The Candidates: Kyeong Kang, Tim Beckham, Robi Estrada. Kang missed all of April but has come back strong in May hitting .294/.400/.490 in 51 AB's. The 21 year-old lefthanded hitting outfielder cooled off the final week but still put up a .976 OPS against righthanded pitchers. Beckham hit .326/.389/.484 in 95 AB's. The only concerns are that he was caught stealing 5 times in 6 attempts and the errors in the field. Estrada bounced back from a rough April to hit .367/.391/.517 in 60 AB's in May. The 20 year-old infielder finished the month strong by getting 14 hits in 28 AB's in his last 9 games.
The Winner: Tim Beckham. The rate stats were close for all three but Beckham put his up over a lot more plate appearances. The 19 year-old shortstop is now hitting .305/.357/.433 in 164 AB's on the season. He has struck out too much (44 times) but his walk rate is improving (3 in April, 10 in May). Despite his problems in the field, where he has made 13 errors in 38 games at short, and being caught stealing 6 times in 7 attempts, he's off to a good start in his first year of full-season ball. If he continues to hit like this the rest of the season he should quiet the critics of the Rays selecting him with the first overall pick in the 2008 draft.