The 2009 minor league stikeout king, Matt Moore has quickly developed into one of the toughest at-bats in the minors. I had a chance to see him face the Orioles in minor league camp on Wednesday, March 17. It's apparent that the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder not only deserves his heralded prospect status, but his ascent up the prospect ranks may have just begun.
Through his three innings, Moore showed four effective pitches, each from a 3/4 arm slot and with excellent movement. He commanded the zone and confidently challenged hitters, utilizing the inner half of the plate well all the while.
He consistently pounded the zone with a fastball that sat between 91-93 MPH with substantial down-and-out movement to righthanded hitters. Topping out at 94, his fastball may already be a plus offering considering his movement and command.
His curveball may also already be a plus-plus pitch, having devastating two-plain movement. Hitting 77 MPH on the gun, he pounded the zone with the pitch, showing both sharp and late break. Moore's curve could be extremely tough on lefties and righties and he snaps it off with consistency.
Note: Moore's curveball is a little slurvy. Some scouts were calling it a slider. He calls it a curveball.
In addition to his fastball and curve, Moore throws an average to above average 81 MPH changeup with impressive downward movement. In his three innings, he threw his change less frequently than his curve and fastball, but the pitch has quite a bit of promise. Like his other offerings, he was able to get his changeup to move substantially down and out to a right hander. His location wasn't always consistent but it was effective, as batters struggled with the pitch on the outer half.
His fourth offering looked to be a slower than what's usually expected from a two-seam fastball. I saw him throw the pitch four times -- only against righthanded hitters with two-strike counts. Each time, the catcher set up about three inches off the outer part of the plate. The pitch moved down and away from the right-handed hitters, moving more than his normal fastball, inducing swings two of four times. I am not entirely sure if this was a type of two-seam fastball or a harder than normal changeup, either way, it proved effective.
Moore's mechanics aren’t fully conventional. He starts by stepping toward third base before raising his hands above his head, in tandem with his front leg. He takes longer than normal to drop his hands and separate, which would potentially be a concern if his arm trailed his lower half, which isn’t an issue in this particular case. As he drops his leg, he’s able to complete his arm circle before landing his front foot, meaning less torque on his shoulder. The only issue here is the location of his arm and elbow within the arm circle; he flails somewhat, though not substantially. This may cause some unnecessary stress on his arm. But looking at things as a whole, it isn’t drastic enough to make him a bigger risk for future issues or injuries than the average pitcher. Moore remains balanced throughout his motion. He tucks his glove close to his chest as he completes his motion.
Overall, his motion appears somewhat odd or awkward, but remains solid and efficient. In his stretch, Moore showed the same demeanor as he had in his windup. He raises his leg slightly and moves quickly to the plate. Like his wind-up, he completes a full arm circle before landing. While in the stretch, he revealed a very quick pick-off move to first base.
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