Don’t worry, this isn’t about a season ending injury. But the season for Tom de Blok is simply over because his team, the West Michigan WhiteCaps was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
In the first round of the Midwest League play offs, the West Michigan WhiteCaps faced the Dayton Dragons. The best of three series was one of close games. The first game was won by the WhiteCaps 3-2, but in the next two games, they lost 2-1 and 4-3. Because of this, Tom didn’t get a taste of playoff baseball in the minors.
One would expect that a team that won both halves of the season, would not have a hard time with a team that finished twenty-two games behind the division winner in the overall standings. But that is baseball; at times an unpredictable game.
Tom had a strange but great year. After a couple of solid outings during the World Baseball Classic, he was signed by the Detroit Tigers who sent him to West Michigan. On May 2nd, Tom debuted with the WhiteCaps in a 5-4 loss vs the Clinton LumberKings.
In three innings in relief, Tom gave up only one hit. After a couple of great outings, the Tigers sent him down to extended spring training. All too soon it became clear why as
they wanted to convert him into a starting pitcher. After a week or two in Lakeland, Florida, he was sent to the Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League (A Short Season). On June 21st, he debuted as a starting pitcher. In the 3.2 innings he pitched he retired five on strikeouts, four on groundouts and two on flyouts. Tom gave up only one hit and one walk. In the following outings, he was flat out dominant, even though he was sent up to the Midwest League again.
At one point Tom started to struggle. In his first start in the month of August, Tom lasted only 2.2 innings and gave up six runs on four hits. In the next three starts, Tom would give up four, seven and three runs. But finally, on August 28, he pitched seven scoreless frames in which he gave up only two hits and struck out eight. In his final start before the playoffs, Tom also pitched seven scoreless innings.
The way he has been pitching this year may earn him a promotion to A-Advanced next year so he will head back to Lakeland, but this time to pitch in the Florida State League for the Lakeland Tigers, not as part of an extended spring training.
In the coming days, Tom will head to Florida with several other prospects to spend more time on the diamond. It remains to be seen if he can come home in time to pitch for the team he left to chase his dreams, L&D Amsterdam Pirates, in the playoffs. Former Dodgers farm hand Misja Harcksen, wasn’t allowed to pitch in the Dutch leagues after the minor league season either. So it is unlikely that Tom will get the permission to pitch for L&D Amsterdam Pirates even though they can use him as a reliever.