Let us all take a quick break from the Winter Meetings., and focus on the field of play. There is still baseball being played, as the Winter Leagues are in full swing. There, playing for the Cardenales de Lara, is the Royals very own Mike Moustakas, who is expected to be there for three to five weeks. Moustakas is being coached by Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol, and is hoping to use his time with the Cardenales to work on getting his swing ironed out.
Since reporting at the end of November, Moustakas has appeared in six games with mixed results. On the plus side, he has exhibited solid power, belting two home runs while driving in eight. However, Moustakas has also walked just once and has struck out four times.Thus far, Moustakas has a .240/.296/.520 batting line in his 25 at bats.
Yes, this is admittedly a small sample size, so it is not fair to base too much on these numbers just yet, but that cuts both ways. While it is great to see that Moustakas is hitting for power in Lara, he is still not displaying much plate discipline. This also leads to several questions: Is Moustakas finally going to start developing into the home run threat he was expected to become? Is he actually trying to be more selective at the plate, and it just has not yet manifested into walks? Is he really making adjustments at the plate?
Unfortunately, all we can do is look at the statistics and attempt to extrapolate what is going on. Aside from the uptick in power, at this point, Mike Moustakas is essentially putting up the same type of numbers that he put up for the Royals last season. In fact, his batting average is within four points of his career mark, and his on base percentage is identical to how frequently he has gotten aboard over his career.
In truth, unless there is a sudden increase in walks or Moustakas hits ten home runs while with the Cardenales, the true results of his time in the Venezuelan Winter League will not be known until Spring Training. There, if he keeps trying to pull the ball, seems unwilling to work with coaching and still cannot hit for power, then we will know that the time there was essentially wasted. However, if Moustakas is hitting to all fields and the power is actually developing, then the Winter Leagues could have been that springboard that he needed.
There is still time for Mike Moustakas to become the middle of the order hitter that the Royals hoped he could develop into. Hopefully, the time spent in Lara will help him tap into that potential.