Loons ready to defend 2016 championship with home series against Lansing

The Loons have a lot on the schedule this year, including hosting the second Midwest League All Star game in franchise history.....

Posted In: Sports, Great Lakes Loons,   By: Jason Marcoux

25th March, 2017     0

The Great Lakes Loons will initiate the defense of its 2016 Midwest League Championship when it kicks off the 2017 MWL season with a four game home-and-home series against the Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays) with the opener set for 6:05 pm Thursday Apr. 6, at Dow Diamond in Midland, MI.
 
The Loons' opening day celebration will begin with a parade marching down Main St. prior to the gates opening at Dow Diamond on Thursday afternoon.
 
Following the departure of former skipper Gil Velazquez, the 2017 team will be under the guidance of the organization's eighth different Manager in its eleventh season with 27 year old skipper Jeremy Rodriguez taking the reins.
 
Rodriguez, a native of Burbank, CA comes to the Loons after spending the last two seasons managing the San Diego Padres' Dominican Summer League team. He was drafted by the Padres in the sixteenth round of the 2011 MLB draft after four years at California State University Bakersfield.
 
Joining Rodriguez on the Loons' staff will be new hitting coach Aaron Bates and new Pitching coach Connor McGuiness, along with returning bench coach Fumimasa Ishibashi for his tenth season. 
 
Bates played in the Major Leagues for the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins in parts of two seasons before joining the Dodgers as an assistant coach for its rookie league team for the 2015 season.
 
McGuiness joins the Loons after coaching at Emory University in Atlanta, GA from 2013-15 and the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. last year.
 
With the luxury of the Dodgers having the deepest farm system in major league baseball, the Loons could benefit with the possible return of many players from the championship team roster, which included six of the Dodgers' top 30 prospects: Walker Buehler (8), Yadier Alvarez (10), Omar Estevez (19), Brendon Davis (23), Imani Abdullah (26), and Angel German (27). 
 
According to Loons' play-by-play announcer Brad Tunney's blog 'From the Nest' the team stands a good chance of another roster loaded with top prospects. 
 
Heading Tunney's list is 2016 first-round pick (20 overall) shortstop Gavin Lux, who hit .281 with an OBP of .365 and a .385 slugging percentage in 48 games in the Dodgers' 2016 Arizona rookie league.
 
Lux signed with the Dodgers for $2.317 million dollars, just $700 over the allotted slot value for his draft position. 
 
Some other players to look for on the 2017 Great Lakes roster include: Venezuelan catcher Keibert Ruiz, RHP Dustin May, 3b/ss Oneil Cruz, OF Mitch Hansen, and second baseman Brandon Montgomery to name a few.
 
The Loons have a full slate of promotions scheduled at Dow Diamond this summer, highlighted with a special two days late in the month of June. 
 
For the second time in its 11-year history, the Loons will host a mid-summer classic when it brings the 2017 Midwest League All Star game and Home Run Derby to Dow Diamond over the course of two days on Mon and Tue June, 19-20 during the mid-season break.

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