In the latest edition of Ask BA, posted yesterday, over on BaseballAmerica.com, Jim Callis responded in depth to a question about Mike Moustakas and Red Sox power-hitting 1B prospect Lars Anderson. I am glad another well respected expert is on the “Moose will be just fine” side of the discussion. It is important to me that we all keep his performance in perspective so I wanted to share Callis’ thoughts with everyone here. Since Hosmer tends to go with Moustakas like peanut butter and chocolate, I thought this would be a good time to give an update on our future 1B as well as updates on David Lough, Jordan Parraz, and Jeff Bianchi.
If you want to read the entire article, and I strongly encourage everyone to do so, click here. In addition to Moustakas and Anderson it also covers draft pick slots, Tommy Hanson, Mat Latos, and Jared Mitchell.
This is what Callis had to say about Moustakas and Anderson (I cut out the paragraph that was specific to Lars):
I still have a lot of faith in both Moustakas and Anderson. Neither is savaging pitchers like they did last season—Moustakas is hitting .247/.284/.411 at high Class A Wilmington, and Anderson is batting .259/.349/.390 in Double-A Portland—but both are young for their levels and they’re still two of the best hitting prospects in the minors.
Moustakas, 20, has been in a month long slump in July that has killed his numbers, yet ranks fourth in the Carolina League in RBIs (61) and eighth in homers (11). He has been focusing on working counts and learning which pitches to attack. At times he has gotten too passive, and at others too aggressive. He still needs to do a better job of using the whole field and not trying to do too much. Moustakas also hasn’t been helped by playing in one of the most inhospitable home parks in high Class A: his .182/.234/.325 numbers at Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium are much worse than his .292/.321/.472 numbers on the road.
Moustakas and Anderson are both well ahead of the development curve and have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments. My biggest concern about either of them is that I’m not convinced that Moustakas will have enough range to stay at third base. But I’m not at the point where I’m worrying about their bats.
Callis refers to the “month long” slump, but the bulk of the slump occurred after going 2-6 on July 13th. After that game he recorded just one hit in his next 42 at bats and during that stretch, his average plummeted from a very respectable 0.269 to a mark of 0.242. His slump got the pessimists and doubters out in force, but make no mistake Moustakas is the real deal and he will be just fine. In his last 3 games he has turned things back around collecting 5 hits in 13 AB with 2 doubles, 1 HR, and 6 RBI in the process.
Fellow prospect 1B-Eric Hosmer has performed fairly well since his promotion to High-A Wilmington. In his first 7 games with the Blue Rocks, Hosmer has hit 0.269/.321/.308 in 26 at bats. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but keep in mind that in addition to adjusting to the new level of competition, Hosmer is only 19 and a year younger than Moustakas.
One player who didn’t have trouble hitting in Wilmington was 23 year old OF-David Lough who hit 0.320/.370/.473 in 222 AB as part of the Blue Rocks before being promoted to Double-A NW Arkansas. Since joining the Naturals, Lough has hit an impressive 0.345/.374/.494 in his first 87 AB. He has solidified himself as future option for the Royals with his performance this year, but he needs to keep excelling as he moves up. At 23 he has a much shorter shelf life as a prospect. Since Lough was drafted out of college instead of HS it should be expected that he perform at a higher level than Moustakas or Hosmer. After all, he is more significantly more experienced and 3-4 years older.
Also in Double-A, OF-Jordan Parraz has gone 6-17 with 3 doubles, 1 HR, and 5 RBI in 4 games since returning from injury. The 24 year old is now hitting 0.358/.451/.553 in 226 AB for the Naturals and has walked more times (29) than he has struck out (25). If he can stay healthy, a late season call up to the Royals should be in his near future.
Parraz and Lough have been great for the Naturals, but they rank 2nd and 3rd on the team in BA this season (not counting Gordon’s rehab ABs). The team leader is 22 year old SS-Jeff Bianchi who is now hitting 0.369/.417/.508 in 130 AB on the season. After his promotion to Double-A he hit 0.500 in 10 games in June, but he started to slow down in July. My assumption was that the the new league and advanced competition was catching up to him. On July 17th Bianchi went 0-4 and his average dipped to 0.302. In the 9 games since he has caught fire, again, collecting 22 hits in 44 at bats. He is now “blocked” by Betancourt at the ML level, but he deserves a late season call up. The fact that he is now blocked is what bothered me most about the trade for Yunie. Betancourt has been better than TPJ, admittedly a very minor accomplishment, so I’m rolling with the trade. That said, I think Bianchi could have provided similar return during the second half of this season without having to trade away two pitching prospects and lock up millions of dollars.
I need to stop myself here, because I don’t want this to be about questionable trades or decisions by our front office so back on topic we go.
Color me an optimist, which I don’t really think I am, but I firmly believe that Hosmer and Moustakas will hit well once they reach the majors. With Parraz, Lough, Bianchi, and others also in the mix as ascending players, the 2 first round picks won’t have to carry the load for the Royals on their own. If only Gordon and Butler were afforded that same luxury when they first reached the big leagues.