Lakeland MLN: Team Effort Keeps LFT in Race

Lakeland's total team effort continued to be their recipe for success, as they were winners of four of their six games this past week. With a 19-16 record, the Flying Tigers are now four-games back of first place Dunedin, and tied for second place in the Florida State League's North division.

Some Are Hot and Some are Not

Second-baseman Hernan Perez continued to swing a hot bat this past week. The 21-year-old went 9-for-21 (.429) with a home run and two RBI. Perez continues to thrive since being moved to the bottom third of the batting order. With his slow start well behind him, Perez holds the team's fourth highest batting average at .278.

Centerfielder Luis Castillo has done an outstanding job, stepping in and leading off, replacing the injured Daniel Fields. The 23-year-old went 8-for-21 (.381) with a double, an RBI, and four runs scored this past week. Castillo is making the most of his increased playing time, batting .300 in May, lifting his average to .253 on the season.

After falling into a bit of a mini-slump, outfielder Avisail Garcia picked things up a bit at the plate. The 20-year-old went 8-for-24 with two home runs and five RBI this past week, raising his batting average to .324 this season.

Unfortunately, shortstop Dixon Machado continues to struggle at the plate. The 20-year-old, Venezuelan native has registered just two hits in his last seven games and six in the month of May. His recent funk has caused his batting average to drop to .187 on the season. Thankfully, his team-high 20 walks (.313 on-base percentage) and ability to steal bases (7-of-10 this season) leave him cemented in the two-spot of the batting order.

After finishing out the month of April strong, catcher James McCann has hit a wall in the month of May. Compiling just three hits this past week, the 21-year-old is hitting .184 this month. Thanks to his recent struggles, McCann's batting average has dipped to a less-than stellar .245 mark this season.

In A League of His Own

Third-baseman Nick Castellanos extended his most recent hit-streak to 15 games last night. Although he hit just .292 this past week--a slump by his standards -- Castellanos' .399 batting average is still tops in all of Minor League Baseball.

Behind all of the impressive core numbers is an impressive trend in Castellanos' approach this season. After striking out an alarming 130 times last season, he's reduced that number from 26% to 18%. While it's only six weeks of data, it's encouraging to see improvement.

Flying Under the Radar

When you're selected in the 24th round, you're hardly considered a top prospect. 21-year-old Matt Crouse doesn't seem too concerned with prospect status though. Letting his performance do all of the talking, Crouse has quietly become a key cog in the Flying Tigers bullpen.

The crafty southpaw has surrendered just two runs in 20 innings of work this season. His shiny 0.90 ERA and 0.80 WHIP are a product of pounding the strike zone and creating weak contact. Pitching in a variety of different roles, including two spot-starts, Crouse is quickly making a name for himself this season.

Turner Earns Promotion

Top prospect Jacob Turner's rehab assignment in Lakeland came to an end this past weekend. Over four starts, Turner compiled a 1-2 record with a 1.66 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 21 2/3 innings of work.

In his first start following his promotion to AAA-Toledo, Turner earned a no-decision surrendering two-earned runs over 5 1/3 innings.

Looking Forward

Tuesday, southpaw Brian Flynn leads the Flying Tigers against the Yankees, in game two of their three-game set in Tampa. After Wednesday's series finale in Tampa, the Flying Tigers return home for a four-game series against the St. Lucie Mets. Monday, Lakeland heads to Bradenton for game one of their four-game series against the Marauders.

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