Currently considered a steal in the eight round, Moore has dominated the lower minors with his 90 to 94 MPH fastball with sinking action, a sick-nasty curve, and an above average circle changeup with screwball-like action. His curveball so far has missed more bats than his fastball, according to Keith Law who describes the pitch as, “[S]lurvy at 79 to 81 mph … with downward tail .. more likely to [generate] ground balls (implied: at the higher levels).” Mechanically speaking, his delivery is fluid and easy. Furthermore, he is able to change speeds on his fastball effectively, pushing the upper limits of his heater and dropping the speed from that pitch too. The only thing holding Moore back is his erratic control (4.5 BB/9 for career). With improved command and control, he could be a dominant front line starter and one of the top minor league prospects.
2010 Stats: 12.7 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9 | 132 2/3 IP | 3.66 ERA | 2.66 FIP | 1.22 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 6.9 H/9 | .331 BABIP | 41.1 GB% | 18.8 LD% | 32.0 FB% | 6.1 Hr/FB%
Career Stats: 12.8 K/9 | 4.5 BB/9 | 330 1/3 IP | 3.08 ERA | 2.75 FIP | 1.18 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 6.3 H/9 | .302 BABIP | 46.2 FB% | 16.0 LD% | 31.2 FB% | 5.5 Hr/FB%
High strikeout rates – check. Solid advance metric – check. Low home run rates – check. Best pitcher in the minors in 2011 – not a stretch. Never once has his strikeout rate dropped below 12.7 K/9 since he’s been a pro, albeit his walks are tough to swallow. However, he has only give up 20 free passes in his last 10 starts (59 innings) to go with his 89 strikeouts. Last year he had 33 walks in his first 165 PA and only 37 walks in the next 357. Maybe there is a trend here. Maybe I am just looking for reasons to make Matt Moore so exciting Brad Evans finally runs out of alliterations. Things to also note: his line drive rate is probably the culprit to the higher BABIP, but it isn’t so unlucky to call it fluky. Also, his FIP (2.66) shows how great he’s been pitching this year. He has yet to be promoted to Double-A where his first real test will be. Barring any setbacks, he could be the next Clayton Kershaw / Tim Lincecum / Tommy Hanson of the 2011 fantasy season if only he was given the chance. Seeing as Jeremy Hellickson hasn’t been given much of a chance, Moore is going to need many injuries or a trade for any long-term major league cup of Joe to happen. Deep keeper leagues, grab Moore NOW, and in redraft leagues, eye him closely in May 2011, and watch to see if the Rays have a lot of injuries.
Want to know about playing over your head? Just ask Brandon Belt. Passed over by the majority of the scouting handbooks, Belt has literally hit his way onto the scene. As a lanky first basemen with moderate, or as Sickels says, “considerable,” power potential, solid defense, surprising athleticism, and good plate discipline, he was overlooked because few thought his strength would translate into baseball power. Another flaw, he is vulnerable to the inside pitch due to his stance. Jason Grey of ESPN wrote a detailed scouting report a couple of weeks ago with information coming from major league scouts. Some highlights: “Has quick hands and good bat speed,” has changed his swing to a “more upright stance – helps avoid getting jammed and still have great reach across the plate.” In regards to his power, “Good raw power, but more line-drive hitter / gap power (*20 homer potential with a lot of doubles). “Solid pitch recognition. Played at a hitter friendly home ballpark.” In regards to his steals, “Although Belt has 20 steals this year, it won’t be a part of his game at the big league level, as he doesn’t have above-average speed. He stole a number of bags earlier in the year simply by taking advantage of Class A pitchers not paying attention to him, but his running game has petered out at Double-A.” Defensively, “Belt is consistent and above-average at first base.” How well has his first year gone? (*emphasis was mine)
2010 Stats (and Career): .360/.460/.624 | 433 AB | 66 XBH | 19 Hr | .236 ISO | 84:79 K:BB | 20/8 SB/CS | .416 BABIP | 33.3 GB% | 25.2 LD% | 41.4 FB%
Pretty effin’ awesome, and with another week of regular season play, he could improve even more on these numbers. With a mind-boggling 25 percent line-drive rate, a .236 ISO and a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio, there is a lot to be excited about. However, there is one huge caveat that should be mentioned: .416 batting average on balls in play! That’s absolutely absurd, yet alone to sustain year in and year out. There is a lot to get excited about, yet, there is just as much to hold reservations about as well. I’ve been patiently waiting for the floor to bottom out on his season, not because I don’t think he’s a good enough prospect, but because he’s going to be overhyped next year. He has 20 to 25 homer power max, a .300 average potential with some doubles, a few steals and solid patience. He won’t be anything more than a lighter hitting Derek Lee. Although he had breakout potential for Sickels in the preseason, this was his breakout. He may get a call up this September, but don’t expect much until next year.