#31 Matthew Moore – Tampa Bay Rays
A former Moriarty High School Pinto (NM) and 2007 NM Gatorade Player of the Year, Moore has led the Minors in K’s each of the last two seasons and was the first Minor Leaguer to reach the 200-K plateau since Francisco Liriano did so in 2005. In High A in 2010, Moore was able to strikeout a whopping 208 guys in only 144.2 innings. He also amassed 61 walks, but with those strikeout totals that number is more than tolerable.
After posting a sub-3.50 ERA in the Florida State League, Moore will likely start 2011 in Double-A Montgomery with a chance at a promotion to Triple-A Durham at some point. The rotation in Tampa figures to consist of David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and rookie Jeremy Hellickson, so Moore likely will not challenge for a rotation spot until 2012’s trade deadline, and only then if the Rays are not beating the Yankees/Red Sox in the standings. In the event that the Rays are in third in the East in 2012, they will likely ship Shields to the NL to make room for Moore in Tampa.
Moore already boasts a fastball that reaches the mid-90’s and a 70 grade bender, perhaps the best one in the Minors. His changeup demonstrates decent fade and projects as a solid average to plus third offering. The only knocks against Moore are some command struggles, but he has age, organization, and handedness on his side. With no hiccups in 2011 and the imminent promotions of Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings, Moore should be Tampa’s top prospect in 2012. He is the best New Mexican prospect in baseball today, and everyone back home is rooting for him.