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Moore to pitch fourth in Rays' rotation
Baseball's No. 1 prospect to start first full season in Majors
03/28/2012 11:14 PM ET
Matt Moore allowed one run in two ALDS appearances for the Rays in 2011.
Matt Moore allowed one run in two ALDS appearances for the Rays in 2011. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
The move was not unexpected, but noteworthy nonetheless. The Rays declared Wednesday that Matt Moore -- baseball's top prospect -- would start the year as the fourth man in the team's Major League rotation.

It was a logical move to make with the 22-year-old southpaw. Moore posted a 12-3 record with a 1.92 ERA over 27 starts between Triple-A Durham and Double-A Montgomery in 2011. His miniscule ERA figure ranked second among Minor Leaguers at all levels last season.

The 2011 Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher was eventually called up to the Rays and made his Major League debut Sept. 14. He saw action in the playoffs and even tossed a seven-inning shutout at Texas in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

Those kinds of performances led MLB.com to rank Moore as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball entering this season.

To begin 2012, the rookie Moore will find himself behind veterans James Shields, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson, with Jeff Niemann rounding out the Rays' five-man rotation. That means that Moore will miss the team's first series against the division rival Yankees and instead will take the hill for the first time against the 2011 AL Central-champion Tigers on April 10 in Detroit.

The Rays' 2007 eighth-round pick couldn't hold back his enthusiasm about starting 2012 in the Motor City.

"I think it's awesome, first game in Detroit," Moore told MLB.com. "Just thinking about it today, it's probably going to be a little chilly there. I'm pretty excited knowing which game I'm going to pitch now. And now it's just a matter of getting through the rest of Spring Training."

Given his spring to date, Moore does have some polishing to do before that 2012 debut. In his two Grapefruit League outings to date, he has allowed four earned runs on two hits -- both home runs -- over four innings of work.

"I'm still trying to finish up my last two starts here in Spring Training, but I'm definitely excited for Opening Day, then here comes the second series," Moore told MLB.com. "Obviously, as a team we're focused on the first series of the season, then [Detroit]."

Sam Dykstra 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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