Royals bring up Mike Moustakas

Updated: June 10, 2011, 10:28 PM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Kansas City Royals promoted Mike Moustakas from Triple-A Omaha on Friday and inserted the prized prospect into their starting lineup against the Los Angeles Angels.

Kansas City optioned infielder Mike Aviles to its Pacific Coast League club and designated right-hander Kevin Pucetas for assignment to make room for Moustakas, who was at third base and batting sixth for his major league debut.

Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft behind Tampa Bay Rays All-Star left-hander David Price. The 22-year-old Los Angeles native batted .287 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in 55 games this season for the Storm Chasers.

"I'm just soaking it all up and enjoying everything," said Moustakas, who was drafted out of Chatsworth High School in the San Fernando Valley.

"It's good to be back home. This is what I've dreamed about since I was a little kid. I drove from Omaha to Kansas City last night, got on a flight this morning and I'm ready to play right now. I had to go through Salt Lake, but once I got through there and landed in California, it was awesome. This couldn't have worked out any better. I'm about to live the dream right now," he said.

After getting the good news -- and a hug -- from Omaha manager Mike Jirschele, the first thing Moustakas did was call his parents.

"It was a real special moment," Moustakas said in the Royals' dugout. "I said, 'I'm coming home, Dad.' He said, 'What do you mean?' I told him, 'Kansas City's going to Anaheim and I'm meeting the team there.' He just started laughing and told me how proud he was of me."

Moustakas was reunited with 21-year-old first baseman Eric Hosmer, another left-handed hitter who was selected third overall in the 2008 draft -- two spots ahead of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. Entering play on Friday, Hosmer was batting .309 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 32 games following his promotion on May 6 and was 18-for-46 during the team's 4-7 homestand with 10 RBIs.

"It was never a race between me and Eric," Moustakas said. "The only race that we have right now is when we're going to get to the playoffs and win the World Series and start bringing championships home to Kansas City. That's the only race we're concerned about. That's how the Royals brought us up in this organization."

All six of the Royals' top draft picks from 2004 through 2009 are now on the 25-man roster -- Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Luke Hochevar, Moustakas, Hosmer and Aaron Crow.

"It's amazing what the guys that have been scouting for this organization for so long have done to get the farm system to where it's at right now," Moustakas said. "Hopefully, pretty soon we'll start seeing some benefits and reaping the rewards of this."

Moustakas was drafted as a shortstop but then converted to third base with some extra tutoring from former Royals third baseman Joe Randa and Hall of Famer George Brett.

"This is one of the best organizations to grow up in in the minor leagues," Moustakas said. "Joe Randa has been out there with me and George has come out there every now and then to help me out. So just to be able to learn all that stuff from those guys that have played that position for so long has been real helpful."

Moustakas played at Angel Stadium last July in the All-Star Futures game. He hit a combined 36 homers last year with Omaha (15) and Double-A NW Arkansas (21). No regular Royals third baseman has hit more than 18 home runs in a season since 1998, when Dean Palmer had 34.

Aviles, in his fourth big league season, batted .213 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 47 games.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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