Moustakas Letting It Roll

We’ve given the Royals’ Mike Moustakas a good bit of virtual ink lately. He appeared on last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet and has been a fixture in recent Low A Daily Dishes, but it’s worth delving a little more into how large his turnaround has been over the last couple of weeks.

No one was probably happier to see the calendar flip from April to May than Moustakas. The top prospect in the Royals organization hit only .190/.253/.226 for the month, and his first extra-base hit of the season didn’t come until April 28 when he homered against Cedar Rapids. He committed six errors in the month (though three of them came in one game) and had a grand total of four RBIs despite hitting third or fourth in the Burlington order every game.

Moustakas opened the season as Burlington’s cleanup hitter, but was moved up to the three-spot after eight games in which he hit .172/.226/.172 (5-for-29) and has stayed there ever since. Still, moving him up in the order didn’t produce immediate results, as he managed a .200/.267/.255 line the rest of the month. He punctuated April by going 0-for-6 in an extra-inning loss on April 29.

On May 2, his first game of the month, Moustakas went 0-for-4 against Dayton, sinking his season line to .182/.242/.216. The following night, Moustakas hit a two-run home run and his numbers have simply taken off ever since.

Over his last 11 games, Moutakas is hitting .378/.429/.711, and his May numbers have already exceeded his April totals in hits, home runs, doubles, triples, RBIs, and stolen bases, even though he still has half of May to play. He homered three times last week to earn his way onto the Hot Sheet, and has managed multiple hits in eight of his last 10 games after having only two multi-hit games in April. He’s raised his average more than 60 points in less than two weeks up to its current .248/.306/.383.

Burlington manager Brian Rupp says Moustakas’ turnaround has been a matter of him taking pressure off himself. He hasn’t changed his approach any, but he was trying to do too much before. The hot streak has come as Moustakas has simply let things happen, rather than trying to make them happen.

One of the more noteworthy moments  Moustakas has had over the last couple weeks came on Tuesday night in Wisconsin. With the Bees trailing 4-2, runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out in the top of the eighth, Moustakas stepped in against a fellow 2007 first round pick, hard-throwing righthander Phillippe Aumont. Aumont hadn’t given up an earned run in his last four appearances, and the Timber Rattlers elected to let him pitch to Moustakas rather than walk him to set up a double play. The result? Moustakas lined a single up the middle that tied the game.