Dave Nichols: Nats reap benefits of exercising patience with flawed prospect

How ‘bout that Tyler Moore?

In the last two minor league seasons, Nats rookie Moore has hit a combined 62 home runs - 31 each season - and 202 RBIs. That’s an awful lot of pop, enough that he should have received a fair bit of notice in the offseason prospect lists. However, his defensive limitations, and being older than other prospects at each level, have tempered long-range expectations for the Mississippi native.

Those tempered expectations may be the only reason he remains property of the Nationals. If he had garnered the respect of the prospect-making factories, that might have given other big league teams impetus to pursue a trade for the 6-foot-2, 185-lb. slugger.

Yet, here he is in D.C., working his way up on a nightly basis. He started out as a right-handed pinch hitter when he got his first cup of coffee earlier in the season, going long stretches without an at-bat. Most felt that if he wasn’t playing on a regular basis, he might as well still be at Triple-A Syracuse. So back he went. Upon his recall, he entered into a platoon situation in left field, first with Roger Bernadina and then with fellow rookie Steve Lombardozzi, mashing left-handed pitchers whenever he got the opportunity. Then a funny thing happened.

Moore got a start in Toronto against a right-handed pitcher. All he did was pound two home runs. Since then, he’s given Adam LaRoche days off against tough lefties at first base and is playing left field on nights when he doesn’t. All the while, he hits.

For the season, Moore is hitting .346/.414/.635 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 58 plate appearances after homering in back-to-back games in Colorado, both Nats wins. Small sample size, sure. But for fun, if you extrapolate those numbers out over the course of a 600-at-bat season? That’s Albert Pujols territory.

Now I’m not comparing Moore to Pujols (OK, I kinda did). But there’s nothing in his track record to indicate that his power is a fluke. He’s always carried that tool throughout his minor league career. Right now his BABiP is inflated, so his batting average is likely to fall more in line with his career minor league line (.268/.320/.491). But at the worst, Moore looks like he can handle the duties of a right-handed pinch hitter and starter against left-handers. He hasn’t looked out of place in left field or at first base, either.

What’s more, it’s just nice to see a guy that wasn’t at the top of anyone’s prospect lists get his chance and, so far, make the best of it. Not every guy coming through the minors will end up an All-Star at the major league level. They might not even end up everyday players. But the majors still needs right-handed platoon and pinch hitters.

Dave Nichols covers the Nationals for District Sports Page. Read Nichols’ Nationals observations as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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