2015 Lakeland Flying Tigers Preview

The Flying Tigers enter the season with a handful of notable prospects, but not quite the same firepower they would have if the club didn't trade prospects like Willy Adames and Jonathon Crawford. Who will step up to take their place?

The 2015 season marks the 50th season of baseball at Joker Marchant Stadium, and the 49th season that Lakeland has been an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers -- the longest affiliation in Minor League Baseball.

Led by returning manager Dave Huppert, newly appointed pitching coach Jorge Cordova and hitting coach Nelson Santovenia, the Flying Tigers look to rebound from a disappointing 62-75 overall record last season.

Lakeland's roster is highlighted by four members inside the top 20 of the TigsTown Top 50 prospects list this season; including Kevin Ziomek, Endrys Briceno, Grayson Greiner and Javier Betancourt.

Leading the way, and getting the ball on opening night, is the ACE of the Flying Tigers staff southpaw Kevin Ziomek. The 23-year-old dominated the Midwest League last season, earning an All-Star nod while posting a tidy 2.27 ERA, with 10 wins and 152 strikeouts over 123 innings.

Right-hander Endrys Briceno logged just three starts last season before being shut down for the season, eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old will begin the season on the disabled list, but looks to return healthy and strong to re-establish his highly regarded prospect status.

Rounding out the rotation are org soldiers Jonathan Maciel, Ryan Longstreth, Kenton St. John and Tommy Collier.

Lakeland's bullpen features some intriguing former TigsTown Top 50 prospects, including hard throwing southpaw Joe Rogers, and right-handers Montreal Robertson and Calvin Drummond. The trio of arms should handle the late innings for Lakeland this season.

Last season's closer Scott Sitz returns to close out games for the Flying Tigers. The bullpen is also rounded out with familiar faces Matt Davenport, Julio Felix, and Confesor Lara.

Behind the dish, 6' 6" Grayson Greiner will handle the Flying Tigers pitching staff. Greiner, the Tigers 3rd round selection in last year's June Draft was tabbed the 12th best prospect in the TigsTown Top 50. Drew Longley, who has spent parts of the past two seasons in Lakeland, will return and share duties behind the plate this season.

Lakeland's outfield will consist of gritty, grinder, org types in Ben Verlander, Raph Rhymes, Jiwan James and Ismael Salgado. The Flying Tigers infield however, features prospect second-baseman Javier Betancourt, with Dominic Ficociello and Francisco Martinez at the infield corners. Minor league veterans Bobby Borchering, Curt Powell and Jared Reaves round out the opening day roster.

Armed with a small handful of legit prospects and a mass quantity of org soldiers, the Flying Tigers should be an interesting team to watch this season.

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