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Waldrop-Moore duo
Former Farragut Admiral, ex-KCHS Irish stars form pitcher-catcher combo with Minnesota Twins’ Class A Wisconsin team while sharing apartment


BELOIT, Wis. — Despite a three-year age difference, West Knox County baseball standouts-turned-Beloit Snappers — Caleb Moore and Kyle Waldrop — have successfully bonded on two fronts while representing the Minnesota Twins organization’s Low-A team in Wisconsin.

On the lighter side, “We play tennis on X-BOX, and we usually beat everybody,” said Moore, former Knoxville Catholic All-state honoree and two-time All-American at East Tennessee State who led the NCAA in batting average as a junior.

In addition to video game skills with Waldrop, Moore, 22, is continuing his diamond success with the Snappers.

He leads the Midwest League in batting average (.373 in 16 games) as a catcher, where he and Waldrop, a starting pitcher, form a minor league West side battery.

“With the age difference in high school, we really didn’t know each other, but we get along great now, we’re having a good time living together,” said Waldrop, 20, a former Farragut High School All-American in his second season in Beloit.

“It works out real well. It’s good to know somebody from East Tennessee, and just be able to, I guess, share past experiences, stuff like that.

“We just like to talk about all the players that we played with and against,” Waldrop added. “We both played for the Knoxville Thunder, a summer ball team, at one point. We’ve played with a bunch of the same players throughout our careers, growing up. We started to get to know each other better in spring training.”

Waldrop added that rooming with Moore had a lot to do with “getting along really well” with him. “We’re good friends now. He’s a real good guy to live with.

“It also helps out that he’s a catcher and I’m a pitcher,” Waldrop added. “He catches me during games most of the time, so we can kinda talk about the gameplan, and the way we would pitch certain hitters. That works out really well. He understands the game.”

Moore is off to a red-hot start after arriving in Beloit from Rookie League level ball in Elizabethton at the beginning of the 2006 season.

With Waldrop already there, “I like it a lot, because it’s always good, especially when you go into a new environment, to have somebody that you can relate to,” Moore said. “[Being from] the Knoxville area, you have that bond that nobody else has.”

Working together as pitcher and catcher, “we definitely have to be on the same page,” Moore said. “We’ve definitely become a lot more comfortable with each other, even though we’ve only played fifteen or sixteen games right now [as of April 23].”

Waldrop said he has become “more consistent with all my pitches” since 2005.

Though spring training and four regular season starts, “I’m definitely seeing results,” he said.

That’s despite a 4.71 earned run average and 1-2 record as of April 24 (23 strikeouts, nine walks in 23.1 innings).

“Last year my off-speed pitches were a little inconsistent, my curve ball and slider, there were some games where they weren’t really effective. So, it was kinda like me going against the other team with just one or two pitches.

“This year I think I have the four pitches, fastball (average speed 88 to 89 mph, topped at 91), change-up, slider and curve ball, all work real well,” he added, “So I do a lot better job keeping hitters off-balance, attack hitters more. ... Sometimes I think I was trying to be a little too perfect with all my pitches, and that got me in trouble sometimes.

“I would try to hit the corners too much instead of trusting the movement of my ball to create what I call soft contact, where they hit the ball, but not hard. I would fall behind in the count, and I’d have to throw one over the middle of the plate to get back in the count, and they would take advantage of those pitches.”

Waldrop said he’s become “more deceptive in my delivery,” feeling he was tipping his pitches to the hitter.

“Last year at times, my arm would be back behind my body, and hitters could see what kind of grip I was throwing, how I was holding the ball so they might know what pitch was coming,” he said.

Waldrop said his most immediate goal is to “finish [the season] in Fort Myers, in high Single-A. I think it’s very, very doable. Maybe in the next couple months, if I really do well.”

The former FHS star said he’s learned to be patient because the Twins’ organization has “an incredible amount” of good starting pitching.

“It’s kinda hard to move through the system fast,” he said. “Ultimately, I’d like to start out two-thousand-seven at Double-A [New Britain, Conn.], but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I want to focus on what I have to do right now.”

Waldrop said winning games is the best way to standout as a professional pitcher, “so ultimately, I’d like to get at least twelve to fourteen wins on the season. ... Ultimately, you get paid in the Major League for wins.”

 

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