It was a warm Sunday afternoon at Brighthouse Field. It was a Sunday afternoon that you seek out the seats under the shade of the overhang and sit back for a nice afternoon of Florida State League baseball. Especially after Baseball Betsy and I spent the last two frustrating evenings over in Tampa at Steinbrenner Field watching the Clearwater Thresher lose two games in extra innings to the Tampa Yankees. That ballpark is only twenty miles from where we reside but it was two frustrating late nights of driving back over the Causeway after the games. But Sunday afternoon was to be different and one of the reasons why was the play of Threshers catcher Logan Moore.
Moore was the Phillies ninth round pick in the 2011 draft. He is developing into the best defensive catcher in the Phillies system. With 34 year old Carlos Ruiz going down on Sunday with a strained hamstring in the Reds game after only recently coming off of his 25 game drug related suspension to start the season, General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. might have no choice but to quickly develop new catching prospects for the Phillies. Especially since Ruiz is in the final year of his contract and backup catcher Erik Kratz will turn 33 years old on June 15th. The top three young catchers who have been mention as potential major league prospects, Tommy Joseph at AAA, and Sebastian Valle and Cameron Rupp at AA have struggle both offensively and defensively behind the plate this season.
Joseph is on the disabled list suffering from a concussion and is hitting only .209 for Lehigh Valley. Defensively he has been charged with nine passed balls so far this season. He has thrown out only 22% of the runners who have attempted to steal on him. Valle has hit only .211 with five passed balls and is throwing out runners at only a 19% rate. He is sharing time behind the plate with Rupp who is hitting just .216. He has only one passed ball and a slightly better 26% rate in throwing runners out stealing with Reading this season.
These disappointing numbers have given Logan Moore a great opportunity to move up the Phillies catching prospect ladder quickly. He has only 3 passed balls and has thrown out 43% of stolen base attempts as the No. 1 catcher for the Threshers this season. What is truly amazing in addition to Moore’s throwing arm is his bat. He is hitting only .171 in 105 at bats this season but is hitting .324 ( 11 for 34 with 13 RBIs) with runners in scoring position. He is hitting only .074 (4 for 54) with the bases empty. A 250 point difference after at least 100 at bats between a batting average of a player with the bases empty compared with his average with runners in scoring position is rare, if it has every happened, in the history of baseball statistics.
In Sunday’s Threshers game Moore was true to form as he came to bat in the second inning with runners on first and second with no score in the game. And of course with a runner in scoring position he drove a single to right which rolled under the right fielders glove. Two runs scored on the fielding error in right and Moore wound up at third. He would then score the third run in the inning on a wild pitch to the next batter. That run turned out to be the game winner in the Threshers 6-2 victory over the Yankees.
Most teams want a catcher who is know as a defensive specialist first and a hitter second. He must be able to call a game for the pitching staff and be able to communicate with them. Usually a 30% caught stealing rate is considered good. Moore’s 43% caught stealing is excellent. He showed off his arm when he gunned down a base stealer by throwing a strike to Carlos Alonso at second in the game. The Threshers’ staff earned run average is 3.99 by far the best of the four Phillies minor league teams this season. This shows reflects Moore’s ability to handle the staff and his good catcher’s ERA.
Moore seems to be able to communicate well with his pitchers. When he went to the mound in Sunday’s game to confer with rookie middle reliever Severino Gonzalez, Maikel Franco from third and Harold Martinez from first did hustle in if the need for Spanish translation arose. The young 20 year old Panamanian pitched three shut out innings giving up only two hits and struck out three with Moore flashing the signs.
With the two Phillies major league catchers in their early to mid 30’s and the three young prospect catchers struggling at AAA and AA, the opportunity to become the catcher of the future for the major league team for a true “catch and throw” receiver like Logan Moore is there for the taking. Especially a left-handed hitting, 22 year old catcher who can hit over .300 with runners in scoring position such as we have seen this season in Logan Moore with the Clearwater Threshers.