With our top 40 prospects still in the works, I wanted to kick off our prospect profiles with a guy who may not be in the upcoming top 40, but Tigers fans might want to know about. Not all of the profiles that we do are going to be future big leaguers, it doesn’t work that way, but most will have some intriguing skill set or tools that suggest potential.
Here is a look at Steven Moya….
Moya was signed in October of 2008 out of La Ramona, Dominican Republic by the Tigers to low six-figure bonus. Moya, who turned 20 in September, is a left-handed batting, right handed throwing corner outfielder. In 2009, he started his pro career with the Tigers in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .252 with an OPS of .732. While his K rate was high at over 25%, Moya’s physical talents intrigued the Tigers enough for them to bring him stateside in 2010. 2010 was a struggle for Moya, as he posted just a .190 batting average in the rookie Gulf Coast League. In 137 at-bats, Moya was over-matched in the GCL, striking out 64 times. Coming into 2011, it was thought Moya would have to repeat the level, however he found himself playing in West Michigan after a short stint in extended spring training. Moya performed much better in 2011, cutting his strike out rate down, and starting to show some power. He did hit just .204 for the low A West Michigan Whitecaps, but he did manage to hit 13 home runs on the season. Moya finished strong, hitting .253 with 5 bombs in August for the Caps’, easily his best month of the season.
Moya is a mountain of a man already, and is one of the most impressive physical specimens in the system. At 6’6″ and 200+ lbs, there is a ton of projection in his frame. For his size, he is a pretty impressive athlete, as he runs rather well at this point. Down the road, as he continues to add muscle mass to his frame, his athleticism will likely take a hit. The trade-off is that Moya possesses tremendous power potential, and we are talking 40 home run a year type potential here.
Despite Moya’s issues with striking out right now, his plate discipline isn’t terrible. He has a solid understanding of the zone, however, he struggles quite a bit currently with pitch recognition, and he can get beat up top with a good fastball, and got beat with good breaking balls. Moya generates good bat speed with this swing, but it can get long at times. This may sound strange, but it may take some time for him to get used to his own size, as his strike zone is larger than most players in the batters box. He also hangs in well against lefties
Defensively, Moya is definitely a corner type outfielder, and is athletic enough to stick out there. I think a lot of people will assume a move to 1B because of the profile, but he has a strong throwing arm that will work perfectly in right field. He may not be gold glove material, but I believe he can maintain enough of the current athleticism to be an average defender at the least.
Moya is a guy that would fall into the boom or bust category for me. While there is significant potential, there is also a real low floor here if he cannot develop better pitch recognition skills. Even though his numbers overall did not represent a good season, he did improve in several areas, and at just 19, Moya has plenty of time to still develop. The Midwest League is also a tough environment to hit in, and Moya was facing competition that is a little bit older than him. One thing in Moya’s favor in that regard is that he is reportedly one of the harder working kids in the Tigers system and shows an aptitude to put instruction into action.
The chances that Moya, or any prospect for that matter, makes it, are pretty slim. Moya is going to take time to develop, so the Tigers and their fans will have to show some patience, but there is potential for great reward. I suspect in 2012 that Moya will repeat his stint in West Michigan looking for significant improvement in his K and BB rates.