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Hot Rods Top Pitching Performers at the Midway Mark

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This is the 2nd part of a 4 part series looking at the top minor league pitching performers at the midway point of the season at each developmental  level within the Rays organization. This time we will take a look at the Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods.

Starters

Matt Moore Age 20 LHP

Moore was selected in the 8th roundof the 2007 draft out of Moriarty High School in New Mexico. Moore flashed dominant stuff from the get go in 2007 Rookie Ball at Princeton where averaged 12.84 K/9. However, he struggled with control at times averaging 7.08 BB/9. Moore repeated Princeton in 2008 with great improvement. He maintained the 12+ K/9 while lowering his walks to 3.15. His 2008 FIP was 1.64.

The Rays elevated Moore to Bowling Green to begin the 2009 season. His control issues resurfaced  early in the season when he averaged 8.82 and 7.4 BB/9 in April and May. He made whatever adjustments necessary and has been an unstoppable force since. In June and July his walk rates fell to 2.93 and 1.26. Meanwhile, his K rate has no suffered at all in A ball maintaining 12.68 K/9. His June and July FIPs are 2.10 and 2.02, while still managing 2.73 on the season despite the early control struggles. For the season he is striking out 34.7% of righties faced.

Raysprospects has Matt Moore as the #7 Rays Pitching Prospect. Here is their discussion of his pitch offerings.

Moore throws an easy 92-94 MPH from the left side, touching 95. He also features a tight curveball that's a true swing-and-miss pitch and has at least plus-potential, if not plus-plus. He also throws a change-up that fades away from right-handers, although it lags behind the fastball and curve in terms of development.

The stats referenced above do not include Moore's 8K 1BB 5IP performance last night.

 

Joseph Cruz Age 20 RHP

Cruz was selected in the 30th round out of East Los Angeles JC in 2007. Cruz spent 2008 in Princeton where he struck out 10.33/9 while walking 2.33/9. His FIP registered at 3.00. The Rays elevated Cruz to Bowling Green this year and he has handled the adjustment seamlessly. His FIP has lowered to 2.58 due to a lower HR/9. Cruz has maintained a K/BB ratio above 4. Raysprospectsranked him as their #13 organizational pitching prospect for 2009 citing a fastball that touches 94 with a need to work on his offspeed stuff.

Nick Barnese Age 20 RHP

Barnese was selected in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft out of high school, bypassing on a commitment to Cal-State Fullerton. Barnese has been rock solid since joining the Rays organization. In 2007 at Princeton, Barnese struck out 37 while walking just 4 in 36.1 innings of work. In 2008, Barnese improved his K rate at Hudson Valley to 11.45/9 while posting a mind-blowing FIP of 1.99.

Barnese was elevated in 2009 to full-seaosn ball withBowling Green. In his first 7 starts his K rate is down to 6.00 per nine innings with a FIP of 3.35. Barnesegot a late start on the season so we will see how much he can increase that number. He has done a nice job inducing 53.4% ground balls.

Barnese is listed as the #6 Rays pitching prospect by .raysprospects.  Barnese's best pitch is his low 90's fastball with good movement. He has demonstrated a knack for keeping the ball in the yard by keeping the ball low in the zone. He has only given up one home run in each of his first 3 seasons to date. He needs to continue to develop his offspeed stuff.

Relief

Josh Satow Age 23 LHP

I profiled Satow awhile back in Minor League Profile: Josh Satow. Satow has continued to excel out of the pen putting up a K/9 of 10.29 while allowing just 2.14 BB/9. His FIP sits at a zesty 1.70. Skeptics will point to his age of 23 int he South Atlantic League but it certainly warrants a promotion to Charlotte. The Satow and Gorgon promotions seem obvious.

Marquis Fleming Age 22 RHP

Fleming was selected in the 24th round in 2008 out of Cal State Stanislaus. Fleming struggled with the long ball in Hudson Valley last year serving up 6 home runs in 35 innings. He has upped his GB% from 43 to 58% in 2009 while at Bowling Green. As a result he has allowed just 1 home run in 40 innings pitched. HIs FIP sits at 2.84 down from 4.91 a year ago. In other news Fleming can be followed on Twitter @THE_REAL_QUIS.

Other notables: Starter Shane Dyer and Reliever Neil Schenk