Lakeland MLN: All-Star Garcia Shines

Due to the All-Star weekend and heavy rains, the Flying Tigers have had just three games since we last checked in. Over the weekend, one Flying Tiger in particular boosted his stock on the biggest stage in Port Charlotte.

Garcia's Big Day

Detroit Tigers prospect Avisail Garcia stole the show in the Home Run Derby, which took place before the Florida State League All-Star Game at Charlotte Sports Park.

After hitting four home runs in the first round, Garcia entered a three-out tiebreaker with Daytona Cubs outfielder Nelson Perez. Against strong winds, both Garcia and Perez could only muster one home run each with their three outs.

With the game's start time looming, officials opted to put both Nelson and Garcia in the final round against Cory Vaughn of the St. Lucie Mets. In the final round Garcia found his stride, elevating a sky-high blast to the retention pond beyond left field. Garcia's eight home runs edged out Vaughn as the 21-year-old outfielder took home the hardware in this year's Home Run Derby.

Adding to his day, Garcia went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in the 51st Annual Mid-Season Classic.

Rondon Roughed Up

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the All-Star Game wasn't so kind to Flying Tigers closer Bruce Rondon.

Entering in the bottom of the eighth with a runner aboard, Rondon uncharacteristically struggled. An RBI groundout, a walk, a wild pitch and a single allowed the inherited runner as well as a run of his own to score.

Proving that the outing was a fluke, Rondon opened the second half of the season last night with a scoreless ninth inning; recording his fifteenth save of the season.

Clean Slate

The standings have reset and the second half of the Florida State League season is officially underway. With one win already under their belt, Lakeland looks to build off their strong first half finish.

And technically, things will be a bit easier for Lakeland the second time around. While first-half champ Dunedin could still win the second-half pennant, the second place team would then earn the wild card playoff berth. So, technically speaking, Lakeland has one less team to worry about in their quest for the postseason.

Looking Forward

Lakeland hands the ball to southpaw Shawn Teufel today as they square off against Brevard County. Teufel is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA over three June starts--a span of 19 1/3 innings.

The Flying Tigers then wrap up their three-game set with the Manatees on Wednesday evening.

Thursday, Lakeland begins a home-and-away three-game series with the division rival Tampa Yankees.

Rounding out the week, Lakeland hosts the Jupiter Hammerheads for a four-game series.

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

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