Minor League Players of the Month: May

Two months of baseball are in the books, and things are starting to take shape down on the farm. There are guys heating up, and guys cooling off, but all over the place there were some pretty impressive performances. Check inside to see this month's award winners.

I'm serious. Every time I begin to write Ryan Raburn off as a 4-A player, he goes absolutely crazy and makes me wonder all over again. After struggling for years with his defense at second base, Raburn has reinvented himself as a utility player whose best asset is pounding the baseball. Ryan has played games at second, left field, and right field this season, and has played third extensively throughout his career. The one constant through all of this throughout the last month has been the ball jumping off his bat. Raburn finished the month with a .313/.429/.657 line, driving 9 homeruns in 99 at-bats, and driving 32 runs across home plate. All told, Ryan's offensive explosion has his name popping up as a potentially useful tool in Detroit.

Erie's offense has still been extremely poor this season, but there were a couple of bright spots in May. Catcher Mike Rabelo entered the season likely serving as the backup to Danilo Sanchez, but has forced his way into the lineup, and doesn't appear ready to give up that spot. "Rabs" batted .333/.366/.590 in 22 games for Erie last month, raising his season line to .303/.336/.492. One consistent knock on Mike throughout the year has been his inability to drive the ball for extra bases. Well, with 11 of his 26 hits leaving him running to at least second base, we may be seeing a trend changing. For the Seawolves to remain competitive later into the summer, they will need the production to continue from their veteran catching prospect.

The Lakeland Tigers have hit quite a rough patch over the last few weeks, but don't blame that on Jeff Larish. After a solid opening month, Larish has begun pounding the ball with authority, leading to a .278/.361/.519 line with 10 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 homeruns in 28 games. The Tigers brought Larish into the fold in hopes that his polished collegiate bat could move him quickly through the system. If he continues to hit like he did in May, that quick movement could become a reality very soon. Larish wasn't alone in Lakeland's offense this month, as fellow 2005 draft choice Chris Robinson broke out with a .288/.367/.375 month, but that wasn't enough to match the tear Larish was on. Look for Jeff to stay hot as the weather begins to match his performance.

With top prospect Cameron Maybin out with a "locked" finger for much of the month, the door was open for other prospects to step up and grab the spotlight. With that, several players took it upon themselves to lead the ‘Caps offense. Despite outstanding months by Pedro Cotto and Justin Justice, it was Matt Joyce who really stole the show. After substantial discussion about whether or not Joyce could handle an immediate jump to Lakeland, many were disappointed with his April struggles. Those struggles are only a memory after Joyce posted an impressive .311/.380/.511 month with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Despite Joyce's Division II college background, he's an outstanding offensive player, who has the potential to improve dramatically, and could see Lakeland before season's end.

Offensively, things perked up a bit throughout May, but there is still a long ways to go. With pitching remaining solid from top to bottom, success will require the offenses to step up and match the production of our TigsTown award winners. Look for additional prospects to break out in the coming months, as players continue to adjust to their new levels.

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