In late August of 2012, the Detroit Tigers pulled a 21-year-old outfielder named Avisail Garcia straight up from Double-A Erie, which may have been a response to right fielder Brennan Boesch‘s season-long cold streak. Garcia would hit .319 in 23 games for the Tigers, and he would eventually go on to become a key part of the Tigers’ 2012 postseason roster. Garcia has since been traded to the Chicago White Sox in part of a three-way deal that brought Jose Iglesias to the Tigers.
Two years after 2012, although it is still probably a long shot, the Tigers have another young outfielder in Double-A who could conceivably find himself playing in the Motor City before all is said and done in 2014. His name is Steven Moya.
Ironically enough, Moya may actually remind folks more of Boesch than Garcia. Moya is a left-handed hitter, and he will most likely never hit for the type of average that Garcia will. Moya is a tall, powerful swinger who has the ability to hit moonshots, but he also has a history of striking out a lot and not walking very much. His lack of patience is evidenced by his .292 career on-base percentage in the minor leagues.
This year, however, Moya seems to have matured a bit, and he currently possesses a slash line of .284/.304/.549 with 12 home runs, 17 doubles, two triples and 40 RBIs. Yes, the .304 on-base percentage is quite low, but the .284 batting average is plenty healthy and the extra-base power has been mighty impressive.
The fact that Moya is a left-handed hitter should also bode well for him. The Tigers really only have one truly solid, consistent lefty at the moment which would, of course, be the switch-hitting Victor Martinez. The left-handed Andy Dirks continues to rehab, and the hope is that he will be able to rejoin the Tigers by the end of June. However, it is hard to know what to expect out of Dirks upon his return, given the fact that he has been on the shelf since March and had a down year in 2013.
Rajai Davis and J.D. Martinez have done a good job of holding down the fort in left field in Dirks’ absence, but they are both right-handed hitters, so it is not a true platoon. The Tigers do have a pair of left-handed hitting outfield prospects in Triple-A Toledo in Tyler Collins and Daniel Fields, but Collins is batting only .235 at the moment and Fields is only hitting .234. Fields is also on the seven-day DL right now.
If Dirks struggles upon his return, and Moya remains red-hot in Double-A, it will be interesting to see if the Tigers will consider looking to him for a much-needed left-handed bat sometime down the road. It is very likely that the Tigers still believe that Moya is a little too raw for the big leagues at the moment, but stranger things have happened.