Lakeland MLN: Staying in Striking Distance

Despite winning just three out of their last seven games, Lakeland remains within striking distance, five games behind the Dunedin Blue Jays.

Robbins Heating Up

After a cool start, first-baseman James Robbins' bat came alive this past week. The 21-year-old went 12-for-31 (.387) with three doubles, a home run and five RBI. His .350 batting average over the past ten games has raised his average to .261 this season. Robbins' biggest thorn in his side remains his FSL leading 46 strikeouts. Regardless, Robbins was a key cog in the Flying Tigers offense this past week.

Castellanos Continues To Shine

Plain and simple, Florida State League pitching is no match for third-baseman Nick Castellanos. The 20-year-old's bat remained hot this past week. Seriously though, has it been cold at all this season? Castellanos extended his latest hitting streak to nine games yesterday. He's hitting .486 with two doubles, two triples, a home run and 8 RBI over that span. His 22 RBI are third highest in the FSL and ten doubles are tied for second best. Not only does Castellanos lead the FSL, his .421 batting average is tops amongst all levels of Minor League Baseball.

Rondon's True Colors

The beginning of the season was no cake walk for closer Bruce Rondon. The 21-year-old, Venezuelan native was saddled with an 18.00 ERA heading into April 14th's game against Clearwater. Showing his true colors, Rondon has been almost untouchable the last few weeks, making his early season struggles a distant memory.

In his last nine innings, Rondon has surrendered just one run off of three hits. Diving in a bit deeper, the big right-hander hasn't allowed a single run over his past six innings.

Armed with a fastball that's touched as high as 100 mph, Rondon has racked up 19 strikeouts over eleven innings this season.

Rondon was tabbed the Tigers 19th best prospect by TigsTown in the most recent rankings release.

Turner Update

Thursday evening in Dunedin, top prospect Jacob Turner took the mound for his third start of the season. The 20-year-old right-hander struggled a bit, lasting just 4 2/3 innings. Turner surrendered four earned runs thanks to five hits and three walks. On a positive note, Turner struck out a season high six batters. The loss moves Turner to 0-2 this season with a 2.45 ERA over 14 2/3 innings of work.

Barring a last minute promotion, Turner is scheduled to make his fourth start of season tonight in Lakeland, against the Palm Beach Cardinals.

Making Moves

The Flying Tigers were once again busy making moves this past week.

Wade Gaynor was promoted to AA-Erie this past Tuesday. The 24-year-old former third round draft pick was batting .230 for Lakeland.

A few days later, outfielder Daniel Fields was placed on the 7-day-DL diagnosed with a hernia. Fields will be sidelined for approximately 4-6 weeks. Countering Fields' trip to the DL, infielder Edgar Corcino was re-assigned to Lakeland from Extended Spring Training.

Rounding out this week's movement, The Flying Tigers also acquired 24-year-old, third-baseman Matt Perry from Class-A West Michigan.

Looking Forward

After a seven game road trip, the Flying Tigers finally return home to Lakeland this week. Tonight, Lakeland welcomes the Palm Beach Cardinals for game one of their four-game series. The Flying Tigers then head to Tampa on Saturday evening for a matchup with the Yankees. Sunday, Lakeland enjoys their first off-day since a rainout on April 21st. Monday, the Flying Tigers return to Tampa for a three-game series against the Yankees.

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

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