by John Viril—
Kansas City Royals 3B Mike Moustakas has hit for extra bases three games in row, including home runs in consecutive days. Moustakas has hit .307/.307/.846 with 4 RBI’s over his last 3 games.
It might not sound like much, but for Moustakas, it counts as a deluge of success in a season that saw him start the year 0-25.
For the season, Mike Moustakas is still only hitting an anemic .159/.224/.377 in a season where he desperately needs to establish himself as an everyday starter in MLB. The 25-year-old Moustakas has used up most of the patience one could expect from management for even a highly-touted prospect. Taken no. 2 overall in the 2007 draft, Moustakas has failed to perform in 2 1/2 seasons in major league baseball. His career line is an unacceptable .239/.292/.382 (wRC+ 82). That just doesn’t cut it for a corner infielder—even for one with good defense.
This year, Moustakas needs to seize the 3rd base job. If he cannot, the Royals will move on.
Behind Moustakas is prospect Cheslor Cuthbert, who has already risen to AA at age 21. Behind Cuthbert is 2013′s no. 1 draft pick Hunter Dozier, who hit .308/.398/.495 across two levels in his debut season. The 22-year-old Dozier is currently in High-A Wilmington trying to adjust to one of the toughest hitting environments in the minor-leagues.
Mike Moustakas has rebuilt his batting stance and changed his approach this winter. After traveling to Venezuela to work with Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol, Moustakas returned with a new, open stance and a determination to hit the ball up the middle rather than the pull-happy approach that carried him through the minor-leagues. Moustakas was trying to address his inability to hit the inside fastball due to his desire to extend his arms for power.
Mike Moustakas smashed the Cactus League with a line of .429/.522/.768. Yet, this spring only continued a pattern where “Moose” looked good in Arizona, but faded in Kansas City. The reason could be that Moustakas excels when teams do not bother with advance scouting reports, but struggles when pitchers attack his weakness against the inside fastball. Moustakas’ slow start made his future appear bleak.
Yet, the last 3 games give hope that Moustakas was just having adjustment difficulties to his new approach against full-bore competition.
At this point, the Kansas City Royals fans will be happy if Mike Moustakas becomes a solid everyday 3rd baseman. But, given his past successes in high-school, and the minor-leagues, we still can’t help but hope for more.
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