'06 in Review: Oneonta Tigers

The Oneonta Tigers had a hot start to their '06 season, and immediately got everyone thinking playoffs. Unfortunately, the offense slowed down after its torrid first month pace, and the O-Tigers weren't able to keep pace with Tri-City.

Oneonta's fast pace put them out in first place early, jumping out with a 13-5 record. But as July continued, Oneonta wasn't able to continue winning at the same pace, and had to deal with getting pushed by Tri-City, who showed no signs of slowing up. After holding first place for the first month, on July 14th, they lost the lead, and would never be able to regain it.

Oneonta was able to keep within shouting distance of Tri-City for much of the year, but could never get closer than a few games back, and eventually saw their playoff hopes come to an end on Labor Day.

However, while playoffs weren't in the plans for Oneonta, it certainly wasn't a lost season for the club.

Possibly the biggest development for Oneonta was the progress made by right-handed starter Matt O'Brien. O'Brien, who would eventually move up to West Michigan in late August, was dominating in the New York-Penn League, leading some to even wonder why he didn't start the season in West Michigan back in April. O'Brien was 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA, and had just one poor outing, where he got roughed up for eight runs (and his only loss) in mid July.

Recent draft picks Tom Thornton and Chris Cody also excelled in the rotation; though combined they weren't able to put together as many wins as O'Brien did. While he doesn't have overwhelming stuff, Cody's season was particularly impressive, as he averaged nearly a strikeout per inning (8.49 K/9 IP), a 5.56 K:BB ratio, and a WHIP of just 1.08. And that's not even mentioning his 2.38 ERA. But like many other prospects, Cody will have to prove that he can go head to head with more talented hitters, and wasn't just taking advantage of the fact that he was an experienced pitcher.

It would also be foolish to discuss Oneonta without mentioning their spectacular closer; Brett Jensen. Jensen finished the year with a 0.67 ERA and 17 saves. The 17 saves were good for second in the NYPL. Whenever Jensen gave up a run during the season, it was actually viewed as a surprise; his ERA never got above 1.50 all season. Could he follow in Kevin Whelan's footsteps and emerge as the next impressive relief candidate for the Tigers?

While the Oneonta offense slowed in the second half of their season, they still maintained excellent production; the group led the NYPL in OPS, and was second in runs scored, coming up just shy of Staten Island.

One major concern in the organization has been the number of walks their players have been taking, as many have been critical of the lack of patience displayed by the free-swinging big league Tigers. If Oneonta is any sign, things are at least improving. The O-Tigers led the NYPL with 281 walks; with a team OBP nearly 80 points higher than the overall team average.

Ronnie Bourquin deserves a lot of credit for showing that patience at the plate. While Bourquin's power wasn't what the club was expecting, he sported a .391 on base percentage, and was walking once every 6.5 plate appearances.

And as patient as Bourquin was, James Skelton and Scott Sizemore both turned in OBP's higher than Bourquin's; at .403 and .394, respectively.

The club didn't have a lot of power, but Brennan Boesch certainly tried to do his part in bringing the power to the plate in the middle of the order. Boesch led the club with 26 extra base hits. Boesch was also far and away the team's most efficient run producer, driving in 54 runs for Oneonta.

It wasn't a banner year for Oneonta, but the club put forward a great effort, and had quite a few outstanding performances. While Oneonta can never predict who they'll have on the team next season (much of their roster comes directly from college players selected in the draft), they are, as always, optimistic that '07 will bring another great year.

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