A Friday evening in mid-January seems like an odd time to release a top prospects list, but no matter. MLB Pipeline released its top 100 prospect rankings tonight, and outfielder Steven Moya just barely cracked the list at number 100.
MLB Network analysts cited Moya's breakout 2014 season and raw power as reasons for his placement on the list. Moya hit .276/.306/.555 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI at Double-A Erie last season, earning an All-Star nod and Eastern League MVP honors. Moya was also called up to the majors in September and collected three hits in eight at-bats.
Moya is the second Tigers player to make a league-wide top prospect list this offseason. Outfielder Derek Hill was named the 85th best prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law earlier this week. Law rated the Tigers' farm system as the worst in baseball, a fair assessment given the number of players that have been traded away for major league talent over the past several years.
While many believe Hill is the best prospect in the Tigers' farm system, Moya has received plenty of love this offseason. Our readers voted Moya as the best prospect in the system earlier this month, while Hill was third. Here is a brief synopsis of what I had to say about Moya:
Moya will need to improve his pitch recognition skills in order to develop a better approach at the plate. If he can learn to force opposing pitchers to throw strikes -- make no mistake, this would be a monumental step for him -- he could do some major damage.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball also placed Moya above Hill in his organizational rankings.
Enormous power from 6-6, 230 frame, but a good athlete too, throws and runs well. High ceiling, but very high strikeout rate and low walk rate dovetails reports about over-aggressive approach. How much will that hold him back? Very high risk, but high reward too.
Moya is expected to spend a large part of the 2015 season in Triple A, honing his pitch recognition skills and plate discipline. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said that Moya's chances of making the 25-man Opening Day roster were "tough."
"You want him to be playing every single day," Ausmus said at TigerFest on Saturday. With a solid group of established big leaguers in front of him, Moya would only fill a bench role if called up to the majors to begin the season.