College | Story | 12/12/2019

Scouting Profile: Robert Moore

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Robert Moore (Perfect Game)

See also: Sooie! Moore now a Razorback

If a couple of years ago one had to pick a position player in the 2020 high school class to bypass his senior year to graduate early and play major college baseball when his agemates were still making plans for senior prom, it wouldn’t have been Robert Moore.

And yet today, Moore might be the perfect position player in the 2020 class to take that path, graduating from Shawnee Mission (Kan.) East High School early to enroll at SEC powerhouse Arkansas for the spring semester and play for the Razorbacks as they look to compete for a College World Series berth in 2020, which would be the third time in as many years.

Moore, and his father Dayton, the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, have made playing in Perfect Game sponsored tournaments with the Royals Scout Team and in Perfect Game showcases an integral part of the switch-hitting middle infielder’s development. Moore has been rostered at 30 different PG tournaments dating back to 2013 and played at two Junior National Showcases and the 2019 National Showcase in addition to the 2019 PG All-American Classic. He also was a member of the inaugural 14u PG Select Festival.

For much of that development, the big question from a scouting point of view has been whether Moore – listed today at 5-foot-9, 160-pounds with a young face but strong well developed musculature – would be able to get strong enough to reach top prospect status, especially on offense. When the 2020 class rankings first started to be organized when the class were freshmen, Moore was already part of the discussions but always with the caveat of “is he going to be strong enough to hit?” as Moore’s natural physique was small and slender, much like his father’s, who was a solid college middle infielder at George Mason before moving on to coaching, scouting and eventually front office work, likely was at the same age.

As Moore’s overall prospect profile was short on quick-twitch, toolsy aspects such as raw speed or pure arm strength and very long on skills using his feet and hands, it was especially important that he develop that strength to compete offensively. That is best accomplished through hard work and it’s obvious looking at Moore’s body today, with defined muscles in both his upper and lower halves, that the hard work to get strong has been done and will continue to be done. In addition, Moore’s approach at the plate is an ideal combination of selective aggressive, meaning that he takes pitches and will work counts with confidence when he falls behind, but when he recognizes a pitch he can attack he does so with full bat speed and intent. This combination of approach and strength really started to show up at the 2018 WWBA World Championship, when Moore went 8-for-11 with multiple walks and extra-base hits, and it has been evident in high level events ever since.

But the real beauty behind Moore’s game from a scout’s perspective is his defensive ability, which is so confident and polished that overshadows the rest of his skills. Moore’s footwork is precise and balanced, which leave his hyper-quick hands to do their work with whatever speed and flair is needed and desired.

There are three instances I’ve seen when these advanced defensive skills and the enthusiasm and hard work underlying them really come to the surface.

• At the same 2018 Jupiter when Moore showed his offensive potential, he was paired in the Royals Scout Team infield with Christian Cairo, a similarly skilled son of former long-time big league infielder Miguel Cairo. The two switched back and forth between second base and shortstop seemingly randomly from game to game and even during games and obviously had a common palpable joy and confidence with playing defense with each other.

• While the East team took batting practice on the Petco Park field before the PG All-American Classic, Moore took ground balls the entire 45 minutes at second base, working his West team coach Eddie Johnson into a sweat. While I started out watching the East team hit, I kept going back to watching Moore, who seemed intent on fielding balls with every imaginable combination of foot and glove position just for the experience and practice of doing it, all while smiling like he was getting away with something he shouldn’t be even trying. He didn’t mishandle a single ball the entire time.

• Perfect Game held a small regional showcase at the Kansas City MLB Youth Academy two weeks after the All-American Classic. Moore had probably played baseball literally every day during his high school season and travel ball season over the last 7-8 months. But while the PG scouts were putting aspiring prospects through their paces on the outside fields, Moore was inside the Youth Academy facility with the automatic ground ball machine fielding balls by himself for a solid hour in the middle of what might have been his only opportunity for a weekend afternoon off from baseball since January.

The additional hard-earned strength that Moore has added since his early high school days is really the key that put him in a position to succeed in making the early jump to college baseball. The work that goes into his overall skillset, however, especially on defense, is what makes Moore a special player in the eyes of scouts, especially the Perfect Game scouts who have seen so much of him over the last three years.

I would have projected Moore to have been drafted in the 35-50 pick range in the 2020 draft, something his father was obviously well positioned to know himself. His decision to take a different path is admirable and actually not at all surprising after watching him develop as a player and a young man over the last few years. We’ll enjoy watching him play the next three springs at Arkansas and likely well beyond that.

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