Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mission Notes vs Tampa (April 7-10)

THE SCHEDULE ... Lakeland begin its 67th season in the Florida State League with a four-game set with the Tampa Yankees. Game one is tonight at 6 in Lakeland at historic Henley Field with game two in Tampa at 6 pm on Friday. Game three has the two teams returning to Lakeland for a 6 pm game on Saturday with the finale taking place on Sunday at 1 pm.

FAMILIAR FOES ... This is the 14th consecutive season Lakeland and Tampa have faced off in the opening game of the season. Tampa has won the last two season lid-lifters, including a 2-1 victory in Lakeland last season. The Yankees now hold a 7-6 lead in the first game.

THE SERIES ... Lakeland enjoyed an 11-9 advantage in the series last season, including wins in five of the last six meetings. In 2015, the two clubs played six series with Lakeland winning two, Tampa taking one series, and the two clubs splitting the three others.

SEASON OPENERS ... Lakeland has lost the last three season openers, last winning at Tampa to open the 2012 season. Last season, they lost 2-1 to Tampa to open the season. The team is 9-12 in the first game of the season, dating back to 1995. 

HOME OPENERS ... The Flying Tigers have also lost their last three home openers after having won six straight from 2008-12.

THE SKIPPER (thru 2015) ... Dave Huppert is in his 29th season and leads all active minor league managers with a 1,926-1,816-1 record. He begins the 2016 campaign ranked 14th all-time for wins by a minor league manager. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, This is Huppert’s sixth season with the Flying Tigers and he has 318-354-1 record here, including a FSL championship in 2012. He has the third most wins for a Lakeland manager, trailing Dick Tracewski (392-402 record from 1970-1975) and John Lipon (379-288 from 1988-92).

A LOOK BACK AND GOOD RIDDANCE ... The Flying Tigers finished with a 55-79-1 record last season. In the first half, the team finished in 4th place, 3.5 games out of first place with a 33-36-1 record. But the second half was a disaster, winning just 21 of the 64 games place to finish in last place, 19.0 games out of first place. The 79 season losses was seventh most in franchise history.

A BRIGHT SPOT ... One bright spot to last season was the pitching of Kevin Ziomek who led the Florida State League with 143 strikeouts, becoming just the second Lakeland pitcher to lead the league, joining Duane Below who mowed down a league-high 126 batters in 2008.

DOES ANYONE REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS? ... Fans will get a chance to see the Flying Tigers at almost any time of the day this season. With the move to Henley Field, the schedule features lots of day games in an effort to avoid the summer rains. Lakeland will play five games at 10:30 a.m.; one game at noon; 25 games at 1 pm (mainly from July on); five games at 4 pm; 33 games at 6 pm; and one game at a yet-to-be-announced time.

IS IT DRAFTY IN HERE? ... 2015 draft picks: OF Christin Stewart (1st), LHP Tyler Alexander (2nd), C Kade Scivicque (4th), RHP Dominic Moreno (8th). INF A.J. Simcox (14th) ... 2014 draft picks: LHP Spencer Turnbull (2nd), C Grayson Greiner (3rd), RHP Adam Ravenelle (4th), OF Ross Kivett (6th), INF Joe Pankake (7th), RHP Artie Lewicki (8th), LHP A.J. Ladwig (11th), OF Mike Gerber (15th), RHP Gage Smith (25th); LHP Tyler Ford (27th) ... 2013 draft picks: OF Ben Verlander (14th), RHP Zac Reininger (14th), INF Curt Powell (21st), LHP Jeff Thompson (25th) ... 2012 draft picks: RHP Slade Smith (17th), Jared Reaves (25th) ... Signed as non-drafted free agents: RHP Johan Belisario, RHP Endrys Briceno, RHP Edgar De La Rosa, LHP Joe Jimenez, RHP Dominic Moreno, RHP Willie Paredes, INF Zac Shepherd, RHP Adenson Verastegui ... Signed as a minor league free agent: INF Wade Hinkle ... Obtained via trade: RHP Jairo Labourt (via Toronto in David Price trade).

SEEMS LIKE YA NEVER LEFT ... The following players are making an encore performance in Lakeland: RHP Endrys Briceno (2014, 2015); RHP Edgar De La Rosa (2014); LHP Tyler Ford (2014, 2015); C Grayson Greiner (2015); RHP Jairo Labourt (2015); INF Curt Powell (2014, 2015); INF Jared Reaves (2013, 2014, 2015); RHP Zac Reininger (2015); RHP Gage Smith (2015); RHP Slade Smith (2013, 2014, 2015); and OF Ben Verlander (2015). 

WHEREFORTH ART THOU? ... Here’s a look at where some of the 2015 Flying Tigers are in the organization in 2016: Erie (AA): Tommy Collier (P); Matt Crouse (P); Calvin Drummond (P); Dominic Ficociello (INF); Gabe Hemmer (P); Confesor Lara (P); Drew Longley (C); Whit Mayberry (P); Montreal Robertson (P, DL); Joe Rogers (P); Brennan Smith (P); Paul Voelker (P); Kevin Ziomek (P, DL). West Michigan (A): Will Allen (C); David Gonzalez (INF); Jonathan Maciel (P); Brett Pirtle (INF); Ismael Salgado (OF); Trent Szutnik (P) ... Extended Spring: Ryan Casellanos (P); Keaton Jones (IF); Tim Remes (C); Logan Longwith (P); Locke St. John (P).

