Gulf Coast League

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Gulf Coast League
Gulfcoastleague.png
Gulf Coast League logo
Sport Baseball
Founded 1964
No. of teams 17
Country USA
Most recent
champion(s)
Gulf Coast League Red Sox
Official website Official website

The Gulf Coast League is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in Florida. It is a rookie league, and together with the Arizona League it forms the lowest rung on the minor-league ladder.

GCL teams play at the minor league spring training complexes of their parent Major League Baseball clubs and are owned by those parent clubs. Admission is not charged and no concessions are operated at the teams' games. The players assigned to this level are first-year players who are drafted in the MLB entry draft a few weeks prior to the start of the GCL season, and emphasis is therefore placed on skill development, rather than competitive play.

History[edit]

Prior to the formation of this league, three separate leagues used the Gulf Coast League name, a 1907-1908 Class D league, a 1926 class D league and a 1950-1953 Class C League. All three leagues operated around the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana.[1]

Complex-based baseball leagues, which played before sparse crowds and often scheduled morning games to avoid the summer heat and afternoon thunderstorms, were adopted after the drastic shrinking of minor league baseball during the 1950s and 1960s. MLB teams needed an entry level to professional baseball for 18- and 19-year-old players graduating from high schools or signed from Latin America. They are typically considered the lowest rung on the minor league ladder, a notch below other Rookie-level leagues such as the Appalachian or the Pioneer circuits.

The league was founded in 1964 as the Sarasota Rookie League with four teams playing in Sarasota. It was originally intended to be the Gulf Coast division of a statewide rookie league, with the eastern division based in Cocoa.[2][3] However, the eastern and western teams never played each other. The SRL's four teams consisted of squads sponsored by the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Braves, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. The SRL Braves, managed by Paul Snyder, future Atlanta farm system director, won the championship with a 36–23 record.

The league added teams in Bradenton in 1965 and changed its name to the Florida Rookie League.

The league adopted its current name, Gulf Coast League, for the 1966 season. It expanded to Florida's east coast in the 1990s.

On June 21, 2016, the GCL hired Jen Pawol, the first female umpire in Minor League Baseball since 2007, and the first in the GCL since 1978.[4]

League procedures[edit]

The league plays a 60-game season that runs from mid-June to late August. Teams in the league are divided into four divisions: East, Northeast, Northwest, and South. The four division winners play in a one-game semifinal; the team with the best regular-season record plays the division winner with the lowest record, while the division winner with the second-best record plays the division winner with the third-best record. Should the Northeast and Northwest Divisions finish 1st and 4th, the semifinal matchups place 1st vs. 3rd and 2nd vs. 4th. The semifinal winners meet in a best-of-3 game series for the Gulf Coast League championship.[5]

Current teams[edit]

GCL teams are not referred to by their home city, but simply by their parent club's name, the prefix "GCL" or "Gulf Coast" if necessary to differentiate between them and another club sharing the nickname, and a cardinal number if the parent club sponsors more than one team in the league. Some of these teams share stadiums with their club's High-A affiliate in the Florida State League, which can lead to confusion, as FSL teams do use the city name (e.g. the Tampa Yankees, three levels up from the GCL Yankees 1 and GCL Yankees 2, who also play in Tampa).

The Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees are fielding two teams, the first time since 1981 when the Houston Astros (1980—81) and Kansas City Royals (1974, 1979—81) did so.

Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
East GCL Astros Houston Astros Kissimmee, Florida Osceola County Stadium 5,300
GCL Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter, Florida Roger Dean Stadium 7,200
GCL Marlins Miami Marlins Jupiter, Florida Roger Dean Stadium 7,200
GCL Mets New York Mets Port St. Lucie, Florida Tradition Field 7,160
GCL Nationals Washington Nationals Viera, Florida Washington Nationals Training Complex,
Space Coast Stadium
8,100
Northeast GCL Braves Atlanta Braves Lake Buena Vista, Florida Champion Stadium 9,500
GCL Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton, Florida Pirate City ----
GCL Tigers East Detroit Tigers Lakeland, Florida Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium 8,500
GCL Yankees East New York Yankees Tampa, Florida George M. Steinbrenner Field 11,000
Northwest GCL Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin, Florida Bobby Mattick Training Center
at Englebert Complex
GCL Phillies Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater, Florida Carpenter Complex 500
GCL Tigers West Detroit Tigers Lakeland, Florida Joker Marchant Stadium 8,500
GCL Yankees West New York Yankees Tampa, Florida George M. Steinbrenner Field 11,000
South GCL Orioles Baltimore Orioles Sarasota, Florida Ed Smith Stadium 8,340
GCL Rays Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte, Florida Charlotte Sports Park 7,000
GCL Red Sox Boston Red Sox Fort Myers, Florida JetBlue Park at Fenway South 8,000
GCL Twins Minnesota Twins Fort Myers, Florida Lee County Sports Complex 7,500

Previous teams[edit]

League champions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gulf Coast League Encyclopedia and History". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 26, 2015. 
  2. ^ Bender, Bob (1964-07-07). "Rookie League Should Aid Sarasota Economy". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Special Ceremonies Mark League Opening". St. Petersburg Times. 1964-06-27. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  4. ^ Rivera, Joe. "Minor League Baseball hires first female umpire since 2007". Sporting News. Retrieved 22 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Gulf Coast League playoff procedures". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Davenport, Florida Minor League History". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 

External links[edit]