Fort Wayne, Ind. — Gabe Mosser put together one of his best starts of the season in his victory over the Beloit Snappers last week. The righty struck out six and walked just a single batter in a one-run performance. The 22-year-old has now lowered his ERA to a strong 3.16, trailing only Ryan Weathers in the Fort Wayne rotation. He’ll look to continue that success against Lake County today.
Mosser, a 27th-round selection in the 2018 draft, struck out 262 batters in 238 innings at Shippensburg University and tossed fifteen complete games, including a no-hitter last March. While he initially spent time in the bullpen at Fort Wayne and Tri-City in his debut season, the Padres shifted him back to the rotation in 2019. His frame and a four-pitch mix that includes a two-seam fastball that sits in the 90-92 mph range and touches 94 mph, make that role a more natural fit at this stage in his career.
During their last home-stand, Gabe Mosser was gracious enough to spend some time chatting about his transition into the organization and back to the rotation.
MadFriars: What has your experience been like this first month in Fort Wayne?
Gabe Mosser: It has been awesome. The coaching staff is great and the opportunity to pitch here in this city and stadium is fantastic.
As the 801st pick in the draft, what is the balance between being excited to live out your dream and playing with a chip on your shoulder?
Gabe Mosser: I think I have always had a chip on my shoulder…being someone who kind of laid low and did things quietly. But at the same time, I think I am a guy that is very grateful to be here who takes it one day at a time.
Did you have any notion that it would be the Padres who drafted you?
Gabe Mosser: Kind of. They called me early the second day and said they were planning to take me that day, so I figured it would hopefully be them…but the Pirates were the other [ team connected to me].
As primarily a starter in college, what was it like to transition to the bullpen last season in the minors?
Gabe Mosser: It was obviously different. You prepare differently, you prepare to throw every day instead of that once or twice a week depending on when your starts line up. But I was ready and it was a great opportunity.
Now that you are back in the rotation, which do you prefer and how have changed in your preparation?
Gabe Mosser: Yeah, I definitely love starting. You always have to be locked in when you’re in the pen and be mentally ready to throw that day. As a starter, it is not that you don’t have to be locked in every day, but you get to take more time to mentally prepare for your next game.
How did you spend this offseason preparing?
Gabe Mosser: I just spent this offseason focused on filling up the zone like I always have. Additionally, I worked on adding some weight to help with velocity and sharpening my offspeed pitches, hoping that I would get a shot to start here in Fort Wayne.
What can you tell us about your repertoire?
Gabe Mosser: I throw mainly a two-seam for the fastball, then a curve, a slider and a splitter. My curve can be a strikeout pitch if I kill it and can land it as well; my slider is more of a spot pitch to use in like a 0-0 or 0-1 count. Then my splitter is more of a strikeout pitch. But I set it all up with my two-seam, which I like to work inside to both righties and lefties.
One of things that stands out is the amount of movement on your breaking pitches. Have they always had that sharp movement or has that been something you have developed in the last year?
Gabe Mosser: I think I have always had some good action on breaking balls, throwing them harder than I throw my fastball … I try to at least. The movement has always been big for me and a key part of missing barrels.
How does your approach differ against southpaws as opposed to right-handers?
Gabe Mosser: It is kind of similar; I attack inside a good bit, but I like to start out away. Against righties, I can run the two-seam up on their hands easier, but then I can also front-hip the lefties. The back foot slider often works for lefties instead of the front hip slider I use against right handers…The splitter I like to throw against lefties more because it sort of breaks down and in on them.
As someone who grew in Pennsylvania with the Pirates’ pitching philosophy once being heavily geared towards the two-seamer, were you a Pittsburgh fan or a Phillies fan and did it factor into going with a two-seamer over a four-seamer?
Gabe Mosser: I was a definitely a Phillies fan growing up, and I actually tried to throw a four seamer but couldn’t get the same spin on it that I get with my two-seamer. Also, I get more action and velocity on it, so I have just stuck with what has been comfortable.
How do you modify your attack the second and third times through the order?
Gabe Mosser: The first time through is fastball heavy, and you try not to show all of your pitches too early. So I might keep them off balance with fastball, curveball the first time through and then mix in the slider the second trip through the order…I might also mix up my fastball location a bit…or pitch backwards, throwing offspeed early in the count and finishing with the fastball. Regardless, my big thing is getting ahead and then my breaking ball will really play.
As you have begun to pitch up in the zone more, what has been your mindset?
Gabe Mosser: Pitching up and in is big for me …to get in on the hands to either righties or lefties. But with the two-seam, it was tougher to get up in the zone because it has that sink to it…but I have found a better release point to get the ball up in the zone, and it plays better off the off-speed pitches.
Is there any particular area of your game that pitching coach Matt Williams has targeted as a challenge in your next couple of starts?
Gabe Mosser: Just staying focused during the game and not veering my thoughts other places. I need to stay in the moment, locked in on the hitter and attacking every pitch and not drifting away. We do a lot of mental stuff on the mound in the bullpen so that has helped a big bit.
A few weeks ago, I asked you and Joey Cantillo off the record who was the best ping pong player in the locker room and got mixed answers. Who would you say it is?
Gabe Mosser: I hate to say it, but I am going to have to go with Joey Cantillo. We have a tournament going right now so hopefully someone can knock him off the pedestal.