Moran Building Momentum

Persistence is key for Gary Moran, the 6-foot-8 pitcher for the Mississippi Braves. And it was the challenges that he persisted through that prepared him to be successful in Double-A baseball this season and his momentum continues to build.

It all started as far back as his freshman and sophomore years in college.

"I got drafted twice when I was in junior college," Moran recalled. "But then I was a thrower, I wasn't a pitcher. I felt like I was just throwing the ball as hard as I could, didn't know where to throw it and didn't know why I wanted to throw it there."

But things started to change after recovering from an injury that temporarily put him out of the game.

"As the years went on, especially during my senior year at Sonoma State, it really started to click in me what [were] my strengths, which was a sinker, and how to work with them," he said. "Even after I played one year at the Giants after I got drafted, I still had a few more years of growing."

Playing for the Frontiers, an independent baseball league facilitated his "few more years of growing".

"When I went to independent ball I developed a new pitch that just so happened to help my game tremendously," he added. "Starting in independent ball, which starting in the league that I was in was probably low to high A, got my feet wet and really gave me a feel for minor league baseball. And it just really helped me develop mentally. It turned me into who I am today."

Coach Mike Alvarez, pitching coach for the Mississippi Braves, is pleased with who Moran is today.

"He really did [set the stage for a consistent season]," Alvarez said. "He impressed me during Spring Training… I think we made a good bid for him in saying 'Look, this guy pitched good last year, he's had a good spring, he deserves to be on this club'. And again, he started out in a relief role and he did well there."

But it was not long before Moran took another step forward. Posting a solid 2.89 ERA out of the bullpen, he got another shot.

"Then the opportunity came to start and he did very well there," Alvarez said. "And he's stayed in that mode the whole time. He's very consistent. His strength is basically being able to throw all four pitches that he uses in the strike zone."

Though he has struggled at times in not being quick enough to the plate, which is not unusual for taller pitchers, Alvarez feels that Moran is showing improvement.

"But he's done a very good job from the beginning to now to be able to work on that," Alvarez pointed out. "A couple of nights ago, they were playing a club that runs a lot. They get on base and then try to steal. But [Moran] did an exceptional job of controlling that running game."

For Moran, the defining moments of this season are the times when he discovered more of his true skill.

"The first game, I had a long relief appearance." Moran remembered. "I hadn't been throwing that well up until then, it was my third or fourth outing. I wouldn't say that I doubted my skills but things just weren't going that well.

"Then, I threw five scoreless into the tenth inning in relief. It just really calmed me down. It made me feel like, 'it's alright, I just had a few bad innings and I do deserve to be here'. I turned the page mentally and it really set me on the right path.

"And then when I got to start, again, my first two or three outings weren't so good and I think I threw my first six innings games and no earned runs. Then I finally turned back into myself. Those are the two moments that I look back on."

One constant factor in Moran's baseball journey that has led to his success with the Mississippi Braves is the support he receives from his family.

"Oh man. I think a lot of people today have the same story but if it weren't for [my family], I would not be playing," Moran said. "They have stuck behind me my entire life. Anything I wanted to do, any sport I wanted, they would say, 'go ahead, let's try it'. Everywhere I went, they always had positive words, they were always behind me, always rooting for me wherever I'd go.

"I can still hear my dad in the stands every once in a while when he comes to the games," Moran laughed. "Without them," he continued, "this wouldn't be possible. They've supported me mentally, or anytime I needed financial help, whatever I needed, they've been there. So without them, I wouldn't be anywhere. They do so much for me and I try to show them how much I appreciate every second of it."

Moran, who has posted a 3.20 ERA in fourteen starts entering Friday night's contest, just wants to keep up the momentum he has been building up in recent years.

"Just finishing strong," he said. "I'm excited to see what will happen if I can finish strong and have a great year. You know how the goal is to get to the big leagues?

"Well, I'm not saying that I'm getting to the big leagues or that I ever will. But all I can do is throw as well as I can. I am just trying to build on the great year that I've had so far and see it through."


