The West Michigan Whitecaps announced on Thursday for the first time in franchise history, they will feature the professional debut of a player chosen first overall in the MLB Draft.
According to the MLB Pipeline, Whitecaps infielder Spencer Torkelson, is ranked as the Tigers' top prospect and the #3 prospect in Major League Baseball. Torkelson headlines the Whitecaps 2021 roster.
The Whitecaps said in a press release, 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 MLB all-time home run leader, Barry Bonds.
The Whitecaps said in a press release, 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 Oakland Athletics during the 1995 season. The highest Tigers draftee came in the form of third overall pick Eric Munson in 1999.
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.
“Seeing eight of the top 30 Tigers prospects coming to West Michigan shows how strong the Tigers minor league system has become,” Whitecaps Vice President and General Manager Jim Jarecki said in a press release. “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.
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