The time has come to hand out the hardware for those players that excelled in 2011 at each minor league stop. We kick off the 2011 TigsTown awards in Lakeland, where a power-hitting first baseman and a shutdown closer led the way.
Lakeland Flying Tigers Player of the Year: 1B Tony Plagman
.257/.331/.435, 32 2B, 4 3B, 18 HR, 97 RBI
There was little about Plagman's season in the Florida State League that wasn't impressive. The 6-2, 210 pound first baseman paced the High-A circuit in RBI (97) and finished in the top ten in the league in home runs (18), doubles (32) and total bases (229), and was named a Mid-Season FSL All-Star. While the second year pro performed well overall, he was absolutely white-hot on two occasions throughout the season. Plagman came roaring out of the gate in April with a .308/.376/.438 line that included 23 RBI and nine extra-base hits in just 23 games that month. He was also hitting at a torrid pace in July as he ripped six doubles and six home runs while driving in 28 en route to a .290/.368/.533 line.
Lakeland Flying Tigers Pitcher of the Year: LHP Kenny Faulk
2-5, 2.56 ERA, 52.2 IP, 67 K, 15 BB, .253 BAA
A 24-year old lefty reliever out of Kennesaw State, Faulk followed up a terrific 2010 season at West Michigan with another outstanding year in 2011, this time in the Florida State League. Faulk posted a sub-1.00 EAR in April, and continued to post stellar marks in May and June and finished off a season that saw him post a cumulative 2.56 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. When asked about his generally consistent performance throughout the year Faulk noted, "I really focused on going out and getting strike one this year. When I did that and I was ahead in the count regularly, that really let me be more consistent in what I wanted to do." With 20 saves for the Flying Tigers, Faulk finished fourth in the FSL, running his career save total to a robust 41 in three years. When asked, Faulk is firm in his belief that this performance is just the next step in his development, "I recognize that I need to work on my dieting. I want to focus on that this off-season and this is my Rule 5 year. It's the biggest year of my career. I got that slider down this year, and I want to keep proving myself so I can get that shot in Double-A next season. People get called up to the big leagues from Double-A, so you never know from there."