Monday, August 18, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Dunedin (Aug. 18-21)

THE SERIES ... In a rare four-game series against a North Division team, Lakeland will play a quartet of contests at Dunedin Aug. 18-21 with all games set for a 6:30 pm first pitch. All games can be heard on the Blue Jays website. The Blue Jays has won two straight in the series and four of the last six contests and now holds an 8-6 advantage in the season series. Chad Wright and Connor Harrell each have 16 hits in the series while Jeff McVaney has 15 hits, including four of Lakeland’s nine homers in the series. For Dunedin, Gustavo Pierre leads with 15 hits and Emilio Guerrero has 13 base knocks. The Blue Jays have outscored the Flying Tigers 70-56 in the 14 games.

THE FLYING TIGERS (17-38, 6th, 14.5 GB; 59-63 overall) ... Lakeland was swept in three games over the weekend by Clearwater which outscored the Flying Tigers 22-7. The Threshers also pounded Flying Tigers pitchers for 31 hits in the trio of contests. Lakeland has now lost four straight, six of its last seven, and is 3-10 since Aug. 4. James Robbins is tied for fourth in the Florida State League with 14 home runs while Jeff McVaney is fifth with 65 runs batted in. 

THE BLUE JAYS (27-29, 4th, 5.0 GB; 73-52 overall) ... Dunedin has lost its last two games, dropping games of 5-1 and 3-2 to Brevard County over the weekend. With a .584 overall winning percentage, the Blue Jays, winners of the first half and headed for the FSL playoffs, bring the league’s second best record into this series. Only Fort Myers, with a 74-52 mark and a .587 winning percentage, has a better record than Dunedin. Taylor Cole leads all of minor league baseball with 162 strikeouts (including a FSL-best 152 at Dunedin) and has the fourth best ERA in the league at 2.87 and while closer Arik Sikula leads all of minor league baseball with 30 saves. Dwight Smith, Jr. is tied for the league-lead with 76 runs scored and eight triples and is fifth in the FSL with 123 hits. He also is fifth and a .442 slugging percentage while being tied for third with 42 extra base hits and 191 total bases.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS: 
8/18 - RHP Edgar De La Rosa (7-9, 2.98 ERA) ... De La Rosa, which has the FSL’s fifth best ERA and third best opponents average at .222, took the loss in his last start on Aug. 13 at Tampa allowing a season-high five earned runs on six hits in just 3.0 innings. He also struck out three and walked three in that start. In his 10 starts prior to the Tampa game, he had allowed a total of 13 earned runs in 58.1 innings for a 2.01 ERA. De La Rosa is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts versus Dunedin this season and has seven strikeouts and six walks in 16 innings against Dunedin.
8/19 - RHP Logan Ehlers (3-2, 4.53 ERA) ... This is Ehlers’ third start of the season. In his last start on Aug. 14 in game two of a doubleheader against Tampa, he gave up five runs—four earned—on five hits in 4.2 innings with three strikeouts and a walk. Both of Ehlers’ two losses have come as a starter. As a reliever, he was 3-0 with a 4.64 ERA in 11 appearances. Ehlers is 0-0 with a 8.10 ERA in four previous appearances against the Blue Jays. He has four strikeouts and six walks in 11.0 innings versus Dunedin.
8/20 - RHP Tommy Collier (3-2, 4.15 ERA) ... Collier is coming off 6.1 scoreless innings in a win against Tampa in game one of a doubleheader on Aug. 14. Collier has not allowed a run in his last 12.1 innings over two starts with 12 strikeouts and five walks with eight hits allowed. He is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three previous road starts. Collier has not faced Dunedin this season.
8/21 - RHP Yorfrank Lopez (5-11, 5.05 ERA) ... Lopez, who is fourth in the FSL with 24 games started, dropped his last start on Aug. 16 at Clearwater, giving up six runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings. He has lost his last four decisions and is 1-7 with a 6.22 ERA since June 28 and has allowed three or more runs in each of his last seven starts. Lopez is 1-5 with a 5.00 ERA in 12 previous road starts. He is 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in three previous starts against Dunedin with eight walks and six strikeouts in 14.0 innings.

SNAPPED ... Connor Harrell went 0x2 with two walks on Sunday at Clearwater to see his 14-game hit streak come to a close. During the streak, he was 17x48 for a .354 average with five runs scored and seven runs batted in. He also had one double, one triple and three home runs during the streak which began on Aug. 1. Harrell is the third Flying Tiger to put together a streak of 14 or more games this season, joining Harold Castro (18 games) and Chad Wright (14 games).

HOMERING ALONG ... The Flying Tigers had homered in five straight games before going “homer-less” on Sunday and now have hit a round-tripper in 11 of the last 14 games. Tyler Gibson hit his first homer as a Flying Tiger on Aug. 16 at Clearwater while Jared Reaves hit his second homer of the season in the same game. For Gibson, it was his first home run since July 21, 2013 when he went deep as a member of the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League.

