FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps get a clean slate in their attempt at making the Midwest League playoffs for a fourth consecutive season today with the start of the second half.
Fort Wayne finished the first half in seventh place in the eight-team Eastern Division with a 31-39 mark. The top two teams in each division in each half qualify for the playoffs.
Hopefully those guys that have been good in the first half, they can keep it consistent and those guys that were struggling, they can get hot and we can put everything together and play team baseball, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. We can be a better team if we can put everything together.
Heres who has impressed, disappointed and surprised the TinCaps manager in the first 70 games.
Pitching has been the strength of this years team. Fort Wayne has a staff ERA of 3.67.
Starting pitchers Adys Portillo and Frank Garces participated in Tuesdays All-Star Game. Portillo leads the Midwest League with a 1.92 ERA.
Matt Wisler, from Bryan, Ohio, is second among the teams starters with a 2.34 ERA.
Wisler has been one of the best pitchers on our staff, Valentin said.
Catcher Austin Hedges and shortstop Jace Peterson also represented the team at the All-Star Game. Fellow position player Travis Whitmore has remained consistent whether hes playing first base, third base or slotted as the teams designated hitter.
Hes been bouncing around. Its tough for a guy who doesnt know where hes going to be every day, but he shows up every day ready to play baseball, Valentin said. He still does a great job.
Outfielder Kyle Gaedele is batting only .200. But Valentin has seen improvements from Gaedele throughout the year.
Third baseman Duanel Jones has made 23 errors. But Valentin has been more concerned that he hasnt provided a spark on offense.
Jones has a .214 batting average with one home run.
Hes not even close to the player I saw in spring training, Valentin said. Ive been talking to him. Id like to see more intensity, more fire, more aggressiveness from him.
Valentin didnt see Yeison Asencio during spring training because the outfielder had visa problems.
He joined the TinCaps on May 19 and has five home runs and 18 RBI and a .333 batting average.
Hes been on fire, Valentin said.
Asencio has had a few mistakes in the outfield. But Valentin likes his approach to the game.
I dont care if he does it nice, beautiful, he finds a way to get it done, Valentin said. Thats the bottom line. It doesnt matter how pretty you do it, just do it.
Notes: Infielder Casey McElroy was promoted to San Diegos Advanced-A team in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Felix Cabrera joins the TinCaps from extended spring training. Former TinCaps outfielder Rymer Liriano will participate in the All-Stars Futures Game on July 8 in Kansas City, Mo.