No. 7: Steven Moya, OF
Steven Moya is a left handed hitting corner outfielder, signed by the Tigers out of the Dominican Republic as an international free agent. He made his professional debut with the Tigers' Dominican Summer League (DSL) team in 2009 at the age of 17. In that first season, he performed pretty well for such a youngster, posting a solid .732 OPS to go along with 8 doubles and 6 HR's in 255 plate appearances. He struck out too much (22.7%) but also showed a nice ability to draw walks (13%). He was brought stateside for the 2010 season, playing with the rookie league GCL Tigers as an 18 year old. To say he had a rough season would be a bit of an understatement, as his OPS dropped over 200 points to .528, his K% went up, BB% went down, and was just all around pretty bad. Regardless of his struggles, he made some significant developmental gains heading into 2011, and although he began that season in extended spring training, the Tigers promoted him to Class A-West Michigan in late spring, rather than send him back to the GCL or to short season A (Connecticut). Moya got 337 plate appearances with West Michigan in 2011, and while the numbers still weren't great (.597 OPS), he again showed some improvements. We finally glimpsed his pure power in play, as he belted 10 doubles and 13 home runs that season, but we also saw his extensive swing and miss problems as he struck out an astronomical 127 times (37.7%). He was sent back to West Michigan in 2012, this time right at the beginning of the season, and this time around he began to put things together. In 258 plate appearances before an injury cut his season short, Moya posted a .288/.319/.481/.801 slash line, hit 14 doubles, 3 triples, and 9 home runs, while cutting his strikeout percentage down to 22.8%. He had Tommy John surgery last summer, but due to the fact that he is a position player, it's expected that he will be ready for the start of the 2013 season.
The first thing that strikes out about Moya, as it should, is his size. He is 6'7", 235, and just a mammoth of a man. He actually has solid athleticism for his size, but he is still learning how to coordinate his huge size into the game of baseball, leading to him looking sloppy in the field quite frequently. He has made strides with this in recent years, and it has been reported that while recovering from Tommy John surgery he was able to concentrate more on his body than on baseball, and the results have been excellent. His best tool is undoubtedly his raw power, which is easily the best in the Tigers system and earns 80 grades. It is true "light tower power", and is something to behold when Moya gets ahold of one. His power has begun to play more in game situations as he's developed his hit tool, but he still has a long way to go with the bat. He has a long swing, struggles with pitch recognition, and doesn't have good plate discipline. As I said, he HAS gotten better, but he's still a well below-average hitter. If, and this is a big if, he can get his hit tool to an average level and hit in the .260 range (in MLB), then he has the power potential to hit 30+ HR's annually. His defense is below average, but this is more due to his raw instincts and lack of coordination than overall defensive skill. The hope is that with time and development, his instincts will sharpen and he will become more coordinated, adding up to a potential solid defensive right fielder. He has a plus arm from RF, but does lack some accuracy, leading to grades in the 50-55 range as opposed to the 60 grade he would earn based on raw arm strength. There is some concern as to how strong his arm will be following the TJ surgery, but that remains to be seen. He's actually not a bad runner for a man of his size, but he certainly wouldn't fall into any "stolen base threats" categories. He may be able to steal 5-10 bases at the MLB level, but speed isn't a major part of his game. The bottom line here is that Moya has a extremely high ceiling, and an extremely low floor. What I mean by that is that he could turn into a stud that hits in the middle of a major league lineup, blasting 40 HR's at his peak with 100+ RBI while playing a solid RF....or he could flame out in High-A ball if the bat doesn't develop enough to carry his power through the system. It's important to remember that Moya is still quite young and still raw, while coming off of major surgery no less.
I would assume, if Moya returns to full health in Spring Training and doesn't experience any setbacks, that he will be assigned to Class Advanced A-Lakeland for 2013. Prior to his injury in 2012, he showed that he had made significant progress in every facet of the game, so a promotion does seem in order here. As I said above, he has an extremely high ceiling...among the highest ceilings in the entire system. But again, a word of caution: He is still many years away from the MLB, and is a very high risk prospect, meaning that it's entirely possible that he never even sniffs the MLB. Regardless, he's an exciting prospect that oozes potential, and is the owner of one of baseball's best power tools.