Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Tampa (April 24-27)

THE SERIES ... The Flying Tigers match up once again with Tampa for the second series of the season on Thursday (6:30 pm) and Friday (7:11 pm) in Lakeland then head to Tampa on Saturday (12 pm) and Sunday (1 pm) for the final two games. Lakeland took the earlier series winning the final three games after being shutout by Tampa in the season opener. The two teams are tied with Brevard County in second place with 11-8 records.

THE FLYING TIGERS (11-8, T-2nd, 4.0 GB) ... After battling Dunedin in a pair of close games, the Flying Tigers found out why the Blue Jays have the best record baseball, falling 12-4 in the series finale. Dunedin knocked out 15 hits, including a pair of homers, and took advantage of nine walks and six wild pitches by Lakeland pitchers for the big win. The Flying Tigers have gone 4-2 their last six games and have reached double digits in hits in three of the last five games for a .259 clip (51x197) with five doubles, a pair of triples and three homers. Lakeland, which is the best fielding team with a .979 percentage, is 10th with a .219 team batting average while the staff ERA of 3.29 now ranks fifth in the FSL.

THE YANKEES (11-8, T-2nd, 4.0 GB) ... Tampa took two of three in its recent series with Brevard County but has gone 6-5 since April 12. Pete O’Brien leads the Florida State League with six home runs,  a .676 slugging percentage, 12 extra-base hits, and 46 total bases while Angelo Gumbs is tied for fourth with 25 hits. Gumbs brings a FSL-best 13 game hit streak (20x50, .400) into this series. Jake Cave is one of five players tied for the league lead with three triples. Tampa, which has committed a league-high 30 errors, has the third highest batting average (.267) in the league with a FSL-best 12 homers. The staff ERA of 2.82 is fourth best in the league.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/24 - RHP Edgar De La Rosa (0-3, 2.25 ERA)
... De La Rosa pitched his best game of the early season in his last start on 4/19, working 8.0 innings and holding Clearwater to just a second-inning single. He struck out three and walked four, but did not factor into the decision. De La Rosa is 0-2 at home with a 2.00 ERA.
    4/25 - LHP Josh Turley (1-0, 1.74 ERA) ... Turley is making his first pro start after making 68 relief appearances over the past three seasons. He picked up the win in the Kevin Eichhorn start on 4/19 in Clearwater. Turley has made five appearances out of the bullpen this season and has allowed two runs – both coming on 4/04 against Tampa – and has not allowed a run in his last 7.0 innings.
    4/26 - RHP Kevin Eichhorn (0-0, 2.60 ERA) ... Eichhorn made his first start of the season on 4/21, getting a no decision against Dunedin. He went 5.0 innings and gave up three runs on four hits with three strikeouts and four walks, plus a pair of hit batsmen. After not giving up a run in 8.1 innings over his first two appearances, Eichhorn has surrendered five runs in 9.0 innings in the last two relief stints.
    4/27 - LHP Jake Thompson (2-1, 1.05 ERA) ... Thompson worked 7.0 innings on 4/22 for a second straight start, allowing two runs on six hits to Dunedin with five strikeouts and two walks. He is fourth in the FSL with a 1.05 ERA and fourth with 22 strikeouts. Thompson has allowed three runs in his last two outings (14.0 innings) after tossing 11.2 shutout innings in his first two starts of the season.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON ... Tampa’s Dante Bichette, Jr. is the son of former Major League, Dante Bichette, Sr., who played for the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox from 1988-2001. Junior is batting .339 on the season with a team-high 13 runs and leads the FSL with 18 walks and is second in the FSL with a .487 on-base percentage.

FIGHTIN’ IRISH ... Yankee third baseman Eric Jagielo was New York’s top draft pick (26th selection overall) in 2013 out of the University of Notre Dame, alma mater of Flying Tigers’ official scorer Ed Luteran and Ledger reporter David Yates. Jagielo, who is tied for second in the FSL with four home runs, was the first college position player taken by the Yankees in the first round since 2001.

WRIGHT ON ... Chad Wright homered and singled twice on Wednesday against Dunedin to run his hit streak to 10 games – third longest active streak in the league. During that streak, he has gone 16x40 (.400) with a pair of doubles, a homer, and four runs batted in. He has collected five hits in eight bat bats over the last two games.

JOLTIN’ JEFF ... Jeff McVaney has strung together hits in each of his last five games and is 7x23 (.304) during the streak with four runs scored, a double, a home run and four runs batted in.

HAND IT TO HANVOER ... Tyler Hanover tripled in back-to-back games on April 21-22 against Dunedin with his second triple driving in a tying run. He would score the winning run on an errant throw on the play. Hanover is 6x21 (.286) his last five games with five runs scored.

HERALDING HARRELL
... Connor Harrell has had three games with two hits in his last five starts and has gone 8x25 (.320) over his last six games with five runs scored and three more driven in.

