The 2019 season has been a rough one so far for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. 55 games in, and they currently sit at 23-32. Although the team may not have been able to secure a playoff spot in the first half, there is still plenty of season left to play. There are also bright spots on the team that can help lead them to a half of the Northern Division Championship. Two of them are being represented in the 2019 Florida State League All-Star Game, with one also getting the nod while being called up Double-A.
After turning in a season where he hit .300, outfielder Luke Burch was placed in the leadoff spot for Lakeland in 2019. He would respond by upping his average to .307 and was able to consistently put the ball in play and give his team the opportunity to put runs on the board. In the field he remained error-free through 27 games, while splitting time between all three outfield positions. This is Burch's first Minor League Baseball All-Star selection, and due to his outstanding play, the organization promoted him to the Erie SeaWolves.
Tarik Skubal has had his first opportunity as a starting pitcher this season, after spending time in a bullpen role his rookie year in 2018. Don't let the 3-4 record fool you. Skubal has been the stable arm the Flying Tigers have needed at the top of their rotation. His 3.42 ERA and .215 average against lead the team, and his 64 strikeouts sit at 3rd in the Florida State League. This is the Seattle U graduate's first All-Star nomination in just his second professional season.
Since turning pro in 2016, Brady Policelli has shown solid versatility in the field, even if he's been selected as the starting DH for the North Division. That being said, he's been an offensive force for Lakeland this season. His 6 home runs and 25 runs batted in lead the team, while his 6 triples are just second in the Florida State League. Policelli has not only proven himself in the box, but also on the basepaths. His 9 stolen bases (and previously mentioned home runs) are top 10 in the FSL. Like his teammates, the D.C. native is appearing in his first Minor League All-Star Game, and has the potential to affect the game in a variety of ways.
Flying Tigers fans have already had to say goodbye to several quality players this season, including the aforementioned Burch. Such is the way in the Minor Leagues. As tough as it can be, players such as Policelli and Skubal will continue to give the fans hope for the second half of the season, which will start on June 17th. The Florida State League will be continuing its 100th anniversary celebration during All-Star Weekend in Jupiter. Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium will play host to the 58th All-Star Game, with festivities beginning on Friday, June 14th.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.