GCL Tigers Off to Strong Start

It's no secret that this season's Gulf Coast League Tigers squad is bursting at the seams with talent. Total team effort continues to be the recipe for success, as the baby Tigers have received solid contributions from familiar faces as well as newly drafted talent. Wasting no time, stars are blossoming and the Tigers rookie league affiliate are a GCL best 16-5.

Schotts Setting the Pace

Leading the way, 18-year-old Austin Schotts has paced the GCL in several statistical categories thus far. A perfect 3-for-3 performance with two doubles and a walk on Saturday improved Schotts average up to .442 (now at .400). Schotts is also second in the GCL in OPS, sitting at 1.006. The recent third round draft pick has also accumulated five doubles, a triple, a home run and seven stolen bases. It takes just a simple glace at the young prospect to conclude that things are clicking and he's having fun in his new career.

"I actually like the speed of the game and the pitching much better at this level," said Schotts. "The coaches have loosened up my swing a bit which has allowed me to hit to right field better. I am seeing the ball well right now."

The shortstop turned outfielder has also made great strides defensively in his first month of pro-ball.

"[The move] has been really great. I still have things to learn and I do miss the fast pace of being in the infield but in the end I am just glad to be part of the team and to be playing. I am definitely living my dream."

As for the negatives of pro-ball…

"[Laughs] Getting hit by a 95 mph fastball hurts a lot more!"

Pitching On Point

Pitching has certainly been the strength of this seasons' GCL Tigers team. Their 1.15 WHIP and 3.45 ERA rank respectively at first and eighth best on the circuit. Much like their Major League Affiliate, the GCL Tigers are leading their league with an impressive 183 strikeouts over 185 innings.

As far as standouts, second round selection Jake Thompson has been a key cog in this seasons' early success. Through his first three starts, Thompson is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA. The 6' 4" right-hander has allowed just eight hits and five walks, while striking out 17 over 16 innings.

Big 6'6" right-hander Nick Carmichael has also been impressive in his first three starts. A perfect 2-0, Carmichael has allowed just one earned run while striking out 15 over 17 1/3 innings.

Taiwanese southpaw Hua-Wei Lo and swingman Chad Smith have both been pleasant surprises, counting for 43 of the Tigers strikeouts while posting solid numbers.

Recent June draftees Hudson Randall, Jordan John and Drew VerHagen have also recently been assigned, making the pitching staff all the more interesting moving forward.

Speedy Gibson Putting In Work

Despite struggling a bit in the hit department, potential five-tool prospect Tyler Gibson has done a solid job getting on base, thanks to a team high ten walks. Struggling a bit with pitch recognition, but learning, Gibson knows what needs to be done.

"Pitch recognition is a big part of the game whether it's being able to tell the difference in the spin of the ball when you're hitting or being able to anticipate a curveball in the dirt when your on base," said Gibson. "As far as my approach, I just try to hit the ball where it's pitched."

On the base paths, Gibson has used his speed to help his team and torment the opposition.

"I think being able to run plays a big role in my game. It gives me the ability to steal bases and go first to third on balls, which puts pressure on the other team."

While it's easy to scoff at Gibson's early numbers, it's also an idiotic approach to small sample size of data. There's a reason why the Tigers handed him over a half of a million dollars to sign last season. Patience is in order for both the player and the fan at this point of his career.