TigsTown MLN: The Surging A-ball Clubs

Snap your fingers, close your eyes, or just take a long weekend vacation, and suddenly the Tigers have a trio of A ball clubs all playing lights out baseball. Where'd this play come from, and will it last?

Starting with the highest in the pecking order, you can't be too surprised about the Lakeland surge. After a rough first few games after the All Star break, they're back to playing the way they were before that. The L-Tigers have now won seven straight games, and it isn't just their pitchers coming out of nowhere to lead the way.

Lakeland's offense is simply on fire as of late, having averaged eight runs per game over that seven day stretch. Despite the slowdown from Kody Kirkland, everyone on the team is still hitting for a high average (seven of the nine regulars have an average over .275, and the two that don't have combined for 25 home runs already).

The pitching has been its solid self, and that should come as no surprise, as even after the loss of Verlander the team has arguably two of the top pitchers in the Florida State League with Jordan Tata and Nate Bumstead.

West Michigan has been a bit more of a surprise, as they toiled with mediocrity for much of the first half of the season. Then again, last year they were in a similar position only to catch fire in July and end up winning the Midwest League championship. Currently, West Michigan has won seven of its last eight games, and is allowing less than four runs a game to cross the plate (that becomes fewer than three if you take out one poor outing from reliever Freddy Dolsi).

The bats in Comstock Park are finally getting on track as well, as seems to be a common occurrence as the weather warms up in the summer months. Just as well, some of this success can be attributed to Nick McIntyre who is becoming this year's Juan Francia, a player who more or less came out of nowhere and is now hitting .335/.376/.465 while playing around the diamond for the ‘Caps.

His bat has helped make up for the struggles from Jeff Frazier and Dusty Ryan, who haven't put up the type of power numbers the Tigers were expecting (though both have started to heat up as of late). Unfortunately for Ryan, he likely won't get the opportunity to keep working through his slump, as the addition of Chris Robinson likely means he'll become an observer on most nights, sitting on the bench and helping warm up relievers.

Finally in Oneonta, the O-Tigers have taken hold of first place in the Stedler division by doing one simple thing; score. Oneonta leads the New York-Penn League in runs scored by a wide margin (they've scored 115 through 15 games; the next closest has more than 20 less at 93). What's the source of this? Solid hitting, and not just for average. They're second in the league in on base percentage, and first in slugging percentage. All of that put together gives them the top record in the short season NYPL and has them making up for the struggles of a select few pitchers.

These pitchers, while carrying name recognition, simply haven't kept the opposition from scoring. The O-Tigers can keep scoring, but at some point, some of these pitchers (Jay Sborz, Collin Mahoney, and Kevin Whelan to name just a few) will have to buckle down and not just rely on the offense to out-score everyone.

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