

Daniel Bard, RHP – Pawtucket Red Sox (Red Sox): 9 Games – 1W – 0L – 4 SV – 1.32 ERA – 4 BB – 23 K

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .389 – 17 R – 0 HR – 12 RBI – 9 BB – 7 SB – .486 SLG – .950 OPS


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 6 Games – 2 Starts – 1 W – 1 L – 2 SV – 2.20 ERA – 3 BB – 15 K

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .277 AVG – 11 R – 2 HR – 14 RBI – 7 BB – 0 SB – .434 SLG – .763 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): 5 Starts – 2 W – 3 L – 4.15 ERA – 9 BB – 19 K

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .250 AVG – 16 R – 6 HR – 19 RBI – 18 BB – 0 SB – .574 SLG – .978 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .358 AVG – 12 R – 4 HR – 16 RBI – 18 BB – 0 SB – .580 SLG – 1.055 OPS

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .200 AVG – 4 R – 1 HR – 11 RBI – 5 BB – 0 SB – .308 SLG – .561 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .275 AVG – 18 R – 4 HR – 18 RBI – 6 BB – 1 SB – .500 SLG – .822 OPS

Madison Bumgarner, LHP – San Jose Giants (Giants): 4 Starts – 3 W – 0 L – 1.40 ERA – 3 BB – 19 K

Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates): .212 AVG – 13 R – 5 HR – 21 RBI – 16 BB – 0 SB – .412 SLG – .739 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .176 AVG – 9 R – 0 HR – 5 RBI – 8 BB – 3 SB – .221 SLG – .486 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .316 AVG – 10 R – 1 HR – 8 RBI – 2 BB – 0 SB – .421 SLG – .775 OPS

Shooter Hunt, RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): 5 Start – 0 W – 1 L – 10.43 ERA – 29 BB – 14 K

Collin Cowgill, OF – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .310 AVG – 21 R – 4 HR – 18 RBI – 12 BB – 3 SB – .583 SLG – .993 OPS

Mauricio Robles, P – West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers): 5 Starts – 2 W – 1 L – 3.04 ERA – 9 BB – 40 K


NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 10 Starts – 10W – 0L – 1.38 ERA – 15 BB – 147 K

Visit SDSU’s Strasburg Central for more.


Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and our trademark irrational sense of whimsy.

“I now have a favorite Tiger”

When I was in junior high school, the coolest speaker we ever had was a guy who had either climbed or attempted to climb either Mount Kilimanjaro or K2 a few years before. I think there was a movie based on his adventures – possibly “K2” – but can’t be sure. As you can tell, it wasn’t the most memorable experience of my life.

I hope the kids at Riverside Middle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were a bit more inspired by the special guest speaker they were surprised with on Tuesday: Detroit Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson.

Granderson was in the area for a rehab stint with the local minor league club, the West Michigan Whitecaps, and apparently chose to make himself available to any public schools that were interested in having him speak for a few minutes on Tuesday afternoon. His Riverside talk centered around the importance of teachers, education, and teamwork. Granderson’s parents and sister are teachers.

I like what Dave Murray, the writer of the story for The Grand Rapids Press, had to say on his personal blog, Mets Guy in Michigan: “I now have a favorite Tiger.” This wasn’t something Granderson HAD to do with his free time, but it’s great that he chose to utilize his fame to touch a number of young lives.