Rays' Lefthander Moore Continues To Impress





ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—The Rays had a pretty good idea what lefthander Matt Moore could do after seeing him tear through the low Class A South Atlantic League last year, leading all minor leaguers with 176 strikeouts.

And then he showed them he could do ever better this season. Moore, 21, weathered a tough transition to the high Class A Florida State League—0-7, 6.63 in his first 11 outings—to get to the end of July with a 4-9, 4.05 mark and a league-leading total of 153 strikeouts in 111 innings with Charlotte.

"After the slow start, Matt has made good strides in his development," farm director Mitch Lukevics said.

Moore's turnaround was simple: striking out more hitters while not issuing as many walks or yielding as many hits. Having a tremendous attitude and approach has helped as well.

"He competes," Lukevics said.

Of course, there is still room to improve. He has the ability to pitch in to righthanded hitters, but could do better. And the Rays want him to refine his delivery so it becomes more repeatable and leads to consistent strikes.

But for a guy who was an eighth-round pick in 2007 out of high school in New Mexico and has moved through the minors with honors—pitcher of the year at Rookie-level Princeton in 2008, team MVP for Bowling Green in 2009, a couple of FSL pitcher of the week awards this season—the progress has been impressive so far.

And the Rays expect him to continue the ride.

"He has the stuff to be a front-of-the-rotation major league starter," Lukevics said.

COOL RAYS

• Cuban first baseman Jose Ruiz, who was sought by several teams when first eligible for free agency, signed to a major league contract with an option and was assigned initially to the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League team.

• Righthander Ian Kendall, the Rays' fifth-round pick in June, signed with plans to report to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but it was uncertain if he will get in games.