Outlook: Steven Moya Recalled, But Will He Get Playing Time?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It would appear like the Tigers outfield is already full, with J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton at the corners and Anthony Gose manning centerfield (until Cameron Maybin is healthy).  However Upton has been a disaster thus far, hitting .221 with 2 HR and 1 SB over his first 139 PA.  He is a notoriously streaky player so you try not to panic, but the Tigers are clearly sending a message with the news that they’ve promoted Steven Moya from Triple-A.

Moya has been on radars for the past few years, seeing time in the Majors in both 2014 and 2015.  While he’s failed to make an impact he was certainly off to a quick start at Triple-A this season and is deserving of an opportunity:

.310 (39-126), 9 HR, 24 RBI, 23 R, 0 SB

Power has never been a question, hitting 35 HR at Double-A in 2014, the issue is if he’s going to continually be able to make contact.  After a 30.3% strikeout rate at Triple-A last season (36.4% overall in the Majors), he had the number down to 22.0% to open the year (9 K over last 38 AB).  While he’s still not drawing many walks and the average is likely unsustainable (.341 BABIP), if he’s going to continue making contact at this rate a .265ish average (or better) is possible with his power.

In other words, the signs he’s shown this season at 24-years old are extremely promising.

Prior to the season we ranked him as the Tigers’ second best prospect (behind Michael Fulmer) saying:

“He’s a mountain of a man (6’7″) and brings the power potential his size would indicate (35 HR at Double-A in 2014). He’s also shown a little bit of speed, especially for someone his size, swiping 16 bags in ’14. The problem is his ability to make contact, with a 29.3% strikeout rate in ’14 that jumped last season with his promotion to Triple-A (30.3%). That’s a huge red flag, as Major League pitchers will be able to expose him even more. If you can’t make contact you can’t show off your power and, without a change, he’s looking to be the next Chris Carter/Jon Singleton type (at best). That means there’s value, but not as much as could be possible.”

If he has truly figured it out remains to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine the Tigers calling him up to sit on the bench.  If he’s hitting they are going to find AB for him, even if it’s at the expense of Upton (or Victor Martinez or J.D. Martinez or a combination of the three).

Power is a commodity, so this situation is well worth watching.

Preseason Grade – B
Upside Grade – B+

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs

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