It wasn't a great year for the GCL Tigers, as they finished a distant 3rd in the rankings of the Northern division, coming in at 12 games under .500. Also just like the O-Tigers, the team lost one of its most promising young players, Catcher Cody Collet, for a large part of the year due to injury.
However, that doesn't mean they didn't have a single player step up.
Both 2B Stephen Young and OF Jeramy Laster had solid season's for the team. Young led the regulars in batting average, hitting at a .281 clip. Young also displayed an excellent eye at the plate, being the only member of the team to walk more than strikeout. His high walk total helped lead him to an OBP of just a point shy of a .400 OBP, often the benchmark for players deemed excellent at getting on base.
Laster didn't have the same on base percentage, and he in fact far and away led the club in strikeouts with 63. However, he also led the team in RBI with 17, and carried a .416 slugging percentage.
Collet's injury set him back, but also allowed for the emergence of Catcher Cole Miller, who thrived in Collet's absence. Miller led the club in Home Runs and slugging percentage, with 5 homers and a .431 slugging percentage. Miller's defense isn't the same caliber as that of Collet's, but his bat will certainly earn him a harder look down the road.
One final player who had a strong showing, especially to start the year, was 3B/SS Cory Middleton. A shortstop out of high school, the club moved him to Third Base to start the season, but worked him at Shortstop as well as the year progressed. Middleton needs to improve his patience, but his 4 Home Runs and 5 doubles at a young age leave many hopeful with improved patience, he'll be able to see better pitches, and turn those into better production.
On the opposite end of the clubhouse, the pitching had its highs and lows. The team had a dominant starter emerging in Jair Jurrjens, but quickly lost him to the O-Tigers and the tougher competition that they provided.
The team did receive a bit of a surprise when 2003 2nd round pick, Jay Sborz, returned for his 2nd season of action in the Gulf Coast League. Unfortunately, Sborz didn't dominate like many had hoped, showing glimpses, but continuing to struggle with his command. Sborz struck out 62 (which led the club), but walked 44 as well (which also led the club). He is one prospect where the sky remains the limit, but he'll need to start showing some more of it, soon.
Lucas French was another player that emerged as a reliable starter, converting just 1 win for the team, but sporting an ERA under 3.
One final emerging star was Dallas Trahern, who joined the team later on in the year, but seemed to pick up where the departed Jurrjuens left off, dominating opposing batters. Trahern was extremely impressive, as both his ERA (0.59) and WHIP (0.95) were under 1. Trahern was even a later draft pick than fellow diamond in the rough Nate Bumstead (Bumstead was a 32nd rounder, while Trahern didn't come off the board until round 34), but is even younger with a better ceiling.
All in all, much like the club's other short season team, there was a lot to be disappointed about, but still plenty to look forward to. A few pitchers emerged as something to look forward to down the road, while a few hitters showed their struggles, but also showed their potential. All in all, it was a typical rookie club, being without any recent top draft selections. Now, the key will be to see the group step up at their next level of play, and straighten out their struggles from their first season of professional baseball.