There are few (or zero) organizations with a crop of more exciting prospects than the Kansas City Royals. The Royals’ Major League roster now features seven of their pre-2011 top prospects according to John Sickels, and even more youngsters should be ready by 2012. The standout amongst the seven so far has been first baseman Eric Hosmer, who has posted a .281/.333/.444 line with 10 homeruns, 47 RBI, 34 runs, and 5 stolen bases in 352 plate appearances. As well as Hosmer has adjusted to Major League pitching, the equally-touted Mike Moustakas can’t seem to find any inkling of success.
Moustakas, the 22 year-old third baseman, has struggled mightily with the bat, hitting just a .195/.253/.252 line with 1 homerun, 11 RBI, and 11 runs in 176 plate appearances. While a few key peripherals, like his unlucky .221 BABIP and awesome 85% contact rate, could point to future, greener pastures, Moose’s abysmal 6.8 BB% might be a major hurdle for fulfilling his elite expectations. His inability to take a walk isn’t anything new, however.
In Triple-A this season, Moustakas owned a solid .287/.347/.498 line in 250 plate appearances, but walked at just a 7.6% clip. This was a major improvement from his Triple-A campaign the year before in 2010, when he sported an incredibly low 3.4 BB% and .314 OBP in 236 plate appearances. Moose’s free pass struggles were hidden behind his sensational power numbers (36 homeruns) and knack for the extra-base hit (41 doubles). In all honesty, it’s quite difficult to knock a young hitter for walks when he’s posting a .630 SLG.
It is obvious Moustakas doesn’t need more Minor League seasoning, but the free-swinger must learn the way of the walk. It’s unlikely Moose fails to materialize given his track record, but while a Minor League hitter can get away with swinging away at the cost of not walking much, Major League pitching eats up young, impatient hitters like Mike Moustakas.