The Two Sides to Luke May

   Bring up the name of Luke May and his chances and you're likely to get widely divergent opinions. It's rather like Hillary Clinton. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground. One side will point out that here's a kid who's hitting a lot of home runs and who's made the difficult conversion to catcher. In other words, a prospect you can't ignore.

"Wait a minute." is the answer from the other side. "He's hitting all those in the California League, which is the next thing to a video game when it comes to hitting the long ball. He strikes out way too much and  is about a .250 hitter, any way. Besides, I hear he's not all that much of a catcher."

     Like it does so often the reality of all this lies in the middle. True, the Cal League is a hitters' haven for the most part- a land of cozy parks located most often in the desert and in towns of some altitude. True, not among the clouds but when you leave the coast you start climbing. They don't call one of the teams "High Desert" for nothing.

And he is a free-swinger, a hacker. He fanned 130 times last year at Columbus, has ab even 100 at last count this time. And, yeah, he's hardly accomplished back of the plate.

But please note that his 25 homers lead the league. Nobody else out there is doing it as well. And while he has a .257 career average and is around that mark this year, he's improving at the plate. And, as for his catching, they'll tell you that while he definitely has things to learn- mostly, blocking balls in the dirt, he's getting better there, too. After all, he's a beginner at the position.

This is actually Luke's fourth full-time spot in the field since he was drafted out of a Missouri high school in 2003. He began as a shortstop, was moved to left field, then made his way to center field. He's an athlete which is why they thought he may be able to handle the move back of the plate. He certainly has the arm for it.

There is something else about him, too. Don't bother looking this one up. It's his work ethic. Few if any players in the system are more devoted to the game and are willing to put in the time that it takes to get better at it. It's as much a talent as recognizing pitches or throwing. He has it.

As for misleading home run totals, he spent most of the latter part of the 2006 season sending balls out and that was on the South Atlantic League, where nobody says home runs come cheaply. He wound up with 18 then. His power is genuine.

Sure, there's areas that need improvement. But he the thing is-he's improving them. So, while, nobody's here to claim, he's the next Russell Martin, he's a kid with some talent to watch.

Very definitely.