TigsTown Awards: VSL Tigers

For the first time, the Tigers organization fielded their own Venezuelan Summer League team, and were looking for the emergence of even more prospects than in 2006. While some other prospects started to show their skills, it was a repeat performance for both award winners in 2007.

VSL Player of the Year: OutfielderAlexis Espinoza
In his second season with the VSL Tigers, Espinoza takes home his second Player of the Year award. After an incredible 2006 season, Alexis followed it up by putting his power potential on display this year. Though his average and on-base percentage dipped this season, he proved that he could pound the ball out of any yard around. Despite only playing in 43 games this summer, Espinoza led the VSL in home runs (12), and had he logged enough at-bats to qualify, would have led the league in slugging (.587) by a wide margin. His .900 OPS would have been good enough for third in the league as well. Espinoza is one of the Tigers' top Latin position prospects, and we could be looking at his stateside debut in 2008.

VSL Pitcher of the Year: Closer Lester Oliveros
In much the same fashion as Espinoza, Oliveros notched his second straight yearly honor for the VSL Tigers. Oliveros dropped his ERA from 2.72 in 2006, to 1.41 in 2007, while logging a league leading 19 saves. Despite only pitching 38-1/3 innings, Oliveros ranked 7th in the league in strikeouts with 59, while walking only 13 batters all season. Because he spent the summer working in a relief role, his innings total was low. Had he qualified, he would have ranked fourth in the VSL in WHIP with a 0.99, and third in the league in ERA. Oliveros has a great mentality for a late inning reliever, and his above-average fastball-slider combo should serve him well in such a role in the GCL next summer.

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