GOODYEAR, AZ. — One of the things fans ask about early in spring training: “Who has been impressive, somebody we might not know about?”
How about pitcher Jon Moscot? Who? Exactly. It isn’t often a pitcher who went 2-and-14 a coupe of years ago at Class A Bakersfield catches any attention.
But it certainly is the case for Moscot, a 23-year-old 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander who was the Cincinnati Reds No. 4 draft pick in 2012 out of Pepperdine College.
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE, who knows a thing or four about pitching, mentioned Moscot the first day pitchers threw in the bullpen and he mentioned him again after the first day pitchers threw live batting practice.
Asked who impressed him on the first day, Price pulled out a piece of paper on which he kept notes about the first day and graded each pitcher. At the top of his list was Moscot and Anthony DeSclafani.
“Those two were the standouts for me,” said Price. “But I was also trying to see the workouts on three fields, rotating every 10 minutes. I noted a lot of guys who were outstanding, a lot of guys. The standouts, as I grading them out, were Moscot and DeSclafani in the time I saw them.”
AND WHAT MAKES Moscot so noteworthy?
“He throws efficiently,” said Price. “He throws plenty hard, 89 to 92, but it is bottom of the zone command, side-to-side slider and his changeup that grabs attention. His changeup made great strides over the course of last season.”
Moscot was 7-10 with a 3.13 ERA in 25 starts at Class AA Pensacola and was 1-1 with a 5.71 ERA in three late-season starts at Class AAA Louisville.
“As I tell all pitchers, if you want to start you are going to need the off-speed pitch, primarily a change-up, if you are going to be really good. There are some exceptions, but generally guys who don’t have a quality change-up find themselves in the bullpen.”
AND MOSCOT that quality change-up, so much that he also grabbed the attention of minor-league pitching instructor Mario Soto, owner of one of baseball’s all-time best change-ups.
“We target Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen and Nick Travieso, the big, hard throwers,” said Price. “And that’s a great starting point, arm strength. But when push comes to shove, efficiency wins. You see we have Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm, two capable, quality major-league pitchers, neither of whom is overpowering.
“And you have Moscot, a guy with good velocity. But what people talk about is his efficiency, his command, his ability to pitch inside, his ability to throw a quality breaking ball for a strike when he is behind in the count. He has maturity and presence on the mound. When you talk about his attributes, it is not about being a raw power guy. It is about being a True Pitcher. That often plays better than overpowering velocity,” Price added.
“You certainly see that with Johnny Cueto,” said Price. “He can win a game throwing 88 to 91 as well as winning one throwing 92 to 96.”
EXHIBITION GAMES start Tuesday, three straight days of games against the Cleveland Indians, who share the Goodyear Ballpark with the Reds.
Veteran Jason Marquis will start the spring exhibition Opening Day, followed by Tony Cingrani in game two and Johnny Cueto in game three. And some of the rotation candidates will pitch innings behind Marquis, Cingrani and Cueto.
“You won’t see Homer Bailey in the first week of games, once or twice through the rotation before we see Homer. That’s an open spot where we might use Paul Maholm or Raisel Iglesias or David Holmberg.”
WE MADE OUR first foray Wednesday night to Raul & Theresa’s Mexican Cantina — fellow scribe Gary Schatz, Gary Yeatts (an Ohio high school baseball Hall of Famer, winner of two state championships at Fairfield) and me.
As always, the cheese and bean burrito was scrumptious. What makes the place so good? Well, the food, naturally. And it is authentic Mexican, a place that looks as if a breeze might blow it over and a large sign on the door, “No guns allowed.” So I put away my six-shooter and picked up a three-pronged fork.