See also: Previous Prospect Q&A: Hunter Pence
A lefthanded hitting outfielder in the Red Sox organization, Brandon Moss is trying to re-establish himself as a top prospect. Moss had a breakout season two years ago, winning the batting title in the South Atlantic League and earning a late-season promotion to high Class-A at age 20. His star faded somewhat last year, as the native of Loganville, Georgia wasn’t able to build on that success at Double-A Portland. Despite hitting a respectable .268-16-61, Moss lacked consistency and struggled to make adjustments.
An eighth-round pick in 2002, Moss is back with the Sea Dogs this year where he is hitting .210 with three home runs and a team-leading 26 RBI. Finally starting to heat up after a slow start, Moss is six for his last 18 after bottoming out at .194 earlier this month.
Baseball America: You recently faced Trenton’s Philip Hughes, the top-rated pitching prospect in the Yankees’ organization. What is your opinion of Hughes?
Brandon Moss: For a 19-year-old, he has very good composure. When he doesn’t make a pitch, he’s not sitting there arguing, he’s getting the ball back and throwing it. He’s sticking with his plan. Honestly, he’s probably the best pitcher I’ve faced this year. He has good stuff.
BA: Who is the best pitcher you’ve faced in pro ball?
BM: It might be (Yusmeiro) Petit, last year. He really works it well . . . works hitters well. He’s not 95-96 like Hughes, though. He’s a completely different kind of pitcher. If you’re going to count big leaguers, (Curt) Schilling in spring training is the best I’ve faced. Not only is his stuff really good, but maybe he will make a mistake once.
BA: Your manager, Todd Claus, said that you’ve hit in a lot of tough luck this year. Do you agree with that?
BM: Definitely, but that’s a part of the game you can’t control. Baseball is an uncontrollable game in some ways. It’s not like football, where a quarterback can make a perfect pass, throwing the ball right where he wants it. In baseball, perfect execution doesn’t mean you’re going to get the results you want. You can have a great at-bat, and hit a missile right at somebody.
BA: Can a day off help a hitter break out of a slump?
BM: Sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Todd Claus gave me one in Binghamton last week, and I’ve been going better since. You’re out there working, grinding out at-bats, and you can get frustrated when things aren’t going well. You find yourself thinking, “I’ve got to get a hit.” That can lead to bad at-bats, because you start trying to get a hit instead of focusing on having a good approach. In my opinion, baseball is 20 percent physical, 60 percent mental, and 20 percent luck.
BA: You’ve reportedly tinkered with your stance the past two years.
BM: I have. That’s one of those things where you think, “I have to do something.” You’re not feeling comfortable, so you start looking for something that works. There are certain things you need to keep the same, though. The coaches are going to say something if you make adjustments that will do more harm than good. But if they know it’s mostly mental–you’re just trying to find a comfort-level–they won’t.
BA: Some people expected you to start the season in Triple-A Pawtucket. Was that where you thought you’d begin the year?
BM: No, I expected to be here in Portland. I finished well last year, but there’s a lot for me to develop yet. There’s a lot to learn. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m content. I want to earn a promotion and move up. But I’m still just 22. I have a lot of room to grow as a baseball player.
BA: You were highly regarded as a pitching prospect in high school. What was your style on the mound?
BM: I was between 94 and 96, so definitely a power-pitcher. I use my legs well, and am a little like Hideo Nomo in the way I wrap my arm before I deliver the ball. I wind up really hard, and then explode down with my legs.
BA: Do you ever think about pitching again?
BM: Not that I plan to do it, but sure. It’s something you can’t help but think about. I went to the mound after batting practice a few days ago, and hit 94, so I can still throw hard. Would I like to pitch again? If I were to get released, or put on waivers, yeah–then I’d probably give it a try. My goal is to make it to the big leagues any way I can. I plan to make it as an outfielder, though.