Prospect Watching: Danny Moskos and Virgil Vasquez

July was more of the same, with a 3.38 ERA — one start with 6 shutout innings, one hit, and 4 walks, and another start with 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings. �Moskos finished up the season with 6 more appearances in August/Sept for another 35.2 innings, with 35 hits and 14 earned runs, for a 3.52 ERA. �His season totals came out to a 11-10 record and a 3.74 ERA with 27 appearances (25 starts). �In 149 innings, he allowed 159 hits and 62 earned runs. �His 58 walks was the same rate (3.5 BB/9 inning) as in 2008, but his strikeouts (77) were down from 2008 (4.7 K/9 innings in 2009, as opposed to 6.4 K/9 innings in 2008). �The strikeouts increased at the end of the season: 28 in August/Sept, when his highest total previous to that was 16 in June. �Moskos got about twice as many ground outs than fly outs over the 2009 season, and that was a higher ratio than in 2008. �After the regular season, the Pirates sent Moskos to the Arizona Fall League, where made 11 appearances (all in relief) for the Scottsdale Scorpions. �He struggled in Arizona, again giving up too many hits — 22 hits in 15 innings, for 11 runs and a 5.40 ERA. �He did strike out 13 batters, but walked 8. �Moskos might be assigned to Altoona again for 2010, as it would seem that he has some issues to work on — better control, fewer walks, fewer hits. �A good spring training could see him moved up to AAA Indianapolis, though. �Still no indication whether the Pirates will want the soon-to-be 24-year-old in the starting rotation or working out of the bullpen.

Virgil Vasquez came to the Pirates during the last off-season. �After being waived by Detroit at the end of 2008, he’d been claimed and waived by both the Red Sox and the Padres before being claimed by the Pirates. �The right-hander was assigned to AAA Indianapolis and was fairly consistent for the Indians. �He pitched 5 scoreless innings (3 hits) in his first start of the season, then allowed 11 runs over 17.2 innings in three more starts over the rest of April, for a 4.37 ERA and a 1-1 record. �Vasquez earned a 4.14 ERA in May, with a 3-1 record. �He won three good starts, in which he allowed 5 runs over 19.2 innings, then had four not-so-good outings, allowing 12 runs over 17.1 innings. �June began with another shutout appearance (7 innings, 3 hits, 4 strikeouts), but then Vasquez allowed 7 runs over 5 innings in his next start. �On June 23rd, Vasquez retired the first three batters he faced, then was pulled from the game — he had been called up to Pittsburgh. �The California native joined the Pirates’ starting rotation, and made 7 starts, but struggled. �He posted a 2-5 record and a 6.09 ERA, allowing 23 runs on 46 hits in 34 innings. �He struck out 21 batters and walked 15. �Vasquez was returned to the Indians on August 2nd, and made another 5 AAA starts, to finish with a 7-4 record and a 3.93 ERA. �In a total of 107.2 innings, he gave up 116 hits, 47 earned runs, 16 walks, and 72 strikeouts. �That walk rate (1.3 BB/9 innings) was his lowest in 4 seasons, and may have him from getting into worse trouble when he was giving up hits and home runs (14). �Vasquez was called up again when the major league rosters expanded on September 1st. �This time he went into the Pirates’ bullpen. �He made 7 relief appearances over the remainder of the major league season, and did a little better than he’d done as a starter. �He pitched 10.2 innings, and allowed 12 hits, 6 earned runs (5.06 ERA), with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts. �His perfomance was not enough to keep him on the major league roster, though, and he became a free agent at the end of the season. �He signed a minor league contract with the Pirates at the end of November, and was invited to spring training with the major league club to compete for a spot on the roster for 2010. �Unfortunately, the 27-year-old had three difficult appearances in Grapefruit League games. �He gave up 3 runs on 3 hits in 0.1 innings on March 3rd, 2 runs on 4 hits in one inning on March 8th, and one run on 2 hits in one inning on March 11th. �On the 15th, Vasquez was included in the second round of players who was assigned to minor league camp. �He will begin the 2010 season with Indianapolis, probably in the starting rotation. � He’ll need to keep the walks down again, and reduce the hits and homers as he hopes for another chance with the Pirates.

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