Lakeland Player of the Year: Outfielder Michael Hernandez
Its always fun to hand out awards to unexpected players; and Hernandez certainly fits that mold. After signing out of a tryout camp in Florida prior to the 2006 season, he has done nothing but hit, and hit for plenty of power. With Lakeland this summer, Hernandez carried the offense for long stretches, pounding Florida State League pitchers to the tune of a .286/.348/.511 line through the season's first three months. At season's end, Hernandez ranked sixth in the FSL in slugging (.478), fifth in home runs (20), and second in RBI (87), while finishing just outside the League's top ten in both total bases and OPS. One opposing Florida State League manager summed things up succinctly; "The kid was born to hit."
Lakeland Pitcher of the Year: Starting Pitcher Burke Badenhop
Since joining the Tigers out of Bowling Green in 2005, Burke has done one thing consistently, create outs at an alarming rate. After being named the organization's Pitcher of the Year in 2006 at West Michigan, and taking home five of TigsTown's monthly awards over the last two seasons, Badenhop has put himself on the prospect map. Ignoring for just a minute that he was stellar in three starts for AA-Erie to close the season, let's focus on his success at Lakeland. Badenhop's ten wins paced the Lakeland squad and tied for seventh in the FSL, while his 3.13 ERA tied him for fourth among FSL starting pitchers. On the season, Badenhop finished with a 1.21 WHIP that was good enough for fifth in the Florida State League, and his complete game shutout was one of only two logged by Flying Tiger pitchers this summer (the other belonging to Andrew Miller).