This might sound a little harsh, but it needs to be said. For much of the season, the Detroit Tigers' top-ranked prospect, Steven Moya, has been dreadful. On the surface, his numbers with Triple-A Toledo are bad. As someone who attends nearly every single Mud Hens' home game, the eye test has more than confirmed those numbers. However, as of late, Moya has seemingly hit his stride, both metaphorically and literally.
By now, you know at least a little bit about Moya's game. He plays the outfield. He's a massive human being. He weighs 260 pounds, and he's every bit of 6-foot-7. When I'm standing on the second step of the dugout staircase, he still towers over me while standing at ground level. With a frame like that, as you can imagine, he has scary power when he connects. Last season during his Eastern League MVP campaign, Moya cranked 35 home runs.
While everyone knows the power he has, his lack of pitch recognition is a road block that have led many to doubt Moya's major league ability. In 2014, Moya posted a strikeout rate of 29.3 percent, and a walk rate of a mere 4.2 percent. In 549 plate appearances, he struck out 161 times compared to only walking 23 times. Yeah, that's not good. Since signing with the Tigers in 2008, he's featured the same approach, and it has carried over into 2015 during his time with the Mud Hens.
Moya started the season on the disabled list due to planter fasciitis. After recovering, he had a short rehab stint in Lakeland, and then made his way to the Mud Hens in mid-April. In 28 games with Toledo, Moya is striking out at a 30 percent clip and walking at a 5 percent clip, right around career norms. Overall, he's hitting .243/.281/.393 with three home runs, seven doubles, 35 strikeouts, and six walks. Again, the eye test confirms that line. For most of the season, he's looked lost at the plate, blindly swinging at pitches without any noticeable plan.
Moya's approach has looked just about the same, but lately his stat line is starting to beef up. Over his last 10 games, he's hitting .350 with three home runs and nine RBI. During those 10 games, he's had 42 plate appearances, 11 strikeouts, and two walks. Simple math shows that to be a 26 percent strikeout rate, and a 5 percent walk rate, so he's right around career norms in that department.
The difference for Moya as of late is that when he connects, he's starting to connect for solid contact. In his first 18 games and 73 plate appearances (67 at bats) with the Mud Hens, he had only 12 hits (.179 average) with only one extra base hit. During his current 10-game span, he has 14 hits, and nine of those have gone for extra bases. Oh, and the three home runs he's hit? Majestic shots. The ball is back to exploding off his bat, and it's been fun to watch.
Steven Moya is finally looking like the Steven Moya we all expected to see: lots of extra base hits and lots of strikeouts. At the age of 23, it seems unrealistic to ever expect that he will drastically change his approach at the plate, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. His massive power is starting to make up for his lack of plate discipline, and that's what the Detroit Tigers need to see continue. Between the combination that he is seemingly healthy again, and has adjusted to Triple-A pitching, Steven Moya is rediscovering who Steven Moya is.