Third-round draft pick Nick Moran is ready to settle into a role with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
UTICA, N.Y. -- Nick Moran's college career was anything but consistent.
As a right-handed pitcher for Fresno State University, Moran found himself in a variety of roles. Problem was, he never really knew which one to settle into.
"Most of the time I wasn't sure what I was going to do -- start, relieve, close," said Moran, a Sacramento, Calif., native who was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Indians and sent to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. "I wasn't sure what my role was a lot of the time.
"It came together well at the end, and I finished up strong," said Moran, who is scheduled to start tonight's home opener at Cafaro Field. "That's what's important."
His numbers: As a true freshman in 1999, Moran appeared in 13 games -- starting 12 -- with a 4-3 record and 6.95 earned-run average. The following year he appeared in 20 games but made just six starts; he was 3-2 with a 4.39 ERA. Last year, Moran started 10 of 19 games and finished 6-6 with a 3.09 ERA.
"It makes it difficult to go out there and pitch," Moran said of the constant movement. "Not knowing your role, you can't really prepare. You can't get mentally and physically ready to pitch all the time."
Moran doesn't have any regrets about bypassing his senior year -- he plans to complete his business degree anyway, at Long Beach State -- because his focus has always been on baseball.
"I've been looking forward to this since I got to college," he said of the opportunity to turn pro. "I thought about it for a few years, what I wanted to do.
"Basically, what it came down to was whether they offered what I thought was fair. Playing pro ball was what I wanted to do the whole time anyway."
Draft day: On the day he was drafted, Moran, who thought he'd go between the third and fifth rounds, was enjoying a barbecue with his family.
He signed for $400,000 and was given $30,000 for college tuition.
"This is a spot where I always knew I could be," he said of the pro level. "Obviously, there's a long road ahead."
Life in professional baseball, albeit brief so far, has been a learning experience for Moran, but it's one he has grown to like.
"It's a little bit more laid back -- you get your own work done and there's not that much of a set schedule," he said. "No one knows you better than you, so you can get yourself prepared that way. You get treated like a man here."
Discovery: He discovered that early.
"The first day I came in here, I called [manager] Dave Turgeon 'Coach'. He didn't like that too much," Moran said. "He said, 'Call me Turg or anything. We're all professionals here.' "
Now that he's getting a fresh beginning with the Scrappers, Moran hopes he can settle into a starting role. But he knows that will depend on how he pitches.
"I work off my fastball," Moran said of his strengths. "I throw a slider as more of a cutter. I also feature a curveball and changeup."
Debut: Moran said he'll be nervous when he makes his professional debut at Cafaro Field in front of 6,000 fans. Still, he's prepared to handle that.
"At Fresno State we got 4,000, 5,000 people," he said. "It's going to be a little unnerving -- being my first professional start -- but once I get out there I should be all right. You've got too much to worry about out there, anyway."
The Indians have Moran on a 50-pitch count, he said.
"I'll get through three or four innings. That'll be fine," he said. "I'll get my feet wet."