The Hickory Crawdads took a major hit on the infield when SS Michael De Leon strained a quad muscle for the third time this season during a game at Delmarva. On top of the injury earlier in the month to 3B Josh Morgan, the Crawdads were suddenly look for quick answers on the infield with the playoffs just a week away.
Onto the scene came 23-year-old Dylan Moore, the Texas Rangers seventh-round selection this past June out of the University of Central Florida.
Moore, a native of Yorba Linda, Calif. put up .254/.364/.454 slash with 27 extra-base hits in 65 games at short-season Spokane, which earned him a Northwest League all-star game selection.
A four-game audition with the Crawdads during the final weekend of the season went nearly flawlessly as he went 7-for-12 with two doubles and two RBI. He was moved up to the number two slot in the batting order for the final two games, and along with Eric Jenkins the two have given the lineup a spark.
On Friday night, his leadoff double in the third – one that developed the first few steps out of the box and ended when he kicked the ball out of the glove of the second baseman Pablo Reyes – provided a jolt with the team 2-1 after a controversial second inning. Moore went on to score the tying run and the Crawdads never trailed again.
Moore’s 2015 season has been a long one, which started when the then senior began workouts the second season in January en route to an All-The American Conference selection.
I spoke with Moore during the final weekend of the season and here is that interview.
You started the season at UCF in January, then to Spokane and now here you are in Hickory in September. What kind of whirlwind has this been for you?
Moore: It’s been crazy, going from my last season at UCF, and then getting drafted and flying out to Spokane, and then being here. It’s been a crazy ride, but one I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.
Did you expect to get here at this point?
Moore: I never really thought about it. Obviously, you want to get up as far as you can, as quick as you can. I was set in Spokane later in the season and some guys are moving around. I was surprised to hear that I was moving up to fill a spot, but I’m proud that I am here.
You got an all-star selection. How wild was that for you?
Moore: That was crazy and it was hosted by Spokane, so it was nice to hear my name and have everyone know who it was. Being that is was my first year in the league and to get nominated for that was a real honor.
I hear things about Spokane, but what was it like to play there? I understand that it’s more like a AAA atmosphere.
Moore: It was awesome. It’s a great fan base. Everyone comes out for the games, whether it’d be a weekend day or a weeknight game. Everyone there’s cheering for you and they know everything about you. All the kids asking for autographs. They really pull for you and it makes for a great atmosphere to play baseball.
What are some of the adjustments you’ve had to make going from college to the pros?
Moore: Probably just playing every day. You only play four or five games a week during college ball. I think playing every day and keeping my body in shape was the biggest adjustment. Everyone’s good. Everyone’s a high-level athlete and a high-level performer. To make myself that was challenge, but I like challenges; that’s what makes you who you are. That’s what builds your character. I’m trying to take that in stride and really, really go for it.
What have you been able to do adjustment wise that maybe you weren’t able to do yet at Central Florida?
Moore: Mostly mental adjustments. I’ve been doing a lot of hard work; I’m a big worker. Most of my coaches have told me to use my eyes more and use my mental capacities more so you don’t get so tired out. You can take as many swings as you want, but if you don’t see the ball then you’re not going to be able to hit it. So mentally, there’s a lot a things these guys have taught me at Spokane and here, because they’ve had so much experience, it’s crazy. I’m just trying to pick up on all of that.
Who have you made a connection with so far here at Hickory? You come into the clubhouse and the guys have been together for so long already.
Moore: I knew (Jeffrey) Springs and (Dillon) Tate from Spokane. Actually Austin Pettibone is from Yorba Linda, so me and him got along right away. The infielders, Arroyo and Eddie (Edwin Garcia) and all of them have taken me in and it’s been good so far. Hopefully, we’ll make a run here in the playoffs and have some more fun.
How was it to come here and know that you are going to be in the playoffs?
Moore: It’s great. This is what I hoped for. I’d hoped to make the playoffs in Spokane, but obviously that didn’t happen. When I heard they needed a guy for the playoffs, it was great. I love playing in competitive baseball. My first professional and having my first professional playoff experience, it’s going to be a wild ride.
What’s the next step in your development?
Moore: I think being able to play in a full season. I think I want to play consistently over a long period of time. I want to be able to steal more bags. Physically, I want to be able to hit for more power and get on base more.
What do you hope for next year, to come back here or go to High Desert?
Moore: Wherever they need me. I want to be a contributor at the highest level as I can. I want to play as long as I can until they tell me I can’t play anymore. Wherever they put me, I’ll be happy with. I’m just going to work as hard as I can in the offseason to come back bigger, stronger, better and play at the highest level.
What was the first moment that you realized that pro baseball was different?
Moore: Probably the first road trip: a seven-hour ride after a game, getting there at six in the morning, being really tired, waking up and then going to sleep for a little bit, then getting up and having to play a game that night. That whole day was an experience for me. Just being able to play under those circumstances and stuff like that. I knew this was going to be the ride and this is what I’m going to have to endure and really grasp and take a hold of and take it in stride.