Rays Prospects

Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 46, Benton Moss

By Mat Germain
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Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.


While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.

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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.

The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.

Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.

The next player to be examined in detail is …

#50: Thomas Benton Moss, RHP, 22 years old

  • Throws: Right  Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 193 lbs
  • Drafted: in the 6th round of the 2015 MLB draft
  • Signed: for $167,500 (7th lowest in 6th round and less than the Rays 7th rd pick)
  • 2015 Affiliate: Hudson Valley, LoA
  • Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2017+

Moss’ Stats

Moss’ Fielding Stats

Moss’ 2015 Splits

Player Facts

  • Follow him on Twitter: @B2TheMoss3
  • His Twitter account states: @UNC graduate | @DiamondHeels to @RaysBaseball | Musician | Investor | Follower of Christ | Tech enthusiast
  • You can find his TarHeels profile here
  • Plays guitar and the piano
  • Ranked 3rd in NC by Perfect Game coming out of High School
  • Was selected in the 15th rd of the 2014 draft by the SF Giants but did not sign
  • Succeeds in Academics, which was the main reason he opted to return to school instead of signing with the Giants

He is happily married and tweeted the following prior to his wedding:

Best Tools & Abilities

  • Average Fastball (88-92 MPH, touched 95 MPH)
  • Curveball with above-average potential
  • Outstanding makeup

Our Thoughts

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If you’re wondering why we have the arrival time listed for Moss as 2017 despite the lower ranking, it’s simply because we believe he’ll be reverted to relief duties and will thus jump quickly through the system.

The reported inconsistency of his curveball and change up, as well as the lack of velocity on his fastball, add up to the likely switch to a relief role. There are also questions about his frame and delivery, both of which point to his being more likely to wind up a reliever.

On his frame, Moss had this to say:

"“My main focus after the fall was gaining weight,” he says. “For me, that’s always been an uphill battle. It’s no secret that mass helps translate to velocity at some point. I have a good frame, so I just wanted to put something on that frame.”"

Despite that, Moss holds a lot of value because many believe his stuff will likely play up as a reliever, and he’s likely to play a prominent role at the back of the bullpen. With four years of College ball behind him, he has more experience than most pitchers coming out of the draft. But the lack of polish, despite that experience, is what adds to visions of Moss as a reliever.

It’s still possible that Rays coaches are able to get more consistency out of Moss and that he winds up continuing as a starter as a result. However, he’ll need to build on either his promising change up or polish his curveball in order to do so. Without one of these being consistently above-average, his fastball doesn’t work as effectively, making him more likely to land in the pen where he can crank it up some.

His 58.1 innings in 2015 showed us a few things about his stuff. First, his average against dropped from .255 as a starter to .200 as a reliever. What was also interesting was the drop in BAbip from .348 to .278, which indicated that hitters may have a much harder time squaring up his stuff in relief than as a starter.

Expectations

It’s possible that Moss begins the season in his first full-season ball at Hudson Valley and does so as a starter. If things don’t progress as expected, he could find a relief role and be pushed quickly from that point forward. While we don’t expect the Rays to rush that process, his projection as an outstanding reliever could entice them to move things along more quickly than usual.

What won’t be missing is his work ethic. As NC coach Mike Fox puts it:

"“He’s an unbelievable competitor, which some people might not expect. He’s going to get better because of that work ethic, and he’s put on some weight that I think will help him.”"

Without two solid and consistent pitches, Moss will likely end 2016 as a reliever. How early he’s switched into the role permanently will determine whether he ends the year in HiA, AA, or even AAA. But if it happens early enough, we expect Moss to be pushing for a pen role as early as mid-2017, when the Rays can take advantage of his outstanding makeup and poise on the mound.

Conclusion

Along with Ian Gibaut and Brandon Koch, Moss represents one of the few intriguing relief arms in the Rays system. While he may not have much experience pitching in relief, the expectations are so high for him when he does make the move that a quicker than expected appearance in Tampa seems likely.

With some added velocity and an attack mentality, there’s a lot to like about Moss in a relief role. Still, on a personal note, I believe that with his work ethic, focus, and determination, he could still work out as a starter over the long-term.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects: Number 14, Daniel Robertson

When we chat about Rays dominance in pitching, we often speak of the starters and focus on their ability to continuously put out an above-average rotation. What we often forget is how formidable the pen continues to be, despite what is a fairly high turnover rate. Moss and others are part of the reason they are likely to continue to find success in the pen. We wish Moss all of the best in 2016, whether it’s as a starter or a reliever.

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