A career day for Danry Vasquez, the Tigers' No. 4 prospect, helped West Michigan to a resounding 10-1 victory over visiting Lake County on a chilly Wednesday afternoon.
The 19-year-old Vasquez went 4-for-5 with a triple, two stolen bases and a career-high four RBIs as the Whitecaps used a seven-run sixth inning to take the three-game set with the Captains, two games to one. It was the second four-hit game of Vasquez's brief career and his first in the Midwest League.
Vasquez began the 2012 season with West Michigan shortly after turning 18 and struggled, posting a .162/.218/.222 line before being reassigned to Class A Short-Season Connecticut in mid-May. He rebounded nicely with the Tigers, hitting .311 -- seventh-best in the New York-Penn League -- and was named the club's Player of the Year.
The Venezuela native has been much more consistent in his second stint with the Whitecaps, collecting hits in 12 of his 16 games. Vasquez, a left-handed hitter, has also improved against southpaw pitching (albeit in a very small sample): he's batting .267 against them in 2013, up from .184 last year.
"I'm trying to keep doing what I did last year in Connecticut," Vasquez said. "I'm not trying to do too much, just hit the ball and put it in play and make the other team have to go get it."
Batting second against Lake County on Wednesday, Vasquez singled to left in the first before delivering a run-scoring line drive to right with two outs in the third. Using all fields, he singled to center in the fifth, then cracked a bases-clearing triple -- the fourth of his career -- in the sixth. The three-bagger was just the second extra-base hit of the campaign for Vasquez, who lifted his batting average 43 points to .302 in the game.
Asked if using all fields was a key for him this year, Vasquez said his approach was "don't think too much, just hit the ball hard."
Vasquez stole second in both the third and fifth for his second career two-steal game. He's nabbed five bases this season without being caught, and said that he was concentrating on mastering the "little things" to become a total player.
"I'm learning the right game situations [in which] to run. Baserunning, defense, positioning; I am trying to get better at everything and show people what I can do."
Eight of the nine Whitecaps batters scored at least one run. First baseman Jeff Holm was the only other West Michigan hitter with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a pair of RBIs. Holm leads the club with a .405 average.
West Michigan also got strong performances from its pitching staff, particularly the relief corps. Starter Edgar De La Rosa went four innings, allowing one run on four hits and four walks while fanning four. Josh Turley (3-1) took over in the fifth and earned the victory with two perfect frames. Julio gave up one hit while pitching the seventh and eighth and Jose Valdez closed out the win with a hitless ninth.
The Captains combined for five hits, with leadoff man Logan Vick collecting two and the team's lone RBI. Lake County ranks 15th in the 16-team league with a .226 batting average.
Starter Joseph Colon fell to 0-1 with the loss after yielding three runs on six hits over five frames. He struck out seven and walked one. Reliever Luis Morel suffered his second consecutive tough outing. Having allowing six runs in two-thirds of an inning Saturday, he gave up seven -- five earned -- over three frames Wednesday.
After playing their first 17 games against Eastern Division rivals, the Whitecaps head west for a pair of three-game sets at Wisconsin and Beloit starting Thursday. Lake County returns home to host Western Division opponents Clinton and Kane County.