2011 GCL Tigers Season Recap

Led by returning manager Basilio Cabrera, pitching coach Greg Sabat, and new hitting coach Mike Rabelo, the GCL Tigers finished just one win short of the vaunted .500 mark for the season. They ended their year with a 29-31 mark good for third in the North Division and seventh overall in the 15 team league.

The offense had many ups and downs throughout the year but finished in the middle of the pack with an average of 4.35 runs per game and a .247 team batting average.

Slugging first baseman Juaner Aguasvivas was the big offensive force throughout the summer, hitting a robust .315/.364/.567 on the year with nine doubles, three triples and ten home runs. He paced the team in RBI with 37.

Though his .272/.306/.350 line doesn't blow anyone away, outfielder Danry Vasquez was the team's most acclaimed prospect, all as just one of eleven 17-year old position players in the entire league. Power wasn't a big part of Vasquez's game in 2011, but he did finish second on the club with 30 runs driven in, and also only struck out 34 times in 54 games.

"That guy has a chance to be a serious player," said an NL scout. "He can flat out hit and he's not afraid of anything. If he grows into the body he could be a classic right fielder."

Reviews like that were nothing short of the norm for Vasquez in his debut professional season.

Brandon Eckerle, a standout from Michigan State University, was another strong performer for the GCL Tigers. He hit .355 for the summer with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts and 18 stolen bases in 22 attempts. Despite his rousing success on the field, the 22-year old Eckerle has decided to hang up his cleats and pursue a law degree instead.

Several other players stood out for the Tigers in limited game action, including infielders Luis Cortez and Eugenio Suarez and catcher Gabriel Purroy.

Late in the year the club received an infusion of top offensive talent from the 2011 draft as outfielder Tyler Gibons (4 games), third baseman Brett Harrison (6 games) and shortstop Brandon Loy (5 games) all made their pro debuts with the team.

On the mound the Tigers featured several players that started to make a name for themselves this summer, headlined by fire balling right-hander Brenny Paulino.

"He can really dial it up when he wants to," said one opposing coach. "He showed an electric fastball that was nearly unhittable at times."

For the year Paulino posted a 2.36 ERA in 45 2/3 innings, allowing just 34 hits and striking out 45 while walking 18. He was one of the most dominating young pitchers in the league and he has vaulted himself up the Tigers prospect list.

Also showing well in the GCL this year were young Latin American arms like Endrys Briceno and Edgar De La Rosa. Briceno's 5.34 ERA in 59 innings doesn't tell the whole story as he showed a promising fastball and the ability to spin a breaking ball. As a 19-year old, many observers were left impressed with his overall projection.

De La Rosa posted solid results with a 3.19 ERA in twelve starts, tossing a team high 67 2/3 innings of quality baseball.

Also tossing plenty of innings was 19-year old left-hander Jack Duffey who used his excellent pitchability for a young player to post a 3.81 ERA in eleven starts and finish tied for fourth in the league with five victories.

Out of the bullpen the Tigers had a couple of high powered arms that stood out. Left-hander Bill Castillo finished with a 2.51 ERA in 18 appearances, while right-hander Montreal Robertson posted a 2.73 ERA as the team's closer, notching nine saves.

"I wasn't expecting much and then all of a sudden my gun was reading 95, 96, 95," said an NL scout. "That Robertson kid made me sit up and pay attention for a minute. There's a ton of effort there but he can bring it."

While the Tigers didn't post a sparkling record in 2011, the club displayed some of the most talent it has had in recent years. All around the diamond and on the mound, the 2011 edition of the GCL Tigers may boast a few big leaguers down the line and should give some optimism to Tiger fans looking way down the minor league ladder.

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