COMSTOCK PARK, MI - A blend of veteran experience and exciting young talent highlight the West Michigan Whitecaps' initial 2018 roster unveiled by the club in conjunction with the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.
Headlining this year's Whitecaps roster are seven of the club's first ten selections from the 2017 MLB Draft. Pitchers Dane Myers (6th), Brandon Bass (7th), and Max Green (8th) are set to begin the season on the mound, while position players Rivera (2nd), Morgan (3rd) join outfielders Luke Burch (9th) and Garrett McCain (10th).
Pitcher Matt Manning; the Tigers first-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, will begin this season on the Whitecaps disabled list. Manning ranks as the #2 Tigers prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Other highly-regarded players include pitcher Wladimir Pinto (#21 by Baseball America), Joey Morgan (#21 by MLB Pipeline), and Reynaldo Rivera (#22 by MLB Pipeline), who will also begin this season on the Whitecaps disabled list. Both Manning and Rivera are expected to join the Whitecaps upon their return to full health.
The common thread in this year's pitching staff is youth, as the Whitecaps pitching rotation holds an average age of 21 years old. Last season, the team entered the year with a cumulative age of almost 23 years old.
The team returns nine players from its 2017 team that recorded a Midwest League-best 91 wins, including pitchers Eudis Idrogo, Clate Schmidt, Brandyn Sittinger and Burris Warner to join holdovers such as Manning and Pinto. Only two position players are headed back to West Michigan after playing with last year's squad in Jose Quero and Zac Shepherd, who also spent time with the Whitecaps 2015 Midwest League Championship team.
Manager Lance Parrish makes his Whitecaps managerial debut after four years leading the Erie Seawolves. The former Detroit Tigers catcher played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1977-1995, including ten years with the Tigers and playing a prominent role on the Tigers 1984 World Series championship team. Parrish's coaching staff consists of hitting coach Mariano Duncan, who played for the World Series champion Cincinnati Reds in 1990, and New York Yankees in 1996. Hudsonville, MI native John Vander Wal joins the Whitecaps coaching staff for 2018. Pitching coach Jorge Cordova and athletic trainer Jason Schwartzman rejoin the team for the upcoming season.
"Heading into our 25th season, our affiliation with the [Detroit] Tigers is stronger than ever," Whitecaps Vice President Jim Jarecki said. "We're looking forward to getting the season underway with the young talent and Lance Parrish at the helm."
The Whitecaps have an Open Workout scheduled for Wednesday, April 4 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. to welcome back the boys of summer to Fifth Third Ballpark before their scheduled home opener April 5. The first 1,000 fans in attendance for Thursday's game receive a Whitecaps 25th season replica jersey; courtesy of Fifth Third Bank.
Season, group and individual tickets are available for any 2018 game by calling the Whitecaps' front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.