Pirates can't stay away from pitchers in first round
By The Associated Press
Friday, June 8, 2007
No matter what they say or do in advance, the Pittsburgh Pirates always seem to take the same path in the first round of the June draft.
They choose a pitcher they can sign.
Daniel Moskos, a Clemson left-hander ranked as the No. 5 pitcher in the draft by Baseball America, went to the Pirates with the No. 4 overall pick ? or about four to five spots higher than projected.
Because of his size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), he is expected to be a reliever in the majors, although he has started for Clemson of late.
"We see him helping our major league staff in the near future," Pirates scouting director Ed Creech said.
Although Moskos has three excellent pitches and could advance through their farm system quickly, the Pirates have so many needs that a left-handed reliever would seem to be a luxury with so high a pick in the first round.
Moskos apparently felt so, calling his selection by Pittsburgh a surprise and a m ajor shock.
Moskos' selection marked the seventh time in nine years and eighth in 11 years the Pirates went for a pitcher in the first round. Five of the six most recent first-rounders have needed reconstructive arm surgery, and that group has combined for only 19 major league victories ? 13 by Paul Maholm (2003).
The Pirates, on pace for a 15th consecutive losing season, were believed to have wanted Cypress, Calif., high school third baseman Josh Vitters, but he went to the Cubs with the No. 3 pick.
Still, Pittsburgh had position player options with the No. 4 pick, including Georgia Tech's Matt Wieters, an excellent offensive and defensive catcher who was seen as the best college hitter available in the draft. But he is represented by agent Scott Boars, who often demands his clients be paid a premium.
The Pirates apparently felt Wieters would cost them far too much to sign and thus went for a non-Boras player whose bargaining power isn't as strong. I mmediately after the Pirates passed on him, Wieters went to Baltimore at No. 5.
Before the draft, general manager Dave Littlefield said he wouldn't necessarily be scared off by a Boras client, but the Pirates have a track record of avoiding them. Last year, they also had the No. 4 pick and used it on Houston right-hander Brad Lincoln, who got a $2.75 million signing bonus but has since needed surgery. Wieters may have wanted three times that much.
The Pirates also passed on Vanderbilt right-hander Casey Weathers, who some scouts consider to be a better relief prospect than Moskos; California high school third baseman Matt Dominguez; and Georgia high school outfielder Jason Heyward, who went No. 14 to Atlanta after being projected to go higher. Dominguez worked out for the Pirates this week.
The 21-year-old Moskos is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 26 games, including nine starts, and has a 10-12 career record. He will start for Clemson on Friday in an NCAA Super Regional game at Mississippi State. The winner of the three-game series advances to the College World Series.
Last summer, Moskos had an 0.86 ERA with six saves in 18 appearances, plus 35 strikeouts in 21 innings, with the gold medal-winning USA National team.
Moskos' fastball has hit 96 mph out of the bullpen, but drops to the 92-93 mph range when he starts. He also has an effective slider and a curveball he most often uses early in counts.
The last Clemson pitcher taken by Pittsburgh in the first round was Kris Benson in 1996. Benson, the No. 1 overall pick, had a disappointing Pirates career, going 43-49 from 1999-2004, and has since pitched for the Mets and Orioles.
Punxsutawney High catcher Devin Mesoraco worked out for the Pirates on Sunday and was scouted by Littlefield the next day during a PIAA playoff game. He went No. 15 to Cincinnati.