COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Since professional baseball returned to West Michigan in 1994, the West Michigan Whitecaps have served as a pipeline to the Major Leagues.
When the Detroit Tigers called up outfielder Avisail Garcia on Friday, the 21-year-old Venezuelan became the 100th former Whitecaps' player to climb the ladder to the big leagues.
"This is a wonderful milestone for not only the Whitecaps, but for the West Michigan community as a whole," said Lew Chamberlin, the CEO/Managing Partner of the West Michigan Whitecaps. "This is testament to the great tradition the Whitecaps have become in West Michigan. We're very proud of how this tradition has grown from a fledgling minor league team to a significant contributor to the Detroit Tigers as well as baseball across Michigan and around the country over the last two decades."
It all started with catcher George Williams, who hit .303 for the inaugural 1994 Whitecaps and made his Major League debut with the Oakland Athletics in 1995. The A's served as West Michigan's parent club for the franchise's first three seasons while the Whitecaps have been affiliated with the in-state Detroit Tigers since 1997.
Currently in their 19th season, the Whitecaps' accomplished history in West Michigan has included five Midwest League titles in addition to the development of 100 Major Leaguers. The list of 100 illustrious names includes World Series champions and Major League All-Stars. Sixty-seven of the players went on to make their first appearance in the big leagues with the Tigers, making the Whitecaps' place on the road to Detroit even more meaningful.
"The West Michigan Whitecaps and Detroit Tigers enjoy one of the best relationships in professional baseball," said Dave Dombrowski, the President, General Manager and CEO of the Detroit Tigers. "West Michigan provides a tremendous place for our players to live and develop to become Major League players. This is truly exemplified by having such a great number of players from the Whitecaps become big leaguers in such a short time period."
The Whitecaps return to Fifth Third Ballpark for the final three-game series of the regular season starting at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night against the Dayton Dragons. RHP Marcelo Carreno (8-8, 3.38) is scheduled to take the mound for West Michigan against RHP Radhames Quezada (5-8, 3.33) of Dayton in a ballgame that will be followed by post-game fireworks. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.