COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Out of more than 600 West Michigan Whitecaps players in the team's 20-year history (102 of whom have cracked into the Major Leagues), West Michigan Whitecaps fans have named 14 players to the Whitecaps All-Time Team.
As part of the Whitecaps' 20th anniversary celebration, fans voted for their favorite all-time players at each position. The top players at each position were put on an online ballot, and fans selected their favorite players to build the following team:
Manager - Tom Brookens
Catcher - Brandon Inge
First Base - Robert Fick
Second Base - Scott Sizemore
Shortstop - Brent Dlugach
Third Base - Nick Castellanos
Outfield - Matt Joyce, Cameron Maybin , Avisail Garcia
Designated Hitter - Eric Munson
Starting Pitchers - Duane Below, Jair Jurrjens, Joel Zumaya
Relief Pitchers - Francisco Cordero, Ed Clelland
Fans were not given any criteria to consider when voting, other than to vote for their favorite all-time players at each position. Every member of the all-time team except Castellanos and Clelland has gone on to play in the Major Leagues.
A trading card set of the all-time team will be produced and given away to the first 1000 fans through the gates on Wednesday, August 28 (a 7:00 p.m. game against the Fort Wayne TinCaps).
Tom Brookens (Manager, 2007) - Brookens was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year in 2007 after guiding the Whitecaps to an 83-57 regular-season record and the MWL championship. He joined the Tigers' coaching staff in 2010 and currently serves as Detroit's third base, outfield and baserunning coach. As a player, Brookens played 12 seasons as an infielder with the Tigers (1979-1988), Yankees (1989) and Indians (1990). He was a member of the Tigers' 1984 World Series Championship team.
Brandon Inge (C, 1999) - Inge hit .244 with 54 runs, 86 hits, 25 doubles, nine home runs and 46 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 1999 with the Whitecaps. He was named as the best defensive catcher in the Tigers farm system by Baseball America with a .990 fielding percentage, 703 put-outs and only five errors. He is a leader on and off the field and has given much of his free time to community service. He is a member of the Whitecaps Hall of Fame. Inge has played for the Tigers (2001-2012), A's (2012) and Pirates (2013). He posted career highs of 27 home runs and 83 RBI in 2006, and hit .353 during the 2006 World Series. Inge is considered one of the best defensive third basemen in the Majors.
Robert Fick (1B, 1997) - Fick came to the Whitecaps in 1997 as a backup catcher. However, due to an injury to another player, Fick played first base and had one of the best seasons a Whitecap has ever had. He led the Whitecaps to the best record in professional baseball in 1997 (92-39) by hitting .341 with 16 home runs and 90 RBI. He was named a Midwest League All-Star as well as the League's MVP. Fick still owns 12 Whitecaps single-season records including batting average, hits, longest hitting streak, runs and doubles. He is a member of the Whitecaps Hall of Fame. Fick played 10 Major League seasons with the Tigers, Braves, Devil Rays, Padres and Nationals and was named to the 2002 American League All-Star team. He is also remembered for recording the last hit ever at Tiger Stadium when he belted a grand slam off the Royals' Jeff Montgomery in the 8th inning.
Scott Sizemore (2B, 2007) - Sizemore batted .265 with 116 hits, 33 doubles (fourth in the league), 4 home runs and 16 stolen bases for the Whitecaps in 2007. Sizemore played for the Tigers in 2010 and 2011, and was traded to the A's on May 27, 2011. He has battled a torn left knee ACL in each of the last two seasons, tearing it during the first workout of spring training in 2012, causing him to miss the entire season, and then re-tearing it in the second game of this season. He is out for the rest of the 2013 season.
Brent Dlugach (SS, 2005) - Dlugach batted .283 with 138 hits, 26 doubles and 61 RBI for the Whitecaps in 2005. He was named to the mid-season Midwest League All-Star team. Dlugach made his Major League debut with the Tigers in September 2009, playing in five games that month. He was traded to the Red Sox following the 2010 season. He re-joined the Tigers organization 2012 playing in Toledo.
Nick Castellanos (3B, 2011) - The 2010 first-round draft pick is considered the Tigers' top prospect. He hit .312 with a team record 158 hits, 36 doubles and 76 RBI for the Whitecaps in 2011. He was named to the post-season Midwest League All-Star team and was the Tigers' Minor League Player of the Year in 2011. Castellanos was moved to the outfield last season and is currently playing left field for Toledo, where he is hitting .274. Just 21 years old, he may be considered for a September call-up to the Tigers in 2013.
