Who: Michael Christopher Moustakas
DOB: 9/11/1988, Los Angeles, California
Weight: 230 lb
Acquired: 2007 Draft – 1st round, #2 overall
~ Baseball America: #3
~ Royals Review #3
~ Kevin Goldstein: #1
~ John Sickels: #1 A
~ Royals Prospects: #2
~ 2010 Kings of Kauffman Rankings: #3
The most exciting player for the Royals in 2011 is 2007 first rounder Mike Moustakas.
It’s not even close.
The second overall pick that year, Moose has displayed tremendous power as he’s climbed the minor league ranks. In 2010, he lead the entire minor leagues in homers with 36, a fantastic rebound from what was widely considered a dismal 2009 campaign.
Looking back, the problems with the 2009 season were partly due to the general struggle against higher competition, part an actual “bad” season and partly due to environment. Moustakas struck out more than any other season and that lack of contact won’t help, as evidenced by his .250 average.
He played the year in Frawley Stadium in the Carolina League, a traditionally big ballpark. He struggled to put the ball out of the park in High A, but I’ve noticed in the past that it’s not indicative of a low power year – he still hit 32 doubles – but deep fences and big parks. Eric Hosmer ran into the same issue in his time at Wilmington. Looking at Moose’s ratios of doubles to homers, 2009 is the outlier. I’d suggest that in a normal stadium (half the time) he’d put a few more doubles over the fence.
After spending the first two weeks of the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique, Moustakas destroyed Double A to the tune of a 1.100 OPS. Sure, the Texas League is a bit offense-heavy, but 1000+ OPS numbers don’t grow on trees.
He earned a promotion to Triple A in July. He struggled at first as he adjusted to the jump, but he got comfortable in August and returned to his pitching-destructive ways, highlighted by an absurd 4-6, 3 HR, 11 RBI night against Round Rock.
It was an announcement that he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s been Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year. He was named Texas League Player of the Year. The Royals awarded him the George Brett Award at FanFest in January as the organization’s hitter of the year. He started the All-Star Futures Game in July. MLB.com named him their #7 overall prospect last month. Baseball America has him at #9 overall.
That’s a hefty resume and it’s no surprise why fans are so excited to see him.
The power is evident, but Moustakas can also make good contact with a smooth swing. He may not be a pure hitter, but his swing and bat control are polished enough to put up good numbers on top of the power. As a pro, he’s struck out just 15% of the time.
He’s not perfect, though. There are questions about his approach at the plate. His career walkrate is just 6.8% and his aggressive approach may be a leak at the big league level. While he’ll kill a lot of pitches, he may get himself out on pitcher’s pitches too. He’s a stocky guy at 5’11” 230 and won’t do much on the basepaths.
There was also some concern about his long-term ability at third base, but he’s improved his defense there and has good instincts to go along with a strong arm. His shortstop days are well behind him.
Even with his lack of patience, Moustakas should be a strong middle of the order option for the Royals. If he can settle down and work a walk more often, he could become extremely dangerous as a hitter, as his bat is good enough already. Adding better recognition would make it that much better.
As for 2011, Moustakas will be in Kansas City. The question isn’t if but when. Most likely, unless he goes off on spring pitching, he’ll start the year in Omaha until about June. For one, that will delay his service time, enabling the Royals to keep him under team control an additional season. Also, Dayton Moore has mentioned that he hit Omaha after some higher-caliber pitchers had reached the majors, so he’ll get a look at top pitching prospects early as a pre-MLB test.
That’s all well and good, but Royals fans are itching to see a superstar and Moustakas is the first of that group who’ll make the majors. It’s fitting, since he’s known as a leader, so it’s fitting he lead the charge of The Process.
Keep track of the full list of prospects in the Kings of Kauffman Countdown on our Prospect Rankings page under the Organization tab or by clicking here. Stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of our RSS feed.