Matt Moore was supposed to be the next big thing. But then he did so well, and the Rays got so close to a playoff spot, that the timetable got accelerated. So he's here now, and the 22-year-old brings more than blazing heat.
Yr. Team/level W-L ERA G IP H BB K
'07 Princeton/rookie 0-0 2.66 8 20.1 12 16 29
'08 Princeton/rookie 2-2 1.66 12 54.1 30 19 77
'09 Bowling Green/A 8-5 3.15 26 123 86 70 176
'10 Charlotte/Adv. A 6-11 3.36 26 144.2 109 61 208
'11 Montgomery/AA 8-3 2.20 18 102.1 68 28 131
Durham/AAA 4-0 1.37 9 52.2 33 18 70
Rays 0-0 6.23 2 4.1 5 2 4
Name: Matthew Cody Moore
Born: 6-18-89, Fort Walton Beach
Lives: Edgewood, N.M. (about an hour east of Albuquerque)
High School: Moriarty
Drafted: 8th round, 2007 (245th overall)
A little help from a friend
Moore's blazing four-seam fastball is a gift, a product of his natural ability. His circle changeup the result of his work and the urging and insistence of the Rays coaches. But the killer curveball that makes it all work? He thanks Jordan Pacheco, a rookie C/1B with the Rockies.
Pacheco was an area prep star who then played with Moore's older brother, Bobby, at the University of New Mexico. When Matt was up visiting during his senior year of high school, they started playing catch and throwing their curves, and Matt asked Jordan to show him his grip, which is essentially a spike curve, with one finger on top.
"I saw him play all through high school and he had this nasty hook, and I didn't have that," Moore said. "So it would have been dumb of me not to see what he was doing. And the pitch took off for me."
Moore hasn't exactly returned the favor: He has faced Pacheco — who was just called up by the Rockies for the first time — twice in the minors, breaking his bat once and striking him out. "He's going to be looking for some revenge," Moore said. "We joke about that."
By any name
For now, the Rays pitcher is at best the second most famous Matt Moore. No. 1 is the quarterback who played four seasons with the Panthers and is now with the Dolphins. There's also a rising rocker and an internationally known graphic artist/designer. Though the QB Moore (who attended the same California high school as James Shields) played baseball well enough to get drafted by the Angels in 2004, the LHP Moore played football only through junior high, and was a fullback and defensive end. He can only throw a small football: "If you put an NFL football in my hands, it's garbage. It's quack-quack. If it's undersized I can get it to spiral pretty good."
A message in ink
The large tattoo on Moore's left shoulder bears meaning: "I'm a Catholic, and it's the patron saint of battle, St. Michael. That was my sponsor saint when I was confirmed, and it's kind of symbolic as far as the game goes — that it's a battle out there, and that's kind of how it all ties together for me. And there's not just the battle of baseball but the battle of life."
Hey aren't you …
Moore hasn't been mistaken for the other Matts but does hear some chatter about his resemblance to actor Adrian Grenier, above, who happens to play the lead role in his favorite show, Entourage. "I get a Vinny Chase kind of thing, a couple of comparisons of looked and features," Moore said.
From an enchanted land
Moore was born in Fort Walton Beach, his father a 23-year man in the Air Force, then lived four years in Japan (though attending an American school) and moved to New Mexico when he was 11. That's a state not known for baseball, producing fewer big-leaguers than all but Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. Most successful was Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner. More famous than baseball players? Auto racers Al and Bobby Unser. Actor Demi Moore. Singer John Denver (who knew?)
With the renamed Miami Marlins playing a one-game series to open their new stadium, wouldn't the Rays have been a more logical guest than the Cardinals? … Related, the Rays could consider the now-available Florida first name. Maybe in a new stadium? … Mlbtraderumors.com ranks Casey Kotchman the second-best minor-league contract deal of the year, behind the Yankees' Bartolo Colon. … Ex-Rays Fernando Perez and Rocco Baldelli are talking about forming a band. … ESPN's Buster Olney says James Shields is "probably running a strong third" in the AL Cy Young race. … CF B.J. Upton told Washington's WTOP that if he can't stay with the Rays as preferred, "it would be kind of cool to play close to home" with the Nats. … Did principal owner Stuart Sternberg mean exec VP Andrew Friedman was "a partner" in the philosophical sense, or is an ownership share of the team part of a package to keep him? … Other obvious issues with the 2012 schedule: Sending the Rays on a mid-April trip to cold-weather Detroit, Boston and Toronto; and to the West Coast twice in less than three weeks in late July/early August.
Got a minute? Matt Moore
Must-see TV? Entourage.
Big-night out meal? Ruth's Chris. I've only had it twice, but I really like it.
Singer or band you'd want to be on stage with? I like rock, so maybe Metallica back in the day.
Worst job? Pushing carts and stacking groceries at John Brooks (supermarket) for $5.15 an hour.
Dream date? If (actor) Jordana Brewster is out there reading this …
As impressive of a season as Moore had — 12-3, 1.92, 210 Ks in 155 minor-league innings — he likely won't open next season in the majors. The Rays tend to be conservative (and successful) in their handling of pitchers, and since he had only a little more than a month at Triple A he seems headed back there, much like David Price was in 2009. (There's also service time/financial benefits for the Rays to wait.) Plus, pending what the Rays do in the offseason, there's no room for him, if they bring back the current five starters plus Alex Cobb will be healthy.