This one was an odd one for me. The Mets selected Louisiana State catcher-first baseman Tyler Moore in the sixth round, and I really wasn’t sure what to make of it. I’ve seen Moore play before, but he spent so much time at first base that I tended to think of him there rather than behind the plate. But the Mets wouldn’t have picked Moore where they did if they didn’t believe in two things: his ability to stay behind the plate and his ability to hit.
We’ll tackle the former first. Can Tyler Moore catch well enough to stay behind the plate? To be perfectly honest, I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is that Moore wasn’t LSU’s primary catcher. Ever. Over his three years at LSU, Moore hasn’t caught a whole lot. As a freshman Moore was a third-string catcher behind Ty Ross, who was an excellent defender. No shame in that. Unfortunately for him, LSU brought in Chris Chinea and Kade Scivicque, and they pushed Moore from the catching rotation. Ross was still there, Chinea is a very solid defender himself, and Scivicque has an outstanding arm, so the Tigers used Moore at first, third, and designated hitter instead. But surely Moore would have won the job during his junior campaign, once Ross had departed, right? Nope. LSU instead employed a three-man rotation behind the plate, with Scivicque and Moore also competing for playing time at first.
So how good a defender is Moore? I do know that Aaron Nola, who went in the first round to the Phillies, preferred to throw to Moore over his two counterparts. And scouts have generally praised Moore’s ability to work with pitchers. And he is a fairly good athlete, showing considerable agility--his pop times are above average, and in high school he had even played shortstop during his senior season. I’m most worried about Moore’s arm. He doesn’t have a lot of arm strength, and he has a tendency to overthrow to compensate. There comes a point where a lack of arm strength will move a guy off the position, and I hope that Moore doesn’t reach that point.
At the plate, he has more going for him. Lefthanded-hitting catchers are always in demand, and he has some nice pop in his bat, at least average. He slugged .484 this past season, a substantial improvement from his first two seasons, and he was known for his clutch hitting, something that may or may not be meaningful. And he doesn’t strike out very often, either--just 30 times over the past two seasons. I also like his selectivity at the plate. What I don’t like is his pitch recognition. That and a deeper hand load makes him susceptible to good breaking pitches; he’s always shown a dramatic platoon split.
If Moore can stick at catcher, I can see a career as a backup or platoon catcher. He’s a good defender at first and has some experience at third, and he could give a team some versatility. If the arm moves him off first, I’m not optimistic as to his overall chances--he won’t hit enough for another position.
The good news is that Moore already signed for slightly over slot money.