Starting at the organization's highest level, infielder turned outfielder Ryan Raburn spent the entire month raking. His .290 average for the month boosted his yearly total to .265 heading into June, while he also slugged an impressive .590 in the season's second month. With a month that included six doubles, two triples, six homeruns, and 22 RBI, all while striking out less than he walked and stealing six bases in eight attempts, Raburn has heard his name mentioned for a trip to Detroit. With left fielder Craig Monroe struggling this season, there have begun to be calls for Raburn's hot bat in Detroit. This award is Raburn's fifth from TigsTown.
The Erie offense sputtered some in May, but Kody Kirkland managed to continue driving the ball. His batting average wasn't pretty (.238), but he did manage six doubles, two triples, and four homeruns, along with 18 RBI. Possibly the most impressive component of Kirkland's performance last month was his 13 walks in 30 games; the best walk rate he has demonstrated over a full month in his entire career. With gains like this, Kody may be finally transferring his athleticism and raw talent to actual baseball skills.
The Lakeland Flying Tigers were powered by several good offensive performances, particularly from the top of the order; but all of them paled in comparison to first baseman Ryan Roberson's month. Roberson destroyed FSL pitchers, to the tune of 19 extra base hits in 29 games, and 20 RBI. Ryan entered the summer months with 16 doubles and 11 homeruns, and thus far he hasn't stopped hitting in June. The big-bodied first baseman has been on fire in all aspects, notching a .336 batting average for the month, and looking more and more like the player he was at George Washington University.
West Michigan's Player of the Month was quite possibly one of the tightest races I've ever seen, with no less than six players logging incredible lines throughout May. Despite outstanding performances from Ryan Strieby and James Skelton, outfielder Deik Scram has to take home the monthly honors. Scram posted a .370/.422/.543 line along with seven steals and nine extra base hits. One Midwest League manager said he was the toughest out he'd seen this season. Scram and fellow outfielder Gorkys Hernandez are giving ‘Caps fans yet another dynamic offensive duo at the top of the order.
The final monthly award for May goes to the VSL Tigers Luis Palacios. The 17-year old shortstop hit an amazing .393 for the month, with five doubles and eight walks in only 15 games. A talented defensive player signed in January 2006, Palacios has seen his bat come alive this season, consistently slapping the ball around the field, and helping lead the VSL offense.
Offenses throughout the system mirrored that of the Detroit Tigers offense, and woke up in a huge way in May; led by the players highlighted above. With continued offensive growth like this, the Tigers system is quickly becoming a more well-rounded system capable of producing both high-powered arms, and potent bats
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.