At the Park: Scouting Mud Hens Hitters

The Tigers might need a bat off the bench this summer, they could use a boost at third base, and they are very likely to need to chips for this summer’s trade deadline. How did some of the top hitting prospects look in Toledo?

Dixon Machado (Shortstop) – Toledo
Dates Observed: June 6
I’ve consistently been critical of Machado’s plate presence over the years, but he’s making me a believer. He always had good habits at the plate, it’s just that when he tried to put an aggressive swing on the ball, his contact would never do much to drive the ball – that’s all changed. He can barrel the ball well, and he can generate good loft when he does. His swing is compact without much wasted motion, allowing his still slender frame to get through the zone quickly. His line drive rate is up to 21% now in Toledo, after not even cracking the teens for the first several years of his minor league career. Never going to be a great hitter, but with his defense, he’s likely ready for an extended big league audition. Will be very surprised if he’s still in the Tigers organization come August – big league ready shortstops don’t grow on trees.

Steven Moya (Outfielder) – Toledo
Dates Observed: June 6
For a good, hard-working kid, it’s tough to watch Moya right now. He’s working hard (taking extra BP, working with coaches on mechanics), but the results aren’t there, and it shows in his body language. Looks defeated walking to/from the plate. He’s trying to find his eye and be more selective, but it’s making his swing tentative – he’s uncertain of when to swing, and when he does, it’s often not with authority and too late. Take that tentativeness and combine it with an already long swing, with a big strike zone, and you’ve got lots of swing-and-miss right now. Result is that his walk rate is up a bit (from 4% last year to 6% this year), but his isolated slugging has fallen off a cliff (from 0.28 to 0.14). Still has massive power when he connects, only 23 years old, and hard worker, so no time to give up on him. But he might not be ready to face big league pitching to start 2016. Lots more work to do still.

Daniel Fields (Outfielder) – Toledo
Dates Observed: June 6
Fields has always been a puzzling player. Appears to lack focus at times at the plate – had one at-bat where he took fastballs over the plate, then chased breaking pitches in the dirt. He has physical tools, but doesn’t have the sort of physical tools that can overcome taking plays/days off. Wasn’t focused in the field either – had one play where he struggled to go back on a ball just barely hit over his head. Had another where he fielded a ball in play and missed the cutoff man, with a weak throw that allowed the runner to advance. Has skills to be a solid bench player, not sure if he’ll get there.

Jefry Marte (Third Baseman) – Toledo
Dates Observed: June 6
Bigger than you’d expect based on his listed height/weight, looks the part of a big league third baseman with a strong upper body and athleticism to go with it. Swing has some upper cut to it, allowing him to generate plenty of loft – had a drive to the warning track that hung in the air for what seemed like days. Power game appears to have progressed significantly this season. Generates power without hard swing, not a lot of swing and miss. Reaction time at third was good enough, could make solid throws. Usually not much optimism on minor league free agent signings, but only 24 and making strides. Has 25 extra base hits so far this season – had 27 all of last year. Might be worth a September call-up.

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