Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mision Notes vs. Dunedin (July 4-6)

THE SCHEDULE ... Lakeland entertains Dunedin for a three-game set July 4-6. The opener is Saturday at 5 pm as the Flying Tigers stage their annual Independence Day fireworks. Sunday’s game is slated for a 1 pm start while the finale is Monday at 6:30 pm. This is the third time in the last six years Lakeland and Dunedin have faced each other on July 4.

INDEPENDENCE DAY ... The Flying Tigers are at home on July 4th for an 11th consecutive year. The last time the team did not play at home on Independence Day was in 2003 when the club traveled to Clearwater. Lakeland lost 1-0 to Tampa in 12 innings last year in a game witnessed by 5,052 fans. The largest group to watch the club in the last 10 years came in 2011 when 5,249 saw the club fall to Dunedin 5-2. In 2010, Lakeland shut out Dunedin 14-0 on the nation’s birthday. 

THE SERIES ... Lakeland won the first two series meetings between these two clubs, taking two of the three games in each while the Blue Jays swept the Flying Tigers in three games in mid-June. Francisco Martinez is 12x30 (.400) in the series with four doubles and two homers while Javier Betancourt and Dominic Ficociello each have ten hits and a combined 11 RBI in the nine games. 

THE FLYING TIGERS (35-42-1, 2-6 2nd Half, 6th, 4.5 GB) ... Lakeland is taking a flashback to the Seventies as the Flying Tigers have gone streaking. Losing nine straight from June 6-16, the club ran off eight straight wins from June 16-27, and is now back on the down slope, dropping six straight games from June 28-July 3. Lakeland was swept in three games at Daytona, scoring one run in the final two contests. The Flying Tigers have been outscored 32-12 during their recent losing streak. 

THE BLUE JAYS (36-43, 4-5 2nd Half, 3rd, 3.0 GB) ... Dunedin is coming off a home series win vs. Brevard County, winning back to back games by scores of 6-1 and 12-4 after dropping the series opener, 12-3. Luis Santos is fifth in the FSL with 77 strikeouts, but has allowed a league-high 11 home runs. The Blue Jays pitching staff has the highest staff ERA in the FSL at 4.12 on the season. Emilio Guerrero has hits in each of his nine games since rejoining the club on June 24, going 12x28 (.429) during the stretch with five doubles and a pair of triples. Matt Dean is 8x15 in the last four games 

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
SAT., 7/04 - RHP Jonathan Maciel (2-7, 5.84 ERA) ... Maciel took the loss in his last start on June 29 against Jupiter at home, allowing five runs—three earned—on nine hits in 4.2 innings. Opponents have scored five earned runs against him in his last 16.2 innings over three starts. Maciel lost his only start against Dunedin on May 8 at Dunedin, giving up four runs on 10 hits in 6.0 innings. He is looking for his first win since beating Jupiter on May 14.
SUN., 7/05 - LHP Trent Szkutnik (0-2, 7.80 ERA) ... Szkutnik gave up four runs on six hits in 4.1 and took the loss in his last start on June 30 vs. Jupiter. Szkutnik was tagged for seven runs—six earned— on seven hits in just 1.2 innings and got the lost in his only start at the Blue Jays in his Lakeland debut on June 13.
MON., 7/06 - RHP Brennan Smith (3-0, 2.00 ERA) ... (This was Matt Crouse’s spot in the rotation, but he was promoted to AA Erie on Friday). Smith has been used as a starter for three games June 11, 16 and 22 and is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in those three starts. He has struck out 15 and walked four in 16.0 frames as the first Flying Tiger on the mound. Smith worked 3.0 innings in his only previous start against Dunedin on May 9 surrendering one runs on five hits.

NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE ... Javier Betancourt brings a nine-game hit streak into this series having gone 14x37 during the streak for a .378 clip. He remains the second toughest player in the FSL to strikeout with one whiff every 12.31 plate appearances.

FICO-SCORE ... Dominic Ficociello has hits in seven of his last eight games going 12x31 with five runs scored, two doubles, a triple and a homer for seven runs batted in. He is tied with St. Lucie’s Dominic Smith for fourth in the league with a .303 batting average and is also tied for fourth with 86 hits. His .367 on-base percentage is fourth-best in the Florida State League.

BLAZING A MON-TRAIL ... Montreal Robertson has allowed just one opponent to cross home plate in his last 14.2 innings over eight appearances and has 11 strikeouts his last four outings.

NOT ADEN UP ... Adenson Verastegui has surrendered just one score in his 20.1 innings as a Flying Tiger for a 0.44 ERA in six appearances.

