In another organization, Matt Moore would likely already have arrived in the majors. The 22-year-old was dominant right from the start in Double-A this year, going 8-3 with a 2.2o ERA and a 131/28 K/BB ratio in 102 1/3 innings.
The Rays, though, are probably more cautious with their pitching prospects than any club in baseball. And it’s worked for them. They could have called on Moore when Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis went down, but they kept him in Double-A and only recently promoted him to Triple-A Durham.
Moore, meanwhile, has gone about his business without complaint. He struck out 10 and walked none in another win for Durham on Sunday. In four starts in the International League, he’s gone 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA and a 39/5 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings.
The Rays again have an opening for Moore with Alex Cobb landing on the disabled list over the weekend due to numbness in his pitching hand. Still, Cobb was the sixth man in a six-man rotation, and the Rays were looking to return to five starters anyway. Besides, especially now that they’re 10 games back in the wild card, they may decide against giving Moore a look this year.
That’d be a shame, because the left-hander is probably the best pitching prospect in the minors at the moment and it’d be fun to see what he could do against AL East competition. He’ll get his opportunity next season, but perhaps not in April or May. Even discounting the financial incentives for holding prospects back. the Rays believe in taking their time with young pitchers. Of course, they can only hold him back so long. By 2013, David Price and Moore could form one of the game’s best one-two punches in the game.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.