Matt Joyce (OF, 2006) - Joyce batted .258 with 11 HR, 30 doubles and a team-leading 86 RBI with the Whitecaps in 2006. He played for the Tigers in 2008, then was traded to the Rays, where he has played for the past five seasons. Joyce was named to the American League All-Star team in 2011.
Cameron Maybin (OF, 2006) - A first-round draft pick by the Tigers, Maybin hit .304 with 9 HR, 69 RBI and 27 SB in 2006 for the Whitecaps. He led the team to the 2006 Midwest League Championship and was named the league's Prospect of the Year and a post-season all-star. He was chosen to play in the 2006 MLB All-Star Futures Game. Maybin debuted with the Tigers in 2007 and was traded after that season to the Marlins in the blockbuster trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. He was traded again after the 2010 season to the Padres, where he currently plays.
Avisail Garcia (OF, 2009, 2010) - Garcia played for the Whitecaps for most of two seasons, batting .281 in 2010 with 139 hits, 17 doubles and 63 RBI. He made his Major League debut with the Tigers at age 21 on August 31, 2012. He started the 2013 season with Lakeland, jumped to Toledo after just six games and a .417 batting average, and then rejoined the Tigers in mid-May after posting a .432 batting average in eight games with Toledo.
Eric Munson (DH, 1999) - Munson was the Tigers' first-round draft pick (third overall) in 1999, and joined the Whitecaps following the June draft. He was named to the Midwest League Post-Season All-Star team after batting .266 with 14 home runs. 67 hits and 44 RBI in just a half season. He earned a September call-up to the Tigers in 2000, and again in the next two years before sticking with the Tigers in 2003, where he played third base for two seasons. On June 26, 2004, he hit what was then the longest home run in Comerica Park history (457 feet; it currently is tied for second longest). Munson played briefly with the Devil Rays in 2005 and played two seasons (2006-2007) with the Astros.
Duane Below (SP, 2007) - Below led the Midwest League in wins and strikeouts in 2007, posting a 13-5 record with a 2.97 ERA and 160 strikeouts. His strikeouts total ranks second all-time in Whitecaps history. He was named to the 2007 mid-season All-Star team. He played for the Tigers in 2011 and 2012 and currently pitches for the Miami Marlins.
Jair Jurrjens (SP, 2005) - Jurrjens posted a 12-6 record with a 3.41 ERA and 108 strikeouts for the Whitecaps in 2005. He was named to the 2005 mid-season Midwest League All-Star team. Jurrjens made his Major League debut in 2007 with Detroit, then was traded to the Braves after the 2007 season. He finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 after posting a 13010 record and 3.26 ERA. In 2011, he was named to the Major League All-Star team. Jurrjens played for the Braves for five seasons. He signed with the Orioles for the 2013 season.
Joel Zumaya (SP, 2003) - As an 18-year-old, Zumaya posted a 7-5 record with a 2.80 ERA and struck out 126 in 90 innings with West Michigan. He was named to the 2003 mid-season Midwest League All-Star team and is a member of the Whitecaps Hall of Fame. Zumaya pitched for the Tigers for five seasons (2006-2010), and was known for his 100 MPH fastball. His fastball was measured at a Major League record 104.8 MPH during game 1 of the 2006 ALCS. He leads the Majors in number of pitches thrown at 100 MPH or more, with 233. Zumaya was hampered by arm injuries for the majority of his Major League career and was never able to match his 2006 success, when he went 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 83.1 innings.
Francisco Cordero (RP, 1997) - During the 1997 season, Cordero had one of the most dominant seasons ever by a Whitecaps reliever. He amassed a 6-1 record with 35 saves, 67 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings pitched. That season he set a Whitecaps single-season record for saves and had a streak of 23 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run while being named the Tigers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the Midwest League Post-Season All-Star Team. He is a member of the Whitecaps Hall of Fame. Cordero made his Major League debut with the Tigers in 1999 and has played for the Rangers (2000-2006), Brewers (2006-2007), Reds (2008-2011), Blue Jays (2012) and Astros (2012). He was an All-Star in 2004, 2007 and 2009 and recorded 30 or more saves eight times. In 14 Major League seasons, Cordero amassed 329 saves and a 3.38 career ERA. He is one of only 24 pitchers in MLB history to join the 300-save club.
Ed Clelland (RP, 2005, 2007) - Clelland played the full 2005 season and half of the 2007 season for the Whitecaps. In 2005, he posted a 7-2 record and 3.40 ERA with 1 save, and in 2007 he went 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA and 6 saves in 34.0 innings. He was promoted to Lakeland half way through the 2007 season, and played for the Flying Tigers until the end of his Minor League career in May 2008.