Detroit Tigers: Watching the Whitecaps is Worthwhile

Aug 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers hat and glove in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers hat and glove in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Tigers Single-A team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, is a team worth watching. The team is full of young players who had a great game against the Dayton Dragons, the Cincinnati Reds Single-A affiliate.

Fifth Third Ballpark rests on the north side of Grand Rapids, Michigan along the Grand River. The Whitecaps have played in this park since the inaugural year in 1994. The park has been a popular destination for families, friends, lovers, businesses, and organizations ever since the first pitch was thrown.

My family and I decided to take a break from watching baseball on TV, so we took the 15-minute drive to the park. We usually go to at least one game each year, but after our experience tonight, we will definitely venture to watch more live baseball in our hometown. The Whitecaps did not disappoint. The park was enjoyable, too.

To begin with, the tickets are incredibly affordable. We sat in the reserved seats, which are bleacher seats with backs. They are $11.50 each. Box seats are $15 and $13. Lawn seats are $7. Next time we go, we will probably sit in the section called “4Topps” – for $100, you get four seats and a table. All of the seats have unobstructed views and the protective netting goes from the outside edges of each dugout.

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I was hoping to see Beau Burrows pitch, but it wasn’t his day. Instead, I got to see Matt Hall, who has a respectable 1.10 ERA and Trent Szkutnik who has an ERA around 3.18. The pair only allowed one run during the game.

The Whitecaps had 16 hits and scored 8 runs. The top hitters of the day were

Derek Hill

who went 2-for-4 with a strikeout and a walk. It is easy to see why he is one of the top three prospects for the Tigers. He caught everything that came his way in centerfield, even if he had to run it down. The shortstop,

David Gonzalez

, also had a remarkable day. He went 3-for-3 at the plate and he made a highlight-worthy diving catch on a ball that even

Jose Iglesias

might have had trouble with.

Shane Zeile

, the catcher, also had a great day, going 4-for-5.

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Only two players went hitless for the Whitecaps. The third baseman, Josh Lester (no relation to John Lester), and the left fielder, Cam Gibson (the son of retired Detroit Tigers star Kirk Gibson), went 3-0 and 5-0. Lester currently has a batting average of .133 and Gibson’s is .213. Lester did score a run after getting on base with a walk, but Gibson never made it. Gibson did hit a foul ball in his last at-bat and my son happened to catch it.

The young Gibson is smaller than his father, but there were some similarities between the two generations. Both Kirk and Cam bat left. They also both start their at bats by holding the bats out in front of the plate before grasping it with both hands and getting ready to load. Watching the young Gibson do the same thing his dad did before knocking in so many home runs was a flashback to greatness. Unfortunately, the young Gibson did not perform as well as his dad did. But, he is all of 22 years old and has plenty of time to improve.

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Even though these young men were not on the World Series championship 2015 Whitecaps team, they played well and were worth the price of admission.