DIEGO MORENO
RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: July 21, 1986
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 177
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Country:  Venezuela
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2006
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates didn’t sign Moreno until he was 20, which is relatively old for a Latin prospect to sign, but he’d had a jump in velocity.  His fastball regularly reaches 97.  He also throws a sharp slider that registers in the mid-80s, and an occasional change. He throws from a 3/4 angle that probably adds to the difficulty for RH hitters.  So far, he’s had very good control.

2007
VSL:  1-0-2, 2.42 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 6.4 K/9 

Pitched in relief in the VSL and allowed very few baserunners.

2008
VSL:  3-1-0, 0.87 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 31 IP, 1.2 BB/9, 6.1 K/9 

Returned to the VSL and had largely the same results, this time as a starter.  He allowed very few runners but didn’t fan many.  He only started six games.

2009
A-:  0-0-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
A:  1-3-5, 2.60 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 45 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 11.4 K/9 

The Pirates jumped Moreno up to State College and, after two outings, moved him up again to West Virginia.  He dominated in relief in low A, usually pitching 2-3 innings, allowing very few baserunners and running up high K totals.  He only stumbled a bit in his last three outings, allowing seven of his total of thirteen earned runs.  Prior to those three outings, his ERA was 1.42.  He had more trouble with LH hitters than RH (the former hit .250 against him, the latter just .146).  His velocity was consistently in the mid-90s or higher.

2010
A+:  4-1-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 38.1 IP, 1.2 BB/9, 13.4 K/9
AA:  0-0-2, 7.04 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 7.2 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 14.1 K/9 

Moreno started the season at Bradenton and was just about unhittable, especially against RH batters, who hit a miniscule .088 off him.  The Pirates promoted him to Altoona in July, but he missed nearly a month with a rotator cuff strain.  He struggled on returning, although he still fanned hitters at an extremely high rate, but the Pirates suspended him for undisclosed inappropriate conduct.  When he returned they sent him back to Bradenton.

2011
A+:  2-4-5, 3.21 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 33.2 IP, 4.0 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
AA:  0-0-0, 4.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 11 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 11.5 K/9

Surprisingly, the Pirates sent Moreno back to Bradenton to start the season.  He struggled through mid-May, mainly with his control, which had never been a problem before.  Despite a 4.96 ERA, the Pirates promoted Moreno to Altoona.  In seven outings there he had a 4.91 ERA, but his other numbers were good:  he allowed ten hits and three walks in 11 innings, while fanning 14.  The Pirates sent him back to Bradenton anyway.  He got much better results there, but although his velocity was the same as always, he didn’t dominate as he had previously.

Moreno’s 2011 season was a setback.  His problems at Altoona in 2010 may have resulted from the rotator cuff strain, but I don’t know what the trouble was in 2011.  The Pirates’ handling of him–promoting him when he was struggling at Bradenton and then demoting him when he was pitching decently at Altoona–suggests there’s something going on behind the scenes.  Whether it’s a health issue or something else I don’t know.  The drop in his K rate and sudden, although not drastic, control problems have to be concerns, too.  Moreno was eligible for the Rule 5 draft and, in a minor surprise, was not added to the 40-man roster.  He was widely regarded as a good candidate to be selected, but wasn’t, which says something about standing with scouts now.  He’ll open the 2012 season at 25 and he has yet to stick in AA.  He start off at Altoona, but then, that’s what I thought a year ago.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2012: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $7,000
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2014
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2011
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
2007: Signed as an international free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates with a $7,000 bonus.