PBN Awards: GCL Player and Pitcher of the Year

The GCL Phillies finished with a 24-27 record and failed to reach the Gulf Coast League playoffs. There were some surprise performances among the young guys though and PhillyBaseballNews.com starts our post-season awards with a look at the Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year for the GCL Phillies.

GCL Phillies Player of the Year: Cooper Osteen

Cooper Osteen wasn't supposed to put up the type of numbers that he did in the Gulf Coast League. After all, Osteen put up good, solid numbers at the University of Mississippi, but he wasn't exactly an offensive standout. In his final season at Ole Miss, he hit .317, following up a .293 performance in 2004. If those numbers were accomplished in the minors, they would be stronger than they are coming from a college player. Overall though, Stuart Lake, Osteen's hitting coach at Mississippi saw improvement in Osteen. "He really started to show something this past season and he certainly has potential to be a decent offensive player at any level," believes Lake.

You can make the argument that because of his college experience at a big-time college baseball program, Osteen should have been at Batavia this summer and was a little more experienced than most for the Gulf Coast League. That may be true, but there were certainly no guarantees on how Osteen would adapt to the wood bat, plus, there are a number of bigger name prospects that sort of blocked him from playing at Batavia. Osteen made the most of his stint in the GCL and put up numbers that led the team in a host of offensive categories. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. This summer, Osteen started by not only being in the GCL instead of at Batavia, but wasn't generally starting games. Instead, he would come in late in the game and get an at bat here and there. As the Phillies brass noticed how versatile he was and how well he was playing, he saw more and more playing time and made the most of it.

Coming into next season, Osteen will still have road blocks in front of him, but he has somewhat of an ace in the hole. Because he can play both middle infield spots, third base and even help out in the outfield, Osteen can find at bats by being versatile. That versatility will likely serve him very well as he attempts to climb the ladder in the organization. There's no guarantee that Osteen will be assigned to Lakewood next season and if the New York - Penn League becomes a full-season league as has been proposed, then the Phillies may be content with sending him to Batavia. Several fans and scouts believe that he could handle Lakewood next season though and it will be interesting to watch where the Phillies place him.

Cooper Osteen's 2005 Stats

1 15 .362 35 105 17 38 7 2 11 14 9 .446

GCL Phillies Pitcher of the Year: Edgar Garcia

You can tell how much a club thinks of a young prospect by who they surround him with. Almost since the time he's arrived in the states, the Phillies have surrounded Edgar Garcia with plenty of their top coaches all working to mold him into the pitcher that they believe he will be down the road. The tutoring continues and Garcia has shown signs of being able to dominate in the near future. He's had some tough spots, but then again, he's still three weeks away from turning 18, so nobody expects perfection.

Edgar Garcia is just 17 years old, but showed a lot of progress in his first professional season. He led the GCL Phillies in IP (55.2), Wins (4) and Games Started (10). Garcia has quickly become one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.

The Phillies haven't always done so well with their Latin American scouting efforts, but Garcia could change all of that. There were a handful of other teams - including Boston and the Yankees - pursuing Garcia, but the Phillies were able to win the Garcia Derby and ink him to a deal. In his first pro season, he showed what all the fuss was about. Throughout the season, Garcia's weakest pitch, the change-up, continued to get better. His curveball froze young hitters and with a fastball that he sometimes ushers to the plate in the mid-90 mph range, he's got all of the tools to be a top of the rotation pitcher. He rarely shows his young age and generally acts older and certainly very mature on the mound although he will give in to youth and get flustered on occasion. Again, not unexpected.

For his first season in a pro league, Garcia did everything the Phillies asked of him and more. Like Osteen, it will be interesting to see where the Phillies place Garcia next spring. He too is one of the players who will likely start at Batavia if the New York - Penn League goes to a full-season schedule as is rumored. There are many scouts who believe Garcia is ready for Lakewood and that the Phillies can move him along with little concerns. Some believe that after a full season at Lakewood, Garcia will explode and jump quickly up the ranks. Others believe that a slower, more cautious approach will be best. Only time will tell on that.

Edgar Garcia's 2005 Stats

4 4 3.56 0 10 10 55.2 63 26 22 13 42 4

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