Lakeland MLN: Climbing Back into the Race

Rain washed away much of last week's schedule, leaving Lakeland with just four games this past week. Doing their best to claw their way to the top, the Flying Tigers won two of four games, improving to (7-8) this season. Leading the way were a few familiar faces that continue to dominate the opposition.

Third-baseman Nick Castellanos continued to swing a hot bat this past week. The 20-year-old was 6-for-14, with 3 doubles and an RBI.

Thanks much in part to a ten-game hit streak that included five multi-hit games, his .386 AVG and .966 OPS lead the Florida State League.

"I feel very comfortable right now," said Castellanos about his hot start. "I'm doing my best to make adjustments early and often from one at-bat to the next. I'm not pressing, just having fun. Right now the balls are finding holes.

Garcia Quietly Remains Red Hot

Despite being just 20-years-old last season, opinions on outfielder Avisail Garcia's 2011 campaign were a bit of a mixed bag. Unimpressed with the naysayers, Garcia is doing his best to let his bat do all the talking.

This past week, Garcia went 6-for-16, raising his batting average to .357, the second highest mark on the circuit. The Venezuelan native also clubbed his first home run of the young season and swiped his fifth stolen base.


This season, Brian Flynn has almost become synonymous with the word win. The 6-foot-8, southpaw recorded his third win of the season on April 19th, his 22nd birthday. Scattering four hits and walking just one, Flynn held the Clearwater Threshers to just one unearned run over seven innings.

"The outing on my birthday was exactly what I had hoped for," said Flynn. I had joked with Skip the week before, that since I was starting on my birthday he should ignore the pitch count and let me have the game. So, I was extremely happy with getting a solid 7 innings in. It was great talking to my mom after the game to cap the day off right."

Thursday's victory was the second consecutive time that Flynn helped the Flying Tigers end a losing streak.

"It's something I've definitely thought about going into those starts. Our team is extremely talented so we aren't going to stay in slumps for very long. I go into the game with a plan to pitch deep into the ball game to set a tone. Everything has gone well to this point and the bats have supported me in all of my starts."

Flynn's three wins are tied for the league lead and his 0.92 ERA is fifth best on the circuit.


Left-handed reliever Matt Crouse scoreless streak has now reached 8 2/3 innings this season. The 6-foot-4, southpaw has surrendered just one hit and two walks over that span. Selected in the 24th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Crouse has been a pleasant surprise this season.

"Crouse is a guy to keep an eye on," said Pitching Coach Mike Maroth. He's kind of like me; not a hard throwing lefty but he throws strikes with several different pitches. He's aggressive and he gets results. His deceptive delivery generates weak contact and he's done a good job missing bats."

Looking Forward

Thanks to Mother Nature, Lakeland has played just one home game since April 11th. Fortunately, a little home cooking is on deck as six of their next seven games are home.

The Flying Tigers host the Daytona Cubs tonight in the final game of their three-game series. Lakeland then welcomes the division leading Dunedin Blue Jays for a pivotal three-game set beginning Wednesday. Saturday evening, Lakeland visits Jackie Robinson Stadium for another matchup against the Cubs. The Flying Tigers then host Daytona on Sunday and Monday.

James R. Chipman is the Lakeland Flying Tigers correspondent for TigsTown. Be sure to follow him on twitter @JAYRC_MCB.

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