Lakeland MLN: First Half Hopes Disappear

Despite being winners of four-of-six this past week, Lakeland's (28-27) playoff chances have all but disappeared. With ten games remaining, the Flying Tigers are a season high nine games behind first place Dunedin.

Mr. 1700

Sunday, Flying Tigers Manager Dave Huppert earned his 1,700th career win when Lakeland defeated Jupiter 11-1. Huppert currently has more wins than any active Minor League Baseball Manager.

Dave Huppert is no stranger to the history books though. During his playing days, Huppert caught 31 of 33 innings on April 18, 1981 for the IL's Rochester Red Wings in the longest game in professional baseball history.

This season is Huppert's 24th as a MiLB manager and second with the Flying Tigers. In addition to the Tigers, he has managed for the Brewers, White Sox, Marlins, Expos and Phillies. Huppert has also received Manager of the Year honors twice in his career.

Four Stars

The 51st annual FSL All-Star Game is rapidly approaching. This year's mid-season classic will take place at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Saturday, June 16 at 7:05 p.m.

This past week, lineups were announced by League President Chuck Murphy. Flying Tigers' outfielder Avisail Garcia, catcher James McCann, closer Bruce Rondon and the recently promoted third-baseman Nick Castellanos will represent Lakeland and the FSL's North Division.

Off To Erie

20-year-old Nick Castellanos was officially promoted to AA-Erie late last night. The former Flying Tigers third-baseman hit .405 with 23 extra-base hits and 32 RBI over 55 games.

In addition to his MiLB best .405 batting average, Castellanos recorded 27 multi-hit games and a FSL high 18-game hit streak this season. He has been held hitless in just five games and has reached base safely in all but three games this season.

Rondon Continues Impressive Streak

Knocking down saves is nothing new for Bruce Rondon. The 21-year-old closer picked up his 10th and 11th saves of the season this past week.

The flame throwing right-hander tossed 9 1/3 scoreless innings in the month of May. You have to go all the way back to April 23rd to find a game that he allowed a run. That's 42 calendar days and 13 1/3 innings if you're scoring at home.

Rondon - 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA - has struck out 26 batters over 18 1/3 innings this season.

Beyond the shiny ERA and impressive strikeout ratio lies an even more important number though. The number eight--representing his walk total this season--just might be the most encouraging sign. After allowing an alarming 7.7 walks per nine last season, Rondon has almost carved that number in half (3.9 BB/9), allowing just eight walks this season.

Rondon continues to learn how to command and control his upper-90s heat. Regardless, this seasons results are a step in the right direction for the Tigers late-inning prospect.

Castillo Shines During Fields' Absence

23-year-old outfielder Luis Castillo is making the most out of his increased playing time. After struggling a bit out of the gate, Castillo has hit .368 over his last ten games. This past week Castillo's lucky number seemed to be five. He hit nearly .500 (11-for-23), with five doubles, five RBI and five runs scored.

Looking Forward

The Flying Tigers return home to Joker Marchant Stadium tonight; as they square off against the Charlotte Stone Crabs in a four-game series. The Tampa Rays affiliate are led by All-Stars Derek Dietrich, Chris Rearick, C.J. Riefenhauser and Mikie Mahtook.

Saturday evening, Lakeland travels east to Viera as they take on the Brevard County Manatees. The Milwaukee Brewers affiliate are 5-1 against Lakeland this season.

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