HANG AROUND ‘TIL THE END ... Fans that leave a Flying Tigers’ game before it’s over may be missing out on the best part. Six times this season, Lakeland has won the game in its final at bat including three walk-off wins. The latest dramatic finish came on April 22 against Dunedin with Lakeland trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth and one man on. Tyler Hanover drove in the tying run with a triple to left center and then scored when the shortstop’s relay bounced off Hanover’s helmet allowing him to score the winning run in a 4-3 final.

ROSTER MOVE ... On Thursday, Lakeland activated Calvin Drummond from the disabled list where he had been since 4/15. To make room on the roster, Brett Huber was sent back to Extended Spring Training.

IN THE ORGANIZATION ... Lakeland has four of the top ten pitchers in the organization in terms of earned run average as Jake Thompson leads all Detroit Minor League pitchers with a 1.05 ERA and Edgar De La Rosa is fourth with a 2.25 ERA. Kevin Eichhorn is sixth at 2.60 while Endrys Briceno, who is currently on the Disabled List, is ninth with a 3.38 mark. Guido Knudson’s three saves is an organization-nest while Thompson is third with 22 punch outs. On the hitting side, Chad Wright is eighth with a .290 batting average and Jeff McVaney is tied for fourth with 11 runs batted in. The Flying Tigers staff ERA of 3.29 is second best among the four active Minor League clubs in the organization while the .219 team batting average is lowest.

THE SKIPPER ... Manager Dave Huppert, a member of the 2012 FSL Hall of Fame Class, is in his 27th season as a minor league manager and is the active winningest manager in the minors. He ranks 21st all-time with 1,820 career wins (1,820-1,670) entering this series. He has a 212-208 record in three-plus seasons with the Flying Tigers and needs one more win to tie Mark Meleski (213-202, 1997-99) for the fourth most wins by a Lakeland manager. In 2012, he led Lakeland to the Florida State League Championship – his fourth overall championship and his third title in the FSL. He also led the 2001 Brevard County (Brewers) to a co-championship while his 2007 Clearwater (Phillies) squad won the crown outright. In addition, he coached the Lakewood Blue Claws (Phillies) to the 2006 South Atlantic League title.

UP NEXT ... Lakeland returns to Joker Marchant Stadium on Monday, April 28 to host the Daytona Cubs for three games. After 6:30 pm starts on Monday and Tuesday, the Flying Tigers host their annual Education Day at 10:30 am on Wednesday, April 30. Following the Dunedin series, Lakeland will play just two home games in the first 15 days of May. A big chunk of that is due to the Florida Junior College Baseball Tournament being held at Joker Marchant Stadium, May 9-14.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mission Notes vs. Dunedin (April 21-23)

THE SERIES ... Lakeland opens a five-game homestand with three contests against the Dunedin Blue Jays on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. All games are slated for 6:30 pm and will be carried on the Blue Jays website. Dunedin owned Lakeland in 2013, winning 13 of the 18 games.

THE FLYING TIGERS (10-6, T-2nd, 3.0 GB)
... Having not played at extra inning game prior to the Clearwater series, Lakeland won its last two games in the 13th and 11th innings to complete a three-game sweep of the Threshers. The Flying Tigers, who have won seven of their last ten, are now 6-0 versus Clearwater this season. Three of Lakeland’s last four games have been one-run affairs while the fourth was won by two runs. Jake Thompson is third in the Florida State League with a 0.48 ERA and has held opponents to the fifth lowest average (.164) in the FSL to go with his 2-1 record. Guido Knudson is tied for second with three saves. Lakeland is third in the league with a 2.69 staff ERA and tenth with a .215 team batting average. The Flying Tigers’ defense has a .977 fielding percentage which is tied for second best in the league.

THE BLUE JAYS (13-3, 1st, 0.0 GB)
... Dunedin, which has the best record in all of baseball at 13-3, saw its seven-game win streak snapped on Saturday as Brevard County hung a 3-1 loss on the Blue Jays. Three of the Blue Jays’ last five wins have been by shutout while overall, Dunedin has posted five shutouts. Matt Boyd is a big reason for the Blue Jays success, leading the Florida State League with a 3-0 record, 0.39 ERA, and 25 strikeouts. Daniel Norris is fourth in the FSL with a 0.60 ERA to go with his 2-0 mark. In the bullpen, Arik Sikula is tied for the league lead with five saves while Taylor Cole is second with 23 Ks. Matt Newman is fourth in the FSL with a .356 average while KC Hobson has a FSL best 18 runs batted in. Dalton Pompey has swiped eight bases which is second most in the league. The Blue Jays have the lowest staff ERA in the league at 1.71 and fourth with a .264 team batting average. Dunedin has the FSL’s best defense with a .978 fielding percentage.

