Moskos aims to prove Pirates right
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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
GM Dave Littlefield welcomes first-round pick Daniel Moskos to the fold yesterday at a news conference at PNC Park.
Danny Moskos checks out the Web enough to know that, when the Pirates made him their first-round draft pick in June, Pittsburgh's baseball fans did not exactly celebrate.
Rather, there was a vocal, vociferous protest that the team bypassed promising catcher Matt Wieters, whose super-agent Scott Boras is seeking a signing bonus that exceeds Major League Baseball's recommended figure for a fourth overall pick.
"Yeah, I know about that," Moskos said yesterday at PNC Park, shortly after agreeing to terms on his first professional contract with a $2.5 million bonus. "My reaction is that the Pittsburgh Pirates picked the player that they wanted. They've told me that, and I feel confident in that. I believe I'm the player they wanted."
He allowed a small smile.
"I'm not going to let them down. I'm going to go out on the mound and give them what they thought they saw in me in college."
The bonus fell completely in line with MLB's recommended slotting, which has seen a 10 percent reduction across the board at the request of commissioner Bud Selig. Wieters, taken with the next choice by the Baltimore Orioles, has not yet signed.
Moskos, 21, will begin his professional career by doing some conditioning -- and maybe a pitching appearance or two -- with Bradenton of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. If that goes well, in all likelihood, he will bypass State College, a Class A short-season team, and be assigned to Class A Hickory.
That was how the Pirates handled Brad Lincoln, their top pick in 2006.
Mentioning Lincoln, of course, brings up the unpleasant topic of the team's first-round pitchers who have had their careers derailed by arm surgeries.
"I've heard about that, too," Moskos said. "All I can say is that I'm healthy."
As proof of that, he pointed to pitching only 149 2/3 innings in his three seasons at Clemson University. Lincoln pitched eight more than that in his final season at the University of Houston.
"I think my inning count makes me maybe a little different from some of the pitchers the Pirates have drafted in the past," Moskos said.
It has been a month since Clemson's season ended, so Moskos will be rested when he reaches Bradenton.
"I've stayed in good shape, though, and I feel like I'll be ready to pitch pretty quickly."
How quickly he advances will be another matter.
The Pirates made no secret upon drafting Moskos that they viewed him as a fast-track type of player, partly because of his dynamic repertoire from the left side, partly because his somewhat stocky 6-foot-1 frame already is filled out more than most prospects his age.
Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield described Moskos as having "a very high ceiling," reiterating that Moskos will be used in relief.
"We project him as a back-end guy," Littlefield said, referring to relievers used in late innings. "He's got a lot of weapons from the left side, which is something that's hard to find in our industry."
Moskos made 10 starts in his junior -- and final -- season at Clemson, finishing with a 3-6 record, 3.29 ERA, a .270 opponents' batting average and a team-high 78 strikeouts in 27 appearances.
The Pirates have signed 26 of their 50 draft picks, including their top 10. Littlefield said the team could end up signing 30-35.
First Published July 17, 2007 11:19 pm