Name: Matt Moore
Notable 2011 Stats: 2.20 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 8 HRA, 28 BB, 131 K, and 43% GB% in 102 1/3 IP with Montgomery (AA);
1.37 ERA, 2.02 FIP, 3 HRA, 18 BB, 79 K, and 39% GB% in 52 2/3 IP with Durham (AAA);
1.92 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 11 HRA, 46 BB, 210 K, and 42% GB% in 155 IP total in minors;
2.89 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 1 HRA, 3 BB, 15 K, and 42.9% GB% in 9 1/3 IP with Rays
Why He’s This High: Moore is clearly the #1 pitching prospect in the game. He’s more than ready to slot into a major league rotation, as evidenced by his tour de force showing in September and October with the Rays.
He’s basically everything you look for in a pitching prospect–he’s fairly big, throws cleanly, sits in the mid-90′s, has two good offspeed offerings, and commands everything. Statistically, he’s completely dominated everywhere he’s been–he’s never had a strikeout rate below 11.5 K/9 and hasn’t posted a FIP above 3.00 since Rookie ball.
I’d go into more detail on his positive attributes, but there’s no need–he’s got it all, or at least as much as one could reasonably expect.
Why He’s This Low: I’m going to preface this by saying that I feel each of the top four prospects on this list are very close together. You could easily make a case for Moore to be #1 overall.
But why is he fourth? Well, the first factor is that pitchers have a greater likelihood of running into career-altering injuries than hitters. All else equal, I rank a hitter above a pitcher for this reason. Maybe it’s because we’re all spoiled by Stephen Strasburg, but Moore doesn’t quite feel like the truly once-in-a-generation arm that would transcend that. And Strasburg’s own injury shows the risk inherent in calling a pitcher the top prospect in baseball–the Nationals will only basically have five years of control of him instead of six.
Beyond that? Moore’s fastball doesn’t sink–its movement is all lateral–so he’s a flyball guy. That’s perfectly fine given his strikeout rates, but all else equal, you’d rather have him get a higher number of grounders. His secondary pitches don’t have the best consistency, either, as his breaking ball gets slurvy at times and he occasionally throws his changeup too hard. Again, these are extremely minor things–but we all know what’s great about Moore, so I’m just trying to point out his imperfections.
Conclusions: Moore should be an ace, as he’s got three pitches that could be plus at the least, and he commands all of them. If you look deep enough, you can see small warts, but he remains an absolute monster prospect, easily the best pitching prospect in the game, and arguably the best overall.
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