PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Detroit Tigers have shuffled their development system, putting the West Michigan Whitecaps higher up on the food chain.
The Whitecaps are now an Advanced A team, one rank higher than their previous Single A rating. That puts them third in a set of four stops before a player could make it to Comerica Park.
“…West Michigan will see a higher level of baseball talent which translates to the opportunity to see more Detroit Tigers prospects, along with Midwest League rival prospects, and more fun for the fans!” Whitecaps CEO Joe Chamberlin explained a Wednesday statement, also saying his team was “thrilled” by the change.
The Whitecaps had been Single A for 24 seasons. It appears most of the teams in the Midwest League, in which the Whitecaps play, is moving to High-A or Advanced A ball.
Chamberlin noted the promotion does not mean ticket prices at Fifth Third Ballpark will automatically increase; rather, any changes would be based on business costs.
“We’re grateful for the strong relationship and partnership we have enjoyed with the Tigers for more than 24 seasons,” Chamberlin continued. “Our mission here remains intact. Bringing fun, community, and experiences to West Michigan. Affordable, family entertainment is our job, and we are focused on bringing fans the best season yet in 2021 with a new level of baseball!”
The Whitecaps switched places in the Tigers’ development structure with the Lakeland (Fla.) Flying Tigers. The Flying Tigers, previously Advanced A, are now Single A. Then comes the Whitecaps, then the Erie SeaWolves at Double A and the Toledo Mud Hens at Triple A. After that is the MLB.
“Moving the Whitecaps to be our Advanced A affiliate will improve our organization’s efficiency in significant ways, including having our High A and Double A affiliates closer to each other, while putting our Single A and Rookie League teams at the same world class complex in Lakeland,” Tigers Vice President of Player Development Dave Littlefield said in a statement.
The Tigers also have a rookie club in the Dominican Republic.
The Lansing Lugnuts, meanwhile, are no longer affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays and are instead part of the Oakland Athletics’ development system.