Moore for the Money

Jeremy Moore with the Orem Owlz in July 2007.


Note: statistics in this article are through August 8.

Jeremy Moore has always been one of those “raw” and “toolsy” players that coaches and analysts could project as a potential major leaguer — if he could harness his potential.

Potential, until this year, was about all we could say about J-Mo. But he may have finally figured it out with Double-A Arkansas.

Moore’s most recent statistical low with the Travelers was an AVG/OBP/SLG of .196/.278/247 on May 13 (97 AB). Since then, his numbers are .336/.382/.528 (271 AB).

Unlike Salt Lake numbers, which are skewed super-hitter friendly by the many high-altitude ballparks in the league, Arkansas numbers are more easily analyzed. Dickey-Stephens Park is perhaps the most pitcher-friendly park in the league.

Since May 13, Jeremy’s home AVG/OBP/SLG are .382/.437/.472. On the road, they’re .297/.335/.574.

Moore turned 23 on June 29. He signed on June 10, 2005, 19 days short of his 18th birthday after being selected by the Angels in the sixth round of the June 2005 draft. Here’s what Baseball America‘s 2005 draft database had to say about him:

OF Jeremy Moore is a four-sport standout. In addition to baseball, he has starred as a running back in football, a guard in basketball and a sprinter in track. He’s a toolsy center fielder whose speed stands out the most.

I asked scouting director Eddie Bane on Monday what attracted the Angels to select Moore.

“J-Mo was a very good athlete in high school and he also had a few of the baseball-specific tools of hit, arm, run, power, and field,” he said. “He would show glimpses of all of them.”

Moore began his pro career at the Angels’ rookie league camp in Mesa, the last year before they moved the complex over to Tempe. His AVG/OBP/SLG were .227/.303/.273 (110 AB). He struck out in 46 of 110 at-bats. But he stole 12 bases in 34 games.

Click here to watch Jeremy Moore double in a July 18, 2005 game against the Mesa Cubs. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch.

He repeated the level in 2006, posting an AVG/OBP/SLG of .254/.348/.394 in 142 AB, then moved up to Rookie-A Orem in 2007 where his numbers were .272/.329/.535 (254 AB) in a hitter-friendly league.

After three years in Rookie-A, J-Mo moved up to his first full season league, the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. With the Cedar Rapids Kernels, he hit .240/.284/.478. He struck out 125 times in 362 AB, but he stole 28 bases and he hit 17 homers. More glimpses, as Eddie Bane called them. I saw Jeremy in the fall instructional league, and filmed him triple at Fitch Park against the Cubs. Click here to watch Moore’s triple on September 27, 2008 at the Mesa Cubs.

In 2009, Moore moved up to Rancho Cucamonga in the hitter-friendly California League. He still struck out a lot — 144 whiffs in 470 at-bats — and posted an AVG/OBP/SLG of .279/.330/.443. On May 4, I filmed his violent collision at home plate with High Desert catcher Travis Scott, the football running back taking over. Click here to watch Moore’s collision with Travis Scott. Another glimpse.

And then this year he joined the Travs. As of mid-May, there was little reason to think that J-Mo had figured it out. But here we are three months later, and he’s made significant progress towards becoming a major prospect in the Angels’ system.

I asked farm director Abe Flores what’s changed.

“He has improved his strike zone discipline,” Flores said. “I can’t credit our staff enough for helping him. I think a lot of the credit has to go to Jeremy, because we’ve had him for a quite a few years, and he’s definitely put in the work. You’re talking a very raw, sometimes crude player who had tools, but his skill level was very low. It took a long time for his skill level to get up to match his tools. He’s kept coming on. He’s become a really solid good worker and it’s starting to pay dividends.”

But J-Mo still needs more refinement. Flores said that the next step in his strike zone discipline is being able to “do things with different balls in different parts of the strike zone. What I mean by that is being able to put a pretty good swing on it, especially using the opposite field a little bit better.”

Moore has seen time in all three outfield slots, but mostly in left and center fields. “He’s become a very good outfielder,” Flores said. “He can play all three spots. He can play center field.”

Flores also cited the need for Moore to add the “short game,” as he called it, the ability to bunt and further exploit his speed on the basepaths.

Jeremy still strikes out a lot — 97 in 368 at-bats — and has drawn only 30 walks. But his improvement the last three months gives hope that the strikeouts might be reduced one day and the walks improved. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets an invitation to represent the Angels this October in the Arizona Fall League.

“With the Angels, you’re in one of the most talented systems in the game,” Bane said. “When a Tim Salmon, Garrett Anderson or Vlad Guerrero moves on you better have somebody with big ability and big tools if you can ever replace those kinds of guys.

“J-Mo just might be one of those kinds.”

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