Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Glendale, AFL): 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR. It’s hard to argue with production, but that’s what scouts are paid to do. Moya continues to impress on the field, no matter what competition level the Tigers throw at him, producing power at every turn without sacrificing too much batting average. Scouts, however, have major questions about how long he’ll be able to get away with his approach at the plate, or lack thereof. His career minor-league K:BB ratio is well over 5-to-1, which would be higher than that of any current major leaguer and does not bode well for his success at the next level. Still, he’s handled every challenge thrown his way, including the AFL this month.
Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Surprise, AFL): 2-5, R, HR, K. Winker doesn’t offer the physically imposing presence of Moya or the overwhelming power production, but he’s by far a better all-around hitter. He should have enough power to put forth a high level of production as a corner outfielder in the majors, and his approach should lead to high on-base percentages as well. Winker is having a strong fall to help ease concerns about his struggles after a midseason promotion to Double-A, some of which also could have stemmed from lingering injuries from a car accident. He suffered a wrist injury in the accident that likely sapped some of his power, but he’s back to full strength and driving the ball this fall.
Jacob Hannemann, OF, Cubs (Mesa, AFL): 3-6, R, 2 3B, K. A former college football player, Hannemann is a plus athlete still learning how to play baseball and struggling with some of the more nuanced aspects of it. The AFL is by far the toughest challenge yet for Hannemann in his baseball career, as he has just 36 games in High-A ball to his credit. Still, he’s already 23 and needs to start showing some progress soon for there to be any realistic hope that his athletic abilities will turn into real baseball production.
Roman Quinn, SS, Phillies (Scottsdale, AFL): 2-4, R, HR. The same could be said about Quinn, though the need for progress isn’t nearly as dramatic for the 21-year-old, who shows some plus tools on the field and in game action. What he needs to continue to improve on, however, is his pure hitting ability, which still lacks behind the rest of his game. Moving to center field could help ease some of the pressure, allowing him to focus on his offensive game. He’ll never be a power producer, but he has just enough pop to keep pitchers honest and find some gaps, allowing his speed to earn him doubles and triples.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Indians (Leones del Caracas, DWL): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, BB. We saw this last year with Aguilar; he was incredible in the Dominican last winter, leading the league in home runs. He carried that over into a successful Triple-A campaign in 2014, but as many scouts expected, he struggled mightily against major-league pitching. He got only a brief look, so all is far from lost, but his poor performance in his major-league cameo won’t help him shed the Quad-A label. He has power and patience, which is a good start toward becoming a productive hitter, but the application of that power against major-league pitching is something we can’t count on until we see it.
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It bothers me when scouts agree that a player's stats don't bode well but don't give insight as to why it's destined to continue. I didn't get that sense from you; just the coverage of Moya in general.
Moya's pitch recognition, while improved from earlier in his career, is still very raw and he will chase out of the zone. He is an aggressive swinger that made some strides in waiting for pitches he could drive in 2014, but still has a ways to go. The combination of these two things gives pause for what he's going to be able to do with the bat at the highest level. On top of that, Moya has some of the typical issues associated with big guys with long arms. He has really good bat speed and while there can be length to his swing, he also shows some aptitude for pulling his hands in and handling stuff on the inner third. It's not consistent yet, but the ability is there.
Bottom line, when you have three or four things like that all still in development, the odds that the player pulls all of them togther to make it work against the best pitching in the world, are slim. Personally, I think Moya is going to slug enough to play at the MLB level, but it will come with a low average and low OBP that a team will have to tolerate to gain the benefit of his power.