Whitecaps start 2024 with many new beginnings

Whitecaps start 2024 with many new beginnings

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Things will be a little different this season at LMCU Ballpark for both the Whitecaps team and the facility itself.

The locker rooms, concourse and workout facilities are all among what will be upgraded as the season moves along. For now, when you pull into the ballpack, there is plenty of construction still being done.

With the improvements being made, the players and staff already love what they are seeing.

“They are already sweet,” Whitecaps infielder Izaac Pacheco said. “This place was already awesome so it’s really cool to walk in and see new things.”

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LMCU Ballpark's new locker room. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
LMCU Ballpark’s new locker room. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
LMCU Ballpark's new kitchen. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
LMCU Ballpark’s new kitchen. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

The walls will also be moved in next season due to the Minor League Baseball’s rule changes for ballpark regulations. Pacheco is also excited for that, understandably, as a hitter.

“The walls are way too far out right now,” Pacheco said with a laugh.

Many of the roster members will be new to the ballpark in general. The Whitecaps team consists of five of the Detroit Tigers top 30 prospects according to the MLB pipeline, including three second-round picks from previous drafts.

They all play on the infield: Pacheco (2021 draft) who spent last season with the Whitecaps, Peyton Graham (2022 draft) and Max Anderson (2023 draft). Anderson is ranked the highest in the Tigers’ system as the No. 17 prospect, followed by Pacheco (No. 29) and Graham (No. 30).

Anderson is looking to get his career going in West Michigan after spending last season in Lakeland where he hit .289 with a .790 on-base plus slugging (OPS) over 32 games.

The West Michigan Whitecaps. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
The West Michigan Whitecaps. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
The West Michigan Whitecaps. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
The West Michigan Whitecaps. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
The West Michigan Whitecaps. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
The West Michigan Whitecaps. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

“It’s kind of crazy, you don’t really know what to expect moving up at every level,” Anderson said. “You kind of just have to go with the flow. You quickly learn in baseball, especially in the minor leagues you just have to play and not look to the next day. Kind of stay where your feet are and just worry about that day.”

The other two players ranked in the top 25 are pitcher Dylan Smith (No. 24) and outfielder Roberto Campos. Both have spent time with the Whitecaps in previous seasons.

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Outside of Pacheco, Smith and Campos, the Whitecaps return left-hander Carlos Pena, who had a great run with the Whitecaps in 2023. Pena won the Midwest League ERA title with a 3.11 and held hitters to just a .235 average. He also struck out 107 batters, which was good for third in the MiLB.

Other pitchers coming back to West Michigan from 2023 include Garrett Burhenn, Trevin Michael and Gabe Sequeria. For position players, infielder Danny Serretti, catcher Josh Crouch and outfielder Seth Stephenson are coming back to LMCU ballpark.

Here is a list of the Whitecaps Opening Day roster for 2024.

Catchers: Archer Brookman, Colin Burgess, Josh Crouch, Jose Sibrian

Infielders: Max Anderson, Abel Bastidas, Luke Gold, Peyton Graham, Andrew Jenkins, Carlos Mendoza, Izaac Pacheco, Danny Serretti

Outfielders: Roberto Campos, Seth Stephenson, Cole Turney

Pitchers: Max Alba, Michael Bienlein, Garrett Burhenn, Carlos De Los Santos, Colin Fields, Aaron Haase, Jaden Hamm, Zach Hess, Connor Holden, Marco Jimenez, Tanner Kohlhepp, Carlos Marcano, Jordan Marks, Matt Merrill, Trevin Michael, Carlos Pena, Erick Pinales, Angel Reyes, Gabe Sequeria, Dylan Smith

Manager: Tony Cappuccilli

Coaches: Dan Ricabal, Collin Murray, Fransico Contreras

Cappuccilli will be in his first season managing the Whitecaps. He takes over for Brayan Pena, who spent three seasons as the manager for West Michigan. Pena is now the Detroit Tigers Minor League Catching coordinator.

Whitecaps manager Tony Cappuccilli. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)
Whitecaps manager Tony Cappuccilli. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

As the 15th manager in the franchise’s history, Cappuccilli brings plenty of experience in coaching to West Michigan. He spent the past two seasons as the bench coach for the Tigers Triple-A affiliate Toledo MudHens.

“Most of (the Whitecaps players) I didn’t get to see much of last year because I was in Toledo,” Cappuccilli said. “This year, it’s good getting to spend more time with them other than just in passing. I want to really focus on our development and day-to-day work. Not necessarily reacting to bad things that happen in games, but using the season overall to become better baseball players.”

The Huntington Beach, California native has a mix of old and new on his coaching staff for 2024. Ricabal returns as the pitching coach from last season. Contreras, who was an infielder on the Whitecaps in 2015 when they won Midwest League Championship, joins as the hitting coach. Murray is also new to the staff as a pitching coach.

The Whitecaps open the 2024 season on the road Friday, April 5 at Lake County for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch. The home opener will be Tuesday, April 9 at 6:35 p.m. against the Quad Cities River Bandits.

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