Thursday, February 19, 2015

Detroit Tigers, Steven Moya, spring training and why sometimes it really does matter

There's a prevailing view that spring training doesn't matter other than getting players in shape for the season, making sure there are no injuries or those recovering from injuries are nursed to playing health.
I took great amusement back in the day when Sparky Anderson would essentially declare a spring phenom. One of the great sports quotes of all time came from Sparky during spring training: "If you don't like Dave Rucker, you don't like ice cream."
Only it wasn't so funny when players like Chris Pittaro, Mike Laga and Torey Lovullo didn't pan out after the Tigers went North.
Steven Moya
A rule of thumb from baseball scouts is the worst times to evaluate MLB talent is during spring training and September call ups, that minor league track records and April through August in the big leagues mean much more because most teams are still playing for something.
Still, I do think this will be an interesting spring for Tigers' outfield prospect Steven Moya. They list the guy at 6-foot-7, but I swear he is taller than that. He is biggest position player I have ever seen that isn't a first baseman, and by far. He moves well, too, with at least average MLB running speed, and plus arm strength. His raw power is off the charts. Double-A is the most talented level of minor league baseball, Moya was nearly three years younger than the average player in the Eastern League last year and was the MVP. Moya hit 35 home runs. He's also a left-handed hitter in an organization that is lacking one as a genuine threat other than Victor Martinez. On the downside, he has a longer-than-ideal hitting stroke, and he had a poor walk-to-strikeout ratio. The former Tigers' player he remindful of is Tony Clark, albeit much more athletic and much less patient at the plate, at least to this point.
When Moya comes up to the plate this spring, people will notice. It's his chance to showcase himself and play well enough that the Tigers are at least tempted to carry him North, or that if he does get off to a good start at Toledo, he will be first in mind should the Tigers struggle out of the gate.

My column. Olympic hopeful Jorden Merrilees potentially the best swimmer ever at Oakland University:


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