One day, I suspect, I will cease typing “Dayton Moore” when writing about the newest member of the Mariners organization, UTIL Dylan Moore. It’s tough enough being a player on the fringes of MLB existence without a name that blends easily into another. But Seattle’s sudden front-runner for a utility role has some unique notes to his profile.
#Mariners signing infielder Dylan Moore to major-league contract, source tells The Athletic. Moore, 26, was a minor-league free agent who batted .299 with an .885 OPS last season at AA-AAA in #Brewers’ organization. Potential utility man; plays all IF positions and OF.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 9, 2018
First, Moore’s foot speed has drawn such glowing endorsements as “40-runner” and “high-effort” but much like Mariners 2018 batting champion winner Zach Vincej (min. 3 PAs), Moore has managed to stick in the middle infield regardless. He’s expanded his purview as his career has gone on, working throughout the infield and outfield and solidifying his utility credentials. That’s been enough to keep him moving up the ranks, armed with an archetypal toolkit of utility guy skills like “high motor” and “character guy.” Just look at those positional ascriptions!
There’s no need to minimize those pieces, of course, as the Mariners most recent hope for an above-average solution at UTIL was derailed as much by attitude as on-field performance (though neither were impressive). Taylor Motter was unable to sustain his torrid first month of play in 2017 at any other stage, and Seattle subjected themselves instead to hundreds of plate appearances from Replacement-Level Dictionary Definition Headshot Andrew Romine in 2018.
Thankfully, the recently age-26 Moore brings a bit more to the table than Romine, and actually boasts a Motter-like profile, sans flow. Despite average or worse foot speed, as mentioned, the 6’0, 200 lb Moore has been a solid base-stealer in his time in the minors, including going 17-for-23 in AAA last year. Moore’s compact swing is a less power-heavy gamble than Motter’s, but he’s been an above-average hitter at nearly every level of the minors nonetheless, save for a tough first crack at AA in 2017 with the Braves.
Moore’s swing doesn’t evoke Motter’s all-or-nothing hack, but it does show a slight tinge of mini-Ryon Healy, particularly in its lead-up. Thankfully, he’s been far from the groundball monster Healy has been.
Last year, in the hitter’s paradise of AAA-Colorado Springs, Moore unsurprisingly saw his power spike, but also increased his rate of elevating the ball while reducing his strikeouts and maintaining his walks. This isn’t a profile that indicates a breakout or anything, but if Moore can hack it defensively he’s at worst a more exciting (youth considered) utility option than Romine’s wet towel at-bats. It should be noted that Moore has a major league contract, but that only means he merits a 40-man spot. Based on all available information, Moore still retains three option years, so he could easily begin the year in Tacoma. Regardless, welcome to him, and good luck.