At least seven are placing themselves in contention to replace three who left
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 1:37 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011
Opposing teams can expect to see a lot more of Jesse Moore.
A strong fall has made Moore, a 5-foot-11 junior from San Diego, a legit contender to crack Hawaii's starting rotation when the Rainbows baseball team opens the season Feb. 18 at home against No. 9 Oregon.
The Rainbows lost 57 percent of their starts from a season ago with the graduation of Nate Klein and the departures of junior Josh Slaats and Sam Spangler to the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
That's opened the door for a slew of UH returnees to contend for starting spots. Moore, who can pitch and play multiple infield positions, is one of the guys who has stepped up.
"Jesse has reached the point where he has matured on the mound where he doesn't just try to overthrow," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "He was our most consistent pitcher in the fall. Every outing, he had was a good outing."
Going back to his days at Mission Bay High School in San Diego, Moore has always played both positions.
A move into the starting rotation could potentially limit his play in the field.
"You have to be congnizant of the fact that if he pitches early in a series, he may not be able to go in and play a position the next day or two," Trapasso said. "But if he's pitching game three or four, he's good to go in the field before that."
Moore hit .333 (4-for-12) in an extremely limited role at the plate last year. Out of the bullpen, he earned four saves and a 4.62 ERA in 39 innings.
He continued it with a strong summer for the Humboldt Crabs in the West Coast League, allowing one earned run in eight appearances. He got the win in the Tri-State tournament championship game and has kept it going from there.
"I think I've matured quite a bit, not trying to do too much and take the game into my hands," Moore said. "Just try to pound the zone throwing strikes and trust my defense to make plays and they do a great job."
The left side of the infield is set with sophomores Pi'ikea Kitamura at third base and Matt Harrison at shortstop. However, if projected starting catcher David Peterson hasn't fully recovered from a sore elbow in time for the opener, Kitamura would likely move to catcher and Moore would see time at shortstop, with Harrison moving to third.
Preparing to pitch or play in the field isn't a problem for Moore, who enjoys the challenge.
"I've got to do a little more running and conditioning with the position players and the pitchers, but I wouldn't have it any other way," Moore said.
Moore is one of roughly seven pitchers contending for spots in the rotation when the season begins in 15 days.
Junior Matt Sisto, who on Tuesday was named to the preseason All-Western Athletic Conference first team, is in line to be the opening-night starter. From there, a group that includes seniors Alex Capaul, Zach Gallagher, juniors Randy Yard and Connor Little and freshman Jarrett Arakawa join Moore in battling for the other three spots.
"We're gearing all those guys up to get extended to 90 pitches by the time we get started because you have your projected rotation, but it never ends up finishing the year how you start," Trapasso said. "We'll have guys in extended relief out of the bullpen that are ready if something happens whether it's injury or performance."
Yard, a big-time recruit from Central Arizona College, hasn't pitched for the Rainbows since having labrum surgery two years ago. The road back has been slow, but he's beginning to show some form of the pitcher that was drafted out of Palm Desert High in California.
POTENTIAL STARTERSA look at the candidates battling to win starting spots in the pitching rotation