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VOL. 132 | NO. 101 | Monday, May 22, 2017

Former St. Benedict, U of M Pitcher Sam Moll One Step Away From the Bigs

By Don Wade

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Lefthander Sam Moll was good as a freshman and sophomore pitching at the University of Memphis. But as a junior in 2013, the St. Benedict at Auburndale High School product was something beyond dominant.

Colorado Rockies pitcher Sam Moll (6) during an instructional league game against the San Francisco Giants Oct. 7, 2015. Moll prepped at St. Benedict in Memphis. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP)

Moll made 15 starts as a junior, going 9-3 with 2.30 earned run average and holding opposing hitters to an anemic .196 batting average. He threw 94 innings and no one hit the ball out of the park on him.

The Colorado Rockies took Moll in the third round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He made a couple of starts in the minors but then, predictably, was moved to the bullpen. A foreseeable shift given that Moll stands just 5-foot-10.

“The transition to the bullpen, which I thoroughly enjoy, that’s been the biggest thing,” said Moll, who tossed a scoreless frame for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes against the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park on May 18. “Just getting used to bullpen life. You gotta condition your arm to be more available. College it was pitch every seven days, so you got six days off. Definitely a lot more action in the bullpen so it’s exciting every day to have a chance to help the team win.”

Through May 18, Moll, 25, had worked in 14 games and had a solid 3.14 ERA. Opponents were hitting just .250 off him. That’s a big improvement from 2016, when in 42 relief appearances with the Isotopes he had a 5.70 ERA.

“They’re just more disciplined,” Moll said of hitters in Triple-A. “And every one of them has either played in the big leagues or on the verge of it. So a lot of good talent. They have an approach. At lower levels, guys are just swinging away more often. You don’t see that as much at Triple-A.”

After the 2016 season, Baseball America wrote this about Moll, who remains a Top 30 prospect in the Colorado organization:

“He found the jump to Triple-A and Albuquerque's mile-high altitude in 2016 a bit more challenging. He missed about a month with elbow inflammation, though that didn't keep the Rockies from adding him to the 40-man roster after the season. Moll has life on his 93-96 mph fastball that helps him generate swings and misses and get groundball outs. The same is true of his mid-80 slider. That combo has allowed him to handle left-handed batters. Moll throws a changeup with promise but doesn't use it much in a relief role. Command and health remain his biggest barriers to success. Given his role as a reliever on the 40-man, Moll could make the jump to the big leagues at some point in 2017.”

Certainly, there is a path as a lefty specialist. Plenty of guys have fashioned long big-league careers out of being able to come in and get a dangerous left-handed hitter out in a big situation. He sees that as a way to get a cleat in the door, so to speak, but he wants more.

“I know being a lefty, there’s kind of a priority on getting left-handed hitters,” he said. “But I try to pride myself on getting everyone out.”

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