Moore to join hard-charging Rays

Top pitching prospect promoted to Majors after stellar '11

Matt Moore was 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strikeouts this season. (Danny Wild/MiLB.com)

By Daren Smith / MLB.com | September 11, 2011 7:34 PM

Top pitching prospect Matt Moore, who ranked second in the Minor Leagues in ERA and strikeouts this season, has been promoted to the Major Leagues and will join the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.

The move came hours after the Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox to get within 3 1/2 games of the American League Wild Card.

Moore wrapped up his Minor League season on Wednesday, taking the loss for the Triple-A Durham Bulls in Game 1 of the International League semifinals. It was a rare blemish on a superlative year that included a nine-inning no-hitter for Double-A Montgomery and a buzz-generating appearance in the All-Star Futures Game.

The 22-year-old left-hander went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 27 starts across two levels. He began the year in the Southern League -- as MLB.com's No. 27 prospect -- and was 8-0 with a 2.20 ERA in 18 starts. Near the end of his stint with Montgomery, he pitched a no-hitter, striking out 11 in an 8-0 victory over Mobile on June 16.

Five weeks later, Moore began a dominant stay in Durham. In his second Triple-A start on July 27, the Florida native recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts and allowed three hits over eight shutout innings against Gwinnett.

The 2007 eighth-round Draft pick ended up going 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts while limiting International League foes to a .179 batting average. Over 52 2/3 innings at the Minors' highest level, he struck out 79 while allowing 52 baserunners.

By the time the Minor League season ended, Moore had been named Southern League Pitcher of the Year and climbed all the way to No. 3 on MLB.com's ranking of top prospects -- No. 1 among pitchers.

Moore became the first Minor Leaguer in at least two decades to record back-to-back 200-strikeout seasons, although he failed to lead the Minors in that category for the first time since 2008.

Moore had a breakout year in 2010, becoming the first Minor Leaguer since Francisco Liriano in 2005 -- and the first Florida State Leaguer since 1971 -- to record at least 200 strikeouts. In 26 starts for Class A Advanced Charlotte, he went 6-11 with a 3.36 ERA.

Daren Smith is an editor for 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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