LOUISVILLE — If there is one thing the Reds have an abundance of it’s talented young pitching in its system. Anthony DeSclafani is in a major-league starting rotation for the first time. Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias have made their MLB debuts this season with early success.
Jon Moscot could be next in line.
Moscot, a 23-year-old right-hander, has taken some advice from his minor league manager of a year ago, mixed it with his own personal growth and maturity and is off to a dominating start at Triple-A Louisville. Moscot is 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA for the Bats. Opponents are hitting just .226 off of Moscot in 43 2/3 innings and he’s walked just 14 batters this season.
In 68 previous professional appearances since the Reds drafted him in the fourth round in 2012, Moscot was 12-28 with a 3.73 ERA. He was 8-11 last season with a combined ERA of 3.40 in 28 games between Double-A Pensacola and Louisville. His coaches and scouts saw enough in him to promote him for three starts at Louisville, but he showed little of what he’s produced so far this season.
"I think throughout the minor leagues, and especially since I’ve been with Delino, I’ve gotten myself into good counts and then I’d give up a knock in a situation where you really should bear down and get a hitter out," said Moscot. "This offseason I was working on a little more movement and deception with my pitches. I really worked on a sinker to combat just a straight fastball that hitters at this level will be all over. I just wanted more movement and it’s been helpful."
Delino is Louisville manager Delino DeShields, who happened to be Moscot’s manager last season at Pensacola.
"We talked about a couple of things I saw in his delivery," said DeShields. "Not to get real crazy but I told him that he had good hittable stuff. There wasn’t a lot of deception in his game. It was almost too clean. I think he went home and figured out some things. Now he’s letting go of the ball and I’m not seeing the same reaction from hitters that I was used to seeing."
Catcher Chris Berset has played with Moscot the last three seasons, previously at Bakersfield (which had been the Reds’ High-A affiliate before this season) and Pensacola and now Louisville. When it came to what baseball people call "stuff", Moscot had it, said Berset. Now he’s got better command of it.
"He’s got four pitches he can control for strikes and hitters don’t know what’s coming," said Berset. "When they’re looking for the fastball he can drop his curveball, slider or the changeup in there to lefts and rights. He commanding the ball and whenever you’re commanding your fastball on both sides of the plate it’s extremely difficult to hit as a hitter. When you’ve got all four of those working the results will speak for themselves."
Right now there’s no room for Moscot on the Reds’ big league roster. He’s not on their 40-man roster at this moment, but then again neither was Lorenzen before he got the call up in late April.
Manager Bryan Price was non-committal Friday night in Cleveland when the question of whether or not Jason Marquis would be making his next scheduled start. Marquis, the 36-year-old veteran right-hander, earned his spot in the starting five with a solid spring training despite not having pitched in the major leagues since July of 2013 following elbow surgery.
Marquis gave the Reds starts of at least six innings in three of his first five starts with no more than three earned runs but has struggled in his last three starts, including not getting out of the fourth inning in his last two starts.
"I probably would hold off on addressing that question really because we have to look at a lot of different things when it comes to making a decision," said Price. "We’re dealing with a veteran player. I haven’t made any commitments on where we’re going from here on out. That certainly would take some involvement between myself and (general manager) Walt (Jocketty) and (pitching coach) Jeff (Pico). We’re just trying to figure out what our best rotation is, especially now that we have both Lorenzen and Iglesias up here with us."
Lorenzen will start Tuesday against Colorado, while Iglesias will replace Johnny Cueto for Sunday’s series finale in Cleveland. The Reds announced Saturday morning that Cueto has been suffering from general stiffness since his start last Tuesday at Kansas City.
In the meanwhile, Moscot will go about his business in Louisville, and his business has been very good this season. He started this past spring training in the major league camp. He used that opportunity to his advantage.
"I played catch with Johnny Cueto a few times and he talked about movement and how you’ve really got to throw all of your pitches for strikes," said Moscot. "He and Leake were both really helpful as far as that goes. Which pitches to throw in which counts, what hitters look for and it was really informative for a lot of us young guys and it really helped us out."
Moscot’s next turn in the rotation would be Monday, which by coincidence is the same day Marquis is next scheduled to pitch.
"You know, that’s not up to me," said Moscot. "I would like to help the major league team as soon as I can. That’s where I am. That’s not my call. Hopefully I can get an opportunity to prove what I can do to help."