TigsTown MLN: Third Sacker Heating Up

Find out whose recent hot stretch has vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard in his league, plus which shortstop has finally returned to the lineup after a scare, but why it wasn't quite the return everyone was hoping for. Plus, which pitching staff became even more crowded with a pitcher being activated from the disabled list.

Notes: The Mud Hens have taken to heart baseball's new advanced penalties for steroid abuse, and are now taking a pro-active stance in the community. Over the summer, the 'Hens will hold a pair of camps for the area's youth in which they'll explain the dangers of drugs, especially the dangers of performance enhancing drugs. One of the biggest concerns with the use of steroids by a number of stars has been the encouragement that it will give to youngsters to use the drugs, but yet another sign of a strong organization out-reaching to its community.
TT Stat: In 2004, Curtis Granderson was a model of patience, but that hasn't been the case so far in '05. Granderson has walked just four times in 59 at bats, while at the same time he leads the team with 18 strikeouts. Not exactly the ideal start one would be hoping for from a player the front office is hoping to place in the leadoff slot a year from now. Hopefully the early season struggles will disappear and Granderson will get back to his previous numbers.

Notes: As expected, Tony Giarratano made his return to the lineup on Thursday, after being out a week after aggravating his previously injured shoulder. It was a rough return for Giarratano though, as he struck out in all four of his at bats. That was likely just a combination of the cold game time temperatures as well as rustiness after a week off from live action. The good news is that it's nothing serious, and Giarratano is back in the lineup.
TT Stat: The SeaWolves bats have continued to struggle in their slow start to the season. In fact, the SeaWolves only have five batters that are even currently above the Mendoza line, that being below .200. After the five hitting well enough to not be mentioned (David Espinosa, Don Kelly, Juan Tejeda, Kurt Airoso, and Maxim St. Pierre), the rest of the team is hitting just .156 with a .197 slugging percentage. Not exactly stats that will translate to a lot of victories for the 'Wolves.

Notes: The Lakeland pitching staff got a bit more crowded on Thursday when they activated Andy Baldwin from the disabled list and sent reliever Mike Kobow to AA Erie. Baldwin started for the Whitecaps last year (and was a swingman for the L-Tigers in the latter part of '04), but with the crowded state of the staff, Baldwin will likely struggle to get innings.
TT Stat: Kody Kirkland has been real hot lately, as he's 9-for-17 in his last four games, including a slugging percentage of .706. Kirkland has also scored five runs and driven in five as well. This hot streak has launched Kirkland to the top of the leader board, as Kirkland now is leading the Florida State League in hitting with his .408 average.

West Michigan
Notes: The 'Caps lost a tough one on Thursday, but what was at the center of the debate was a questionable call on whether or not a ball was caught by Brent Dlugach. Dlugach, who ran across the diamond to make the catch after the rest of the infielders weren't able to find it in the night sky, appeared to catch the ball momentarily before his throwing hand knocked it out of his glove. Manager Matt Walbeck, and many of the Whitecaps, believed Dlugach had established possession. Umpire Mark Evans disagreed, and the error allowed the Lugnuts to score a run in the bottom of the 9th to win it. A tough break for the young 'Caps as they were attempting to make a run on the division lead.
TT Stat: Coming into the year, Matt Parrish wasn't considered much of a prospect. Apparently someone forgot to tell him that, as through 14 games, Parrish is leading the team in hitting with a .356 average. Parrish isn't hitting for a ton of power, but he's making good contact, walking a fair amount with six walks, and is even second on the team in RBI with six.

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