Gulf Coast League logo
|No. of teams||17|
|Official website||Official website|
The Gulf Coast League is a rookie-level Minor League Baseball league that operates in Florida, United States. Together with the Arizona League, it forms the lowest rung on the North American 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.
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.
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. 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. In 2017 the GCL hired another woman umpire, Emma Charlesworth-Seiler.
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.
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).
|East||GCL Astros||Houston Astros||West Palm Beach, Florida||FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches||6,500|
|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||First Data Field||7,160|
|GCL Nationals||Washington Nationals||West Palm Beach, Florida||FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches||6,500|
|Northeast||GCL Braves||Atlanta Braves||Lake Buena Vista, Florida||Champion Stadium||9,500|
|GCL Pirates||Pittsburgh Pirates||Bradenton, Florida||Pirate City||7,500|
|GCL Phillies East||Philadelphia Phillies||Clearwater, Florida||Carpenter Complex||500|
|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||5,500|
|GCL Phillies West||Philadelphia Phillies||Clearwater, Florida||Carpenter Complex||500|
|GCL Tigers West||Detroit Tigers||Lakeland, Florida||Publix Field at 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|