The art of hitting lefties

Royals prospect Mike Moustakas needs to work on his ability to hit left-handed pitching. Ron Vesely/MLB Photos/Getty Images

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On a back field of the Kansas City Royals' spring training facility, Mike Moustakas does a celebratory jig with fellow prospects Eric Hosmer and Johnny Giavotella. Why? Because they've just beaten a group of fellow minor leaguers in a bunting competition off of a pitching machine.

Such is the life of a minor leaguer during spring training, when teams will do anything to help break the monotony, including organizing bunting competitions among guys such as Moustakas and Hosmer, who probably should never bunt again in their entire professional careers. Besides, these two left-handed sluggers have more important skills to be working on, such as refining the art of hitting left-handed pitching.

It's hard to find fault with Moustakas' 2010 season. He hit .322/.369/.630 with 36 homers across two levels (jumping from No. 69 to No. 23 on Keith Law's top prospect rankings). But if you're going to pick nits, the third baseman had some trouble against southpaws, hitting just .222 against them after his promotion to Triple-A Omaha. Hosmer, who's a year younger and stayed a level behind Moustakas (but is ranked No. 5 by Keith Law), didn't have as much of an issue against his same-handed counterparts, batting .317 off lefties at Double-A, which was the highest level he played at last season.

"Hosmer has a natural inside-out swing as it is, so he lets the ball travel a little further into the zone against lefties and goes the other way," said Royals Triple-A hitting coach Tommy Gregg. "That's where his strength is and where his swing works the best. Moustakas is more of a pull-type hitter, so he's going to be a little more out in front on lefties and pull off on his front side."