Bonus Prospect Bio:
No. 52. DAMIAN MOSS
At a glance, his stats don't exactly broadcast “prospect” to you, but Moss had a long, hard battle back from Tommy John surgery in 2002. The Australian import, who agreed to a mere signing bonus of $35,000, two weeks before countryman Glenn Williams signed for $900,000, when he and Braves hooked up in 1993.
He pro debut followed in 1994, and he impressed enough to stay ahead of the age curve – especially when he went 9-1 with a 2.25 ERA in a partial season at Durham at age 19. His next season-and-a-half, all at Greenville, was more pedestrian and the damage to his elbow was finally diagnosed. Tommy John surgery ensued in January of 1998, causing him to miss that entire season, and it was not until 2000 that he reached Triple-A.
Moss' 9-6 record that season got him back on track for the big leagues, and he made the Opening Day roster in 2001. He actually picked up his first win before going back for a somewhat rocky year in the minors, returning only for a start the final game of the season. But spring the following year was a struggled until Moss received an uninvited intervention by Braves ace Tom Glavine.
“There was something about his I always liked,” said Glavine, who was busily preparing himself for another all-star season when he paused to watch Moss warm up. “I've always loved his stuff. He tries to do the same things I do, but he throws harder and has a better curve ball.”
Moss was, at best, the seventh man on a 12-man staff and was, in Glavine's word, “on the verge of letting (his chance) slip away.”
They talked mechanics, preparation, philosophy. Moss came through it with a new sense of purpose and was among the league's top young arms for the 2002 season, going 12-6 and finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. And then, of course, the Braves traded him.
But it was a helluva deal for the Braves. Moss and minor league pitcher Merkin Valdez went sent to the Giants for pitcher Russ Ortiz, a solid middle of the rotation pitcher who'd won 17 games two seasons before. Under Leo Mazzone's watchful eye, Ortiz would go on to lead the NL in victories with 21 and finish fourth in the Cy Young voting.
Moss' big win was in offseason arbitration, awarded a raise of over a million dollars. He was not terrible, going 9-7 over 20 starts, but the Giants moved him again at the July trade deadline to the Orioles as part of a 3-for-1 package for pitcher Sidney Ponson. He was only 1-5 in the new league and found himself a free agent. Tampa Bay scooped him up, but he had only two starts among his five appearances in 2004. The strike came along at that point, preventing any kind of MLB return.
He spent 2005 with the Mariners' Triple-A club, then signed as a free agent with the Braves. That lasted only three games as he slipped out of baseball for a year. Come the 2008 seasons, he was signed yet again by Atlanta and he struggled to a 5-9 record. He was released before the ened of the year and signed up with the Mexican League. He didn't stay there, or anywhere, there for long before calling it a career at the end of the 2010 season.
He remains in Atlanta working as a pitching coach and player agent.