Even though most prospect followers should already be familiar with Matt Moore's work this season, the Rays lefthander just keeps going out there and putting up amazing numbers every five days. Moore's latest gem for high Class A Charlotte came Tuesday in an 11-strikeout, no-walk performance over six innings against Jupiter. He allowed two runs (both unearned) on four hits, dropping his ERA to 3.36 in 144 2/3 innings for the year.
Moore already pretty much had his second consecutive minor league strikeout crown sewn up. His 197 strikeouts heading into Tuesday were already 14 ahead of his nearest competition, but his 11 on Tuesday made him the first minor leaguer to surpass 200 since Francisco Liriano in 2005. The last pitcher to strike out more than the 208 hitters Moore has was Clint Nageotte, who fanned 214 in high Class A in 2002, and with five more games left in Charlotte's season, Moore could get a chance to surpass that mark.
Moore has just been toying with Florida State League hitters with his 92-94 mph fastball and plus curveball for most of the last two months. He's racked up double-digit strikeouts in nine of his last 13 starts, all while tightening his control. Over those same 13 starts, he's walked more than two hitters in a game only once, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a whopping 121-to-23 over 78 innings.
Arenado's Blast Caps Busy Day In Asheville
Low Class A Asheville third baseman Nolan Arenado got his day off to a tough start but certainly ended it on a high note. The Rockies' second-round pick last year, Arenado carried an 18-game hitting streak, the third longest in the South Atlantic League this season, into Tuesday's doubleheader with Hickory. Crawdads lefty Robbie Erlin snapped Arenado's streak, by limiting him to an 0-for-3 showing in the first game. The 19-year-old Arenado got some payback in the nightcap, though, hitting a walk-off three-run homer in extra innings.
“Unbelievable! (Rockies scout) Jay Matthews told me to let the pitch come to me, and that's what I did,” Arenado told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “I was just thinking, 'Hit a ground ball through the hole,' but he got the pitch up and I drove it.”
The homer was Arenado's 11th of the season. After tailing off in July, when he hit just .212/.235/.384 in 99 at-bats, Arenado is closing out his season with a nice finishing kick, hitting .360/.382/.649 in August. Walks have been about the only thing missing for him, as he's drawn just 18 all season in 373 plate appearances. But Arenado's a balanced hitter with developing power, and his line for the year stands at an impressive .297/.327/.510.
Incidentally, if you're looking for a minor league pennant race with a little intrigue, the tussle between Asheville and Greenville for the SAL's Southern Division got a dose of it yesterday. The Tourists swept their doubleheader and pulled within a half-game of the Drive, and they did so after finding out that one of their rotation's mainstays, righthander Chris Balcom-Miller, had been traded to the Red Sox for big league reliever Manny Delcarmen. Balcom-Miller's destination with his new organization? Greenville.
• The minor league home run race got a whole lot tighter yesterday. Paul Goldschmidt, Jerry Sands and Mark Trumbo all homered, creating a four-way tie with Mike Moustakas at the top of the leaderboard with all having 34 homers.
Don't count out Greg Halman either. The outfielder with Triple-A Tacoma homered for the second straight day on Tuesday, giving him 32 for the year. Halman moved into a tie with J.P. Arencibia for fifth. As you've probably come to expect from Halman, he's also leading the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts with 157 in 399 at-bats.
• After getting touched up in his first few outings with high Class a Rancho Cucamonga, Angels righthander Garrett Richards has settled in nicely. Richards won his third straight start for the Quakes on Tuesday, beating High Desert to improve to 4-1, 3.69 in 31 2/3 innings since his promotion from low Class A Cedar Rapids. Richards struck out eight Mavericks hitters over seven innings, allowing one run on four hits. That's the only earned run he's given up over his last three starts, spanning 17 innings.
"He threw all his pitches for strikes," Rancho Cucamonga manager Keith Johnson told the San Bernardino County Sun. "With his stuff, that makes him very tough."