The first time I saw Detroit Tigers outfield prospect Steven Moya was this past Spring Training. I had heard about Moya, but hadn't seen him in person. He's a huge man at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds. Moya has long legs and a loping stride, and he makes his presence known with huge raw power. At 22, he's lean, and perhaps he can add some strength to his upper body as he continues to mature. For now, Moya's tools can be characterized as raw. But he is making huge progress.
Moya has tremendous upside and is just beginning to scratch the surface of his abilities. He is No. 7 on the Tigers' Top 20 Prospect list. I believe Moya will continue to get better and better as he matures and gains confidence. He is the type of player that can bring much-needed power to any lineup.
A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Moya was signed by the Tigers as an international free agent from Puerto Rico in 2008. At the age of 17, he began his career playing for Detroit in the Dominican Summer League in '09. Moya played in 60 games, going to the plate 255 times. He hit .252 with six home runs and 33 RBIs. Moya had an on-base percentage of .361. While he struck out 58 times, he walked 33 times.
Moya followed a 2010 season at the Tigers' Gulf Coast League Rookie-level club with two years playing at Class A West Michigan in 2011 and '12. Following a tough first season at West Michigan, his second year at that classification was interrupted with the need for Tommy John surgery. Moya was able to play only 59 games before being shut down. He was hitting .288 in 258 plate appearances.
The following year, Moya missed time again. A separated shoulder cost him time early in the season. Moya finished 2013 hitting .255 at Class A Advanced Lakeland. He continued to make strides in his approach to hitting. Moya's confidence must have begun increasing as he saw positive results to his hard work.
Prior to this year, the biggest issue with Moya was being able to coordinate his huge frame. In the past, he moved awkwardly on both offense and defense. There was not a smooth flow or rhythm to Moya's game. It was clear at times his long body was getting in the way. For example, Moya's arms yielded long swings -- too long. Power is generated with quick hands through the ball and the use of the trunk as well as the wrists and hands. Moya is beginning to bring his body into much greater synchronization. There is a much better flow to his game.
I recently saw Moya play as a member of the World Team in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis. He started in left field and played the entire game, walking once in four trips to the plate. Moya struck out twice. His batting practice included some majestic shots that showed the type of power he generates.
Mechanically, Moya has to continue to drive to the ball with a consistent stride as opposed to dropping his shoulder and moving his feet sideways or behind himself. He has to recognize pitches more quickly and try to be more patient on breaking balls that challenge him. Finishing a more measured swing by following through with good extension of his arms will help Moya's power output. Improved swing mechanics are making a difference in his recent success.
Moya has enough speed to move well on the bases with long strides and good baserunning skills. He may steal a few bases, but that won't be his forte. Rather, Moya will be counted upon to be a middle-of-the-order hitter who can drive in runs or change a game with a blast.
Defensively, Moya has a strong, if not a consistently accurate arm. His combination of power and arm strength should allow him to become a fixture in right field. There will be times Moya doesn't react quickly to balls off the bat, but he should be able to recover quickly enough to avoid disaster.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less