DON’T FORGET YOUR PARTING GIFT ... Members of last year’s that are no longer in the organization include: Javier Betancourt (2B) - traded to Brewers ... Released: Bobby Borchering (1B); Will Clinard (P); Nate Fury (P); Tyler Hanover (IF); Jiwan James (OF); Francisco Martinez (IF); Raph Rhymes (OF); Austin Schotts (OF); Scott Sitz (P) ... Retired: Matt Davenport (P); Matt Kellogg (P); Ryan Longstreth (P).

MAJOR LEAGUERS ... There have been 269 players that made their way through Lakeland on the way to the Major Leagues. Thirty-five Lakeland alumni played in the big leagues last season, including Nick Castellanos (2012); Tyler Collins (2012); Jeff Ferrell (2013); Daniel Fields (2012); Bryan Holaday (2010); Guido Knudson (2012); Dixon Machado (2012); James McCann (2012); Angel Nesbitt (2014); Bruce Rondon (2012); Kyle Ryan (2013); Jose Valdez (2013); Drew VerHagen (2012-13); Justin Verlander (2005); and Adam Wilk (2010) who all played for Detroit last season. 

OTHER NOTABLE LAKELAND ALUMNI ... Past Lakeland Tigers who played with Detroit: Mark “The Bird” Fidrych (1975), Kirk Gibson (1978), John Smoltz (1986) and Lou Whitaker (1976). Former Detroit manager Jim Leyland played in 1964 and 1969 for Lakeland and came back to manage the team to back-to-back Florida State League titles in 1976 and 1977.

FSL CHARTER MEMBER ... The 2016 season marks Lakeland’s 65th season in the Florida State League (FSL). The Lakeland Flying Tigers are in their 49th season as a Tigers’ affiliate, the second longest affiliation in Minor League Baseball and is an original member of the FSL, which was established in 1919. Lakeland has also been affiliated with Cleveland (1960); San Francisco (1962) before becoming a Detroit affiliate in 1963 (Detroit moved the franchise to Daytona Beach for the 1965 and 1966 seasons). The Detroit Tigers, Lakeland’s parent club, has made Lakeland their Spring Training Headquarters for 80 seasons. 

WHY THE FLYING TIGERS? ... Lakeland adopted the moniker “Flying Tigers” in 2007. The team’s name and colors pay homage to the Lakeland School of Aeronautics, later the Lodwick School of Aeronautics, which trained over 8,000 pilots between 1940 and 1945, some of whom later flew with the Flying Tigers in China during World War II. The school was actually located at the current site of Joker Marchant Stadium.

HENLEY FIELD ... The home for the Flying Tigers in 2016 while Joker Marchant Stadium undergoes renovation, Henley Field was constructed in the 1920’s and served as Detroit’s Spring Training headquarters from 1934-1966. It is also home to the nine-team national champion Florida Southern College baseball team.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Tampa (Sept. 3-6)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland closes out the 2015 season with a four-game series against Tampa with two games at home (Sept. 3-4) and the final two games of the season at Tampa (Sept. 5-6). These two clubs have split their 16-game season series with the Flying Tigers winning the last two games. The Yankees have taken seven of the eight games played at Joker Marchant Stadium while the Flying Tigers have won seven of the eight played at George Steinbrenner Field.

THE FLYING TIGERS (19-42, 6th place, 19.0 GB; 52-78-1 overall) ... Lakeland won the first two games of the Brevard County series, taking a doubleheader on Aug. 31, 2-1 and 3-1, while losing game three, 5-2. The Flying Tigers have gone 9-5 the last 14 games after posting a 4-29 record from July 10-27. 

THE YANKEES (31-33, 3rd place, 8.5 GB; 52-78 overall) ... Tampa was swept in three games at Dunedin being outscored 15-7 in the series and is 5-8 since Aug. 19. Abiatal Avelino has hits in nine of the last 10 games and has gone 14x40 (.350) with eight runs scored since Aug. 20 while ranking third in the league with 38 stolen bases. Ericson Leonora is tied for second in the FSL with 13 homes, one behind the leader, Andrew Pullin of Clearwater. Gabriel Encinas is third in the league with 112 strikeouts while Chaz Hebert is tied with a FSL-best two complete games. The Yankees have perfect symmetry in the runs department, scoring 500 times while allowing 500 opponents to score. Tampa has stolen the second most bases (148) of any Florida State League team.

