There is something very alluring about former first round picks, especially guys taken in the top ten. Even when they flop in the big leagues and don’t show the skills that got them drafted that high in the first place, someone will take a chance on them in hopes of cashing in on their potential. Sometimes it works out (Gavin Floyd), most of the time it doesn’t.
The Pirates cut ties with a former top pick yesterday, designating left-hander Daniel Moskos for assignment to clear room on the roster for former Yankee farmhand Eric Fryer. Moskos was the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft and has always been a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh because they passed on Matt Wieters (and Madison Bumgarner) to take him. He flamed out as a starter in the minors but did help the Pirates as a reliever last season, pitching to a 2.96 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 31 appearances. Chances are that’s all they’ll get out of their $2.475MM investment. Let’s see if there’s anything about Moskos that should interest the Yankees…
- He’s left-handed! That always counts for something. Moskos has held Triple-A lefties to a .253/.304/.337 batting line with a 48.5% ground ball rate, a 22.3% strikeout rate, and a 6.0% walk rate over the last two years. Those are some mighty strong peripherals.
- Moskos uses two different offspeed pitches to offset his low-90s fastball — a sweepy low-80s slider and a mid-80s split-change. As a reliever, he owns a 20.0% strikeout rate overall.
- Moskos has one minor league option remaining (for 2013) and has less than one year of service time to his credit, so he offers flexibility and six years of cheap team control.
- Moskos got hammered by the 49 big league lefties he faced last season (.385 wOBA), though it is a tiny sample. His walk rate (4.1%) was fine, but the strikeout (12.2%) and ground ball (39.5%) were pretty bad. Righties have hit him pretty hard everyone, majors and minors.
- After sitting in the mid-90s while touching 97 as recently as 2010, Moskos has lost some velocity because he has a herky jerky delivery and lacks athleticism. Usually guys will pick up velocity with a shift to the bullpen, not lose it.
- Moskos missed time with a sore elbow this season and developed a brief case of the yips in 2010. He is fine now though, both physically with the elbow and mentally with the yips.
Because the Yankees have the best winning percentage in baseball, they are dead last on the waiver priority totem pole. Moskos first has to pass through the entire NL and then the other 13 AL teams before New York could put in a claim. The Yankees have two quality left-handed relievers on the big leagues (Boone Logan and Clay Rapada), two rehabbing from major injuries (Pedro Feliciano and Cesar Cabral), another 40-man guy in Triple-A (Justin Thomas), and two more non-40-man options in Triple-A (Mike O’Connor and Juan Cedeno). Lefty relief isn’t a top priority at the moment.
As Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects wrote yesterday, the move indicates that Moskos fell pretty far down on Pittsburgh’s depth chart. They opted to keep the 32-year-old Doug Slaten over the 26-year-old former fourth overall pick. That said, Moskos does offer that allure of being a former first round pick and there’s a chance someone will give him an opportunity. There’s nothing to lose other than a spot on the 40-man roster and in the Triple-A bullpen. The Yankees have plenty of in-house lefty relief options, enough that they don’t need to pick up the phone and call the Pirates about a trade before Moskos hits the waiver wire. If they put in a claim and get him, great. If not, well no big deal.