Atlanta Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nIt all started as far back as his freshman and sophomore years in college.
\r\n
\r\n\"I got drafted twice when I was in junior college,\" Moran recalled. \"But then I was a thrower, I wasn't a pitcher. I felt like I was just throwing the ball as hard as I could, didn't know where to throw it and didn't know why I wanted to throw it there.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut things started to change after recovering from an injury that temporarily put him out of the game.
\r\n
\r\n\"As the years went on, especially during my senior year at Sonoma State, it really started to click in me what [were] my strengths, which was a sinker, and how to work with them,\" he said. \"Even after I played one year at the Giants after I got drafted, I still had a few more years of growing.\"
\r\n
\r\nPlaying for the Frontiers, an independent baseball league facilitated his \"few more years of growing\".
\r\n
\r\n\"When I went to independent ball I developed a new pitch that just so happened to help my game tremendously,\" he added. \"Starting in independent ball, which starting in the league that I was in was probably low to high A, got my feet wet and really gave me a feel for minor league baseball. And it just really helped me develop mentally. It turned me into who I am today.\"
\r\n
\r\nCoach Mike Alvarez, pitching coach for the Mississippi Braves, is pleased with who Moran is today.
\r\n
\r\n\"He really did [set the stage for a consistent season],\" Alvarez said. \"He impressed me during Spring Training… I think we made a good bid for him in saying 'Look, this guy pitched good last year, he's had a good spring, he deserves to be on this club'. And again, he started out in a relief role and he did well there.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut it was not long before Moran took another step forward. Posting a solid 2.89 ERA out of the bullpen, he got another shot.
\r\n
\r\n\"Then the opportunity came to start and he did very well there,\" Alvarez said. \"And he's stayed in that mode the whole time. He's very consistent. His strength is basically being able to throw all four pitches that he uses in the strike zone.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough he has struggled at times in not being quick enough to the plate, which is not unusual for taller pitchers, Alvarez feels that Moran is showing improvement.
\r\n
\r\n\"But he's done a very good job from the beginning to now to be able to work on that,\" Alvarez pointed out. \"A couple of nights ago, they were playing a club that runs a lot. They get on base and then try to steal. But [Moran] did an exceptional job of controlling that running game.\"
\r\n
\r\nFor Moran, the defining moments of this season are the times when he discovered more of his true skill.
\r\n
\r\n\"The first game, I had a long relief appearance.\" Moran remembered. \"I hadn't been throwing that well up until then, it was my third or fourth outing. I wouldn't say that I doubted my skills but things just weren't going that well.
\r\n
\r\n\"Then, I threw five scoreless into the tenth inning in relief. It just really calmed me down. It made me feel like, 'it's alright, I just had a few bad innings and I do deserve to be here'. I turned the page mentally and it really set me on the right path.
\r\n
\r\n\"And then when I got to start, again, my first two or three outings weren't so good and I think I threw my first six innings games and no earned runs. Then I finally turned back into myself. Those are the two moments that I look back on.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne constant factor in Moran's baseball journey that has led to his success with the Mississippi Braves is the support he receives from his family.
\r\n
\r\n\"Oh man. I think a lot of people today have the same story but if it weren't for [my family], I would not be playing,\" Moran said. \"They have stuck behind me my entire life. Anything I wanted to do, any sport I wanted, they would say, 'go ahead, let's try it'. Everywhere I went, they always had positive words, they were always behind me, always rooting for me wherever I'd go.
\r\n
\r\n\"I can still hear my dad in the stands every once in a while when he comes to the games,\" Moran laughed. \"Without them,\" he continued, \"this wouldn't be possible. They've supported me mentally, or anytime I needed financial help, whatever I needed, they've been there. So without them, I wouldn't be anywhere. They do so much for me and I try to show them how much I appreciate every second of it.\"
\r\n
\r\nMoran, who has posted a 3.20 ERA in fourteen starts entering Friday night's contest, just wants to keep up the momentum he has been building up in recent years.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just finishing strong,\" he said. \"I'm excited to see what will happen if I can finish strong and have a great year. You know how the goal is to get to the big leagues?
\r\n
\r\n\"Well, I'm not saying that I'm getting to the big leagues or that I ever will. But all I can do is throw as well as I can. I am just trying to build on the great year that I've had so far and see it through.\"
\r\n
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