| Seasons | 2003 | Teams | West Michigan Whitecaps |
2003 East: | Battle Creek | Dayton | Fort Wayne | Lansing | South Bend | West Michigan |

2003 Scouting Report

West Michigan Whitecaps

Major Change

2003 Teams
Battle Creek
Cedar Rapids
Fort Wayne
Kane County
Quad City
South Bend
West Michigan

This page profiles the 2003 West Michigan Whitecaps, a Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and a member of the Midwest League.


Post-Season Profile

Although the Whitecaps had a couple weak stretches, overall they were generally competitive. The Caps' exceptionally strong pitching rotation kept them in most games, though the bullpen wasn't deep. The offense featured a bunch of prospects, but the overall performance was fairly weak. This team's defense was about league-average.

Outfielder Brent Clevlen got stronger every month, and by season's end was performing very well; he's got power, a little speed, and takes an occasional walk. Shortstop Juan Gonzalez and outfielder Wilton Reynolds are physically talented, but obviously unfinished; similarly, third baseman Scott Moore joined the team in mid-season and showed more promise than delivery. Demetrius "Meatball" Heath has the season's best nickname. Might have the best name, period.

West Michigan's best starters--Jon Connolly, Michael Howell, Troy Pickford, and Joel Zumaya--were difficult pitchers to beat. Connolly was simply awesome, Howell developed well, Pickford was the victim of serious bad luck, Zumaya is very talented. Unfortunately, these were never exactly the front four, as manager Phil Regan used a total of eight pitchers as regular starters. If the team could get the ball to closer Ian Ostlund, who had a very good season, they would reliably win. In between was a problem; only Matt Parris (sometimes a starter) and Jordan Gerk were consistently reliable in middle relief.

Except where otherwise specified, all statistics are through the end of the season.

MWL Fan's Guide

Season Summary

  • Second Half: 30-40, .429 (5th place, 14.0 behind)
  • First Half: 37-33, .529 (3rd place, 4.0 behind)
  • Pitching: 67-73, 3.54, 35 saves, 7 complete games, 933 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .243, 570 runs, 65 HR, 119 steals (65% success)
  • Defense: 147 errors (1.05 per game); .693 defensive efficiency
  • April: 14-12 (.538)
  • May: 16-13 (.552)
  • June: 11-16 (.407)
  • July: 15-14 (.517)
  • August/September: 11-18 (.379)
  • Position Players used: 18
  • Pitchers used: 19

Leading Players

  • Best Player on the Team: Starting Pitcher Jon Connolly

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Jon Connolly (1.41, 16-3, 104 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Ian Ostlund (1.59, 3-0, 19 saves, 56 strikeouts)
  • Strikeout Pitchers: Joel Zumaya, Ian Ostlund, Juan Figueroa, Jordan Gerk
  • Control Pitchers: Michael Howell, Joel Zumaya, Ian Ostlund, Jordan Gerk

  • Best Hitter: Brent Clevlen (.260, 12 HR, 63 RBI)
  • Home Run Leader: Brent Clevlen (12)
  • High Batting Average: none
  • High On Base Percentage: none
  • High Slugging Percentage: none
  • Notable Baserunners: Juan Gonzalez, Juan Francia, Rob Watson, Jason Knoedler
  • Notable Batting Eye: none

The Whitecaps at Mid-Season

The 'Caps have scored 283 runs and have permitted 276 runs. Phil Regan uses 3.2 pitchers per game.

The Whitecaps have strong frontline pitchers and a core of good offensive players--that's enough to compete well. The team has some speed, but really doesn't run well (they lead the league in triples & caught stealing); the defense is about league-average. While there's no one single power source, the entire West Michigan lineup's capable of putting the ball over the fence.

Outfielder Wilton Reynolds is a very talented ball player--perhaps the MWL's best prospect, though he needs to work on his baserunning, and should take more walks. Shortstop Juan Gonzalez also does everything well. The rest of the everyday players all play decent ball. Odd fact: This team hits far fewer sacrifice flies than any other MWL team.

Jon Connolly, Troy Pickford, and Joel Zumaya are as good a front three as any rotation in the Midwest League; Zumaya's erratic, but he's a "high-ceiling" player. Ian Ostlund, lately the closer, has been flawless, while Matt Parris and Jordan Gerk have flourished in mixed roles. Beyond these? Let's not go there.

Promoted and missed: DH/corner infielder Ryan Raburn.

Worth watching: Utility pitcher Jordan Gerk.

June 1 Profile

West Michigan's team's been playing fine baseball this year. As usual, they've got excellent pitching; they've also developed some power (perhaps this is a ballpark effect, as they've shortened the left field fence). This team has good speed, but doesn't use it well; they play rather sloppy defense.

Outfielder Wilton Reynolds is an incredible talent, and is easily this team's best position player. Third baseman Scott Moore has also played well, and there's been solid support from shortstop Juan Gonzales, outfielder Brent Clevlen, and catcher Mike Rabelo. The Whitecaps' bench is probably a little weak.

Jon Connolly's pitched about as well as anyone in my memory; 9-0 with an era of 0.79 is a significant start. Joel Zumaya is leading the MWL in strikeouts, and perhaps the better prospect despite his won/lost record, and rotation mates Troy Pickford and Humberto Sanchez are solid and effective. Ian Ostlund's been darn near perfect in the closer role, with some reasonably effective help from Juan Figueroa. In the bullpen, spot starter Matt Parris deserves mention, and Jordan Gerk has pitched well.

Pre-Season Profile


Last season, Phil Regan was a fairly conventional MWL manager except that his team issued a large number of intentional passes. In MWL terms, Regan's prior experience is unique....

First Round Draft Selections

  • none

Team Age Information

  • Average Team Age: 21.9
  • Pitchers: 21.4
  • Hitters: 22.3
  • Oldest Player on the Team: Angel Perez (April 7, 1978)
  • Youngest Player on the Team: Joel Zumaya (November 9, 1984)

The average player in the Midwest League this season is about 21.7 years old.

Where they played last season

This summary was based on the team's opening day roster and will not be revised to reflect roster changes.

At heart, the new Whitecaps have the pitching staff from last season's Oneonta Tigers, which is certainly a good starting place. The Caps and the GCL Tigers kicked in a few players to round out the roster.

Team          League             W/L    Place    Hitters Pitchers
Lakeland      Florida State (A+) 69/70   7(12)      1      2
West Michigan Midwest (A)        83/57   2(14)      6      2
Oneonta       New York-Penn (A-) 47/27   2(14)      5     10
Tigers        Gulf Coast (R)     23/37  13(14)      4      5

Many of these players played for two Tiger farm teams and are counted twice in this table. One player did not play professionally last season, and one played nine games at the Double-A level.

West Michigan


West Michigan

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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