The closer we get to the July 31st trade deadline, the more rumors you will see in whatever media format you prefer. Today, it was learned the Rays are “kicking the tires” on Zack Greinke, something Keith Law was quick to squash on Twitter. It was also learned tonight that the Yankees are once again heavy after a starting pitcher and were mentioned in both Zack Greinke and Dan Haren rumors with the Haren rumors sounding more serious. If the Rays do get involved in some deal, you are certain to hear Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings mentioned but in my opinion, there is nobody out there right now on the trade market that would demand that kind of return but one name you might see pop up is Matt Moore.
Moore is a lefty the Rays drafted in the 2008 draft who just turned 21 a few weeks ago. Moore is known for two things – lots of strikeouts and lots of walks. In 304 professional innings, he has a 12.3 K/9 and a 4.6 BB/9 and has limited batters to a .196 batting average. In 2010, he’s continued that trend with a 12.1 K/9, a 4.5 BB/9, and has limited Florida State League batters to a .226 average in 106 innings. Despite that dominance, Moore is just 4-9 on the season with a 4.33 ERA which is mainly due to his early season struggles. Struggling in April and May is nothing new for Moore as he has always been a stronger pitcher the longer the season goes on. The table below shows his career splits by month:
As you can see, he is rather unhittable in June, July, and August in his career and this season is no different. Baseball America honored him this week by giving him the second slot on their Prospect Hot Sheet with the following commentary:
He’d have to arm wrestle John Lamb for the title of the minors’ hottest pitcher, but no one has gone through a better turnaround than Moore. He has gotten ahead in counts more often with improved control, which has led to huge strikeout numbers. From June 1 to now, Moore leads the minors in strikeouts (74 in 55 2/3 innings), and this week he had two more double-digit strikeout outings. That’s becoming routine for Moore—he has struck out 10 or more in four of his past six starts
In addition to those 74 strikeouts, he has walked just 22 batters compared to the 33 he walked in the first two months of this season and has permitted just 34 hits. Moore gets his work done with a low to mid 90’s fastball and a strong curve which sounds a lot like a former top prospect for the Rays, Jacob McGee. McGee is just not getting fully recovered from Tommy John surgery but hwen McGee was 20 years old, he pitched in the Florida State League and the Southern League and struck out 197 batters while walking just 53 in 154 innings in 2007. His 2008 season was cut short with injury and he only threw 33 innings in 2009 as he worked through his rehab. McGee is back in the Southern League this season had has 91 strikeouts and 30 walks in just 78.2 innings for the Biscuits.
Moore is certainly going to draw the attention of scouts with his numbers and the extra attention from Baseball America certainly helps. Lefties with his stuff and his strikeout rates at an advanced level of the minors are tough to find. RaysProspects.com had Moore ranked as their third best pitching prospect behind Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson and Moore has done everything to validate that ranking. Moore has also validated the praise first mentioned by Baseball America’s Bill Ballew back in a December chat when he said Moore has an outside shot at being not only the Rays’ top prospect in 2011 but also baseball’s top prospect in 2011. The aforementioned Law had Moore just off his mid-season Top 25 prospects update but Moore’s recent surge will likely get him on the season’s final Top 25. What remains to be seen is if he will do so as a member of the Rays’ organization or with another one.