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Tigers player preview: Steven Moya, prospect with power

Steven Moya is a rare treat for Tigers' fans, a prospect with game-changing power

Steven Moya is a large athlete, easily blocking out the umpire in this spring game
Steven Moya is a large athlete, easily blocking out the umpire in this spring game
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The answer: Shane Greene. Bruce Rondon. Steven Moya. Joba Chamberlain. Joakim Soria.

The question: Who are five Tigers who have experienced Tommy John surgery?

That was less than satisfying, so how about:

The answer:

  • Eastern League MVP of the 2014 All-Star Futures Game
  • Eastern League MVP of 2014 season
  • Tigers' Minor League player of the year for 2014
  • Arizona Fall League Rising Stars of 2014
  • BYB Community rated #1 prospect for 2015

The question: What are five achievements by Steven Moya in the past year?

Now that feels better. Though the Tigers are continually ranked near the bottom of minor league systems, they continue to produce prospects. With the trades of Devon Travis and company over the past year, Moya has risen to the top.

We know the story. Moya is a left-handed rightfielder with prodigious power, piles of strikeouts, and infrequent walks.

When discussing our number one prospect, Rob had this to say:

One of the most encouraging signs about Moya is how he progressed in 2014. In his first full season at the minor league level, Moya impressed, hitting 35 home runs and driving in 105 RBI. He hit .276 with an impressive .555 slugging average, resulting in a .279 ISO. Scouts took notice of his improvement as well. Two Baseball Prospectus scouts saw Moya play in May and August, respectively, and the difference in reports is significant. Tucker Blair's report from May is quite bearish, and contains a 20 hit tool and 45 overall future potential (OFP) grade, or a below average major league player. Mark Anderson of TigsTown gave him a 65 OFP in August. Even Anderson's realistic role -- or the "what should we actually expect from this guy?" grade -- was a 50, better than Blair's highest projection three months earlier.

Throwing some cold water on our hope, Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs gives him an 80 percent chance of flaming out based on the high strikeout and low walk rates.

Contract status

Moya is on the 40 man roster, but has two options remaining and nearly the entire six years of team control.  He will not be lost to free agency until at least 2021.

Stats and projections
2014 AA 549 35 81 105 16 .276 .306 .555 .372
2014 AFL 98 5 17 19 5 .289 .327 .544 .386
2015 ZiPS 510 21 55 64 10 .236 .263 .425 .299

If you really want to drink the Kool-Aid, add the Double-A and Arizona Fall League lines together for 40 home runs in 156 games. The ZiPS projection is actually somewhat encouraging, suggesting Moya already could hold his own in the major leagues. Management understands that he is not yet ready, thus Cespedes was acquired to replace Torii Hunter, rather than having Moya skip a level.

What we need to see instead is improvement at Triple-A Toledo, where he will surely start the season. A .275/.310/.550 slash line with a strikeout rate of 27 percent would be encouraging. If his plate discipline improves, he will at least receive another call-up in September. If a corner outfielder hits the disabled list for an extended period, the temptation will be to try to have Moya replace him. When he is at the plate there will always be the possibility of a moon shot, and nobody will worry about the pace of the game.