Lakeland MLN: Comeback Cats Remain In Race

A winner of four-of-seven this past week, Lakeland (23-19) remains five games behind red-hot Dunedin. Resilient to the end, three of Lakeland's four wins were dramatic late-inning come from behind victories.

Clark Continues To Shine

The Detroit Tigers plucked right-handed pitcher Tyler Clark in the 24th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Missouri.

This season, Clark has quietly been a key cog in the Flying Tigers bullpen. The 23-year-old reliever has a sparkling 0.95 ERA and 0.89 WHIP through 19 innings this season. Clark has racked up 23 strikeouts during that span, and hasn't allowed a run since April 26th or a hit since May 5th.

This past week Clark collected his second win of the season. Clark threw 3 1/3 innings of hitless ball, striking out five.

Bruce Brings The Heat

Lakeland's closer Bruce Rondon continued where he left off last week. Rondon converted his eighth and ninth save of the season over 2 1/3 innings of work. The 21-year-old flame-thrower also hit a reported 104 mph last Tuesday against the Tampa Yankees.

Rondon has not allowed a run since April 23rd, a span of 10 1/3 innings. Living up to the hype, Rondon has also racked up 24 strikeouts and put up a 2.35 ERA over 15 1/3 innings this season.

Wade's Big Week

Former third round draft pick Wade Gaynor continued to swing a hot bat this past week. The 24-year-old designated hitter and third-baseman was 8-for-16 with three walks. Gaynor clubbed two doubles and two triples over that span and he's batting .364 since May 9th.

No Signs of Slowing Down It was just another mediocre week of baseball for third-baseman Nick Castellanos. The 20-year-old went 10-for-26 (.385) with six walks this past week. His three doubles last week give him 14 on the season; which is good enough for second best on the circuit.

Castellanos' Florida State League high 18-game hit streak was snapped over the weekend by St. Lucie. Amazingly, Castellanos has recorded a hit in 39 of Lakeland's 42 games this season. He enters Tuesday's game with a Minor League best .396 batting average and .463 on-base percentage.

Clearly overmatched for Florida State League pitching, a promotion to AA-Erie is likely on the horizon.

Marte Begins Rehab

Detroit Tigers right-handed reliever Luis Marte began his journey back to Motown this past week in Lakeland.

Recovering from a left hamstring strain, Marte threw two scoreless innings of one hit ball, striking out three.

Since promoted to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, Marte has tossed another three innings of scoreless ball.

Making Moves

Early last week, Lakeland placed pitcher Kevin Eichhorn on the disabled list. Eichhorn is 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA over 45 innings this season. Taking his place was right-handed pitcher Brian Stroud.

Stroud made his Flying Tigers debut on Saturday. The 24-year-old earned a no-decision, surrendering seven hits, a walk and three earned-runs over 4 1/3 innings.

Looking Forward The Flying Tigers play game two of their four-game series with the Bradenton Marauders tonight. Lakeland will face off against the Pittsburg Pirates' top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Flying Tigers then wrap up the series with Bradenton on Thursday evening. Friday, Lakeland returns to Joker Marchant Stadium for a three-game series against the Tampa Yankees. Rounding out the week, Lakeland enjoys a rare off day on Monday.

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

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