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03/31/09 3:15 PM ET

Bucs to keep Moskos on starting path

Building innings, trying to repeat college success are his focus

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It appears as if Daniel Moskos, the Pirates' first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, is going to begin his second season as a starter in the organization.

Director of player development Kyle Stark said Tuesday that the organization was leaning toward Moskos joining the starting rotation in Double-A Altoona. Though Moskos pitched as a starter last year, first full season of professional baseball, he arrived at Minor League camp in February with the Pirates still debating whether or not the left-hander would benefit more from a starting or relieving role in 2009.

"We've identified what he has to do to get back to where he was in college," Stark said. "He's working on that. We have to evaluate whether he's best able to do that taking the ball every fifth day and pitching more innings, or getting out on the mound more often in a bullpen role."

Moskos has been building up his arm as a starter since arriving in Bradenton, Fla., well before the start of Minor League camp. And now it looks like he'll be making some specifically targeted adjustments in that starting role.

After last season -- one in which Moskos went 7-7 with a 5.95 ERA primarily as a starter in high-A Lynchburg -- members of the organization's coaching staff identified discrepancies between Moskos' delivery during college and since.

Last year, Moskos, 22, developed a bit of a head jerk and unintentionally moved his arm slot higher. As a result, the velocity and crispness that he showed in college wasn't consistently there.

Part of the problem may have been some mechanical changes that the organization tried with Moskos early last season that have since been determined not to be in Moskos' best interest moving forward. Those changes included not throwing his two-seam fastball, what was his most reliable pitch, from the windup.

"It really was a battle," Moskos said of his '08 season. "I'm not making excuses, because I'm someone that listens to what they want me to do and run with it. But yeah, I struggled with command at first. I struggled with being able to throw it to both sides of the plate. I actually got on track with it and started to throw it pretty well, but then my body broke down."

That's why 2009 is critical for Moskos. Now that he's experienced the length of a full Minor League season, Moskos needs to make it through this season strong until the end. He had never pitched more than 80 innings in a college season and pushed himself through 110 1/3 last year, a substantial reason why Moskos' arm got tired at the end of the year. The familiarity of being a starter is also now there in Year 2.

"You can't explain what you go through in your first season without actually going through it," Moskos said. "It was a huge learning experience for me. I knew how to get myself in shape for this coming season preparing as a starter. I'm much better for it, even if it didn't go the way I wanted to."

With Moskos a projected starter in Double-A, it looks as if the Pirates could have two of their last three first-round picks in Altoona. Brad Lincoln, the No. 4 overall pick one year before Moskos claimed the same spot, is also expected to start for the Curve.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.