Whitecaps season opener on Thursday

Open practice for the West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark on April 8, 2015.


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Baseball returns to West Michigan on Thursday.

Weather permitting, the West Michigan Whitecaps will host their season opener at Fifth Third Ballpark against the Dayton Dragons.

Wednesday, the team held an open workout and autograph session at the ballpark in unincorporated Comstock Park.

Most of the players are new to the team and many are first-year pros. The roster includes seven of the Detroit Tigers’ first eight draft picks from a year ago. Among them is No. 1 pick Derek Hill.

“I just want to come out and play my game and show them what I have. Just play for the fans, truthfully, and get this place a little crazy,” Hill, an outfielder from California, said.

Manager Andrew Graham said the new players are well-aware of the team’s high standards and history of success — the Whitecaps were Midwest League champions five times between 1996 and 2007.

“They know the history. I talked to them yesterday about it,” Graham said. “Our goal is to one, develop these guys into big-league players. Their goal is to play in the big leagues, but this year, the goal is to win the championship here, too. You win the championship, that means we’re developing the players and they’re going to be big-league players down the road. So that’s our goal: Not just to make the playoffs, but to win the trophy.”

The first pitch of the season is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Thursday.

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Online:

West Michigan Whitecaps

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