RETURN OF THE WHIFF ... In 25 games from July 14-Aug. 7, Lakeland batters had struck out 10 times or more in just two games. In the last nine games, the team has double-digits in strikeouts six times.

PICKED OFF ... Lakeland pitchers have picked off 45 batters this season, including 40 batters off first base. Edgar De La Rosa leads the way with 10 runners picked off, including a pair of runners at second base. Alex Burgos has seven pick-offs at first base. Catchers Austin Green and Drew Longley (now at AA Erie) have combined to nail nine men on base with Longley getting the tri-fecta with picking runners off first, second and third base. 

32nd ARM ... Sunday morning, Lakeland added righthanded pitcher Micah Kellogg from the GCL Tigers. A few hours later, he took the hill against Clearwater, becoming the 32nd pitcher to play for Lakeland this season, tying the franchise record set in 2010. Kellogg, who is from Athens, Greece, was signed by Detroit as a non-drafted free agent in 2012 out of Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. and was 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA for the GCL Tigers last season. This year, he was 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in nine appearances in the Gulf Coast League.

CAN WE SKIP THE THIRD? ... Lakeland has been outscored by 24 runs, 83-59, in the third inning this season, by far the largest discrepancy of any inning. The Flying Tigers enjoy the best advantage in the seventh inning, outscoring opponents 63-52 in that frame. 

BROOM TIME ... When Lakeland was swept by Clearwater over the weekend, it marked the fifth time the Flying Tigers have dropped all three games of a series this season. Lakeland has four series sweeps this season, including a four-game sweep of Jupiter on May 27-30. 

ON THIS DATE ... On Aug. 18, 2012, Wade Gaynor hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th to lift the Flying Tigers to a 6-5 win over Dunedin. Lakeland would go on to win the Florida State League Championship that season. James Robbins and Dean Green also homered in that game.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland will continue on the road with four games at Dunedin Aug. 18-21. The next home game for the Flying Tigers comes Friday, Aug. 22 when they host Daytona in a 5 pm doubleheader. The twin bill was made necessary when the Aug. 11 at Daytona was rained out.

MINOR FINANCIALS ... According to an article on The Arizona Republic website, most minor league baseball players earn only between $3,000 and $7,500 for a five-month season. In the major leagues, it’s a little better payscale with the minimum salary set at $500,000. Umpires in the Florida State League make between $2,000-$2,400 per month while umpires in the Gulf Coast League take home between $1,900 and $2,100 per month.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Clearwater (Aug. 15-17)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland enjoys a big 8-3 advantage in the series, but the Threshers have won three of the last four after the Flying Tigers took the first seven games. Clearwater has shut out Lakeland in two of its three wins in the series. In the two clubs’ last meeting on June 23, the Flying Tigers won 5-2. Connor Harrell is 14x46 against the Threshers for a .204 average and had three doubles and a pair of homers in the series. Jeff McVaney is close behind, going 13x45 (.289) with three doubles and a home run. James Robbins and Chad Wright have each had 10 hits in the 11 previous games as Lakeland has posted a .246 average in the series. Angelo Mora is the only Thresher in double figures in hits with 11 as Clearwater has been limited to a .196 mark in the season series.

THE FLYING TIGERS (17-35, 6th, 13.5 GB; 59-60 overall) ... Lakeland split a doubleheader with Tampa last night, taking the opener 1-0 on an Austin Green home run before falling 4-3 in game two. The split leaves the Flying Tigers with a 59-60 record as the club is now 3-7 is last 10 outings. James Robbins is tied with Clearwater’s Art Charles for fourth place in the Florida State League with 14 home runs. Lakeland’s team batting average of .250 is 11th in the league while the squad’s 66 home runs is tied for sixth most in the FSL.

THE THRESHERS (22-31, 2nd, 9.0 GB; 39-82 overall) ... Clearwater dropped a 3-1 decision at Dunedin last night and is now 4-9 its last 13 contests. Harold Martinez is 6x14 his last four games while Brandon Short is 5x10 the last three games. Art Charles is tied with Lakeland’s James Robbins for fourth place in the Florida State League with 14 home runs. The Threshers have the lowest team batting average (.230) in the league and have scored the fewest runs of any FSL squad. However Clearwater has clubbed 73 homers-—fourth most in the league. The Threshers pitching staff has the highest ERA (4.74) in the Florida State League.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS: 
8/15 - LHP Locke St. John (2-3, 5.40 ERA) ... St. John took the lost in his last start on Aug. 8 against Dunedin, allowing season-highs with five runs and 10 hits. That outing was also his shortest of the season, lasting just 4.0 innings. In his last two starts, St. John has given 18 hits and struck out just one batter after recording three punch outs in each of his first five starts. In back-to-back starts on July 29 and Aug. 3, he pitched 6.0 innings in both and had been touched for just run. St. John is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA in three previous road starts. He has not faced Clearwater.
8/16 - RHP Yorfrank Lopez (5-10, 4.76 ERA) ... Lopez is 0-3 his last four starts and has allowed 19 earned runs in his last 33.0 innings over six starts for a 5.18 earned run average. He does have five strikeouts in each of his last two starts. In his last outing on Aug. 10 at Daytona, he gave up three runs in three hits and left after 5.0 innings without a decision. Lopez is 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 10 walks in 23.0 innings in four previous starts against the Threshers.  
8/17 - TBA - This may be a place for Whit Mayberry to make a spot start. He has not pitched since Aug. 10 and would have the most rest of any Lakeland reliever. He hurled 3.0 no-hit, shutout innings at Daytona on the 10th. The other rested reliever is Jade Todd who pitched on Aug. 9, but he has not pitched more than 2.0 innings in any outing this season.

