Lots To Smile About In Gulf Coast season

In the end it was the opposing team in a delirious pile at the center if the field. And for the second straight year, too. Last year it was the Red Sox, this time the Yankees who left a drawn look on the face of Gulf Coast Dodger Manager Juan Bustabad's face.

But that defeat in the finale of the three-game championship series shouldn't detract from the kind of season this team had- really the most successful of any Dodger farm team. They went 40-15, the best record in the league, were impressive throughout and, most importantly, nurtured a lot of good-looking prospects along the way.

Bustabad credited the offense with much of the success and it was ever present. They had the league's number one hitter- left fielder Alfredo Silverio, a Dominican export who led the league in batting (.373) and runs batted in (46). For that matter, they had the No. 2 man in RBI, rookie third baseman Pedro Baez, another Dominican, who drove in 39 while hitting .274.

Fourth-round draft pick Andrew Lambo, who played right field, was a marvel, hitting .343 with five homers. Yossandy Garcia who alternated at second base, drilled eight homers. Catcher Keyter Collado hit .305 and displayed a strong arm while outfielder Amaury Guzman, still another Dominican, hit .310 in a limited role.

The pitching could hardly be ignored, either. The one victory they managed over the Yankees was a 5-0 blanking in which first-round draft pick Chris Withrow and sixth-rounder Justin Miller stifled a very good hitting team. Withrow, who had been used very cautiously throughout, only went two innings but displayed a fast ball clocked at 98 mph while doing so. Miller held the Yanks down the rest of the way.

Withrow only got in nine innings during the regular season, going 0-0, 5.00 with 13 strikeouts. Miller, who had to nurse an arm injury suffered in college before getting to competitive strength, was 2-1, 3.57.

Kyle Smit was the pitching mainstay in the first part of the season with a 4-0, 2.82 mark but he was moved up to Great Lakes. Righthander Daigaro Rondon took over with a 7-2, 2.77 record. Lefthander Jonathan Dutton came on very well as the season progressed, finishing 5-2, 3.28. Righthander Eric Thompson started well, then seemed to hit a wall, winding up with a 2-2, 4.47 record.

Mexican rookie Edwin Contreras was 3-1, 3.30 while second-round draft choice Michael Watt was 0-0, 3.00. Seventh-rounder Danny Danielson posted a 1-1, 3.48 mark.

Middle relief featured Luis Garcia (3-0, 3.55) and Ramon Parades (2-0, 4.50) Eduardo Perez (2-3, 4.34 with four saves) was the closer at the beginning but Brandon Tuten, an undrafted free agent, came on to take over those chores at the end, finishing 2-0, 2.08 with two saves.

In all there was a lot to be pleased about in every aspect save that final game.

Team Leaders:

Average- Silverio .373
Home Runs- Yossandy Garcia 8
RBI- Silverio 46
Stolen Bases- Joe Becker 10
Innings- Rondon 65
Wins- Rondon 7
ERA- Rondon 2.77
Strikeouts- Rondon 59
Saves- Perez 4

Biggest Surprise-
Becker, an undrafted free agent who proved to be an excellent leadoff man and extremely steady at short.
Biggest Disappointment- There weren't many but probably center fielder Lyndon Poole, a speedster who never got untracked at the plate, hitting only .205.