The Rays' stocked farm system has produced another high-profile prospect ready to test the deep waters of the Major Leagues.
On Sunday evening, the Rays announced that they purchased the contract of left-handed pitcher Matt Moore from Triple-A Durham. Moore, 22, is the team's top-rated prospect and the third-ranked prospect on MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects list.
Moore went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA (33 earned runs in 155 innings) in a combined 27 starts for Double-A Montgomery and Durham. He ranked second in the entire Minor Leagues in ERA, strikeouts (210) and opponents' batting average (.184), and led all Minor Leaguers with 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Moore is expected to pitch in relief unless needed for a spot start, a source said.
An eighth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Moriarty High School (N.M.), he went 8-3 with a 2.20 ERA in 18 starts for Montgomery and earned a July 22 promotion to Durham, where he went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts. Despite the midseason callup, he was named (Double-A) Southern League Pitcher of the Year and was named to the All-Star team at two different levels -- the Southern League's midseason squad and the International League postseason All-Star Team.
Moore's 210 strikeouts broke the organizational record for a Rays farmhand, topping his own mark of 208 in 2010. In doing so, Moore became the first Minor League pitcher since Sid Fernandez (1982-83) to record 200 or more strikeouts in consecutive seasons. Moore led all Minor Leaguers in strikeouts in 2009 (176) and 2010.
"He's going to be something special," Rays pitcher Cesar Ramos said. "He's young, but he has a great head on his shoulders and a great work ethic. You never get to see too many of those guys."
"He just has a special arm. That's the best way to put it."
Moore showcased that arm on July 10, when he pitched in the XM All-Star Futures Game at Arizona's Chase Field, and when he threw a no-hitter for Montgomery on June 16 at Mobile, the ninth in the history of the Rays organization (including Majors and Minors), totaling nine innings and 11 strikeouts.
Moore entered the 2011 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Rays organization behind right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, but at midseason the publication rated him the top pitching prospect in the game and the No. 3 prospect overall. Baseball America also recognized him as having the Best Curveball and Best Fastball in the Rays Minor League system prior to the season.
According to MLB.com's scouting report on Moore, the lefty has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, "with excellent movement."
"Both his curve and changeup have the chance to be above-average to plus pitches, though the changeup is a bit behind the others because he hasn't used it much. His command improved over the course of the season, but there's still room for improvement," the report said.