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Steven Moya going through ups and downs while Joe Mantiply quietly shines in relief

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Steven Moya is slugging his way through the Arizona Fall League, but the strikeouts are piling up. Meanwhile, reliever Joe Mantiply has quietly become one of the dependable arms in the bullpen for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night Steven Moya had a big day at the plate for the Glendale Desert Dogs. The 6' 6" slugger hit his fourth home run of the Arizona Fall League season, finishing 3-for-4 for the day with three RBI, a double, and a stolen base. Tuesday night was the opposite, Moya finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

After 19 games Moya has a .289 batting average and an .865 OPS, which is second on the team and 12th overall. On the bases, Moya has five stolen bags although he has just one in his last 10 games. Moya's four homers are tied for first on the team alongside Dodgers prospect, Scott Schebler.

There are eight games left until the AFL ends. The Championship Game will be played in Scottsdale on November 15 then players will either return home or go to winter ball. Moya will be traveling to the Dominican Republic after the AFL, where he will join the Estrellas de Oriente mid-season. Some Tigers prospects have gone home already, including starter Robbie Ray as of last week. Moya is one of the few prospects who remained, along with reliever Joe Mantiply, who has also done well in Arizona.

Moya showed he could weather the ups and downs because of his power, but after a month of solid playing time the holes are still showing at the plate. Part of what Moya needed to work on in Arizona was his plate discipline, yet he has struck out 27 times, which is the highest in the AFL. Moya's .325 on-base percentage in Arizona is low,  and while his 6.6 percent walk-rate has improved from the regular season (it was 4.5 percent), it's still not good.

If the Tigers are hopeful to bring Moya up to Detroit in any capacity in the future (especially as an everyday player), a plus-30 percentage of striking out at the minor league level isn't going to cut it. If Moya were brought up to the major league level with his lack of plate discipline right now, that number would climb sharply. As a bench player that is a significant gamble when there's a one-in-three chance of striking out, particularly in a pinch-hitting situation.

With a week left in the short AFL season and moving into winter ball, the hope is Moya can take his time from Arizona and start to refine his approach at the plate. Even with improvements though, it's just going to take more time before Moya begins to truly gain control, including next season.

Lately, Moya has right-handed pitchers well, but he's struggled against lefties. Interestingly, Moya has been trying out switch hitting to counter that, but don't count on it becoming an everyday thing at his age. If there's a bright side, Moya is learning to hit the ball to all fields (including line drives) without the need to hit the ball out of the park every time he steps to the plate.

One pitcher who has done well in Arizona has been Mantiply, who will likely remain with the Desert Dogs until the AFL ends next week. Not much has been reported on him, but Mantiply has quietly been one of the most consistent relievers on the team (and the AFL). In eight games of relief, Mantiply has a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings. He has allowed just two runs (both earned) on seven hits and two walks.

Mantiply has struck out nine batters and has a 0.90 WHIP with two holds and a save. His WHIP is second-best on the team and eighth overall. The young lefty has pitched more than one inning on three of his eight appearances, and is holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average. In his last relief appearance, Mantiply struck out two and did not allow a hit. He has not walked a batter in his last three outings.

As for Ray, he finished his time in Arizona on a low note, pitching just two innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits. He also walked two and struck out just one. In four starts, Ray's walks continued to be an issue, allowing two walks in three of his four starts. The strikeouts have been inconsistent. In two appearances, Ray struck out five batters in three and four innings respectively, but in the other two starts where Ray lasted two innings apiece, he struck out just two and one batters accordingly.

Overall though, Ray's time in Arizona was productive. He finished with a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings, allowing nine hits. The month allowed Ray to work on his pitches, including the slider he picked up during the regular season in favor of the curveball, which he dropped because of his struggles to command the pitch. The Tigers would like to see Ray in Detroit in some capacity in the near future, so Ray's focus going forward is gaining a better command of the strike zone and decreasing his walks.