THU., SEPT. 3 – RHP Brennan Smith (5-6, 3.08 ERA) ... Smith gave up three runs on seven hits in his last start on Aug. 28 with three strikeouts and one walk in taking the loss at Dunedin. In his last two starts, he has allowed just the three runs on ten hits in 12.0 innings pitched. Smith is 1-6 over his last nine starts. He struck out a career-high 10 batters on July 11 and then recorded six straight games with four strikeouts before whiffing a combined five batters over his last two outings. Smith is 0-1 in two appearances vs. Tampa.
FRI., SEPT. 4 – LHP Jairo Labourt (0-5, 7.45 ERA with Lakeland; 2-12, 5.35 ERA overall) ... Labourt is still looking for his first win as a member of the Flying Tigers and is 0-5 his last five starts. In his last outing on Aug. 29, he gave up four runs for a fifth time with Lakeland while matching his career-high of nine strikeouts. He last faced Tampa on Aug. 27 and took loss after allowing five runs on six hits, including a pair of homers, in 5.0 innings.
SAT., SEPT. 5 – RHP Jonathan Maciel (5-8, 4.68 ERA) ... Maciel picked up the win in his last start on Aug. 31 at Brevard County, limiting the Manatees to one run on seven hits in 6.0 innings. It was his second consecutive start of six innings and his second start with one run allowed. Maciel is 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA on 13 road starts while posting a 1-6 record and a 5.83 earned run average in 11 home starts. He is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts vs. Tampa.
SUN., SEPT. 6 – LHP Kevin Ziomek (9-10, 3.51 ERA) ... Ziomek has won his last three starts by holding each opponent to just one run while recording a total of 16 strikeouts in the three games. He has worked at least 6.0 innings in each of his last six starts and is 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 40 strikeouts and 18 hits allowed during those half dozen games and 40.0 innings pitched. Ziomek is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts vs. the Yankees.

STARTS AND ENDS WITH A “K” ... Kevin Ziomek leads the Florida State League with 140 strikeouts as well as 148.2 innings pitched. The 140 Ks is seven more than Amir Garrett of Daytona who is in second place with 133 strikeouts and is the second most strikeouts ever recorded by a Lakeland pitcher.  Bernie Beckman set the franchise record with 152 strikeouts in 1970. Ziomek is gunning to be only the second Lakeland pitcher to league the league in strikeouts, joining Duane Below who became the first with 126 punchouts in 2008.

A HANOVER HI-LITE ... Tyler Hanover has hits in his last four games and in seven of his last eight outings, going 9x24 (.375) during that stretch. He is batting almost 100 points better on the road (.297) than at home (.200).

REAVES A-ROLLIN’ ... Jared Reaves has hit safely in six straight games going 8x22 (.364) with four runs batted in.

VERILY-VERLANDER ... Ben Verlander is going out in style with hits in four straight games (4x11) and seven of his last eight games (11x27, .407). He has also had at least one hit in 12 of his last 14 contests (16x48, .333). 

RANK AND FILE ... Francisco Martinez is ranked in the top five in the Florida State League statistical rankings in: total bases (2nd, 195); extra-base hits (T-4th, 41); at bats (5th, 492); and doubles (5th, 28).

LEAGUE-LEADER ... Jiwan James remains tied with Fort Myers’ Jason Kanzler for the league lead with eight triples. James is attempting to become the first Lakeland player to lead the FSL in three-base hits since Curtis Granderson who had 10 triples to top the league in 2003. The modern day Lakeland record for triples is 14 set by Tarrick Brock in 1994. The FSL record is held by Pete Rose who hit an amazing 30 triples for the Tampa Tarpons (Reds) in 1961.

WHY TO GO, WHIT ... Whit Mayberry has not been scored upon in his last 7.1 innings and six outings. 

SITZ TO BEHOLD ... Scott Sitz has allowed just three runs in 11 appearances and 20.0 innings since July 9 for a 1.35 ERA during that span.

DEUCES WILD ... Lakeland was held without a double in its last game, snapping a streak of seven straight games with at least one two-base hit. The Flying Tigers amassed 17 doubles in a five-game span from Aug. 27–31, including a season-high eight on Aug. 27 at Dunedin. 

BULLISH-PEN ... Flying Tigers relievers have combined to hold opponents to seven runs in the last 13 games and 37.0 innings for a 1.70 ERA since Aug. 19. Five of those seven runs came in one game on Aug. 27 at Dunedin. Toss out that game and the staff would have a 0.57 ERA in that stretch.

$1 MONDAYS ARE A HIT ... Lakeland had 21 games this season with 1,000 or more fans in attendance—the most in the last at least the last seven seasons—with seven of those games coming on $1 Mondays. The Flying Tigers are on pace to finish the season with an attendance of 61,820 which would be the fourth highest in franchise history. The 981 average attendance this season would rank fifth best since 2009.

YOU LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW ... In the 522 innings Lakeland has played since July 1, the Flying Tigers have been in the lead for just 110 frames.

THE SKIPPER (thru 8/29) ... Dave Huppert is in his 28th season and leads all active minor league managers with a 1,906-1,776-1 record and is now tied for 16th overall with Cal Ermer who compiled a 1,906-1,728 record from 1947-1984. Ironically, Huppert played under Ermer in 1981 when the two were with Toledo, a Triple-A affiliate at that time of the Minnesota Twins. Huppert picked up his 1,900th win on Aug. 21 when Lakeland topped Dunedin, 4-1. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, This is Huppert’s fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 298-315-1 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012.