The Situation: Despite being among the best and most advanced arms in the Mariners’ system, Andrew Moore was a bit of a surprise call-up today. Most notably, the Mariners needed to DFA Tyler Cloyd to add Moore to the 40-man roster. Moore is expected to start for the Mariners; Christian Bergman was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, presumably to create space in the Mariners rotation. Felix Hernandez is also expected back this Friday, so it remains to be seen whether Moore, or Sam Gaviglio get sent back down this weekend.
The Background: Moore was selected in Competitive Balance Round B in the 2015 draft, 72nd overall, out of Oregon State. Moore has been very successful through almost two full years in the minors, with an impressive composite ERA of 2.59. He was recognized as the Mariners minor league pitcher of the year in 2016. Perhaps most noteworthy, Moore has registered a 1.58 BB/9 throughout his minor league career.
Scouting Report: When breaking down Moore’s repertoire, none of his pitches stand out. His fastball worked 88-92 when I saw him, though recent reports indicate this has perhaps ticked up a mile or two. His best secondary is a changeup that works 79-83, with good arm action, fade and tumble. He debuted a short, yet sharp low-80s slider last season, and also works in a below-average, mid-70s curveball. Yet, all of Moore’s stuff plays up due to excellent command, sequencing, and a very off-putting delivery. When working out of the windup, Moore does not take a step back or to the side, but goes directly into a leg kick and comes home with very quick arm-action out of a high-three-quarters to almost overhand slot. When watching Moore pitch, it feels as if his windup is missing two components. I’ve never seen hitters look so bad on a straight 90 mph fastball. Moore also does a good job moving the fastball around the zone, and uses it very well to set up his secondary pitches, locating a fastball down and away to a right-handed batter, and then following it up with a slider out of the same tunnel. His fastball plays well up, but without a competent secondary to play off of this location, he prefers to work down, particularly early in the count. There remain question marks about whether he can continue to miss enough bats as he ascends the Mariners system, and questions about his effectiveness working out of the stretch.
Immediate Big-League Future: With Felix Hernandez expected to start Friday, Moore would be in line to take Sam Gaviglio’s spot in the rotation. Given that the Mariners needed to add Moore to the 40-man roster to make this move, I would suspect that Moore will be given the opportunity to make a couple of starts and make his case to stick around in the rotation. —JH Schroeder
Fantasy Impact: Moore is just the kind of starting pitcher who can sneak up on you in fantasy, as a solid if unspectacular pitching prospect with a limited ceiling. For who among us, after all, wants to commit minor-league roster resources to a pitching prospect with a limited ceiling? Moore’s game is built on tempo, command, and pitchability, three defining traits that don’t tend to coalesce into a formula for missing a ton of big-league bats on the regular. Nonetheless, his north-south style features a high spin-rate fastball that can stay off barrels on their inaugural hunting trips against it. The command profile affords him some additional latitude not typically reserved for rookie pitchers, as well.
He would intrigue as a potentially sneaky speculative add in deeper formats if the scheduling and roster gods were a bit more compassionate than they currently appear. A big-league debut against an Astros juggernaut that currently sits top-five in baseball in both TAv and VORP, followed by uncertainty in the face of convalesced big-money veterans returning to the starting rotation, combines to keep Moore in wait-and-see purgatory for the time being. If he’s solid against Houston, and the road clears for an additional short-term look, a second start ticketed for either the lowly Angels or Royals could make for a tasty streaming opportunity in most formats. Longer-term, as a high-probability, high-minors hurler with rotation pedigree Moore should be owned in most medium-depth formats and beyond, with potential to round out a rotation as a matchup play in your given 16-team mixed league with decent ratios sooner than later. —Wilson Karaman