Lakeland Flying Tigers Player of the Year: 1B Dominic Ficociello
|2015 Stats - Hitting|
As a 23rd round pick of the Tigers in 2010, many speculated that Ficociello was insurance in case the Tigers could not sign first round pick Nick Castellanos; in which case Ficociello would receive an over-slot bonus and join the Tigers instead of heading to Arkansas. Well, Castellanos signed, Ficociello went to Arkansas, and then he ended up with the Tigers anyway as a 12th round pick in 2013. Moving around the diamond throughout his career, including time at second base, third base, first base, and even one game in center field, Ficociello settled in at first base in 2015, displaying Gold Glove caliber glove work. His ability to make plays at first base helped shore up the right side of the Lakeland infield, and also helped boost the confidence of the other infielders around him. On top of his excellent defense, Ficociello turned in a solid offensive showing in the Florida State League, posting a .297/.364/.401 line thanks to good bat speed and a strong understanding of the strike zone. Ficociello didn’t drive the ball out of the park much, popping just five home runs, but he smoked 13 doubles in just 85 games with Lakeland, and then another 12 doubles in just 43 games with Double-A Erie. First base prospects without substantial power have a tough road ahead of them as prospects, but Ficociello’s ability to make contact, drive the gaps, and play stellar defense might help him navigate that path.
Lakeland Flying Tigers Pitcher of the Year: LHP Kevin Ziomek
|2015 Stats - Pitching|
The Tigers second round pick in 2013, Ziomek continued to increase his workload throughout a strong showing in High-A in 2015. Ziomek logged an impressive 27 starts and fired two complete games for the Flying Tigers, amassing 154-2/3 innings on the bump. Over that span he yielded just 142 hits thanks to a broad arsenal, an ability to manipulate the baseball, and the ability to mix pitches and keep hitters off balance. Though his raw stuff backed up and his premium velocity was absent for much of the season, Ziomek still fanned 143 hitters and kept the ball in the yard by giving up just three home runs, making him an extremely tough pitcher for A-ball hitters to handle. Ziomek hit some bumps throughout the middle of the season, mostly when his command escaped him, but he put everything together down the stretch and dominated his FSL opponents throughout his last seven starts in August and September. In those seven starts, Ziomek hurled 46 innings, averaging nearly seven innings per start, allowing just 20 hits and nine walks while striking out 43 batter and finishing with a 1.37 ERA over that span. That type of dominating performance was exactly the exclamation point his season needed as he looks toward the stiffest challenge of his career in Double-A in 2016.