Cougars' Moore splits his interests.(Sports)
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
April 15, 2000 | Bush, JoeBorn to throw a splitter, and two very different kinds of strikes.
Kane County closer Bryan Moore has two passions, and since he's 6-foot-8, you may be surprised to learn basketball is not one of them.
The 23-year-old Westminster, Calif., native loves to pitch and he loves to bowl. His game is most similar to that of 6-10 left- handed Seattle prospect Ryan Anderson, the one nicknamed "The Little Unit."
That's his bowling-alley game, by the way. Anderson used to have pro potential on the lanes, and Moore is a great pin-killer as well, with a high game of 278.
He'd love to hit the PBA Tour someday, especially with its new high-tech ownership, but not just yet.
"That's for the back-burner," he says.
These days Moore is reveling in his mastery of a much-smaller ball with no holes.
His save in Thursday's 4-3 win over Wisconsin was his second in as many appearances, another result of his ability to fool batters with a split-finger fastball, or splitter.
The ball appears to be a fastball, but drops suddenly as it gets to the plate. It's similar to a sinker, but it's not thrown as hard.
"I've never seen anybody throw a better splitter than him," Cougars catcher Matt Frick said before the season began.
It's the pitch which ex-Cub and ex-Cardinal Bruce Sutter rode to fame, and which is not seen very often in younger players' arsenals.
Moore's different than most younger players. He's got just about every physical quality needed to throw a splitter.
"You just look at the size of his fingers, and he's a natural," Cougars pitching coach Jeff Andrews says. "He's got very, very large hands and very long fingers. If he didn't (throw it), he would be encouraged pretty soon to throw it.
"It's a nice pitch for him because his arm angle works works for it, he already has the leverage because of his height, as far as the ball going down out of his hands. Now he just has to catch the right release point."
Moore is in his glory in pro ball. His University of Houston coaches discouraged the splitter; they didn't want the middle reliever experimenting with a pitch with games on the line.
Once Florida nabbed Moore in the 13th round of last year's draft, his splitter personality was set free.
"(Marlins coaches) saw it right when I went to mini-camp and they were like 'Wow, you need to throw that more,' " he says. " 'If you've got that, throw it, now.' It's gotten to the point where it's one of my key pitches I go to."
Moore was 2-1 with 9 saves and a 1.54 ERA in 35 innings last year at short-season Class A Utica. He fanned 36 and walked five.
Moore's fastball goes about 88 mph, while his splitter travels to the plate at around 81 mph. He's developed the pitch to the point that it's no longer situational, but it wouldn't work unless his other pitches did as well.
"I've started to use it more and more regularly this year," Moore says. "In the past it was something that I only used maybe like 0-2, 1-2, a kill-pitch kind of thing.
"Now I can control it a lot better. It's like 'Let's throw it 0- 1, 1-1,' a lot of situations where I want a ground ball. It used to just be like a strikeout pitch, like a trick pitch."
Andrews says Moore can only screw up by not throwing it enough.
"It's a pitch that he has to throw," Andrews says. "To me that's his biggest upside pitch, and that's the one that's going to separate him from other pitchers.
"Hopefully what you have is something that a closer does exceedingly well, either have a pitch that's an out pitch or he has really good location, or a combination of both.
"That's kind of where (Moore) is. This year is an important year and a good year for him."
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