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Deep Pickups 6/26: Hitters

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Mike Moustakas - 3B, KC

Moustakas has had a frustrating career. A former No. 2 overall pick who established himself as one of the finest prospects in the game by dominating every level of the minors, including a 36-homer campaign between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010, the third baseman just hasn't been able to pull it together in the majors.

Things had gotten so bad this year that in mid-May, with his OPS sitting below 550, the 25-year-old was sent to the minors for the first time since 2011.

It was a short-lived stay -- Moustakas played just eight games in Triple-A and hit .355 before being recalled -- but the hope was that it would serve as a wakeup call that might finally kick his bat into gear.

The initial returns were not great, as he batted just .148 in his first eight games back, but he homered in the ninth and has looked noticeably better since then. In his last 14 games, the slugger is hitting .283/.353/.565 with four homers and nine RBI.

It's hard to put a ton of stock into a brief hot streak such as this, because we've seen it from Moustakas plenty of times before, but there are some encouraging signs to be found. Most notably, he has five strikeouts against five walks during these last 14 games, showing improved plate discipline that indicates a better approach at the plate. For his career, Moustakas has struck out nearly three times for every walk.

More walks (and fewer strikeouts) should help the third baseman raise his dreadfully low batting average and OBP. In addition, he just needs to get some balls to drop in. His .178 BABIP is nearly 100 points below his career mark and by far the worst in baseball among players with 200 plate appearances.

That number is bound to rise, and oftentimes these things tend to even out in a hurry, so it's a decent bet that Moustakas has a prolonged hot streak on the way. His recent play -- and improved strike zone control -- would support that theory.

Rougned Odor - 2B, TEX

When the Rangers traded Ian Kinsler during the offseason, they thought they were opening up a full-time job for top prospect Jurickson Profar. Unfortunately, the promising young second baseman's season has been ruined by injury, but Texas is lucky enough to have another of the game's better infield prospects on hand.

Odor was called up directly from Double-A in May after putting up a 763 OPS with six homers in his first 32 games. Despite skipping a level, he has had little trouble adjusting to the big-league ranks. In his first 36 games, the 20-year-old is hitting .282/.316/.445.

Despite his small frame (5'11", 170) Odor has always flashed impressive pop in the minors, and that's been on display in his early MLB time, as he already has three doubles, three triples and three homers in his first 120 plate appearances for the Rangers.

Speed is also a part of his toolset -- he swiped 32 bags last year and has totaled 67 in 329 minor-league games -- but so far in Texas he's just 1-for-4 on steal attempts. It seems reasonable to expect improvement in that category as the summer progresses, as long as he can continue to get on base.

One area where Odor has noticeably lagged behind is plate discipline. He has only drawn three walks (against 21 strikeouts) for a paltry 2.5 percent BB-rate, and he's going to have a hard time sustaining his offensive success if he can't start to even out his K/BB ratio a bit.

That will likely come in time, and for now he's putting up strong numbers while swinging away. He's earned the opportunity to move up from the nine-hole in the Rangers lineup and probably will soon if he keeps performing.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.