Moscot overcomes early struggles, shows he belongs with Reds

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Jon Moscot throws in the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, June 5, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

John Minchillo/AP

CINCINNATI — The first batter Jon Moscot faced in his major league career couldn’t have had a better outcome. Moscot’s first inning couldn’t have been much worse.

In the end, Moscot’s first start for the Reds wasn’t what he envisioned as he took the loss in a 6-2 defeat against San Diego Friday night at Great American Ball Park. The 23-year-old Moscot, who was brought up from Triple-A Louisville to start in place of injured 25-year-old rookie Raisel Iglesias, survived his 37-pitch first inning and settled down to finish five innings, allowing four runs on four hits.

He’s the latest of young arms to make their debut for the Reds this season. Don’t figure on Moscot or any of the other youngsters to be heading anywhere else soon. The Reds have made the commitment to go young with their pitching. It’s a commitment anyone who has followed this franchise knew was coming, knew was necessary.

Pitching is the strength of the Reds’ minor league system. Moscot, Iglesias as well as Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen are just the tip of the iceberg.

There will be growing pains that go along with this youth movement. Friday’s first inning was a growing pain for Moscot. He opened the game by striking out Will Venable swinging, but then walked three of the next six batters while allowing two hits and a sacrifice fly that helped the Padres take a 2-0 lead.

"I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous out there," said Moscot. "Everyone told me when I got here that I belonged here but when you get out on that mound and you have a third deck to the stadium it takes over a little bit. I wasn’t pitching my game that first inning. I normally attack hitters and I was trying to be too fine."

The next four innings were part of Moscot’s growth as well. He retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced, including the last seven. Unfortunately for Moscot the two batters he didn’t retire — Venable in the second inning and Will Middlebrooks in the third — hit solo home runs, pushing San Diego’s lead to 4-0 before the Reds were able to score twice off of Padres’ starter Tyson Ross in the fifth inning.

Moscot had a conversation with pitching coach Jeff Pico after the first inning.

"I was rushing a little bit," said Moscot. "He said to just calm down, throw your game, you belong here. That’s what I did. I settled down and I started to throw the way I normally would and had success with in the past. I jumping ahead of hitters, throwing strikes, mixing pitches and not giving them too much credit."

Moscot displayed similar resolve his final four innings that his three young compadres have shown this season. Everyone would love for the kid to show up and throw eight shutout innings but those outings are few and far between. Give Moscot credit for figuring out his command after the first inning. He didn’t walk another batter and let his defense play behind him.

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Moscot was a fourth-round draft pick out of Pepperdine in 2012. He was a Southern League All-Star for Double-A Pensacola last season but took some lumps when he was promoted to Louisville and made three starts to close out 2014. He found out quickly that batters at Triple-A have more of a plan than those at Double-A. It’s a lesson he carried with him into this season as he went 7-1 with a 3.15 ERA in nine starts for the Bats.

It was no different Friday.

"We were talking about the scouting report and I had a plan going into it. Obviously I wasn’t able to execute it that first inning," said Moscot. "I think I would’ve carried that out into the next inning and for the rest of the game in the past. That’s part of maturing."

The Reds found out for certain on Thursday that Iglesias wouldn’t be able to make his start on Friday because of a left oblique strain. He’s gone on the 15-day disabled list. Louisville manager Delino DeShields gave Moscot the word on Thursday that he was heading to the big leagues. He was able to get word to his family back in California. His parents as well as his two younger brothers were able to make the trip to Cincinnati. His youngest brother, Jed, graduated from high school on Thursday and will be playing baseball at UC-Davis next year. His other brother, Josh, will graduate from UCLA next week.

"He’s the smart one," said Moscot.

Moscot is smart enough to learn from his mistakes. He made the adjustments he needed to make quickly Friday night. It didn’t result in a win for the Reds but it will serve him well in the future.

His future will next come on Wednesday against Philadelphia.