TigsTown Players of the Month: June

With the 4th of July, comes time yet again to announce the TigsTown.com Players of the month. There has been a lot of fluctuation throughout the system, as players adjust to new leagues, and new leagues adjust to new players, but there are a few familiar names taking home the hardware this month. Check inside to find out who the big winners are.

Starting off at Toledo, it was a pretty hotly contested race, featuring veteran slugger Josh Phelps, second baseman/left fielder Ryan Raburn, and outfielder David Espinosa. While Phelps destroyed the International League all month, it was hard to ignore the stellar performance of a player four years his junior. After taking home the monthly award in April, David Espinosa was back with a monster month to capture his second trophy of the season. For June, David logged a .303/.376/.645 line that included 4 doubles, 5 triples, 4 homeruns, and 3 steals. That type of impressive performance is what keeps prospect gurus thinking he still has a chance to contribute at some point. Espinosa is finally getting a chance to play regularly at the minor leagues highest level, and he's knocking the ball around with ease. Keep an eye on him, as this may not be the last award he wins this month.

There have been a lot of troubling occurrences at Erie this season, but June finally saw a huge bright spot, if only for 12 games. Despite the limited playing time throughout the month, shortstop Tony Giarratano began to come alive, pounding the ball at unheard of rates. Tony finished his 12-game month with a .488/.580/.585 line while walking nearly twice as much as he struck out (9 BB, 5 K). Giarratano's progress is June is a small bright spot in an otherwise dismal offensive season at Erie. While it's unlikely that any player could maintain those rates over an extended period, here's to hoping it was a sign of good things to come throughout July and August.

Without much to crow about in Lakeland these days, it was difficult to choose an award winner, and not in the way I normally like these things to be difficult. Instead of choosing between a number of top-notch performances, this month was like choosing the lesser of two evils. While Chris Robinson appeared to finally come alive (a little bit), and he posted a sexier batting average than our monthly winner, he did little else to be productive at the plate. Defending his crown from May, Jeff Larish takes home the hardware despite an abysmal .230 average for the month. While he may have only hit .230, Larish still posted a .350 OBP and a .494 SLG for the month, including 5 doubles, and 6 more homeruns; taking his season totals to 22 and 13 respectively.

The race for the award at West Michigan was much more tantalizing, seeing Dusty Ryan and Michael Hollimon duke it out in a big way. While Hollimon managed a .325/.438/.463 line in June, Dusty Ryan was just a tick better, notching a .371/.426/.565 month. Ryan bounced back after a sub par May, to post monster numbers including 3 homeruns and 11 RBI. With the absence of Cameron Maybin for much of the month, Ryan's offensive explosion helped the ‘Caps continue their winning ways. After a 2005 season that saw Ryan struggle to muster much of anything, he is beginning to re-establish himself as possibly the top catching prospect in the system. If those in front of him don't turn it up a notch soon, he may be stealing their spots.

While the short-season teams have gotten under way, awards won't be handed out for those levels until next month, once a sufficient sample is established. Check back tomorrow to see which pitchers were tops amongst their peers in June. Can Jair Jurrjens and Humberto Sanchez continue their award streaks? Find out tomorrow.

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