LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The sound of gloves popping returned to Jackson Field on Sunday. The Lansing Lugnuts arrived in town on Saturday to prepare for Friday’s official Opening Day with the Lake County Captains.
The Lugnuts begin the season unofficially on Wednesday against Michigan State’s baseball team in the ‘Crosstown Showdown.’
“It’s good to be back,” Lugnuts pitcher and former Michigan standout Jeff Criswell said. “Obviously, I’m from Portage, so it’s nice to be back in the Mitten and be back with some guys I played with last year.”
The Opening Day roster features five of the Oakland Athletics’ top-30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Headlining those guys is A’s top-overall prospect Tyler Soderstrom. An oblique injury sidelined Soderstrom late last season, but it wasn’t before he got to play with the game’s top prospects in the ‘Futures Game.’
“I did everything I wanted to do. Hit really well, caught really well. So, I’d just like to carry that over to this season. Keep getting at-bats, keep getting reps and just keep developing,” Soderstrom said.
“Tyler is an extremely gifted athlete,” First-year manager Phil Pohl said. “I’m excited to work with him. I’m glad he’s here. Selfishly, we’d like to have him, as a fan base and everybody, but hopefully he can move up the ladder quickly.”
That development should come in a hurry, considering Pohl spent the past six seasons as a bullpen catcher for the A’s.
“Just him being a father, he’s done it before and he’s seen the whole field from behind the plate and knows what he’s doing. So, he’s going to lead us to some good wins,” Soderstrom said in regards to his excitement about playing for Pohl.
“I was a sponge the last six years,” Pohl said. “So, the takeaways from both the players and the staff, hopefully, I can implement a lot of those philosophies and ideas here at our High-A club.”