Back at the end of September, it was learned that Mike Moustakas would be heading to the Venezuelan Winter League to work on his swing. He was expected to play for somewhere between three to five weeks, spending his time with the Cardinales de Lara, where he will be managed by Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol. Not only will he get to spend some extra time trying to get his swing back in shape, but he will get to do so under the watchful eye of his own hitting coach.
Hoping to use the Winter Leagues as a springboard to a successful season, much like Salvador Perez did last season, Moustakas made his debut Sunday night. In that game, he went 1-4 with an RBI and a strikeout, not the thunderous performance that some may have hoped. But how much will his statistics in the Venezuelan Winter League actually matter?
In all likelihood, Moustakas is going to be spending his time working on his mechanics and working on hitting the ball more up the middle. While it would be great to see Moustakas hit .400 during his time in the Winter Leagues, mashing home runs and slugging the ball all over the park, those numbers would not mean anything if Moustakas was simply pulling everything. What may be more important would be if Moustakas displays an improved batting eye and an ability to hit the ball to different parts of the park. A willingness to accept coaching would certainly help as well.
How Moustakas performs in the next few weeks for the Cardinales may go a long way to how his 2014 season plays out. He has had plenty of chances to prove that he is going to be that power hitter that the Royals desperately need in the lineup; however, he has yet to prove that he can be that player. With prospects such as Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier potentially nearing major league readiness, this season could be pivotal to his future in Kansas City.
The Royals are waiting for Mike Moustakas to break out, and how he fares in the Winter Leagues may be a precursor to his 2014 performance. If he is unable to show any signs of development, the hot corner may get even hotter for Moustakas.