Pioneer notes: Moss gathers attention

Reds fourth-rounder making good impression in debut with Billings

Scott Moss is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 38 1/3 innings in his pro debut. (Paul Ruhter/Billings Mustangs)

By Fritz Neighbor / Special to MiLB.com | September 1, 2016 10:00 AM ET

First drafted out of high school in the 38th round by the Rockies in 2013, Scott Moss took a winding road to the Continental Divide.

It took three seasons, two arm operations and one College World Series.

A fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft by the Reds, the 6-foot-5 Moss has developed into the most consistent starter for the playoff-bound Billings Mustangs. He's 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 38 1/3 innings. The last number stands out because he hasn't thrown that many innings as an adult.

"Freshman year [in college], Tommy John surgery," said Moss, a day after earning the win in Billlings' 15-5 victory at Missoula. "I came back my sophomore year and had to have a second surgery to clear out whatever was in the joint. I missed one calendar year -- basically two seasons. I came back my junior year and threw 24 innings, and then I was here.

"It was the quickest college experience ever. Like that, it was done."

Moss went to the University of Florida, which sits two hours from his hometown of Deltona. Then came the injuries, and the pitcher who had once drawn dozens of scouts was off the grid for a time.

This spring, though, the scouts started showing up again. A lanky lefty who can easily touch 90 mph has that kind of drawing power.

"I would throw intrasquad games and there would be 15 scouts here," Moss said. "And I'd be like, 'Who are they here for?' Then you start seeing the same guys over and over, and it's like, 'OK, maybe it's me.'"

Moss sat around 88 mph in his Aug. 25 start against the Osprey, mixing in a slider and a changeup.

"He's shown flashes of 92, 93," Billings pitching coach Seth Etherton noted. "But he's upper 80s right now consistently, and when he needs to grab a little extra, he does.

"Once the season is over, he'll be able to build on the strength, put the weight on, things like that, and I think he should sit low to mid-90s. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't."

Moss would lead the Pioneer League in ERA, but he's about 17 innings short of qualifying. He didn't get in a game until July 11 and his first appearances were in relief.

Now he's into the grind.

"Going every fifth day, you definitely have to make sure your body is up to the challenge," he said. "If you have something you want to fix your last start, you fix it in your bullpen. You work the four days in between and the fifth you go out and have fun -- show people what you worked on the last four days."

"Big frame," Etherton noted. "There's a very high ceiling with his body. Usually the first season after college is the longest season of a career. There's so much going on. He's kind of just getting his feet wet with pro ball, but the one thing I can say is he's very disciplined. Very, very structured young man."

Moss hadn't been west of the Mississippi until June, when Florida played in the College World Series. The Gators lost two one-run games in Omaha, Nebraska, and in his lone relief appearance Moss retired the only batter he faced.

It's a certainty that the scouts paid attention, though -- just like they did in those intrasquad games in Gainesville, Florida.

"You just have to show what you got and hopefully it works out," Moss said. "Obviously it worked out."

In brief

Hard-hitting Gideon: Helena Brewers first baseman Ronnie Gideon, a 26th-round pick in June, is closing in on the Pioneer League home run title after hitting three in the span of four games Aug. 23-26. The 225-pounder out of Texas A&M has 15 homers and took over the league lead from Missoula third baseman Eudy Ramos, who has been sitting at 13 since getting hit by three pitches in one game at Billings on Aug. 19. The last one got Ramos on the helmet, and he's been under concussion protocol. "He should play before the end of the season," Osprey manager Joe Mather said. "It could be tomorrow, it could be the next day."

Run-off win: When Missoula's Logan Soole bunted into a fielder's choice in the ninth inning Aug. 24, you figured he still might score the winning run against the Billings Mustangs. Just not this way: Soole moved to second on a single and then raced home while Mustangs catcher Morgan Lofstrom visited the mound. Osprey manager Joe Mather, noticing time hadn't been called, motioned Soole to third. He kept going, beating Lofstrom to the plate for the walk-off, 3-2 win. "I'd never seen it quite like that," Mather said. "I'd seen a guy take one base. It's something I was just got taught to look for. It was the first time we got to take advantage of it this year, and it happened to be a walk-off. It was pretty incredible."

Fritz Neighbor is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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