If you were at Alliance Bank Stadium on Monday night, you saw Triple-A rookie Tyler Moore blast his first International League home run. The ball sailed–without much resistance–well over the left-center field fence, reputedly one of the toughest parts of the ballpark to clear.
“I knew I got good wood on it whenever I hit it,” Moore said before Wednesday’s game in Allentown. ” [I was] just fortunate to get a good pitch to hit and put it on the barrel and it was able to go out for me.”
Over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old Moore has smashed 62 homers and driven in 201 runs. That makes him the only player over 60 home runs and 200 RBIs in the minors since 2010 began. At the end of June 2010 with the Advanced-A Potomac Nationals, though, Moore had hit just 25 home runs over two-and-a-half minor-league seasons.
“I was trying to figure out a secret of some sort on hitting,” Moore remembered. “I came in one day and just decided to stop trying to figure everything out and just go up there and see the ball and hit it and really simplified it up.”
In July and August of 2010, Moore hit .347 (70-for-202), notched 21 doubles and homered 19 times to go along with 62 RBIs. In an eight-game span between August 13th and the 21st, he hit seven home runs and pushed 17 runs across.
“I don’t know, it was just kinda the year that I really started to understand myself and understand how things work and how I can perform the best,” Moore said, recalling the 2010 Carolina League championship season for Potmoac. ” That was an awesome year for me, just learning and maturing as a hitter.”
Firmly believing that his power would be there when the calendar read April 2012, Moore turned his offseason focus this winter to what he deemed to be his biggest deficiency–his speed.
“You always want to enhance your skills,” Moore said. “I didn’t want anything holding me back.”
So, Moore worked at a local YMCA with R.J. Barrett and Evans Allen–a pair of coaches who he calls “magicians”–near his Brandon, Mississippi home to improve his quickness. Five-to-six days a week, Moore jumped rope, pushed sleds and went through other training techniques. A week into this season, he senses a difference.
“I feel quicker out there. I hope I look more athletic, because that’s what I really wanted to work on,” Moore said with a grin.
Part of Moore’s pre-season regimen was a diet which consisted of a rather narrow food selection.
“”I was eating salads about three times a day with grilled chicken,” Moore said. “It was terrible.”
For Tyler Moore, the toughest thing to give up on his restricted eating plan was his mother Becky Humphreys’ cooking in Brandon.
“She spoils me,” Moore said, laughing.
Brandon, Mississippi sits roughly fifteen miles east of the state capital of Jackson, just over an hour west of Moore’s junior college in Meridian and two hours north of Mississippi State where Moore played a year in the SEC. Though Moore has traveled through dozens of cities, Brandon–the town of not 20-thousand–is the center of Tyler Moore’s universe.
“There’s nothing really there. The people make the town, really,” Moore said. “It’s very welcoming and I wouldn’t have it any other way. ”
“I won’t ever live anywhere else in the U.S. I’ve seen a lot of places, but that’s probably where I’ll settle down.”
This May, Tyler Moore’s hometown will celebrate a milestone with its 25th annual Brandon Day. The inaugural festival happened in 1987, the year Tyler Moore was born.
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