Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Prospects: 23 – Daniel Moskos

To cap off the end of the 2009 season, I’m going to be counting down my list of the top 50 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system. I’ll be counting down one prospect per day, with an extensive recap on each player, until I reach number one. Check out the previous installments:

Now on to prospect number 23:
23. Daniel Moskos, LHP
2009 Season: Moskos spent the entire 2009 season in AA, pitching in the Altoona rotation. While he did see the best ERA of his three year minor league career, his ratios didn’t support the good numbers. Moskos put up a 3.74 ERA in 143 innings pitched, but had a 1.46 WHIP, a 4.7 K/9, and a 1.3 K/BB ratio.
The walk ratio wasn’t horrible, with a 3.5 BB/9 ratio, although the strikeouts left a lot to be desired, down from a 6.4 K/9 ratio in Lynchburg last season. Moskos came on strong at the end of the year, with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in August, along with a 7.1 K/9, a 2.8 K/BB, and an 0.8 HR/9 ratio. Moskos failed to put up a K/9 ratio greater than 4.9 or a K/BB ratio greater than 1.3 in any other month before August rolled around.
Moskos hasn’t carried that late season success over to the Arizona Fall League. He is putting up more strikeouts in a relief role, a trend that was also present in the minors in 2007. That said, some of his outings have been horrible. He’s been reported throwing around 90 MPH, and having trouble finding the plate. That could be due to the increase in innings. Moskos pitched 149 innings this year coming in to the Arizona Fall League season. His previous high was 110.1 innings a year ago. The struggles we are seeing in the AFL could be due to the increase in innings.
Information: I often feel that Moskos gets unfair criticism due to his selection in the 2007 draft when Matt Wieters was on the board. I’m not going to say Moskos was a better pick, because he wasn’t. Wieters was the best guy on the board, plain and simple. What’s done is done, and the Pirates now have Moskos. Rating him lower than he deserves won’t change the past.
So what about the poor start to his professional career? Moskos struggled in Lynchburg in 2008, and while his ERA looked good in 2009, he didn’t have the ratios that would support such numbers. That said, Moskos has always projected as a reliever in the majors, and I’d expect him to struggle in a starting role.
The good news is that his walk ratios have stayed consistent the past two years. He’s had a BB/9 ratio of 3.5 in both Lynchburg and Altoona. His strikeout ratios haven’t been overly impressive, but as we saw in 2007 and in the 2009 AFL, those numbers spike when he’s in a relief role.
Moskos has yet to consistently top 90 MPH as a pro, although that could be due to his role as a starter. He’s much better in a relief role, as he doesn’t have to use his curveball as a changeup, relying on his fastball and his slider, which was his out pitch in Clemson. In 2008, Moskos had the makings of a good LOOGY, with a .224 BAA versus left handed hitters. That trend didn’t carry over to the 2009 season, as Moskos posted a .279 BAA versus left handers, compared to a .280 BAA versus right handers.
Although the results aren’t encouraging so far, I still believe Moskos can be an effective reliever. With a fresh season, Moskos could be an 8.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9 reliever, which are ratios you want from your late inning relievers. The starting work is good for Moskos, as it allows him more innings to improve his fastball and slider. The downside to that is that we don’t get to see legitimate progress through the stats. Moskos will ultimately be a reliever, and until we see him in a relief situation for the majority of the season, it will be hard to determine how much he has learned over the past two years.
2010 Expectations: Moskos should make the jump to Indianapolis, where he would be a starter due to the lack of options for the AAA rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in the majors at some point in 2010 as part of the bullpen, especially with the lack of left handed relief in the system.
Optimistic Projection: Damaso Marte.
Conservative Projection: A LOOGY reliever, although in this case, I feel that the optimistic projection is more likely to play out. As for the LOOGY reliever, my comparison would be Sean Burnett.
Check back tomorrow for prospect number 22…
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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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