Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
As someone that has made a hobby out of visiting baseball stadiums over the years, you can't go wrong visiting any of the stadiums in the farm system, and I'd recommend getting to all of them at some point. But if I had to pick just one for this season, I'd have to go with Toledo. Fifth Third Field, built right around the same time as Comerica Park in Detroit, was constructed with a very similar feel in a similar location. Situated in downtown Toledo, it's surrounded by a variety of bars and restaurants for a pregame or postgame meal. My personal recommendation is Fricker's, which overlooks the stadium from beyond the right field wall. The stadium offers all of the modern amenities that one wants from a stadium, with the ability to take a stroll around the entire park, stopping in the outfield for a stop at a picnic table. In addition, the Mud Hens lineup features a number of the Tigers top prospects, including slugger Steven Moya, defensive whiz Dixon Machado, and starting pitcher Buck Farmer, in addition to minor league home run king Mike Hessman. And being only an hour away from Detroit, it's an easy trek for those in metro Detroit.
James Chipman, Senior Correspondent
As much as I love the other affiliates, West Michigan is without question my favorite ballpark to visit. This year's Whitecaps squad is absolutely loaded with prospects, making the 'Caps an easy recommendation. The outfield trio of top prospect Derek Hill, Michael Gerber and Ross Kivett are reason enough to head to Comstock Park. As are, catcher Shane Zeile and third-basemen Joey Pankake and Zach Shepherd. West Michigan's stable of arms, including Spencer Turnbull, Johan Belisario, Joe Jimenez and Artie Lewicki are all intriguing pitching prospects worthy of keeping an eye on as well. Furthermore, beyond the baseball, the food and craft beer, both at the park and in the surrounding area is undoubtedly 80-grade elite status, making West Michigan a must visit Tigers affiliate this summer.
Neil Weinberg, Senior Analyst
The nice thing about the Tigers system is you can get to one of their Single A teams, their Double A affiliate, and their Triple A club pretty easily from the heart of the team's territory. If you only have a chance to see one, this year it's probably the Mud Hens in my hometown of Toledo. The Hens feature the best pitching prospect in the system (Buck Farmer) and the best best position player who is anywhere close to major league ready (Steven Moya). Moya's power is probably enough of a drawn, but you can also look in on Daniel Fields and Tyler Collins while getting a peek at Dixon Machado's glove work. This is all without acknowledging Mike Hessman, who is worthy of attention even if he's not worthy of big league looks.
Chris Brown, Staff Writer
I'm not 100% qualified to answer this because I've never seen a game in Erie or Connecticut, and I've only watched spring training games in Lakeland. So for me it comes down to the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Toledo Mud Hens, and it's a difficult decision. Both offer terrific stadium experiences, with inexpensive tickets, great dining and drinking selections, and plenty of attractions and events between innings. The 2015 incarnations of both teams also happen to be the most prospect-laden squads in the system, will Derek Hill, Michael Gerber, Zach Shepherd, Joey Pankake, Joe Jimenez, and Spencer Turnbull playing for West Michigan, and Dixon Machado, Daniel Fields, Steven Moya, and Buck Farmer all suiting up in Toledo. You can't really lose with either team, but if forced to pick, I'd go with the Mud Hens over the Whitecaps, simply because the quality of baseball is better in AAA than in Low-A.
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