In case you hadn’t noticed, the Detroit Tigers offense has had its struggles this season.

Nobody anticipated this. Even with Victor Martinez on the shelf, a team boasting Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler should be a run-scoring powerhouse. Right now they are languishing at 10th in the American League in runs per game (4.2).

Things have been particularly bad in recent outings. During the first four days of their current West Coast road trip, the runs have been as dry as a teetotaller’s picnic—six in four games. Some quality pitching has enabled them to eke out a pair of victories in these outings. However, their offensive malaise cannot continue if they hope to keep pace in the crackerjack Central Division.

There is hope on the horizon for the beleaguered Tigers lineup. Uncharacteristically for this franchise, the player in mind is not a veteran on the trading block, but a prospect waiting in the wings.

Steven Moya is the man I refer to. The 6’7″ slugger has been tabbed as a player of the future by the Tigers for some time now. Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski expressed his views on the 23-year-old last October to James Schmehl of MLive: “We love Steven Moya. … He’s a 35-home run, 100-plus hitting-type guy, and he plays solid defense and runs well for a big guy, too.”

Yep, Detroit’s No.1 prospect is the full package.

Dombrowski did not just pluck those numbers out of thin air. Last year with the Double-A Erie Seawolves, Moya set franchise records by uncorking 35 HR, 105 RBI and 286 total bases.

A September call-up for the first time last year, Moya had a chance of cracking the Tiger’s 25-man roster out of camp. But a poor spring (.125/.125/.250) had him heading back to the minors. Then, to rub salt into his wounds, he began the season late after sustaining a foot injury in early April.

Flip the calendar forward nearly two months, and things have changed significantly. After taking several weeks to find his groove, Moya is now raking at Triple-A Toledo.

Since May 12, he has hit .317 (19-for-60) and been on base in each of his 14 starts. During this time, Moya has plundered nine extra-base hits, including four home runs. One of these deep flies was also a game-winner against Buffalo on May 16.

Moya turning the corner may have come at just the right time for the Tigers. His hot bat could be the perfect fizz for Detroit’s un-carbonated offense.

Also beneficial is the fact that Moya bats from the left side. This would provide a nice complement to Detroit’s lineup, which is even more righty-dominant than normal with the absences of Martinez and Alex Avila. Center fielder Anthony Gose is currently the only everyday left-handed hitter on the Detroit team.

If promoted, Moya could slot in at No. 6 between J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos. This would not place too much burden on the youngster as he wets his feet in the big leagues.

Despite the documented upsides, Moya will come up with his warts. Last year he struck out 161 times at Double-A (31 percent) and has fanned another 50 times (31 percent) already in 2015.

The pitching will only get tougher in the majors, and Moya has shown no sign of lowering his strike out numbers. If given the chance now, his air-swing habits are unlikely to change in the short-to-medium term.

However, his immense talent and power may offset this issue. Many players are still productive and capable of helping their team win despite striking out a lot. Evan Gattis and George Springer of the Houston Astros are two cases in point.

Speaking last year to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus recognised Moya’s flaws but also saw a silver lining:

It’s not uncommon for power hitters to swing and miss. But with experience, you hope his pitch-recognition goes up. I don’t think he’ll ever be Victor Martinez when putting the bat on the ball, but no one is. If he can make contact at the big-league level he’s going to hit some homers.

And the Tigers could certainly do with a few of those at the moment. What have they got to lose?

It could hardly get much worse on the offensive side than it is right now. If Moya fails, he can be sent back down for more seasoning and Detroit would go back to square one.

Whether it’s now or later, it’s just a matter of time before he does the business in Motown. Dombrowski seems ultra-confident of that: “If Moya‘s not a premium prospect, I don’t know who is. … I don’t know what damage he’ll end up doing this year, but I mean, this guy has unbelievable power,” he said to Anthony Fenech of Detroit Free Press.

We could be about to find out how much damage he can do. With the phone only an arm length away, Dombrowski’s hand may be just about to twitch.


Stats in this article are courtesy of

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