After staring the season on May 12, it took the Tigers eleven games to pick up their first victory; being shutout three times over that season-starting winless streak. The losing continued as the Tigers only won once more in the season's first month. After such an abysmal start, the Tigers clawed back to go 15-12-1 over the season's final month, a showing much more indicative of the talent level on the roster.
The VSL offense was led by a trio of offensive performers, in outfielders Avisail Garcia and Wondy De Los Santos, and the team's top rated prospect, third baseman Francisco Martinez. Martinez's .321 batting mark was good enough for fourth in the league, after starting the season very slowly; hitting only .246 in May, before turning it on to rip .315 and .380 averages in June and July, respectively. De Los Santos also finished in the top ten in the league in average, posting a shiny .301 average as he made the transition from the infield to the outfield. Avisail Garcia may have posted the lowest average of the trio of offensive standouts, but he made up for it by slugging an impressive twelve doubles, two triples, and seven home runs. The seven dingers were good enough to tie him for fourth in the circuit.
Led by those three performers, the VSL offense finished in the middle of the league pack in most significant offensive categories, except for maybe the most important one; runs. The Tigers finished with only 264 runs scored in 69 games, averaging only 3.8 runs per contest.
Trying to pick up any slack left by the offense, the VSL Tigers pitching combined for a team 3.24 ERA that ranked third among league staffs. The staff as a whole was stingy in hits allowed, giving up less than one per inning, which was a good thing given that they walked the second most batters in the league. In true evidence of the Dave Dombrowski philosophy, the Tigers were loaded with hard throwers, as suggested by their 439 strikeouts; behind only the Rays among league teams. Interestingly, the VSL Tigers did lead the league in one pitching category, notching five complete games, with four of those coming off the arm of right-hander Jose Diaz.
In over 80 innings this season, Diaz led the starting staff with a 2.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. While he didn't rack up the strikeouts in all his innings on the mound, reliever Michael Torrealba more than made up for it by whiffing 62 hitters in just 48 innings. Despite coming out of the bullpen, Torrealba was tied for second in the league in strikeouts while posting a 2.06 ERA and four saves. Joining Diaz with success from the rotation, rookie Josue Carreno made 12 starts with a 2.82 ERA and 0.92 WHIP; a fine performance in his debut season. In what was possibly his breakout performance with a 1.52 ERA from the Tiger bullpen, Wilsen Palacios' season was marred by a recent suspension for performance enhancing drugs (Eduardo Gonzalez was also suspended).
Despite an awful start to the campaign, the VSL Tigers persevered to show their true talent as they learned how to play the game and succeed despite not having a single player over the age of 19 on the roster. Look for several of the squads more talented and experienced players to make their stateside debuts in 2009, as they look to follow in the footsteps of recent VSL success stories like Mauricio Robles and Lester Oliveros