Having recently took a look at the potential starting rotation for the Whitecaps, I didn’t want to take too long before I got to the rest of the team. Projecting rosters is always difficult, but a little fun as well, and should be interesting to see in particular who gets their first shot a full season baseball this year. I will go through these by projecting the starters at each spot, and then add some names as reserves.
1st Base- James Robbins
Robbins would actually be a repeat of this level, and part of that is because he will still only be 21 years old in 2012. The Tigers will likely give priority to their older 3rd round pick from last season at 1B in Aaron Westlake and push him to Lakeland, after all he is 23 already. Robbins could potentially still join Westlake in Lakeland as a DH/1B tandem, but I think that goes to Clay Jones.
2nd base- Javier Azcona
Azcona has played SS and 3B for the Tigers organization and could very well do so for the Whitecaps, however, that will likely depend on the health of some other guys. He may be put at 3B or SS though depending on what the organization wants to do. Either way, Azcona is likely to be a starter at one of the infield positions for the Whitecaps.
Shortstop- Eugenio Suarez
I chose Suarez to be the starting SS for the ‘Caps because he is a better defender than Azcona at the position. It may very well be that Suarez plays 2nd and Azcona SS, but it doesn’t matter much, both guys will likely be in the lineup.
3rd base- Jason King
King is the guy that has some injury issues (ACL) and may or may not start the season here. He will definitely be the 3rd baseman for the Whitecaps if he is ready to go though. Depending on how well he recovers, King does offer some athleticism and some pop, and should be one of the team’s leaders.
Moya is a big RF that should see a repeat of West Michigan in 2012. He is still just 20 years old but has quite a bit of power potential. He is likely to see every day at-bats as the organization likes him quite a bit.
Wright is a CF that could be a good glue guy and organizational soldier going forward. He should provide on base ability at the top of the Whitecaps order, maybe some steals and some solid defense as well.
Vasquez is likely the one that everyone is going to want to follow. He is a big 7 figure bonus baby the Tigers brought over last year as a 17 year old. He held his own and could very well get a crack at West Michigan to start the year. There is potential they hold him back in extended spring training, but right now I have the other candidate Tyler Collins leapfrogging West Michigan and going to Lakeland with Luis Castillo.
Catcher- James McCann
I wanted to push McCann on to Lakeland because of his status as a higher draft pick, and therefore, he is likely to have some priority. However, there is becoming somewhat of a glut of catching in the organization, and I see Rob Brantly getting the starters time at Lakeland to start the season. McCann will likely get pushed to Lakeland at some point though, so if you want to see him, catch him early.
Designated Hitter- Dean Green
This one is a no-brainer. Green can mash, and has difficulty playing defensively. He is all bat, and I suspect that he will have a good offensive season.
This is an interesting roster, especially if Vasquez makes the squad. There is some potential at the top of the order with Wright and Suarez, and the middle of King, Green, Robbins, and Moya could be interesting. I would assume Vasquez would be at the bottom of the order to alleviate any pressure on the young man, or if King isn’t starting the season, they could put him at the top just to get him more at-bats. If King doesn’t start the season, that could mean a potential starting SS spot for Brandon Loy at West Michigan and push Azcona to 3B, assuming priority guy Dixon Machado gets moved up to Lakeland. Machado could potentially repeat West Michigan and the Tigers could push Loy to Lakeland as a starter as well.
I decided against projecting the relief staff, because that is simply a crapshoot, though I will say that I expect that Melvin Mercedes will be the West Michigan closer.
Also, if interested in scouting reports on some of these guys, you can enter their name in the search function in the upper right hand corner of this site, and all the articles will come up that include their name. A lot of the guys have had something written about them that goes more in depth.