Lakeland MLN: Fighting to Keep Pace

The Flying Tigers did their best to keep pace this past week as they won four out of seven games. At 9-7, Lakeland finds themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the Florida State League's North division. The Yankees, Manatees and Flying Tigers all trail the Clearwater Threshers by a half game.

Solid Week For the Rotation

Sandwiched in-between two so-so starts, the Flying Tigers rotation registered five consecutive quality starts this past week. The rotation posted a 2.24 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 11 walks over 32 1/3 innings.

Rotation members Brian Flynn, Luis Angel Sanz, Jared Wesson and Alex Burgos were all solid contributors. However, the gem of the bunch hands down belonged to Brian Stroud. Sunday afternoon, the 6'4" right-hander was nearly untouchable against a talented Daytona Cubs team. Stroud surrendered just one hit, a fifth inning single, over six scoreless innings.

Finding Production For the Five Spot

This past Wednesday, outfielder Avisail Garcia was promoted to Double-A Erie. Batting primarily in the five-hole, Garcia hit .289 with eight doubles, five triples, eight home runs, and 36 RBI over 266 at-bats for the Flying Tigers. The 21-year-old also chipped in 14 stolen bases during his tenure with Lakeland.

Naturally, Garcia's departure leaves a big hole in a key spot of Lakeland's lineup.

Reconfiguring the lineup, outfielder Daniel Fields has since been shifted to the five-hole. After a chilly 0-for-11 debut in his first three games, Fields has warmed up a bit settling into his new role. Fields finished the week 4-for-11 (4-for-22 overall) with a double and two walks.

One has to assume that first-baseman James Robbins is on Fields' heels. Robbins' second half tear continued this past week as the 21-year-old collected a hit in all seven games. Robbins, 11-for-24 this past week - is batting .431 with five doubles, two home runs and 15 RBI in 17 post All-Star break games. Robbins, who has spent the majority of the season in the bottom third of the batting order, has posted a FSL high 1.106 OPS since the break.

While it's hard to question Mr. 1700--Manager Dave Huppert, Robbins would be a no-brainer for me if I were pulling the strings.

Burgos Slowly But Surely Turning It Around

It'd be a gross understatement to say that Alex Burgos has been in a bit over his head this season. Burgos--6-8 with a 5.15 ERA--has allowed 131 base runners over 80 1/3 innings. The 21-year-old has also walked a FSL high 59 batters—two more than his 57 strikeouts. In short, this season has essentially been a disaster for the young southpaw.

However, the month of July has been a bit kinder to Mr. Burgos.

Over his last two starts, Burgos has recorded two wins, allowing just three earned runs over 12 innings. More importantly, the walks are slightly down (six) and the strikeouts (twelve) have been up.

Sure it's only two starts, but the results are definitely a step in the right direction for a prospect with legitimate potential. His mechanics seem to be improving and his confidence is reappearing.

Looking Forward

After fourteen straight games, the Flying Tigers are enjoying a rare off day today.

Wednesday, southpaw Jared Wesson takes the hill as Lakeland travels to Port Charlotte for a four-game series against the Stone Crabs. Losers of their last two games, the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate have struggled in the second half. The Stone Crabs are just 6-12 and currently in last place in the FSL's South division.

Sunday, the Flying Tigers continue their eight-game road trip as they head to Palm Beach for a four-game set against the Cardinals.

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