It’s almost here. The crack of a bat. The roar of the crowd. Get ready for Michigan’s minor league baseball season!
Great Lakes Loons
The Great Lakes Loons are a High-A minor league team affiliated with The Los Angeles Dodgers. They were established in 2007. Their home is Dow Diamond in Midland, less than 20 miles from Lake Huron by the Tittabawassee River.
The Dodgers rate as having the third-best farm system in Major League Baseball. Last season, 20-year-old catcher Diego Cartaya led the squad. Cartaya went on to participate in the 2022 MLB All-Star Futures Game held at Dodger Stadium.
Mid-Michigan is a hotbed for baseball. The Loons have showcased several big names on their way to the show. Among them are MLB stars Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Carlos Santana.
The club is constantly restocked with Dodgers’ prospects. Fans who follow the game know they are an elite franchise that will be competitive year in, year out.
Ex-big leaguer Daniel Nava is the Loons new manager. Nava played seven years in the bigs, mostly with the Boston Red Sox.
The Lansing Lugnuts are the Oakland Athletics’ High-A team. Jackson Field in Lansing is their home base. Their 27th season opener is Friday, April 7.
Manager Craig Conklin was promoted this year from assistant hitting coach. The club has a number of reasons to be hopeful.
The Lugnuts are a team rich in tradition. Lansing has captured two Midwest League titles. And they drew more than 250,000 fans in 2022.
In 2022, first baseman Tyler Soderstrom became a Midwest League All-Star as he hammered 20 home runs. The 2020 first-rounder ranks as the A’s best prospect.
To add, two Lugnuts batted over .300 in 2022, infielders Brett Harris and Alexander Campos.
They feature a number of new faces on staff. That includes hitting coach Ron Witmeyer and athletic trainer Eric Fasth, to name a couple.
Just last season, the Lugnuts had 56 former members playing in the majors, such as future MLB all-stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Noah Syndergaard, among others.
Diamond Baseball Holdings takes over as team owner this year, after businessman Tom Dickson made Lansing their home base in 1996.
West Michigan Whitecaps
The Whitecaps were founded in 1994. They are the High-A farm club of the Detroit Tigers.
West Michigan competes in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League. LMCU Ballpark in Comstock Park is their official home.
Skipper Brayan Pena is back this spring with a loaded team.
Right-handed pitcher Jackson Jobe is among the marquee names for West Michigan this season. Jobe was Detroit’s third overall pick in 2021’s MLB Draft, taken fresh out of high school.
It would be a rare opportunity to see one of the game’s most promising young pitchers hone his skills.
22-year-old Peyton Graham was Detroit’s second round selection in last year’s draft. The former Oklahoma Sooner is a power hitter with a cannon of an arm. He hopes to make an impact in High-A.
Detroit took second baseman Jace Jung twelfth overall in the 2022 MLB Draft. Jung was quite impressive during his time at Texas Tech. Fair to say the Tigers have high hopes for him, beginning this year with the Whitecaps.
19-year-old shortstop Cristian Santana shapes up as one of the Detroit Tigers’ top prospects. The Dominican teen is expected to land in West Michigan after a successful season with the Single-A Lakeland (FL) Flying Tigers.
Cuban-born outfielder Roberto Campos inked a 2019 deal with Detroit in international free agency. At 19 years of age, he’s growing into a good hitter. Campos hit .258 with 36 extra base hits in 2022. He’s expected to see a lot more action in West Michigan this season.
Third baseman Izaac Pacheco was the Tigers’ second-round draft pick in 2021. The 20-year-old infielder from Texas returns to West Michigan after an 18-game stint last year.
He’s a bonafide big league prospect. Pacheco is coming off his first year in the minor leagues and hopes to build on some of the success he had in 2022.
Beyond that, charity plays a major role in the organization. Charitable donations can be requested. They are made through the Whitecaps Community Foundation.
Free ballpark tours are open to schools and community groups.
The independently-owned United Shore Professional Baseball League started in 2016. All games are played at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica.
Ex-Detroit Pistons executive Andy Appleby owns the USPBA. His group General Sports and Entertainment of Rochester runs the league.
Dozens of USPBA players have been signed by MLB organizations. They view themselves as a type of finishing school, where top level college baseball players can prepare for the majors.
The USPBA features four teams. They are: the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers, Utica Unicorns and Westside Woolly Mammoths.
Michigan is full of minor league marvels.