COMSTOCK PARK, MI (JANUARY 9, 2023) – West Michigan Whitecaps manager Brayan Peña is headed back to LMCU Ballpark, returning for his third season at the helm in 2023 with a blend of new and familiar faces within his coaching staff as part of a move announced in conjunction with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
The former Detroit Tigers catcher and 14th manager in Whitecaps history led his team to a 72-59 record in his second season – a 14-win improvement from his first year in 2021. The second half was especially strong for West Michigan – posting a 41-24 mark in the latter portion of the year. West Michigan posted one of the best offenses in the Midwest League, ranking within the Top-3 in virtually every offensive category, while their pitching staff tied for the league lead in shutouts with 13.
“I love the Whitecaps and what we represent,” said Peña. “I’m very thankful to God and the Tigers organization for blessing me with a chance to come back and stay home in West Michigan!”
“You want to play for a manager like Brayan Peña,” said Whitecaps Vice President and General Manager Jim Jarecki. “Brayan brings passion and enthusiasm to the ballpark daily and always dedicates his time to those in the clubhouse.”
Peña’s reassignment to the ‘Caps comes alongside a return for a former player, as Francisco Contreras takes over as hitting coach. Contreras played parts of two seasons in a utility role, and was a vital piece of the 2015 Midwest League Championship team. The 31-year-old hit .294 with a home run and six RBI in the 2015 postseason to help the ‘Caps to their last league title. Contreras served as the hitting coach for the Lakeland Flying Tigers in 2022.
Contreras joins a group of new faces to West Michigan, including pitching coach Dan Ricabal, and development coach Tim Garland, while athletic trainer Sean McFarland returns for his second season in 2023. The remainder of the coaching staff will be announced at a later date.
“My passion is to help our young players to be successful,” said Peña. “Their success tomorrow depends on our support today.”
Ricabal spent 2022 managing the pitching staff of the Double-A Erie Seawolves to the best record in their division at 80-58. His pitchers compiled the second-best ERA in the Eastern League at 3.79, finishing second in the league in strikeouts. Ricabal’s previous stops include time as a Pitching Coach at his alma mater and perennial…