MORGANTOWN , W.Va. — Of his three hits in the West Virginia Black Bears’ 8-1 win Wednesday, outfielder Ty Moore considered his broken-bat infield single in the first inning the one that best captured his essence as a ballplayer.
The ball hopped a few times before it got to the Brooklyn Cyclones’ second baseman, but Moore drove in a run and reached first.
Pretty isn’t a priority for the UCLA graduate, who intends to prove himself underrated as the Pirates’ 12th-round pick in this year’s draft with steady doses of hustle and heady at-bats.
“I pride myself on becoming a tough out,” said Moore, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-handed batter who turned 22 on Sunday. “That’s one of the things that is my goal for pro ball, to be considered one of the toughest outs in baseball, no matter what level I’m at.”
Entering Saturday, his on-base plus slugging percentage (.859) is second among starters on the Pirates’ Short Season-A affiliate. Among those Moore has outperformed: first-round pick Kevin Newman (.623 OPS), second-round pick Kevin Kramer (.595), third-round pick Casey Hughston (.471) and seventh-round pick Mitch Tolman (.704).
Seeing his name in the mix if not ahead of Newman, Kramer and Tolman strikes Moore as familiar. Kramer, a middle infielder, played alongside Moore at UCLA, while Newman starred at shortstop for Arizona and Tolman thrived as an infielder at Oregon.
Their Pac-12 background bonds them. They joke about which teams did best in the conference this past season.
What rarely comes up among the Pac-12 alumni are their particular draft positions. And Moore appreciates. He’s intent on moving past what he considered a discouraging experience.
“I was definitely anxious and actually a little bit angry,” Moore said.
Draft day disappointment first entered Moore’s life in high school, when scouts suggested he might go in the first 10 rounds in 2012 but he ultimately was taken by the New York Yankees in the 25th round. It became no easier to accept in June.
“It was still pretty upsetting that I didn’t go on Day 2 because I thought I deserved to be in Rounds 3 through 10,” he said. “But the bottom line is we’re all here at the same place. It doesn’t matter if you got drafted in the first or the 40th. You’re here in Morgantown, and you have to produce to move up.”
Moore’s fall to the 12th round vexed Kramer, Moore’s current roommate.
“I think with Ty, he’s going to be one of those guys where they’re going to question why he was drafted in the 12th round,” Kramer said. “But it’s not our place to question the draft. It’s our job to play ball, and Ty does that really well.”
Moore admits his defense, though effective, won’t produce many highlight-reel plays. He’s not shy about his shortcomings in baserunning and hitting with power, either. His ability to honestly self-evaluate is one his greatest skills in the eyes of Black Bears manager Wyatt Toregas.
“I think his work days might be up with some of the best we have among these guys,” Toregas said. “He trusts himself, and he’s always ready. He’s not worried about getting into a battle with the pitcher.”