Comstock Park, MI - - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - - For the first time in franchise history, the West Michigan Whitecaps will feature the professional debut of a player chosen first overall in the MLB Draft. Infielder Spencer Torkelson headlines the club’s initial 2021 roster unveiled in conjunction with
Comstock Park, MI - - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - - For the first time in franchise history, the West Michigan Whitecaps will feature the professional debut of a player chosen first overall in the MLB Draft. Infielder Spencer Torkelson headlines the club’s initial 2021 roster unveiled in conjunction with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
According to MLB Pipeline, Torkelson, is ranked as the Tigers top prospect and the #3 prospect in Major League Baseball. The power-hitting infielder hit .337 in 129 games with Arizona State University while launching 54 home runs with 130 RBI to become the Tigers first overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft. As a freshman, the 21-year-old hit 25 homers to break the school record that previously belonged to Major League Baseball all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds.
The highest draft slot of a former Whitecaps player previously belonged to outfielder and former second overall selection Ben Grieve, who played as a prospect for the Oakland Athletics during the 1995 season. The highest Tigers draftee came in the form of third overall pick Eric Munson in 1999.
Currently, a very limited number of multi-game, group and individual tickets for May and June are still available. Some lawn seats have now been made available for opening night, May 11th. The first pitch after 622 days without baseball will be at 6:35pm. The home opener and four other dates in May and June include Family Fair Fireworks along with several other promotions with food and fun!
Groups are encouraged to set dates now as all 24 dates for May and June are nearly full. Suites are now available for rental. All promotions, health and safety protocols, tickets, and more are available at WhitecapsBaseball.com. Ticket sales are online only.
According to MLB Pipeline, first-year manager and former Tigers catcher Brayan Peña will have eight of Detroit’s Top 30 prospects. The initial Whitecaps roster holds four of the six members from the Tigers 2020 MLB Draft class, and four players ranked within Detroit’s Top 15 prospects. In the field, Torkelson will enjoy the company of fellow 2020 MLB Draftees in catcher Dillon Dingler (#5) and outfielder Danny Cabrera (#6), who are both headed to West Michigan. On the mound, #15 prospect and pitcher Franklin Perez, a part of the Tigers 2017 trade with the Houston Astros in exchange for Justin Verlander, joins the Whitecaps for the first time.Other highly regarded players include the return of outfielders Parker Meadows (#8) and Bryant Packard (#23), while infielder Trei Cruz (#17), and pitcher Zack Hess (#27) round out some of the prospects headed to West Michigan.
“With the promotion to High-A and the combination of the recent draft picks and former players returning to West Michigan, we couldn’t wait for the 2021 roster,” Whitecaps Vice President and General Manager Jim Jarecki said. “Whitecaps fans will not be disappointed.”
Among the initial Whitecaps 30-man roster, 15 players have played with the ‘Caps in previous years. Zac Shepherd, who played four seasons as an infielder before successfully converting to pitching in 2019, is headed back to West Michigan for his fifth season, having begun his ‘Caps career back in 2015.
The latest version of the Whitecaps includes two players with ties to Michigan. Jared Tobey, a native of St. Clair, who sported a 1.88 ERA with West Michigan in 2019, rejoins the bullpen. Outfielder Kona Quiggle, who was born in Grand Rapids, is headed back to his birthplace by making the opening day roster.
Peña, who was slated to manage the Whitecaps during the lost 2020 MiLB season, makes his Whitecaps managerial debut after leading a 2018 GCL Tigers-West team to its first-ever Gulf Coast League title. Peña’s coaching staff consists of hitting coach Bill Springman and pitching coach Willie Blair, who played parts of four seasons with the Tigers and coached during the 2019 season in West Michigan.
“Seeing eight of the top 30 Tigers prospects coming to West Michigan shows how strong the Tigers minor league system has become,” Jarecki said. “I know the players coming back are just as excited as they receive a promotion with the added benefit of another chance to enjoy West Michigan and LMCU Ballpark.”
The Whitecaps scheduled season opener is Tuesday, May 4 at Parkview Field against the Fort Wayne Tin Caps before the home opener Tuesday, May 11, with the Great Lakes Loons at
** 6:35 p.m. **
About West Michigan Whitecaps: The Whitecaps minor league baseball team was established in 1994. The Whitecaps are the High- A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and play in the Eastern Division of the High-A Central League. The team’s home games are played in West Michigan’s favorite, largest, outdoor, multi-purpose venue, LMCU Ballpark. For more player information, contact Dan Hasty at [email protected] or 586.604.6755. For more information on Whitecaps and LMCU Ballpark visit whitecapsbaseball.com or contact Steve VanWagoner at [email protected] or 616.318.8949.