Rays Prospect Watch: Stock Rising (5/21/12)

Every week we take a look at the notable performances from the past week down on the Rays farm and what players have seen their stock rise. This week: Montgomery outfielder Kyeong Kang continues to batter Southern League pitching, Charlotte starter Grayson Garvin looks to be getting settled in Port Charlotte and Bowling Green's Ryan Carpenter is quietly having a good season on the bump.

stats are from the week of 5/14 to 5/20

OF Kyeong Kang---Montgomery Biscuits: .345/.387/.690, 10-for-29, 6 2B, 2 3B, 6 R

Kang has been on the rise for awhile now and if not for the emergence of Bowling Green's Josh Sale, he would have the inside track at being named Rays Minor League Player of the Month for May. Kyeong has been raking the whole month and has hit .311/.420/.676 in May with 17 extra-base hits, 21 runs and 13 RBI. His .990 OPS leads the Southern League and he is second only to Durham's Henry Wrigley in home runs (8) and RBI (25) in the Rays system. Building off the improvement he showed last season, Kang is hitting like a man that wants to be at Triple-A and if the Rays continue to get injured at a record pace, there may be a spot open in Durham very soon.

OF Josh Sale---Bowling Green Hot Rods: .364/.481/.818, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 R

This is Sale's second straight appearance in this column and if you hadn't already heard...he's kind of hot right now. He deserves to be mentioned again however, because as we learned in Bowling Green beat writer Austin Nichols' piece on Sale today, this is more than just a sustained hot streak from Sale. After a month in extended spring training, Sale has come to Bowling Green with a new attitude towards the game and a much improved approach at the plate. His body of work this month has been impressive and he already has five home runs and 15 RBI in 40 at bats. He has also continued to be patient and wait for his pitch and has walked 10 times while striking out only 8. It's still early and the sample size small, but Sale is saying and doing all the right things and we could be witnessing a talented hitter transform into the dangerous, middle-of-the-order bat that the Rays envisioned when drafting him and that the system so desperately needs.

LHP Kyle Lobstein---Montgomery Biscuits: 2 GS, 14 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 1 ER, 10 K

With the promotion of Shane Dyer to Triple-A Durham and Opening Day starter Alexander Colome on the shelf with an oblique injury, Lobstein has proven to be the Biscuits most consistent starter in 2012. Save for a bad three-start stretch from April 23rd to May 4th, the left-hander has allowed two runs or less in all of his starts. In his last three outings he he has thrown 19 innings (including an 8 inning masterpiece on Sunday) and allowed a lone run on 10 hits with 17 punch-outs. Lobstein leads the Biscuits in starts (9), innings pitched (45.1) and strikeouts (39). He has seen an uptick in his walk totals (5.0 BB/9) from previous seasons, but he is also striking out hitters at a higher rate (7.7 K/9) than in the past. His current run of pitching has been pretty impressive however, and he is a pitcher that bares monitoring for the duration to see if he is slowly developing into a major league-caliber arm.

LHP Grayson Garvin---Charlotte Stone Crabs: 2 GS, 11 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 9 K

After not pitching in 2011 following his being selected in the supplemental round of last year's draft, many were curious to see what the Rays had in Garvin. If his recent results are any indication, they have a pretty darn good pitcher in the lefty from Vanderbilt. Garvin has allowed two runs are less in 6 of his 9 starts out of the gate and has shown good walk (3.2 BB/9) and strikeout (7.7 K/9) rates so far in his young pro career. Garvin has been pretty dominant in May allowing a run or less in three of his four starts this month while allowing only 6 walks to 19 strikeouts. As he continues to make adjustments, we should see even better things from Garvin, as he has a nice assortment of pitches and above-average command. On a very deep and talented Charlotte staff, Garvin has the potential to be the best of the bunch by season's end.

LHP Ryan Carpenter---Bowling Green Hot Rods: 2 GS, 10 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 12 K

Carpenter's great beginning to 2012 has gotten lost in the shuffle due to the equally impressive starts of rotation-mates Felipe Rivero and Jake Floethe. There has never been any doubting Carpenter's stuff, but his control would seemingly disappear for long stretches while in college at Gonzaga. That has not been the case for Carpenter in his brief pro career as in 71.1 minor league innings he has walked only 9 batters while striking out 68. Throwing out a forgettable 14 hit, 9 run outing on May 10th, the Arizona native has allowed just five runs in his last 33 innings. He is tied with Floethe for the team lead in wins with 5 and is fifth in the Rays system in strikeouts with 42. Coming into the season, many prospect pundits called Carpenter an under-the-radar pitching prospect and thus far that has proven to be true. If he continues to pitch with such excellent command and control, the sky is the limit for him given his above-average pitching arsenal.

John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.


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