For the last month or two, the spotlight in Lakeland has been on rehabbing Major League pitcher Dontrelle Willis, drawing attention away from top prospect Rick Porcello. Willis was finally moved up this week and Rick further cemented his position as top dog in the organization. Porcello pitched five innings while giving up only one earned run and walking two batters. This is the second consecutive week where Porcello has reverted back to his struggles to surpass the fifth inning.
Regardless, he is doing fine and is still throwing a high speed fastball among other things. Earning his third save of the season was this year's top pick for the Tigers, Ryan Perry. Ryan pitched two innings total this week and gave up zero hits but walked three batters. He also registered five strikeouts.
The only other Lakeland pitcher to earn a win this week was Jonah Nickerson. The product of Oregon State improved to 11-3 by pitching seven innings and giving up four hits while surrendering zero runs and striking out six.
While Dontrelle was moved up to AAA Toledo, another former Major League pitcher has struggled to find his way back in Lakeland. Jordan Tata pitched three and 2/3 innings while giving up five earned runs and two home runs. He has since then been placed on the disabled list and one can imagine that his status with the organization remains questionable at this point.
The last pitcher to make notable news this week was Robbie Weinhardt – unfortunately it wasn't good news. After giving up his first run in A ball last week, Weinhardt made two appearances this week and gave up two and three runs respectively, raising his ERA to 1.98. Needless to say, the overall pitching for the Flying Tigers wasn't pretty – there were some other performances that we aren't even going to mention.
On the offensive side, things weren't all that better, but there was one lone bright spot on the team. Michael Bertram batted .409 this week with a double, a triple, and four home runs. Bertram has benefited from the extra infield spot opened up due to Ryan Strieby's injury. As a result, Lakeland also brought Jordan Lennerton up from the Gulf Coast League squad, but he has struggled early on.
Another player who has continued to struggle is Jeramy Laster who is batting .200 on the season. The Lakeland center fielder batter 2-21 this week while striking out eight times, breaking his stretch of three games without fanning. He continues to add to his league leading total of 187, however, a total that is 53 strikeouts more than second place.
Promotions within the organization, weather, poor pitching, and poor batting seem to be hindering any progress the team might be able to make this late in the season. Regardless, these next few weeks will be huge for the team, and they will start with a three game series against the Fort Myers Miracle at home this week before traveling to first place Dunedin.