FIELDING THE POSITION ... Dominic Ficociello remains the best fielding first baseman in the league with a .994 fielding percentage while Javier Betancourt tops all second baseman with a .986 mark. Raph Rhymes is perfect with a 1.000 fielding percentage which is the best amongst FSL outfielders. Grayson Greiner has thrown out 33.8 percent of would-be base stealers, a mark that is fifth best in the league. However, opponents have been successful in 11 of 12 attempts vs. Greiner since he came off the disabled list on June 22.

THE SKIPPER (thru 7/03) ... Dave Huppert ranks 17th among minor league manager in terms of wins a 1,889-1,740 record entering this series. Next up for Huppert is Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record from 1947-1984. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, Huppert is in his 28th season as a minor league manager. This is his fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 281-279 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012. 

ROSTER MOVES ... Lakeland made a flurry of moves on Friday as two players earned promotions to Double-A, one was released, and three players added to the roster. LHP Matt Crouse (4-2, 2.55 ERA) and RHP Slade Smith (1-0, 0.53 ERA, 1 SV) earned a ticket up the organizational ladder to Erie. Righthander Gabe Hemmer and outfielder Austin Schotts join the Flying Tigers from West Michigan while RHP Will Clinard was welcomed back from the Gulf Coast League Tigers. Finally, infielder Bobby Borchering (.203, 3 HR, 16 RBI) was released. Hemmer was 1-2 with a 1.29 ERA and three saves for West Michigan with 37 strikeouts and 11 walks in 35.0 innings. Clinard, who had pitched in eight innings in two previous outings for Lakeland earlier this season, was 1-0 with one save in 4.0 innings with the GCL Club. Schotts, who played two games for Lakeland in 2012, was batting .237 for the Whitecaps with a pair of homers and 26 runs batted in. 

UP NEXT ... The Flying Tigers hit the road for three games at Clearwater July 7-9 before returning home to face St. Lucie for four games on July 10-13.

ORGANIZATIONAL NOTES ... The Detroit minor league clubs have combined for a 191-220 record for a .465 winning percentage which ranks 25th among all organizations. Toronto is 13th with a 196-188 mark and a .510 winning percentage. The Houston Astros have the top mark at 23-4176 (.571) while Milwaukee brings up the rear at 159-207 (.434) ... Lakeland pitcher Kevin s leads all Detroit minor leaguers with 85 strikeouts.

TIME AT THE BALLPARK ... An average minor league baseball game last 2:44 for nine innings while the Florida State League is a little quicker with an average time of 2:40 this season. Lakeland home games average 2:32 in 2015.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mission Notes vs. Daytona (July 1-3)

THE SCHEDULE ... Lakeland opens the month of July with a three-game series at Daytona. The first two games get underway at 7:05 pm with the Friday finale set for 6:35 pm with fireworks to follow.

UP NEXT ... The next home game for the Flying Tigers is Saturday, July 4 as Lakeland hosts an Independence Day game at 5 pm.

THE SERIES ... The Flying Tigers have won two of the three series with the Tortugas taking the one series played at Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Dominic Ficociello is 13x34 in the series while Francisco Martinez is 11x30 for Lakeland which is hitting .270 as a team in the nine games so far. 

THE FLYING TIGERS (35-39-1, 2-3 2nd Half, T-2nd, 2.5 GB) ... After opening the second half with a pair of wins, Lakeland has lost three straight, dropping the final three games of the Jupiter series. The Flying Tigers won the opening game against the Hammerheads by a 10-4 score and then were outscored 7-21 the final three outings.

THE TORTUGAS (39-36, 2-3 2nd Half, T-2nd, 2.5 GB) ... Daytona snapped a nine-game losing streak by winning the middle two games of its four-game series at Palm Beach. Phillip Ervin has slugged a FSL-high 11 homers while also topping the league with 50 runs scored. He is fourth with 42 RBI while Sebastian Elizalde has driven in a league-best 47 runs and is fourth with 19 doubles. Alex Blandido has posted a .367 on-base percentage, which is fifth best in the league. Carlton Daal brings an eight-game hit streak into this series and is 11x30 (.367) during that stretch. On the hill, Amir Garrett is third in the league with 80 strikeouts. 

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
WED., 7/01 - LHP Matt Crouse (4-1, 2.03) ... Crouse has gotten wins in his last two outings. In a start at Tampa on June 26, he held the Yankees to five hits over 5.0 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and no walks. On June 18 at Charlotte, Crouse came out of the bullpen and allowed two runs in 3.0 innings with five strikeouts to get the victory. He has now struck out 20 and walked four in his last 23.2 innings. Crouse is 4-1 with three saves in nine road appearances and is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two games vs. Daytona.
THU., 7/02 - LHP Kevin  Ziomek (5-5, 4.37 ERA) ... Ziomek picked up the win in his last start on June 27 at home vs. Jupiter by holding the Hammerheads to a pair of runs on six hits and four strikeouts in 6.0 innings. Those two runs are all he has allowed in his last 10.0 innings over two starts. Ziomek, who is fourth in the FSL with 75 strikeouts, has made one previous start against the Tortugas on May 18, allowing four runs on four hits with eight strikeouts over 7.1 innings.
FRI., 7/03 - LHP Locke St. John (2-5, 4.52 ERA) ... St. John has not tasted victory since beating Dunedin on May 17. In his last start on June 28 at home against Jupiter, he gave up four runs on four hits in 5.1 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Over his last four starts, St. John has surrendered 17 runs and issued 10 walks in 16.0 innings for an 8.47 ERA. He is 1-2 with a 5.91 ERA in five road starts and has made one previous start against Daytona on May 6, working 5.0 shutout innings without a decision.

