COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The Midwest League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs is coming to West Michigan this weekend, and the Kane County Cougars are planning on bringing a big leaguer with them.
Former Minnesota Twins' pitcher Scott Baker, now rehabbing from Tommy John surgery with the Chicago Cubs' organization, is scheduled to make his first appearance of the season for the Cougars on Sunday at Fifth Third Ballpark. The 1:00 p.m. ballgame is the second game of a three-game series between the West Michigan Whitecaps and their Western Division rivals from Kane County. In addition to a Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Family Day, there will also be a special appearance by WGVU's Buddy the Dinosaur.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Baker threw a bullpen session at Wrigley Field on Thursday in front of Cubs' manager Dale Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio. The Kane County Cougars have confirmed that Baker is expected to start on Sunday and throw four innings or 60-65 pitches.
The weekend series between West Michigan and Kane County marks the only opportunity of the season for Whitecaps' fans to watch Chicago Cubs' farmhands at Fifth Third Ballpark. The Cougars' current roster includes seven members of Baseball America's top-30 prospects in the Cubs' organization, highlighted by No. 2 prospect Albert Almora and No. 7 prospect Dan Vogelbach.
The 31-year-old Baker was selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2003 draft and played with Minnesota for seven seasons from 2005-2011, posting a 63-48 record with a 4.15 ERA. He was in the midst of a breakout season in 2011 - ranking eighth in the American League with a 2.86 ERA in late July - when right elbow soreness eventually cut his year short. After missing the remainder of the 2011 season, Baker had surgery in April of 2012 and was expected to return early this season before suffering a setback during Spring Training.
Baker pitched in the Midwest League during his initial climb up the Minor League ladder, spending his 2003 professional debut with the Quad City River Bandits. He went 3-1 with a 2.49 ERA over 11 starts during that season.
After being released by the Twins over the off-season, Baker signed with the Cubs in November for a reported $5.5 million.
The Whitecaps continue a six-game homestand at Fifth Third Ballpark with a 7:00 p.m. first pitch on Saturday night against the Kane County Cougars. RHP Jake Thompson (0-2, 3.27) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Tayler Scott (4-4, 4.35) of the Cougars. Promotions include a mini-bat giveaway for the first 1,000 fans, a celebration of the Whitecaps' 2004 championship club and 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.