TigsTown Q&A: RHP Dominic Moreno

A senior-sign taken in the eighth round of the 2015 draft, right-handed pitcher Dominic Moreno didn’t receive one of the bigger signing bonuses from the Tigers. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a big arm. TigsTown talked to him about his draft experience, what he throws, and how he feels about Tex-Mex food.

TigsTown: How did it feel to get drafted?
Dominic Moreno: It felt good. I mean, it’s kind of a weird process. Obviously you have some teams calling you and kind of working through deals and all of that stuff, and the Tigers ending up taking me in the 8th round, and now I’m here. It feels great. I got drafted the year before that, not quite where I wanted to be, and I went back for my senior year, and it was the best decision I ever made. Now I’m ready to go.

TT: And you’re out of New Mexico?
Moreno: I’m from new Mexico, but I went to Texas Tech. I went to a junior college for my freshman year, then Texas Tech for three years.

TT: How did your college season go? Dix Texas Tech make the postseason?
Moreno: No, we went to the World Series the year before, and we had some expectations this year, but didn’t quite fulfill those expectations. Me and another kid were the main bullpen pieces. I was a starter for a while. Freshman and sophomore year I was full-time starter. Junior year I spent half the year a starter, then went to closer, and then this year I went back to closer and long relief. By long relief I mean like finishing the game, whenever I came in. And so I had a really good year, just super blessed. I just stayed ahead of batters and got my fair share of strikeouts, and kept the runs to a minimum, and got to have a really fun year with my best friend, who led the country in ERA this year. So it was a good year.

TT: What do you prefer, starting or relief?
Moreno: I guess, you know I’ve started, but I’ve always known when I went to pro ball I’d be a reliever. Because, I don’t know this for sure, but I don’t know if I’d do to well under the five-day format, having started. But I kind of have a rubber arm in the sense of relieving, where I can go one or two and then be pretty good. But I just don’t know if I can go five, six, seven, and then come back on five days. I think it’s just more necessary for me to be a reliever, and I would actually highly doubt that any teams put me in as a starter when they filed their scouting reports.

TT: So what do you throw?
Moreno: I’m mostly fastball and slider. That’s what I work with. Very, very rare changeup. If I’m trying to strike out a lefty -- usually I’m not trying to strike out a lefty -- but when I am, it’s getting in on them. Getting in, then maybe going out extended, and then bringing a slider on their back foot. That’s what I’d do, or maybe a backdoor slider. I have ways to go after lefties, but most of the time when I’m pitching to a lefty, I’m just trying to have them either pull it to the first baseman because I pitch in on them, or spray it to the shortstop. Not really trying to go for the K on those guys.

TT: You mostly four-seam or two-seam?
Moreno: I throw only a four-seam, but with my arm angle sometimes it runs a lot. It just depends on the day.

TT: You’re more of a side-arm angle?
Moreno: I’m a low three-quarters. I wouldn’t consider it sidearm, but it’s a low three-quarters, and some days I’m maybe a little bit lower than other days. Like my last outing, maybe a little tired because I had pitched a couple days before, a couple of innings. And this was two days ago, I pitched two innings, the 8th and the 9th in Williamsport, and I think my arm angle was a little bit lower, and I was just having the ball run a lot. And I’m not meaning to do that, I think maybe I was just a little tired. It worked well. When I’m tired it runs a little more, but when I’m real good, at my best, I’d say it’s more straight on top, on you.

TT: How fast is your average fastball?
Moreno: It depends on how many innings I’m going. In college if I’d go one inning, I’d be 93 to 96. In the GCL I know I touched 97 multiple times, but I’m not too worried about velocity, as long as I can get ahead of hitters and throw a lot of strikes. When I went to Connecticut I really just tried to stay within myself, and I like to pitch at 92 to 95 or 96, and if I can go get some velocity on a pitch that’s fine.

TT: Has the post-draft process been a whirlwind?
Moreno: Yeah, I think I pitched two games (for the GCL Tigers), but I was there for maybe a little over a week, ten days. And then a little longer in Connecticut, maybe two weeks, something like that. Yeah, I’ve been all over the country, huh? I mean, New Mexico to Texas, back to New Mexico for a little offseason before I signed, then Florida. Florida...I was real happy to get out of there to go to Connecticut, because, as people may not know, in the GCL we play at noon every day, so it’s pretty brutal down there weather wise. And then I got to Connecticut and it was real good. I liked the place a lot, I liked my host family a lot. It was really fun, and I guess I kind of had a little cup of tea there, and then came up here.