HOME RUN DERBY? ... The Tortugas lead the FSL with 48 homers as a team with almost a fourth hit by Phillip Ervin who has a league-best 11 round-trippers. The Flying Tigers are second with 35 dingers with Raph Rhymes leading the way with six homers.

DOM-DOM-DOM ... Dominic Ficociello has hits in the last five games and has two or more hits in four of the last five contest for a 10x20 stretch with five runs scored and seven runs batted in. His .500 pace has lifted him into fourth in the Florida State League with a .308 average. He is also third in the league with 84 hits and a .372 on-base percentage while his 114 total bases is tied for fourth.

MARVELOUS MARTINEZ ... Francisco Martinez had a 12-game hit streak from June 11-24 and now has hits in 16 of his last 18 games, going 23x69 (.333) during that time with 12 runs batted in. Martinez collected three singles in the Flying Tigers’ game yesterday.

EARLY LOG JAM ... In the early going of the second half, Clearwater is off to a 5-1 start after winning the first half. Next is Lakeland, Daytona, Brevard County and Tampa, all at 2-3 and all 2.5 games behind the Threshers. Dunedin is close with a 2-4 mark and is 3.0 games out.

BATTLING BETANCOURT ... Javier Betancourt has hits in five of his last six games, going 10x26 during that stretch for a .385 streak. He is the second toughest hitter in the Florida State League to strike out with one whiff every 13.39 plate appearances.

ONE DAY AT A TIME ... Bobby Borchering has at least one hit in 14 of his last 16 games, amassing a 16x55 stretch for a .291 mark.

HE’S BACK ... Jared Reaves began the 2015 season in Lakeland and had hits in 12 straight games before being promoted to AA Erie. He was added back to the roster on June 29, and though he was held hitless that evening, he bounced back with three hits in Tuesday’s game.

TAKING THE FREE PASS ... With six walks in his last five games, Raph Rhymes is tied with Daytona’s Phillip Erwin for fourth in the FSL with 33 walks.

THE BULLISH PEN ... Adenson Verastegui has been used a middle reliever and has given up just one run in 20.1 innings and nothing in his last 11.0 frames. Montreal Robertson has allowed just run in his last 14.2 innings while Slade Smith gave up his first run as a Flying Tiger in his last outing and has a 0.53 ERA over 17.0 innings. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER ... Lakeland first baseman Dominic Ficociello leads his fellow position players in the league with a .994 fielding percentage. He has been charged with just four errors in 632 total chances. Javier Betancourt leads all FSC second baseman with a .986 fielding mark with five errors in 352 chances while Raph Rhymes leads FSL outfielders with a 1.000 fielding percentage.

HARD TO RUN AGAINST ... Grayson Greiner has thrown out 38.1 percent of would-be base stealers this season, a mark that is third best in the league. He has gunned down 24 runners in 63 attempts. Back-up catcher Tim Remes has thrown out eight of 22 runners for a 36.4 mark. Lakeland catchers have nailed 39 base stealers.

THE SKIPPER (thru 6/30) ... Dave Huppert ranks 17th among minor league manager in terms of wins a 1,889-1,737 record entering this series. Next up for Huppert is Cal Ermer who is in 16th place with a 1,906-1,728 record from 1947-1984. A 2012 FSL Hall of Fame honoree, Huppert is in his 28th season as a minor league manager. This is his fifth season with the Flying Tigers and he has a 281-276 record at Lakeland, including a FSL championship in 2012. 

ROSTER MOVES ... RHP Paul Voelker was promoted to Double-A Erie on Monday while INF Jared Reaves and RHP Whit Mayberry were added to the team from the SeaWolves’ roster. In addition, INF David Gonzalez was sent to A West Michigan. Voelker was 3-0 with seven saves and a 1.64 ERA in 14 games for the Flying Tigers while Reaves began the season in Lakeland before going on the DL and then earned a brief stint with Erie where he hit .269 in nine games. Mayberry, who had pitched in 10 games for Lakeland in 2014, was 2-3 with a 3.06 earned run average and one save in 17 appearances for the Whitecaps. Gonzalez was batting .178 in 27 games for Lakeland.