Hak-Ju Lee, the shortstop prospect picked up in the Matt Garza trade, is off to a blazing start. It is just 14 games, but even if he continues to pound the ball, he may remain in single-A all season.

After starting the season on the DL with the Chicken Pox, Lee has 25 hits, including 9 multi-hit outings in his 14 starts. He has also shown a little power despite his wiry 170-pound frame. Seven of his 25 hits have gone for extra-bases.

All this and Lee is still just 20 years old. And while the Rays are notoriously patient with their prospects, one wonders if a promotion is in line if he continues to dominate the Florida State League pitching.

But even if the Rays did want to promote Lee, it is not clear if they can. In front of Lee, playing shortstop in double-A, is former top pick Tim Beckham.

Here is a statistical look at how the two have performed so far this year:

If the Rays do reach a point where they believe Lee is no longer being challenged in single-A, they can either promote Beckham to triple-A or they can find a way for the players to coexist in Montgomery.

While Beckham has been better offensively this season, on the surface, he doesn’t look ready for a promotion. His .326 OBP and .317 wOBA (think OPS, but better) would be the lowest marks since 2008.

And while we can’t draw too many conclusions from the number of errors, all indications are that Beckham is playing better defensively and deserves to remain at shortstop for the time being. Moving Beckham to second base or making him platoon at shortstop runs the risk that he will regress defensively.

Unfortunately for Lee, it may not matter how well he performs this season. As long as Beckham remains healthy, he is going to be the double-A shortstop all season. And that means Lee is stuck in Charlotte.

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6 Comments

  1. Dallas says:

    Great breakdown from the Farm! It's good to have these kind of problems!

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  2. Adam W says:

    I say move Beckham to 2nd or 3rd.

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  3. Sublime says:

    Move Beckham to 2nd Base!

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  4. Sarah says:

    I thought baseball was supposed to be a real meritocracy -- the guy who produces gets the chance. So why couldn't Lee push Beckham aside, or leapfrog him into AAA, if Lee is the hotter prospect?

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  5. Steve says:

    I agree....move Beckham to 2B.

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  6. Derek says:

    Sam Fuld.

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