Phils Hope Healthy Moreno Worth the Waiver Claim

Edwin Moreno has long been thought of as a pretty decent pitching prospect. So how did he wind up on the waiver wire? The answer is easy; Injuries. After fearing that he would need elbow surgery, Moreno has seemingly bounced back in the Venezuelan League and the Phillies hope that he can do the same for them in the minors.

Coming into the 2004 season, the Frisco RoughRiders, the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, were looking to Edwin Moreno to be their staff ace. Before the first month of the season was over, Moreno was on the DL where he would stay for two months. When he returned, he was shaky at times and by the end of the season, his ERA had ballooned to 6.01, a far cry from the numbers that Moreno had put up at Frisco just the season before.

The problems actually started in August of 2003. While pitching for Frisco, Moreno was facing nagging elbow pain that didn't stop him from pitching, but certainly bothered him. He had pitched through the pain for a good part of the season, but by the last week in August, he was officially shut down for the rest of the season, rather than risking further injury to the elbow. When the '04 season started, it wasn't long before the pain returned, forcing Moreno's stint on the DL. Actually, it was feared that Moreno might need Tommy John surgery, but the reports were good enough for him to avoid surgery, at least for now. The Phillies will watch him very closely.

This winter, the Rangers needed a roster spot and decided that Moreno was expendable. It's not that they didn't care if anybody grabbed him on waivers, but he was the logical choice to be dropped from the roster. The Phillies didn't hesitate to grab him, based strongly on reports from Ruben Amaro, Sr., who was managing Moreno in the Venezuelan League. Moreno was pitching there with no pain and was putting up impressive numbers, going 1-2, 3.12 with four saves. Moreno had pitched in relief in 13 games and started two others for Amaro's Zuila Aguilas.

Moreno, who turns 25 in July, may likely start the year at AA Reading for the Phillies. The plan is to test him out there and then move him along to AAA Scranton when he appears ready and the team is convinced he is healthy. As for whether he'll start or relieve, that's another key consideration. Since coming to the states, Moreno has started 91 of the 113 games that he's pitched in the minors. Generally, the Phillies prefer to have players with health concerns work as starters to give them a more regimented pitching schedule, but it's not out of the question that the Phillies could use Moreno out of the bullpen.

If Moreno is healthy, he has good enough stuff to make it to the majors. If his elbow gives out again, he's likely headed for surgery and his career will be set back to a dangerous point. For now though, he's still young enough that he can spend even an entire season at AA and next season at AAA if necessary, and still reach the majors at a decent age. It will all come down to health - or the lack thereof - for Edwin Moreno.

2000 Savannah (A) 9 8 3.25 0 23 22 1 133.0 127 58 48 46 89 9
2001 Charlotte (A) 8 9 4.03 0 28 28 1 152.0 142 83 68 51 92 10
2002 GCL (R) 2 2 3.38 0 7 7 0 37.0 30 18 14 10 23 2
2002 Charlotte (A) 3 0 0.59 0 6 6 0 31.0 20 2 2 3 23 0
2003 Frisco (AA) 6 5 3.29 0 29 15 0 112.0 105 50 41 33 74 7
2004 Frisco (AA) 5 6 6.01 0 18 13 0 70.0 90 51 47 18 37 8
Career 33 30 3.70 0 111 91 2 535.0 514 262 220 161 338 36

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