PDT Sports Contributor
For many aspiring baseball players in southern Ohio, playing at the famed VA Stadium in Chillicothe just one time is an accomplishment and an experience that those aforementioned players will never forget.
However, the friendly confines of the VA Stadium have become something of a second home for Shawnee State standout and former Wheelersburg star Derek Moore as his success with the Pirates allowed the 6-foot-3 inch, 242-pound pitcher to visit the complex many different times over the course of his four-year high school career.
Moore has used that second home to expand upon his pitching abilities for the upcoming spring as the former Southern Ohio Conference standout has spent his summer pitching for the well renowned Chillicothe Paints.
The Paints, who compete in the Prospect League, are comprised of college players that play in both the NCAA and NAIA governing bodies with a central focus on players from the mid-western region of the United States.
Over the course of its 21-year history, the Paints have seen many players achieve stardom in the Prospect League and the Frontier League — the league the Paints were in from the team’s inception in 1993 to 2008 — including former pitcher Brian Tollberg, who was later signed to the Milwaukee Brewers’ farm system. Tollberg would later appear in the big leagues from 2000-2003 with the San Diego Padres, where he amassed a 14-15 record and a 4.15 ERA as a starting pitcher.
Moore says that the Paints’ organization has allowed him to make notable improvements to his pitching style on the mound.
“It’s a great feeling to be playing with the Paints,” Moore said. “It’s really a great experience because I am playing with and against great competition, which will help prepare me for next spring and also allows me to round out my game in the process. I’ve also had a lot of people that have followed me through my high school and college experiences come up to watch me pitch and I really do appreciate all of their support.
“… Greg Cypret (Paints’ manager) has taught me to attack the game and be ready for different situations that arise over the course of a baseball game. Eric Parker (Paints’ pitching coach) has taught me how to get ahead of batters, both with the fastball and with my off-speed pitching.”
When you look at the numbers that Moore put up during his freshman year at Shawnee State and the accolades that the sophomore-to-be won with the Bears, it’s hard to find many faults with his pitching style.
Moore, who pitched under the guidance of Bears’ head coach Ted Tom and pitching coach Chris Moore, achieved numbers that had never been approached before in the program’s history, as the right-hander accumulated a 10-2 record with a 1.50 ERA (a school record) in 15 starts during his freshman season with Shawnee State on his way to leading the pitching staff in those statistical categories as well as many others, including innings pitched (114, a school record), complete games (eight), shutouts (three, a school record), starts (15), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.54-1) while placing in the top 10 in the entire country in ERA, innings pitched, and walks allowed.
Those numbers allowed Moore to take home numerous amounts of postseason awards, including the Mid South Conference’s (MSC) Pitcher of Year and Freshman of the Year honors. Additionally, Moore nailed down First-Team All-MSC and NAIA First-Team All-American honors during the 2014 season and in doing so, he became the first baseball player from SSU to win a Pitcher of the Year or Freshman of the Year honor in any conference, while becoming only the second to ever make the NAIA First-Team All-American list.
However, Moore has not stopped there as the Wheelersburg native has accumulated a 2-1 record with a 3.66 ERA in four starts with Chillicothe, including a six and two-third, three-hit outing against the Hannibal Cavemen on July 15th and a five inning, six strikeout, one run performance on Monday against the Richmond RiverRats (both victories) in his quest to contribute to the Paints’ drive toward a big postseason run.
So far, the odds look good for Chillicothe to make a deep postseason run, as the Paints hold the Prospect League’s best record at a 35-17 overall clip with eight games left to play in the regular season.
While Moore believes that Chillicothe can make “some noise” during postseason play, the area prospect believes that he has already had a great experience playing with the Paints, no matter what the outcome may be.
“I have really enjoyed playing with guys from other colleges and from just learning their overall perspectives of the game. I have also enjoyed being with my teammates and I have just have a blast playing the game that my teammates and I love to play in the summer.”