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Prospect Press: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
Brandon Warne | Monday June 13th, 2011
The Moose is loose and ready to assist the KC Royals. (Icon SMI)
The Moose is loose and ready to assist the KC Royals. (Icon SMI)
From young minor league prospects to rookie big-league talent, Prospect Press will be providing an inside look at baseball's best talent for years to come.  Today's Prospect Press focuses on Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas is the second in what promises to be a long line of Kansas City Royals hitters ascending from that minor league gold mine.  First baseman Eric Hosmer got the call first, and the Royals will look to he and Moustakas to lock down their corner infield spots for the foreseeable future.

A first look at Moose would suggest he doesn't exude athleticism; he's 5'11", 230 pounds, and according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, bow-legged.  As a result, he'll probably never be more than adequate as a defensive third baseman.  Still, Moustakas is the kind of hitter whose bat will carry the glove, because first and foremost he has extraordinary raw power.

The first thing to know about Moustakas is that he's been on the prospect radar for quite some time.  Since going second overall in the 2007 draft, he's made the top-100 prospect list for Baseball America each season, topping out as the number-nine prospect prior to this year.  That also includes a fall from 13th to 80th following a particularly cold 2009 season in high-A. 

Still, the Royals thought highly enough of Mike that even after a season of hitting .250/.297/.421 with Wilmington in the Carolina League, they moved him up to Double-A and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.  Moustakas rewarded their faith with a monster campaign, pounding the ball to the tune of .347/.413/.687.  That incredible run prompted the Royals to move Moose to Triple-A, where he more than held his own with a slash-line of .293/.314/.564 in 236 plate appearances. 

Note his isolated discipline (on-base percentage - batting average) there.  The one flaw that can be noted when examining Moustakas' body of work is that his plate discipline isn't great, and his 295-132 strikeouts-to-walks (K/BB) ratio serves notice.  Still, his power is absolutely breathtaking, as not only his 36 home runs last season can attest to, but also his 41 doubles.  It also shows that he can use the whole field, as well.  As Goldstein noted in a recent conversation, "He's a hitter with power, not just a power hitter."  

This year in Triple-A was much more of the same for Moose, as he replicated basically replicated his OPS from 2010 but with a much more palpable .287/.347/.498 split.  That, coupled with a sputtering Mike Aviles (.213/.257/.391) and a slumping Wilson Betemit (.257/.314/.358 since May 1) basically opened the door for Moustakas to come up and grab the starting third base job full time. 

That's exactly what the Royals expect Moustakas to do. Goldstein said he envisions a scenario that Moose could struggle initially, but elite talent like his almost always wins out.  He agreed with the notion that it's a good situation for a young third baseman to come into, with little competition and little pressure on a non-pennant contending ball club.  This is a player that eventually could be an All Star representative on a fairly routine basis for the Royals. 
Brandon WarneBrandon is a 2010 graduate of the Journalism program at Northwestern College in St Paul, Minn. He also writes for TwinsMVB.com and GameOnTVMN.com. Warne also played baseball at Northwestern, and continues to play Class-A Amateur Ball in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Follow him on Twitter @brandonwarne52 or feel free to e-mail him at brandon.r.warne@gmail.com.