HE WAS JUST 17 ... Harold Castro singled in his first at bat in game of Thursday’s doubleheader versus Tampa to extend his hit streak to 18 games in which he was 28x72 (.389). Unfortunately, he was held hitless in three trips to the plate game two to snap his streak which was the longest for any Flying Tiger this season. It is also the longest for any Lakeland player since Nick Castellanos, now the starting third baseman for Detroit, put together an 18-game streak from April 29 to May 17, 2012.

LUCKY 13 ... Connor Harrell brings a 13-game hit streak into the Clearwater series. He went 1x2 in game one Thursday and homered in game to make him 16x45 for a .356 average with five runs scored and seven runs batted in during the streak. Harrell has one double, one triple and three home runs during the streak which began on Aug. 1.

MAYBERRY E.R.A. ... Whit Mayberry has given up just two runs on five hits this season in 10.0 innings over five appearances for 1.80 ERA.

HANDY HANOVER ...  On Wednesday at Tampa, Tyler Hanover homered for the second time in six games. On Aug. 5, he had hit his first homer since Aug. 2, 2012 when he played for Connecticut. He now has had hits in 11 of his last 13 games and is 17x42 (.408) in that stretch dating back to July 27. During a four-game span from Aug. 2-6, Hanover had two hits in each of his four games.

BURLY BURGOS ... Alex Burgos mowed down seven batters and allowed just one hit in his 4.0 scoreless innings of relief work Wednesday and has allowed just three earned runs—six overall—in 20.2 innings over his last seven appearances, with all three earned runs coming in his outing on Aug. 5 against Dunedin

EIGHT IS GREAT ... With another save against Tampa in game one on Thursday, Scott Sitz is now a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities since joining the Flying Tigers.

ZIPS FOR SMITH ... Brennan Smith has not allowed a run in his last 11.0 innings and eight outings.

ANOTHER GAME, ANOTHER HOMER ... The Flying Tigers have homered in three straight games and have had a round-tripper in nine of the last 11 games. Lakeland went yard in each game of the Yankees series with Tyler Hanover going deep at Tampa on Wednesday with Austin Green following with a homer in game one last night and then Connor Harrell rounding the bases in game two.

AS THE MOUND TURNS ... Lakeland placed two hurlers on the disabled list on Friday, both retroactive to Aug. 12 in starter Tanner Bailey and reliever Tyler Clark. Rejoining the Flying Tigers is RHP Daryl Norris who appeared in two games for Lakeland on May 24 and July 22. Norris was 1-5 with one save and a 7.43 ERA in seven games, including three starts with the Gulf Coast League Tigers.

BEHIND THE DISH SHUFFLE ... With the Detroit Tigers designating Roman Cabrera for assignment (who was then claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh), a spot opened on the AA Erie roster and Flying Tiger backstop Drew Longley was called up to fill the opening. Longley was hitting .203 in 36 games as Lakeland’s secondary catcher. Taking Longley’s spot on the Lakeland roster is Michael Thomas, a 22nd round pick by Detroit in this year’s draft out of the University of Kentucky. 

IS THERE A DRAFT IN HERE? ... Michael Thomas in the sixth member of this year’s Detroit draft class to play at Lakeland joining Trent Szkutnik (20th round), Whit Mayberry (21st), Tyler Ford (27th), Locke St. John (32nd), and Nate Fury (36th). Of that group, Mayberry and St. John are the only two, other than Thomas, that are still with the Flying Tigers. 

RARE ADD ... While we’re talking about him, Michael Thomas is just the fourth defensive player added to the Lakeland roster since May 16. The other three were infielder Harold Castro (May 21), and outfielders Andy Dirks (added July 8 on a rehab assignment), Isamel Salgado (July 22), and Tyler Gibson (July 26). Meanwhile, there have been 52 transactions involving pitchers-—many appearing on the transaction wire repeated times.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland will hit the road for a seven-game road trip with three games at Clearwater Aug. 15-17 and then four games at Dunedin Aug. 18-21. The next home game for the Flying Tigers comes on Friday, Aug. 22 when they host Daytona in a 5 pm doubleheader. The twin bill was made necessary when the Aug. 11 at Daytona was rained out.