It wasn't a great for in Oneonta, on the other hand, it wasn't bad either. The team bounced around the .500 mark for most of the season, until a late season skid dropped them to their finishing point at 33-41.
Many were excited for the debut of 3B Wilkin Ramirez for Oneonta – one of the most exciting young players in the entire system. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury sidelined him for the entire season, pushing his A-ball debut back a season until 2005.
Luckily, his replacement at the hot corner was more than adequate, as Juan Llamas stepped in and led the club in virtually every major hitting category – carrying a .303 average with 7 Home Runs and 55 RBI. Don't get too excited though, Llamas is a 24-year old minor league veteran, with little status prospect-wise.
That doesn't mean the lineup was completely without prospects. The club carried 4 catchers for much of the year, but one emerged as heads and shoulders above the rest; Dusty Ryan. The 20-year old Ryan, in his first taste of professional baseball, hit .274 with 4 Home Runs and 26 RBI. He also displayed excellent patience at the plate, walking 24 times with just 157 at bats.
The other prospect many were excited for only made a short appearance with the club, before a broken arm ended his season prematurely. OF Jeff Frazier had just been selected by the Tigers in the third round of the amateur draft this past June, and displayed excellent tools at the plate. In 79 at bats, Frazier hit .304 with a Home Run and 13 RBI.
Among other notables at the plate, OF Bo Flowers hit .280, while infielder Brooks Colvin showed some patience at the plate (21 walks) as well as some speed on the basepaths (10 stolen bases).
On the other side, a number of starting pitchers had mediocre seasons – largely a reason why the team put up a mediocre record. Starting Pitchers, Josh Rainwater, Josh Kauten and Lavon Lewis all spent the season with Oneonta, but the trio only combined for 3 wins, with only Kauten posting an ERA below 4 (3.92).
One exception to that was Nate Bumstead – who had a monster year for Oneonta after just being drafted out Louisiana State. Bumstead doesn't throw real hard, but that didn't stop him from compiling a 3-1 record while sporting a 2.03 ERA. Bumstead also led the club with 75 strikeouts, amassing that total in just 57 and 2/3 innings.
All in all, it's hard to say a ton about this ballclub. The results certainly didn't materialize on the field – while the two most heralded prospects made either limited (Frazier) or no (Ramirez) appearance. But a couple of diamonds in the rough, so to speak, appeared in Ryan and Bumstead that will be interesting to watch progress as they move up the ladder.
As for the 2005 O-Tigers, it's always hard to tell who will appear, as often times the roster is partially filled with draft picks that won't come until the amateur draft this upcoming summer. However, it's likely that Ramirez will finally make it to Oneonta, and there are a number of young, promising arms that spent the season with the Rookie GCL Tigers that could move up to Oneonta in '05.
Plus, you never know when you might find a couple more diamonds in the rough. So 2005 has no guarantees, but stay tuned, because you never know when the next big thing will fall at your doorstep.