Royals Blue suits PGAA Moore

Photo: Robert Moore (Perfect Game)

Jeff Dahn
Published: Saturday, July 27, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It’s probably just coincidental, but the historical connection Robert Moore has with the Perfect Game All-American Classic runs through Nick Allen.

Why coincidental? Well, Moore is a 5-foot-9, 160-pound shortstop from Leawood, Kan., who has vaulted up Perfect Game’s class of 2020 national prospect rankings due to his all-around play but thanks in large part to his outstanding actions in the field.

Back in the summer of 2016, Allen was a 5-foot-9, 165-pound shortstop out of San Diego and a PG All-American who rocketed-up the class of 2017 national prospect rankings because he was the best defensive shortstop in his class.

It was announced earlier this month that Moore, too, had been invited to the PG All-American Classic, a nationally televised game that will be played on Aug. 11 at the Padres’ Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Moore was excited to receive the invitation, and it also stirred up a memory dating back to that summer of 2016.

“The first Classic I ever watched was Nick Allen’s year; I think I was in eighth-grade,” Moore told PG Saturday morning. “That was when I first started watching it and I never really thought that I’d have a chance to be in it one day just because a lot has to go right.

“So when I got the call it was really, really cool, and I celebrated with my mom and dad,” he added, speaking of Marianne and Dayton Moore. “It’s still a little surreal at the moment; I guess I’ll believe it when I get there.”

Moore was talking with PG from the Rockies’ side of the Salt River Fields-Talking Stick MLB spring training complex, which the Diamondbacks also use. He is in the Phoenix-area with the Kansas City-based Royals Scout Team 17u competing at the exclusive 32-team 17u Perfect Game World Series, which runs through Monday.

The Royals Scout Team 17u was also here the first part off this week for the inaugural PG WWBA 17u West National Championship, which was held at the Surprise Stadium Complex, the spring training home of the Royals and Rangers.

The team has been staying right at the Royals facility which affords them the opportunity to conduct practices and just get comfortable, which makes the Phoenix-area a very attractive destination for the Royals Scout Team program.

“It’s been a good week overall, but this (the 17u PGWS) is the event, though,” head coach Eric Briggs said Saturday morning. “You work all summer to stay strong and be healthy for this event. This is the one, I would think, everybody wants to win.”

Moore agreed: “Whenever you write-up the schedule for the summer you circle these dates and you try to compete for Monday here,” he said. “These teammates, some of us have been together since we were 8, 10 years old and this is kind of our last week together, so it means a little something extra. We’re going to go out and try to have fun for one more week.”

The members of the Perfect Game scouting department have had ample opportunity to watch Moore perform over the last three years; he enters the PG All-American Classic as the No. 12-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2020 (No. 1 shortstop) and has committed to Arkansas.

He’s displayed his immense talents both in the field and in the batter’s box at 30 PG tournaments and showcases, starting with the 2016 PG Freshman East MLK Championship in Fort Myers, Fla., where he earned all-tournament recognition playing with the Kangaroo Court Baseball Club.

Fourteen more all-tourney team selections followed, including those at the 2018 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers and the 2018 PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.

He also turned in Top Prospect List performances at both the 2017 and ’18 PG Junior National Showcases and his invitation to the PG All-American Classic certifies him as TPL member from  June’s PG National Showcase.

While quite a bit of Moore’s scouting report from the PG National addressed his defensive prowess – “Charges the ball very hard with very quick and active feet, always on balance, elite level hands with a lightning-quick exchange on his throws” – it also takes note of the switch-hitter’s abilities at the plate:

“Has the same quick hands that generate his bat speed, short and quick to the ball with a pull-side approach; looks more comfortable and natural from the right-side but the left-side works just as well in the end.”

Moore was also at the first PG 14u Select Baseball Festival held in Fort Myers, Fla., over the 2016 Labor Day Weekend. A lot has happened during his PG career over the last three years, and while graduating from the Select Festival to the All-American Classic could be viewed as a career coming full circle, that’s not necessarily how Moore looks at it.

“You take everything one day at a time and honestly the most fun that I’ve had with Perfect Game is just playing with my teammates the last couple of years,” he said. “Those two games (the Festival and the Classic) are unbelievable accomplishments and very cool but being at these tournaments and trying to win something with the group of guys you play with has probably been the most fun.”

