Lakeland MLN: Hot Start for Plagman

After a five-game RBI streak in which he collected ten RBI, Tony Plagman finds himself the Florida State League RBI leader, and, while at it, has led the Flying Tigers to a 9-4 record and to the top of the FSL North Division.

After driving in 35 runs in 63 West Michigan games last year, the 23 year old Plagman already has 17 RBI in just 14 games. And, along with the run production, is hitting an impressive .400 with a .459 OBP and 1.023 OPS.

The first baseman, who has also added 2 homers, is the clear keystone of the Flying Tigers' offensively formidable infield and, with the help of lockdown bullpen pitching, is anchoring a sporadic Flying Tigers season.

Infield Production

Although usually the opposite, the Flying Tigers' infield, rather than the outfield, is the Tigers' offensive driving force.

Sitting across the diamond from Plagman, and protected by him in the lineup, third baseman Wade Gaynor has increased his batting average to .302 after going 10-for-31 since April 12th. During the short span Gaynor has driven in six runs of his own with the help of a homer and four doubles.

Despite hitting in front of the hot Plagman, Gaynor has still managed to strike out an impressive 14 times.

Next to him at shortstop, leadoff hitter Gustavo Nunez has paired a speedy team-leading 13 runs with a powerful team-leading .604 slugging percentage.

In 53 at-bats Nunez has four doubles, two triples, and two home runs, but, on the other end, has only been successful once in four stealing attempts.

To go along with the rough three caught stealings, Nunez has already committed a team-leading four errors.

Perhaps the only soft link in the infield to start the year is second baseman Corey Jones. Jones, after going hitless from April 13th-18th, is batting a mere .178 with only four runs scored.

As a whole, the infield has accounted for six of the Tigers' eight total home runs, 35 of its 58 RBI, and 46 of its 65 runs scored.

Outfield Problems

Offensively, the Flying Tigers' starting three outfielders –Daniel Fields, Avisail Garcia, and Brent Wyatt- have had a fair share of their woes.

In contrast to the infield totals, the three have produced only two home runs, 23 RBI, and 21 runs scored.

Fields, from the two-hole, has yet to spray a multi-hit hit game and has been called out on strikes a team-leading 18 times en route to a .217 batting average.

Fields has struck out in twelve straight games.

Taking so many pitches has not been entirely negative for Fields, though, as, despite such a low average, has used eight walks to sustain his OBP at a manageable .355.

The corner outfielders have been slightly more productive in the past week.

Right Fielder Avisail Garcia is still drudging along with a .184 average and .208 OBP, but has 5 RBI in the past seven games.

And Left Fielder Brent Wyatt, although still at .263, is 8/31 in the past week, adding 4 RBI and a double during the span.

Pretty good starts, pretty great relief

The rotation has been relatively unremarkable to this point.

They're 6-3, but in 76 total innings have an improvable 4.38 ERA. The brightest spot in the rotation is 23 year-old Victor Larez. Larez, who has been tied to the Tigers since pitching for the Venezeulan Summer League Tigers in 2006, recently followed up a scoreless seven-inning win with a second consecutive Quality Start.

On the 16th Larez allowed three earned runs to Daytona in six innings and improved his record 2-0. After two starts his ERA sits at 2.08.

Opposite Larez, southpaw Jared Wesson has yet, in three tries, to extend a start to six complete innings. His record stands even at 1-1, but after allowing ten hits in 4.1 innings, his ERA and WHIP are at a skyrocketing 6.92 and 1.92.

The five most-used Flying Tigers relief pitchers have been heartless: 34.1 innings pitched, 3 earned runs. So far, if any of these guys is on the mound, it's almost automatic zeroes for the opposing team.

-- Kenny Faulk

The go-to closer, who leads the team four saves (Ryan Robowski and Dan Gentzler each have two), has been efficient, quick, and perfect. Faulk has recorded his saves in the minimum four opportunities and has been near lights-out in his appearances.

He has let up seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, but has only given up one earned run while striking out ten.

--Shawn Teufel

Teufel has been solid. The workhorse -3 appearances but 9 innings pitched- has only allowed no earned runs, only seven base runners, and has struck out eight so far this year. His .78 WHIP is more like a closer's than a mid-man's.

Unfortunately for the Flying Tigers, and for Teufel's hot streak, Teufel was placed on the 7-day disabled list on the 15th.

-- Jordan Pratt

If Teufel wasn't already dubbed the workhouse, Pratt would be. In four appearances Pratt has logged 8 innings pitched and a hold. His WHIP is a microscopic .88 and he has struck out nine while only allowing one earned run.

-- Ryan Robowski

Like Teufel, Robowski has yet to allow an earned run. He's nibbled two saves from Faulk, and has let up seven hits in six innings while whiffing three.

-- Dan Gentzler

Despite being the weakest link in a strong chain, Gentzler still has posted a dominant 1.93 ERA in 4.2 innings while dealing for two saves of his own. Despite the ERA, though, Gentzler is saddled with a 0-2 record.

Looking Forward

Lakeland has two more games in their current series vs. Daytona in a battle for first place in the FSL North. After Daytona, the Flying Tigers play three games in four days vs. Brevard County, and then play three –two away and one home—vs. Clearwater.

Making Moves

On the 16th RHP Zach Samuels was assigned to the Flying Tigers.

On the 17th LHP Jay Voss and SS Ryan Soares were assigned to the Flying Tigers and 2b William Bergolla was placed on the 7-day disabled list.

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