You might think of Matt Moore as the Carolina Panthers quarterback you plucked off the fantasy football waiver wire and laughed as he made you look like Ron Wolf when he threw for three touchdowns in back-to-back games late in the 2009 season.
Minor-league baseball junkies see the name and rave about a 21-year-old lefty with an effective fastball and curve who became the first player to record 200 strikeouts down on the farm since Francisco Liriano.
In the next two to three years, you will know Matt Moore.
You're reading about him now because he's next on our list of the top 10 prospects in fantasy baseball.
As we explained in the first piece, we started this project with three rules of thumb: 1. Each player must be under 24 years old. 2. A position player has to have fewer than 100 at-bats in the majors, and a pitcher must have thrown fewer than 40 innings in the bigs. 3. The top 10 are ranked according to how effective we think they will be in fantasy baseball. The 2011 season would be nice, but we're more focused on how they will perform in the future and their staying power.
Let's introduce you to a future strikeout machine in St. Petersburg, Fla.
9. Matt Moore, LHP, Rays
- Height, weight: 6-2, 205
- Bats/throws: Left/left
- Born: June 18, 1989 (21 on opening day)
- Rank on Baseball America's top 100 for 2011: 15
Two quotes to remember
- "Matt Moore, he led all of baseball in strikeouts, which is a feat that is unbelievable when you think about it, as a 19-year-old pitcher in the South Atlantic League. He has good stuff -- a plus fastball, a plus curveball, and he has deception in his delivery. That's where he gets these strikeouts." Rays director of minor league operations Mitch Lukevics, to mlb.com
- "Just recently, I've been mixing in some BP fastballs, which is dragging the back foot a little bit longer and taking a little bit of velocity off it. That's great in a 2-1 or 3-0 count where the guy is already geared up a couple fastballs somewhere around 90, 91 (mph), then you drop down and it's 86 and he's down a little in front (of the pitch)." Moore, in an interesting video displaying his repertoire with the Charlotte Stone Crabs
The Rays know how to draft pitchers. Their projected 2011 rotation of David Price (first round, 2007), James Shields (16th round, 2000), Wade Davis (third round, 2004), Jeremy Hellickson (fourth round, 2005) and Jeff Niemann (first round, 2004) is entirely homegrown.
One of their best selections could be an eighth-rounder from 2007. Moore's 208 Ks in Class A in 2010 made him the first minor-leaguer to reach the 200 club in a season since current Twins ace Liriano accomplished the feat in 2005.
In 2010, Moore was 6-11 with a 3.36 ERA, but he racked up the ridiculous strikeout total in only 144 2/3 innings. He's a little wild (61 walks in 2010 and 70 the season before), but his command is said to be improving, and his average of 12.9 Ks per nine innings the last two seasons will excite even the most timid fantasy owner.
We love pitchers with low ERAs and inflated strikeout numbers, and Moore is at 2.97 and 490 (in 342 innings), respectively, in his minor-league career.
He enters 2011 never having pitched above Class A, but you have to like his odds of making a huge impact in Tampa.
PREVIOUS: No. 10, Lonnie Chisenhall
NEXT: No. 8, Domonic Brown
2011 fantasy baseball rankings:
Catchers, First basemen, Second basemen, Shortstops, Third basemen, Designated hitters, Outfielders, Starting pitchers, Closers, Top 100 overall, Guide to our 2011 fantasy rankings, Guide to the top keepers
For updates, analysis and links during the season, follow Kevin Kleps on Twitter.