LAKELAND PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/21 - LHP Jordan John (1-1, 7.82 ERA
) ... John was tagged for five runs on three hits and three walks in just 0.2 innings in his last start on April 15 at Brevard County. It was the second game in a row he has allowed five earned runs, but in the first game, it was over 7.0 innings. (Note: John is still listed as the probable starter on the Flying Tigers website as of 1 pm, but he was placed on the temporary inactive list on 4/19.)
    4/22 - RHP Jake Thompson (2-1, 0.48 ERA) ... Thompson has allowed just one run and 10 hits in 18.2 innings over his three starts this season. He has struck out 17 batters and walked five in those three outings. Opponents are batting just .164 against Thompson.
    4/23 - TBA (Note: This was Endrys Briceno’s slot, but he is on the DL)

DUNEDIN PROBABLE STARTERS
    4/21 - RHP Taylor Cole (2-0, 2.55 ERA)
... Cole has won his last two starts by holding the opponents to two runs in each of the starts. In his three starts this season, he has struck out 23 batters and walked five while allowing just nine hits in 17.2 innings.
    4/22 - RHP Ben White (1-0, 2.79 ERA) ... White held Daytona to one runs on six hits on April 16, but walked three with four strikeouts in 4.2 innings. He has only allowed three runs in his two starts despite the opponents hitting .308 against him.
    4/23 - TBA

STRONG EFFORT ... Edgar De La Rosa is still looking for his first win, but not for lack of effort. On Saturday at Clearwater, he allowed a second inning base hit and then held the Threshers hitless the next 6.0 innings. It was the longest outing for any Flying Tigers pitcher this season.

THROWING BLANKS ... Josh Turley has tossed 8.0 shutout innings over his last three outings with six strikeouts and a walk while Angel Nesbitt has not allowed a run in his last 5.2 innings over his last three appearances.

WINNING WILD ... Lakeland won its opening game against Clearwater as Chad Wright scored on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth inning for a 2-1 win. The next night, it was Connor Harrell’s turn for the heroics, crossing the plate in the top of the 13th on a two-out wild pitch on what was strike three in a 9-8 win. It was the eighth wild pitch on the night by Clearwater pitcher and the 11th WP in the game overall.

WRIGHT ROLLIN’ ... Chad Wright brings a seven-game hit-steak into this series. He has gone 10x25 in those games for a .357 clip with five runs scored.

SHARK HUNTER ... Connor Harrell had two hits in each of his last two games and went 5x14 (.357) with a double, a homer, and five runs scored in the recent Clearwater series. He has gone 7x25 (.280) against the Threshers this season.

GOIN’ DEEP ... After hitting zero home runs in the first eight games, Lakeland has hit five in the past nine contests, including a pair by Jeff Holm and one each by Austin Green, Connor Harrell and Jeff McVaney.

DOIN’ THE ROSTER SHUFFLE ... The transaction wire has been buzzing as late with one promotion, one on the temporary inactive list, two DL listings, one sent to extended spring and four additions. Reliever Calvin Drummond was placed on the disabled list on April 17 (retroactive to April 15) while starter Endrys Briceno was also placed on the DL on April 18, a day that also saw reliever Will Startup earn a promotion to AA Erie. Added to the Lakeland roster from Extended Spring Training were righthanded pitcher Tyler Clark and lefties Alex Burgos and Logan Ehlers. Clark was the 2012 Lakeland Pitcher of the Year after going 6-1 with a 0.63 ERA in 31 relief appearances. Burgos joins Lakeland for a third consecutive year and has a combined 11-15 record and a 4.19 ERA in 55 appearances in 2012 and 2013 for the Flying Tigers. Ehlers is 3-6 with a 3.15 ERA the two previous seasons. The moves continued on April 19 as pitcher Jordan John was placed on the Temporary Inactive List and David Gonzalez was sent back to Extended Spring Training. Returning  to the Flying Tigers from AA Erie is Corey Jones. However, on Monday, Jones was returned to Erie and Gonzalez rejoined Lakeland.

THE SKIPPER ... Manager Dave Huppert, a member of the 2012 FSL Hall of Fame Class, is in his 27th season as a minor league manager and is the active winningest manager in the minors. He ranks 21st all-time with 1,819 career wins (1,819-1,668) entering this series. He has a 211-206 record in three seasons with the Flying Tigers. He needs two more wins to tie Mark Meleski (213-202, 1997-99) for the fourth most wins for a Lakeland manager. In 2012, he led Lakeland to the Florida State League Championship to record his fourth overall championship and his third title in the FSL. He also led the 2001 Brevard County (Brewers) to a co-championship while his 2007 Clearwater (Phillies) squad won the crown outright. In addition, he coached the Lakewood Blue Claws (Phillies) to the 2006 South Atlantic League title.

ORGANIZATION NOTES
... Jake Thompson leads all Detroit Minor Leaguers with a 0.48 ERA while Guido Knudson is tops with three saves ... at 10-6, Lakeland has the best record in the organization, followed by West Michigan (9-7), Erie (6-8), and Toledo (7-10) ... former Flying Tigers Eugenio Saurez and Aaron Westlake, both now playing at AA Erie, are tied for second in the organization with three homers each. J.D. Martinez of Toledo, leads with 10.

UP NEXT ... The homestand continues on Thursday and Friday as the Tampa Yankees visit Joker Marchant Stadium for games at 6:30 pm and 7:11 pm, respectively, before the series concludes with a pair of games in Tampa on Saturday at 12 pm and Sunday at 1 pm.