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Moore mastering pro game
Manager ‘excited’ about KCHS graduate; Waldrop progressing at low A level


With the dream of making it to the Major Leagues one day, former Knoxville Catholic High School and East Tennessee State University standout Caleb Moore must first conquer the mental aspect of being a professional catcher.

After being drafted in the fourth round (135th overall) last year by the Minnesota Twins, Moore is in his first full pro season after being assigned to the organization's low Class A affiliate, the Beloit Snappers in Wisconsin.

"This year's biggest adjustment is playing the long season," Moore said. "It's one-hundred-forty-two games compared to sixty-two last year.

"It's definitely a long season, but it's going real well."

Last summer he batted .309 with six doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs for Elizabethton in the Short-Season Appalachian League.

Since arriving in Beloit, Moore has played in 62 of Beloit's 77 games this season and is batting .288 with 11 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 24 RBIs.

Moore has made an impression on Snappers manager Jeff Smith, a former minor league catcher himself.

"I'm pretty tough on my catchers here. The big thing that has impressed me is his ability to learn because anytime you are coming into this game from college or high school, there is a lot of knowledge to learn," Smith said. "As a catcher you are under a microscope all the time, especially when you're manager is a former catcher."

After being the NCAA batting champion with a .455 average his junior year at ETSU, it was a known fact that Moore could hit — but being a pro catcher is more than just hitting.

His biggest improvements have been behind the plate.

"We work quite a bit on the catching here and he has improved a lot with his blocking and receiving, but that's the easy part of the game," Smith said. "The hardest part of being a catcher is pitch-calling and he is getting better with that every day."

Moore said, "We have been working on calling games, blocking and receiving and that's probably the biggest problem with my game that I need to improve on. But it has gotten a lot better since the beginning of the season."

Having a catcher as the manager doesn’t hurt either, Moore said. "He always has something to teach and you can learn from that and make the same kind of adjustments that maybe he made in his career," Moore said. "It is definitely a plus."

As for goals, Moore prefers to keep it simple.

"Of course, long term is to someday be in the Major Leagues," Moore said. "But short term, personally, I don't think you can make too many goals.

"My goals this season are to just have quality at-bats and just get better every game and show some type of improvement."

According to Smith, the improvement in Moore's game has been evident.

"As a catcher he is going to be fine, his receiving has improved enough, blocking has definitely improved. And all my catchers here, to get to the next level, is just developing the understanding of calling the game," Smith said. "Late in the game when the game is really on the line, learning the pitches and learning the pitchers and how well they handle stuff, that's very important for him to keep developing."

WALDROP

One of those pitchers is former Farragut High School standout Kyle Waldrop, who is in his second season at Beloit. Waldrop, who struggled in the beginning of the season, has been stellar as of late, improving his record to 6-2 with a 2.99 earned run average in 15 starts.

"He has really picked up his game a lot," Moore said "I think he is feeling real comfortable out there, his last six or seven outings have been lights out."

Part of Waldrop's recent success is due to modifications of his delivery that allow him the hide the ball better.

"That was the big thing for him and he worked on that extremely hard," Smith said. "I think his biggest thing is good control of his pitches, and as he matures and gets older I think all of his pitches are going to get crisper. And I think he will gain velocity as he gets older too, so as long as he stays on this progress I think we will see good things happen with him.

"He is a competitor and we are excited about the way he is throwing the ball, and if he keeps throwing like that, I can't expect him to be here too long.”

 

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