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Bucs send top reliever prospect down

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Daniel Moskos will not start the season in the majors, but he could pitch out of the Pirates' bullpen sometime this year.

Moskos was among 10 players cut from the team's major league spring camp Monday. The 2007 first-round draft pick was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he'll work as a late-inning reliever.

"It's not a good day," Moskos said. "As hard as I worked this offseason, I did expect to compete for a big-league spot. That didn't work out, but it doesn't mean it's time to give up."

Considering the Pirates' lack of left-handed relievers, it might not take much for Moskos to get an opportunity if he masters his wayward command.

"It's a matter of refining the command of his emotions and the command of his delivery, which will result in the command of his stuff," general manager Neal Huntington said.

Moskos, 24, spent most of last season at Double-A Altoona, where he went 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA. The left-hander notched 21 saves, which ranked second in the Eastern League and third in the Pirates' farm system.

In late June, Moskos was promoted to Indy. He lasted just 19 games, going 0-5 with a 10.38 ERA before being sent back to Altoona.

"His issue at Triple-A was himself," Huntington said. "He stopped trusting himself. He stopped being aggressive in the strike zone and started relying on hitters chasing (his pitches)."

Spotty command remained a problem this spring. Moskos fell behind in the count too often, and it usually cost him.

Saving account
Reliever Daniel Moskos' stats last season in the minors:
Double-A 3-1 1.52 37 21 41.1 26 10 7 16 43
Triple-A 0-5 10.38 19 1 17.1 26 20 20 20 18

In five outings, Moskos had a 7.20 ERA. Against 24 batters, he yielded six hits and four walks. Despite a fastball that touches 94 mph and a sharp, nasty slider, Moskos had just three strikeouts.

"He's never going to be a dart-thrower," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We don't want him to be. But we don't want a guy who's spraying the ball, either. He's getting better. I think he's close."

Close to the majors?

"Yeah, it very well could play out this year for him," Hurdle said. "Things have got to happen, but it would not surprise me at all, if there's a need."

Joe Beimel, 33, is the only southpaw who's a lock for the bullpen, and he made his first spring outing yesterday after being out with a tender forearm.

Scott Olsen, who also made his spring debut yesterday, is another option. Olsen, 27, was bothered by a strained hamstring and also is a candidate for the starting rotation.

Although primarily a closer last year, Moskos will be used in a variety of late-inning roles, including lefty specialist and setup, this season at Indy.

"It's tough to have a young prospect close games, because one inning and eight pitches doesn't do him a lot of good developmentally," Huntington said. "In Daniel's case, we need (to develop) the slider, the changeup, the sinker and four-seam command. He needs to get some multiple-inning outings."

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Pirates Spring Training 2011

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Images from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

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