Robert Moore is able to bring a unique perspective to the game based on his upbringing. His dad, Dayton Moore, is currently in his 13th full season as the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals and Robert has thrived growing up in that baseball-centric environment. He spends his spring breaks in Surprise during spring training and he treats the experience as one big classroom.

“Watching professional players go about their business  has helped me a lot,” Moore said. “What it takes to get to that level, what they eat, what they drink, how they perfect their bodies. It’s a lot of information that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I think it would be a shame if I didn’t take advantage of it.”

He’s also learned a lot about the front-office side of baseball and has found that the offseason is much more busy than the regular season as far as baseball operations go. He’s amazed at how big league front offices and scouting departments are constantly talking, always trying to improve their respective teams, always trying to devise a workable plan for the future.

The next year’s draft discussions begin as soon as this year’s draft concludes and, Moore said, they could probably start the 2020 MLB Amateur Draft tomorrow if they really wanted to: “They’re very committed individuals to their job and they want to succeed,” he added.

Moore played with the Royals Scout Team for the first time at the 2017 PG WWBA 16u National Championship in Georgia while also playing for Team Elite that summer; he went full-time with the Royals in 2018.

He’s formed life-long friendships with many of the members of the RST that are here at the 17u PGWS, and these guys are pretty talented themselves.

Fellow 2020s like No. 310-ranked Avery Mabe (Virginia), No. 423-ranked Caden Wilson (Missouri St.), No. 426 Heston Tole (Arkansas), No. 442 Trevor Kardell (Kansas) and No. 493 Nathan Chester are all highly regarded.

Eight other roster spots are filled with top-500s, including Tavian Josenberger (Kansas), Sammy Cooper (Notre Dame), Stone Hewlett (Kansas) and Garrett Rice (Missouri); No. 277-ranked Ian Daugherty (Oklahoma State) is the only 2021 on the roster.

“I’m happy for all these guys who have the opportunity to go to these schools. We’ll watch where their career goes and the kids that aren’t committed will soon be,” Moore said. “We all have a love for each other and it’s great.”

While Moore is the only PG All-American on the roster, his humility allows him to fit in nicely as just one of the guys, and that’s something that Briggs recognizes.

“Robert brings an energy and a focus every day. He plays to win, he wants to win and basically that carries over to the rest of the team,” he head coach said. “The funny thing about this group is, whether Robert’s with us or not, we find ways to win; Robert just adds to that with this group.”

Moore made his commitment to Arkansas right about this time last summer and he put a lot of thought into the decision. He wanted to stay as close to home as possible because it is important to him that his parents are able to drive to watch him play, and he wanted to play in the SEC.

“They have a great coaching staff there and they develop players well,” he said. “They produce a lot of draft picks and that’s where I want to be one day, so it just made sense.”

After Moore wraps-up his PG All-American Classic experience on Aug. 11, he’ll head to Los Angeles on Aug. 13 to take part in the USA Baseball 18u National Team Trials. Forty prospects have been invited to the Trials and will be competing for a spot on the final 20-man roster.

It’s long been a dream of Moore’s to play for the 18u US National Team but he knows the competition will strong. Nothing short of bringing you’re A-game to the Trials will suffice and even though they’re kind of apples and oranges in terms of what’s to be gained, Moore feels the same way about the Classic.

“I wouldn’t say the PG Classic is necessarily just a ‘have fun’ game because you can’t really just flip the switch.” Moore said, talking about the competitive spirit that every player possesses. “But yeah, we’ll enjoy it.”

Nick Allen ended-up being a third-round pick of the Oakland A’s in the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft right out of Francis W. Parker High School and the 20-year-old is at high-A Stockton in the A’s farm system this season.

The 17-year-old Moore is following a similar path to the one the player he watched perform on TV at the Classic three years ago. And as much as Moore is looking forward to all of the baseball-related activities that are a part of the PG AA Classic experience, he’s even more excited about the signature event of that experience, the visit to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, much like Allen was.

“From the guys I’ve talked to, they loved (the Rady visit) more than the game,” Moore said. “You’ve got to think about what’s most important and that’s more important than the actual game. We’re people more than we’re baseball players. If you’re good to the game the game will be good to you, and you’ve got to take care of that stuff first.” Amen to that …

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