6'2" 205 lbs. DOB: 6/18/89
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
Acquired: 2007 Draft, 8th Round, 245th Overall
Few short-season prospects excited fans as much as Matt Moore did in 2008. After a promising pro debut after he was drafted out of a New Mexico high school, Moore exploded onto the scene this year with video game numbers: A 1.66 ERA, which would have been good for the ERA crown had he not been limited to 12 starts because of a bunch of rainouts in Princeton. In 54.1 innings, Moore allowed 30 hits, walked 19, didn't allow a home run, and struck out 77.
When he was assigned to Princeton in 2007, Moore showed the outstanding hit and strikeout rates, but struggled with his control, walking 16 batters in 20 innings. He improved that for 2008 and saw his BB/9 plummet from 7.1 to 3.1 while his K/9 remained exactly the same at 12.8. If that wasn't enough, he also generates ground balls at a very solid 61% rate.
As good as the stats on Moore are, the scouting report might be even better. Baseball America named him the #1 pitching prospect in the Appy League in 2008 and #6 overall for the Rays. Moore throws an easy 92-94 MPH from the left side, touching 95. He also features a tight curveball that's a true swing-and-miss pitch and has at least plus-potential, if not plus-plus. He also throws a change-up that fades away from right-handers, although it lags behind the fastball and curve in terms of development.
Now, the thing to remember: It's only rookie ball. There is absolutely a lot to get excited about, but the best pitchers in rookie ball don't automatically become the best pitchers in the majors 7 years later. Injuries, mechanical breakdowns, and just plain not being able to get more advanced hitters out can wreck a pitcher's career. And it's worth noting again that Moore was repeating the league, although a 19-year-old in the Appy League isn't anywhere near as bad as, say, a 22-year old in the SAL.
Moore has the makings of a potential ace with two plus pitches and a third that's above-average, but projecting him as one down the line is an iffy proposition. Right now the biggest question with Moore is where he'll begin the 2009 season. The Rays generally don't like to skip pitchers over levels, but Moore is two years removed from high school and he was simply toying with hitters in Princeton so much so that they might make an exception. If he does make the leap to full-season ball, he'll be part of a talented Bowling Green pitching staff under the tutelage of R.C. Lichtenstein, who was the pitching coach for Wade Davis and Jake McGee for several years as they advanced through the system together. If not, he'll be in Hudson Valley where it's easy to see him having another big year.