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 …
#29: Spencer Moran, SP, 19 years old
- Throws: Right Ht/Wt: 6’6″ 215 lbs *see comments section
- Drafted: in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB draft
- Signed: for $387,500
- 2015 Affiliate: Princeton, Rk
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2019+
Moran’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @spence_moran
- Had been projected to go as high as in the 3rd or 4th round before the 2014 draft
- Ranked 4th in Arizona before the draft, behind only Ryan Castellani, Cole Tucker, and Alex Verdugo
- Was committed to Utah before signing with the Rays
- Has been noted as a sleeper by many
- Honor Roll student and earned a black belt in Karate
- His father, Mark, is a reporter and there’s a great piece about the two available here
- Within the piece linked above, Mark credits Spencer’s mom for teaching him how to throw at 4 years old, and Spencer jokes that he wishes she had put the ball in his left hand
- Credits God for putting him in the position he is in with the Rays
- Was room mates with Zac Law in Princeton last season
- His K rate jumped from 5.29 in 2014 to 8.13 in 2015
- Struck out Astros prospect Daz Cameron 3 time in 6 PA
- Only walked more than 2 batters in a game once in 2015
- Displayed some dominance in 2015 including a 5 inning no-hit effort in late August
- Impressed with his first post-season performance
Mountain View HS coach Mike Thiel on Moran:
"“Spencer has a great attitude and work ethic. Spencer cares about his teammates and encourages them on a regular basis. He puts the team success above his individual accomplishments. He is always looking to improve. He shows great work ethic on the field and in the weight room. Spencer also has a lot of talent. His velocity continues to climb and he has a very good ‘feel’ for pitching. He commands all four pitches very well. He does a great job holding runners and fielding his position.”"
Spencer on why he chose the Rays and decided to sign:
"The Rays reputation was definitely one of the biggest things that pushed me to sign. I’m not going to lie, the financials were part of it, but I really think the opportunity out of high school to start a pro career is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I’ve heard stories of guys getting drafted out of high school, not signing, and later getting injured and never ending up with a chance to have a pro career. This was a perfect opportunity for me."
He also Tweeted about the pain of being 1 out away from a Championship in 2015:
Best Tools & Abilities
- Fastball with control that hits 87-93 MPH and a good Curve to pair it with
- Change Up that should become average, perhaps above-average
- Control, makeup, and projection
His father Mark posted this video of him in 2014:
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Moran has a quick arm and smooth release that almost seems effortless. For someone his size, he does a great job of controlling his balance on the mound and has a good follow through which continues towards the plate. With his size, it shortens the time the hitter has to react, allows for the projection of more velocity, and puts him in a good position to field his position well.
All of those things and his progression through the season are reasons we like Moran so much. Through his last 5 games pitched, Moran held hitters to a .195/.224/.256 line, a dominating performance that points to his being promoted this season. Over those 23 IP, he only walked 3 while striking out 20 and only allowed 16 hits. Much of this success late in the season came on the back of what he’d been working on since being drafted. As he puts it:
"“I started to find mechanics that helped me get my fastball low in the zone, make my changeup look like my fastball out of my hand, and get good depth on curve and slider.”"
Where Moran is going to have to change his approach is in facing LHB who maintained a .298/.372/.412 line against him in 2015. At this point we are talking about a small sample size (21.1 IP), but you still want to look for improvement there. However, when paired with his sheer dominance of holding RHB to a .168/.193/.206 line, we know he can focus on that aspect and do well going forward. The 19 SO he managed over those 21.1 IP indicate he can succeed vs LHB.
Moran has already indicated that his floor may be a dominant RHP reliever with his performance vs RHB. The Rays can simply invest what they can to sharpen his tools, which should in turn help his performance vs LHB. Essentially, the better he becomes vs LHP, the more likely he is to become a dominant starter. Time will tell just how much he can improve.
Moran has the size, arm action, and frame to be a workhorse starter, and his stuff indicates that he has what it takes to build a deep enough repertoire to remain a starter long-term. Considering his makeup and work ethic, there’s no doubt Moran will do his best to learn what he needs to in order to reach his ceiling.
We have Moran ranked this high for a reason. Not only does he project to add more velocity going forward and already shows an ability to dominate, but there’s an intangible about his makeup that seems to enhance the chances he’ll achieve his ceiling. Those aspects, and the fact he finished the year so strong in 2015, forced us to give him a higher grade than we otherwise might have.
It seems to us that the Rays may be able to place Moran in a position to move through the system at a good pace by allowing him to compete for either Hudson Valley or Bowling Green. It’s important to note, however, that the Rays may want to limit his total IP jump in 2016.
If Moran can continue to develop his change up and use it effectively while also getting natural progression of velocity as most expect will happen, we see him as having number two starter potential. Someone with his physical ability, intelligence, and competitive drive should land squarely on most people’s radars in 2016.
As aggressively as we’ve ranked him this offseason, we anticipate he’ll continue to rise up the rankings through 2016 and push his way into the conversation for the Top 20 by season’s end. With a floor that remains so high and projection that indicates he’ll do nothing but improve going forward, we felt comfortable making him number 29 on our list.
The Rays have a plethora of arms driving through the system, as usual, and Moran remains one that everyone should keep an eye on going forward. He should develop into a great asset for the Rays and lead yet another wave in the Tsunami of arms they continuously seem to develop. We wish him nothing but great things in 2016 and beyond.