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Moore fans 13 in second Triple-A start
Top Rays prospect allows three hits over eight shutout innings
07/27/2011 11:16 PM ET
Matt Moore is tied for second in the Minors with 151 strikeouts.
Matt Moore is tied for second in the Minors with 151 strikeouts. (BrianFlemingPhotography.com)
It didn't take Matt Moore long to figure out how to pitch at Triple-A.

MLB.com's No. 4 prospect tied a career high with 13 strikeouts over eight innings in his second International League start Wednesday as the Durham Bulls blanked the Gwinnett Braves, 4-0.

Moore (1-0), who yielded only three hits and two walks, also fanned 13 during a six-inning outing for Class A Advanced Charlotte last Aug. 7.

"It feels good," said Moore, who struck out seven in his Triple-A debut on Friday. "It's definitely something good for the confidence, knowing I haven't had to make a whole lot of major adjustments through the course of the game. It was just kind of pitch to pitch. That part felt real good."

The 22-year-old left-hander faced one batter over the minimum through four innings. He allowed singles in each of the next two frames, but neither baserunner reached second base.

The only G-Brave to make it past first base against Moore was Tyler Pastornicky, who walked and stole second in the opening inning.

"It seemed like when I was throwing strike one, that was when all my pitches came alive," Moore said. "If I was behind, I might try to come with something off-speed and miss a bit. I had to make some good pitches to get back into the count. All three pitches, I seemed to have a pretty good feel for them when I was ahead in the count."

Moore (1-0) outdueled Mike Minor, who began the season as MLB.com's No. 21 prospect. The 23-year-old southpaw gave up four runs -- two earned -- on five hits over seven innings.

"I had heard of him," Moore said. "I never actually put him on a team and had to square up against him. It's definitely nice to match up against good guys. Either way, it's going to be a duel and a competition. It makes it a little more exciting."

A 2007 eighth-round pick, Moore has led the Minors in strikeouts each of the last two seasons. He fanned 176 in only 123 innings for Class A Bowling Green in 2009, then punched out 208 over 144 2/3 frames in the Florida State League last year. In doing so, he became the first Minor Leaguer to eclipse the 200-strikeout plateau since Francisco Liriano in 2005.

This season, Moore is tied for second in the Minors with 151 strikeouts over 115 1/3 innings between Double-A Montgomery and Durham. He's averaged better than a strikeout an inning in all five of his professional seasons.

"What I try to do against every hitter is throw strike one and make a quality pitch," Moore explained. "That way, if they're swinging at the first pitch, the odds of it being a hit aren't in their favor. Quality strike for strike one and if I miss, I've got to come back and make sure I get it with the second pitch."

The highlight of Moore's season came on June 17, when he tossed a nine-inning no-hitter against Mobile. He also pitched for Team USA at the All-Star Futures Game, striking out one in a perfect inning.

Despite his success, the Rays' top prospect still believes he has plenty of work to do.

"Overall, fastball command and consistency with all three pitches," Moore said. "I walked two tonight. As soon as the command tightens up a little bit, the walks will go away. It's possible those pitches could've cost me going into the ninth and giving the bullpen a full night off. It's little things like that."

Moore said his plan with Durham is to continue to work on those little things, the same way he did at Montgomery. The ultimate goal, of course, is to reach the Majors.

"I don't plan on being a Minor League player my whole career," he said. "Every year, [reaching the Majors] seems to become a little bit more of a reality. Without thinking too much about it, I try to prepare mentally if that is the case. Otherwise, I'll continue with the day-to-day work that I've done."

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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