The first big trade of the season went down on Friday. Dealin’ Jerry Dipoto acquired trusted reliever (or is he a one-inning starter?) Alex Colome and Denard Span for a couple of prospects. The Rays continue to build up one of the more interesting arsenals in the minors with Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.
Andrew Moore, RHP
Moore was one of the top prospects in the Mariners system just last season, a consensus top-10 prospect. Our own John Sickels had him ranked No. 8 heading into the 2017 season. Here’s what he said:
Age 22, compensation round pick in 2015 from Oregon State; posted 2.65 ERA with 133/31 K/BB in 163 innings between High-A and Double-A, 148 hits; fastball peaks at 93 and is usually right at 91; however it plays up due to his command; mixes in curve, slider, change-up; none of his pitches individually grade more than average but his pitching instincts are exceptional; on paper a future number four starter, but don’t under-estimate him. ETA 2018.
Moore, a two-time All-American at Oregon State, made relatively quick work of the minors reaching the big leagues last season. As John mentioned, he doesn’t have elite stuff, but he does have a four-pitch arsenal that he showed promise in commanding all over the zone and dominating hitters.
He reached the bigs last year and it didn’t look that way at all. In fact it was borderline disastrous. Moore made 11 appearances (nine starts) spanning 59 innings, hardly showing that back-end rotation reliability of eating innings. He went 1-5 with a 5.34 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, with opposing hitters successful at a .261 lick. Though he didn’t walk many (just eight) he also only struck out a mere 4.73-per-nine. Always more prone to fly balls, Moore allowed 14 home runs over those 59 innings.
Now 23, Moore began the season in Arkansas of Double-A and looks much more like himself. No longer a prospect or even a rookie, he should get a chance quickly in Tampa.
Tommy Romero, RHP
Romero is much more a prospect and should turn out to be the “big piece” in this deal. Romero — 20-years-old, 6-foot-2, 225 pounds — dominated the JUCO circuit, earning All-American honors at Eastern Florida State while leading the division in strikeouts and finishing in the top-10 with a 1.55 ERA. The Mariners liked what they saw and made him their 15th-round selection in las season’s MLB Draft.
Making his full-season debut in 2018, Romero was handling the Midwest League well, placing fifth in the league in ERA (2.45) and strikeouts (54). While he limits walks (just 15 in 44 innings) he is hit relatively well and carries a 1.27 WHIP to the Rays.
Touted for his pitchability, Baseball America raved about his mechanics and presence on the mound in their 2018 Prospect Handbook. Most reports have his fastball sitting in the low-90s with a nice curve as his second-best strikeout pitch. He does have a low-80s slider and changeup he mixes in, but right now seems to rely more heavily on the former two pitches when it matters most.
Romero is a long way off, but there is certainly a lot to like about him with plenty of intrigue. It will be interesting to see how the Rays bring him along.