TT: Do the Tigers have any sort of innings limits for you here?
Moreno: I don’t know. Not a lot of communication with that. I know I threw 64 innings in college out of the bullpen, with two starts this past year, and I know that’s a lot. So maybe they have an innings limit, maybe not. I don’t really care. I’m just gonna go out there and do my thing, and not really worry about it, to be honest with you.

TT: How much do you pay attention to what’s going on at the major league level with the Tigers?
Moreno: Everyone likes, and doesn’t like, certain teams. I’ve always liked the Tigers. I don’t think they’re a team you can really hate, unless you’re in their division. I mean, they have great guys. They have guys who go about their business the right way. You never really hear of any shenanigans like a Hanley Ramirez type thing. They do it the right way, they had an old-school coach with Jim Leyland. They’re a great program, and I’m extremely happy I’m here. It’s a great team to pay attention to, and it’s a great team to end up loving now. And obviously if any of us make it to the big leagues, we won’t have to face the best hitter in the game, so there you go.

TT: How did you get into baseball?
Moreno: I’ve been playing baseball since the lowest age you can play it, basically. Not really a family thing. My dad played football in high school, never played baseball. No one in my family, that I know of, was ever good at baseball or ever really played. All the people in my family that I’ve heard about that played sports and were pretty good maybe in high school, they all played football. I don’t think there’s anything there in terms of family, genes or anything. I kind of was my own guy.

TT: Growing up in New Mexico, did you have a favorite football team?
Moreno: I’m obviously a Texas Tech fan now, but I was actually born in Tucson, Arizona, so I’ve always been a big-time University of Arizona fan. I’m an all Arizona team fan. Growing up I was all Arizona teams. The Suns were really good for a while. Big Diamondbacks fan as a kid, they won it in 2001...maybe the best World Series of all time. A funny story is, my dad likes the Cowboys, and all of his friends in Arizona like the Cardinals, and so I didn’t want to go against my dad, so I never liked the Cardinals. But I kind of went off and did my own thing, and ended up liking the Tennessee Titans for some reason. I saw them in the Super Bowl when I was a kid. McNair, and Eddie George, and Kevin Dyson, and ever since then I started following them, and I follow them to this day. So all Arizona teams -- except for MLB now, which is the Tigers.

What do you do in your spare time?
Moreno: There’s really no spare time in pro ball, but when I’m back home I just hang out with my friends. I’m a big workout guy in the offseason. I like to play in the rivers a little bit. I’m right by Colorado, so I go to Colorado all the time. Just have some fun. I’m in very northern New Mexico, northwest. Very high elevation, I’m about a mile high. The thing with where I’m at is, if I go back there and maybe just go on a little jog, I’m winded. It’s a big difference.

TT: Video game, movies, music?
Moreno: I don’t even have an Xbox. I’m a big Clash of Clans guy on my phone, that’s about as video games as I get. I’m pretty addicted to that. But in terms of consoles and stuff, no Xbox, no PS4 or anything like that. I kind of got out of that my sophomore year of college. No video games, I guess. I used to read a lot, but I’m not a big reader anymore just because I don’t have as much time. For TV shows, I mean, Game of Thrones. Gotta do that. Breaking Bad. Great, great series. Sons of Anarchy. Love Sons of Anarchy. And I’m not a huge movie guy. I’m not gonna be the guy who quotes all the movies, like a lot of people, but I can go pretty cliché here and say I absolutely love Shawshank Redemption, which is probably my favorite movie of all time. I’m a big Batman guy, I mean, obviously Batman movies are great.

TT: Any type of foods you like? Tex-Mex?
Moreno: I absolutely hate Tex-Mex, because my dad is Mexican, and I know what real Mexican food is. I’ve grown up with real Mexican food, and Tex-Mex is NOT real Mexican food. I can’t eat it. Being from where I’m at, I can not do it. It’s just disgusting to me. It’s not real.

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