Daniel Moskos Joins ‘From Phenom To The Farm:’ Episode 74

Image credit: Mike Janes / Four Seam Images

As a standout left-handed pitcher at Clemson, Daniel Moskos found success initially in the bullpen, but moved into the weekend rotation midway through his junior season. Moskos continued with stellar results as a starter, but knew that for him, nothing beat coming into a tight game out of the pen in a crucial situation.


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“That’s how I knew what my role was,” said Moskos. “It’s more of what my personality was and what I thrived on—heart definitely pounding out of the chest, but I thrived on that. Anxious and nervous energy is actually a good thing for performance and for the human body, and so being able to kind of elevate that level that you can take yourself to physically is something I was always able to thrive on. The bigger the moment, the better I usually was.”

Much like Tom Sizemore’s character Michael Cheritto in the film Heat, for Moskos, the action was the juice. Moskos was so vitalized by high pressure situations, in fact, that throughout his career he struggled when jogging into a game without much on the line.

“If it was like a mop-up situation or something and I was just trying to get work in—I wasn’t very good,” said Moskos. “It kind of took that extra little sauce for me to be the best version of myself (…) I think deep-down I always knew the bullpen was going to be the place for me.”

As the 2007 draft approached, the jury was out on whether Moskos could start long-term, but his above-average velocity and wipeout slider gave him a quality shot to make it to the show quickly in the bullpen. A high-leverage left-handed reliever is highly valuable to a big league club—something the Pirates had in mind when taking Moskos 4th overall.

Unfortunately, many Pirates fans had a switch-hitting catcher in mind. Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters was tabbed by many as the top prospect in the ’07 draft (along with Vanderbilt left-hander David Price), and was drafted immediately after Moskos, 5th to Baltimore. Wieters signed for $6 million, the highest bonus in that year’s draft and over $3 million more than Moskos, but in some fans’ eyes, Moskos would forever be tied to who the Pirates didn’t pick—something Moskos understands.

“Well if I was an MLB GM, of course I would want to draft Matt Wieters,” said Moskos. “I think it gets blown out of proportion because fans are very passionate about their team and the makeups of their team.”

After spending his first two full seasons as a starter, Moskos transitioned back to his home in the bullpen, eventually making his big league debut for the Pirates in April of 2011. He turned in a quality rookie season, but spent his next two years in Triple-A battling a balky arm—dealing with maladies he initially thought were bone spurs, or other loose particles.

The late surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum finally provided Moskos with some unfortunate clarity.

“He looked at my imaging and he was like ‘Well, have you always had this significant of an injury to your UCL?’” said Moskos. “I was like, well this is the first I’m hearing of an injury to my UCL.”

While Moskos initially went with the route to clean up his elbow, eventually his UCL fully tore, and he underwent Tommy John surgery in summer of 2014. He returned and continued working his way back towards the big leagues. Fully healthy, Moskos starred in the Mexican Winter League and threw well in summer stops both in Mexico and affiliated Triple-A, but never got a return call to the show. While working out at Driveline Baseball following the 2018 season, Moskos found the next outlet to bring his intensity and love for the game.

“I went there, threw in their pro day, threw well, but same thing—crickets on the Major League organization front,” said Moskos. “At that time they approached me and said “You look like you really love the program, you fit in really well at the facility—would you ever consider working here?’”

Moskos began coaching at Driveline, but quickly transitioned into a role as a pitching coach in the Yankees organization. In 2022, he finally made it back to the big leagues—as the Cubs associate pitching coach.

On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ Cubs associate pitching coach Daniel Moskos joins to discuss his playing career and future in coaching.

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