TigsTown Awards: Lakeland Tigers

Lakeland didn't have the standout season it was hoping to have, but that didn't mean no one had a big year for Lakeland. Who was the most impressive in '06?

Lakeland Player of the Year: First baseman Jeff Larish
Jeff Larish's full-season debut was a rousing success. On a team that could rarely muster much in the way of offensive output, Larish certainly did his part, finishing the season with a .258/.370/.460 line, and ended up ranked in the top ten in the league in 7 offensive categories. Despite some detractors citing his middling batting average, Larish was an offensive force worthy of the pre-season praise heaped on him. For his efforts, Jeff was named the TigsTown Lakeland Player of the Month on three occasions, in May, June, and August. Larish is a prototypical power hitter, with patience and average defense. Many fans and scouts alike are excited by his potential, and think he – not Chris Shelton – could be the Tigers first baseman of the future. Look for Jeff to get a shot at more advanced competition in 2007, when he makes his AA debut.

Lakeland Pitcher of the Year: Closer Kevin Whelan
Kevin Wehlan's second season as a pro wasn't quite as dominant as his first, but he still managed to thoroughly frustrate his competition. Whelan finished the season with 27 saves, good for 3rd in the Florida State League. In addition, Kevin ended his season with a 2.67 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings. His only downfall was walking nearly five batters per nine, but progress is expected in this arena as he gains more experience on the mound. Whelan was named the TigsTown Lakeland Pitcher of the Month in June, when he logged 7 saves, a 0.84 ERA, and struck out nearly 15 batters per nine innings. In addition, Kevin was named the MiLB.com Florida State League Pitcher of the Week during the season's opening week. Whelan will head to the Arizona Fall League, where an impressive performance could put him in line to compete for a job in Detroit next season.

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