Whitecaps second year manager Ernie Young seems to be expecting a new look to this years West Michigan lineup. He’s been in Lakeland, FL keeping an eye on the prospects there, getting an idea of who might be on the 2012 roster, and get a game plan. He told Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com:
“Each manager for each ball club wants to see what the players can or can’t do. We have to see for ourselves so we can make them better and going in the right direction.”
Based on age and experience, we might see players like catchers Patrick Leyland (son of Tigers manager Jim Leyland) and James McCann. McCann was Detroit’s second round draft pick in 2011 who played five games with the Whitecaps last season. Another possibility is Melvin Mercedes, a relief pitcher who spent most of last season in short season Connecticut. That’s just a great baseball name, period. Young compared last seasons roster to this years possibilities:
‘I had a really young team and we had a lot of growing pains the first part of the year, and I knew that was going to happen. I kept telling the guys to keep battling because we would be better on Sept. 7 than on April 7. And sure enough, we were. Every year is a different year. I’m sure this group of Whitecaps will probably be a little older than the team I had last year. But still, we’re going to learn to play baseball the Tiger way and that’s the key-them going out there and getting better and learning from their mistakes throughout the season to make ourselves better by the end of the season.”
Last season the Whitecaps were 70-69 overall (32-37 first half, 38-32 second half), good for fifth overall in the Midwest League, but missed the playoffs by just one game. Young will be joined again this season by pitching coach Mark Johnson. The new hitting coach will be Scotty Dwyer who moved up from short season Connecticut. The Tigers break camp on Sunday, April 1st, and the players will be assigned. Not much of a turnaround, as the ‘Caps begin their season on the road in Dayton April 5, with the home opener slated for April 9th hosting Bowling Green.
Fans will be able to get their first look at the 2012 Whitecaps on Tuesday, April 3rd at Fifth Third Ballpark. The club will hold an open practice from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. After their workout, the team will be on the concourse to sign autographs for fans. This will also be a chance to showboat the new scoreboard and high-resolution video board at Fifth Third. The start of the Minor League season seems sooner than usual, as they’ve started about a week later than their MLB counterparts in the past. It doesn’t look like they’ll have an exhibition game against Grand Valley State this season, either. It will feel good to get the season going, though.
Photo property of M.I.B.