John Vander Wal brings big league experience to Whitecaps dugout

Posted at 11:32 PM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 23:32:05-04

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich -- John Vander Wal is happy to be working in West Michigan.

"I've always loved the Whitecaps when I was scouting here" John Vander Wal, a Hudsonville native, said .  "Then I got the opportunity to coach for the Tigers, now this is what I do, I am here 70 games a year and I get to sleep in my own bed, it's nice."

Vander Wal played 14 seasons in the majors and was one of the best pinch hitters the game have ever seen.

He remembers his days in the minor leagues and says that not much has changed.

"It's the same" Vander Wal added.  "It's like groundhog day when I came back from when I was in the minor leagues in the 90's everything is virtually the same, the trainer does everything, he's the traveling secretary and the trainer, so."

One difference in baseball today is the use of analytics.

"We have all this baseball technology that all the clubs are using" Vander Wal said.  "That is probably the biggest difference now is to implement all this technology and to get the data and help get the data to the players so that they can succeed."

It's something that Vander Wal had no trouble adapting to.

"I'm kind of a computer geek anyways" Vander Wal said.  "I have always kind of been there even when I got out of baseball, the filming, the different technical stuff that has come out I was using on my young kid when we were doing travel ball so I love this, I love the technical side of it but it is just now that there is so much and there is so much data now you got find out what data really means something because they have data for everything now. So now you got to find out what it actually means and be able to implement it on the field."

While the Whitecaps roster is currently made up of several high draft picks from last months draft, Vander Wal says that doesn't impact the way he does his job very much.

"There is always where you are drafted and that comes into play" Vander Wal said.  "But where I get them and the hitting aspect I really don't (worry about where they are drafted). I try to see what they can do, what their strengths and weaknesses are and I try to help them through that and to get them to where they can be successful here."

The Whitecaps return to Fifth Third Ballpark on Wednesday to open up a six-game home stand.