With roster decisions looming on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Phillies swung a trade, acquiring prospects Robert Moore and Hendry Mendez from the Milwaukee Brewers for Rule 5-eligible Oliver Dunn.
On the surface, it looked like a simple roster-clearing move to save having to put Dunn on the 40-man roster or losing him in the Rule 5 Draft. But if you look a little closer, there's more under the hood in the Phillies' return.
In acquiring Robert Moore, the Phillies got more than just a run-of-the-mill 21-year-old shortstop prospect. They got a youngster who, at one point, was considered a lock to be a major leaguer, with family ties to the recent World Series-winning Texas Rangers.
Moore is the son of Dayton Moore, senior advisor of baseball operations for the Rangers and former general manager of the Kansas City Royals during their 2014 American League championship and 2015 World Series title years.
Moore looked like a can't miss first-round draft pick
At one time, Moore looked like a lock to be a first-round pick out of the University of Arkansas. In his second year at Arkansas, as a 19-year-old, he hit .283 with a .942 OPS, 16 home runs, and 53 RBI in 61 games. He earned second-team All-American and All-SEC first-team honors.
Unfortunately, the 5-foot-9 shortstop stumbled in his draft season. As a 20-year-old, in his third year as a Razorback, Moore hit only .232 while posting an .801 OPS with eight home runs and 44 RBI but won college baseball's version of the Gold Glove Award as a second baseman.
The Brewers ultimately took him in the second round of the 2022 draft with the 72nd overall pick. According to MLB.com's Anne Rogers and Adam McCalvy: "Moore himself attributed the dip to a stretch of bad games, which are tough to overcome from a statistical standpoint in a short season."
In his brief introduction to professional baseball in 2022, Moore slashed .264/.352/.418 with three homers, 14 RBI and six stolen bases in Low-A.
The native of Kansas spent the winter playing for Brisbane in the Australian Baseball League. He seemed to find his groove down under, hitting .294 with an .894 OPS, eight home runs, 33 RBI, and 14 steals in 40 games.
When he returned Stateside for the 2023 season, Moore played a full season in High-A in the Midwest League but again struggled to a .233 average and a .682 OPS. He hit eight home runs, added 33 doubles, drove in 62, and stole 26 bags in 123 games.
Despite not being a first-rounder, Moore still has the pedigree and foundation to make a run at a major league career. Considering what they gave up, it's a shrewd gamble by the Phillies.