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Hard work in offseason propels Moss toward breakout season at Augusta

BY CHRIS KLINE (Baseball America)

GREENSBORO, N.C.—Sometimes, guys seem to come out of nowhere.

In Brandon Moss' case, his sudden rise from struggling short-season hitter to South Atlantic League all-star is the result of hard work finally paying off.

After being drafted as a second baseman in the eighth round in 2002 out of Loganville High in Monroe, Ga., Moss landed in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and hit just .204-0-6 in 113 at-bats.

The 20-year-old outfielder worked hard that offseason to improve his stroke and make adjustments to the pro level. It didn't really pay off in results, as he came back to hit .237-7-34 for short-season Lowell the following season.

"When I got to Lowell, everything just fell apart and my confidence went way down," Moss said. "I had worked so hard before that, just trying to get it together, and it sucks to work that hard and get no results out of it."

Moss appeared to be running in place. Until this year.

Breakout Season

The Moss show has been fully unveiled this season in Augusta, where he was leading the South Atlantic League in batting (.366), hits (126) and RBIs (88). Moss also added 10 home runs and 18 stolen bases for the GreenJackets with a 45-60 walk-strikeout ratio. He worked hard again this past offseason and is finally getting some results.

"It's definitely a surprise to be doing so well, but I worked really hard this offseason at my approach at the plate," Moss said. "I kind of went back to the way I hit in high school where I wasn't standing completely straight up. Last year, I struck out a lot because I had no balance in my swing. It was all just swinging at everything. So I really got back to being balanced and set up right and it really has cut down on my strikeouts. If you strike out less, you're putting the ball in play all the time and that's what I've been trying to do."

Moss' breakout season is leaving an impression on the Boston brass as well.

"We knew he was a good hitter coming out of high school, but up to this point he's exceeded expectations," farm director Ben Cherington said. "He's refined his overall approach at the plate and really worked hard to become a better hitter. He's got a better understanding of the game now. He's hitting close to .360—but it's a hard .360."

Cherington also calls Moss a "high-energy" guy—a label that has proved to be a double-edged sword. He leaves everything on the field—no matter what happened the day before.

"I've always been a loudmouth, which has been a problem for me too," Moss said. "When we lose or if I go 0-for-4 and the next day I come back all happy-go-lucky, people took it the wrong way like I wasn't taking it seriously. But it's not me not taking it seriously; it's me forgetting about it. It's like it's a new day and who cares? I was 3-for-5 yesterday but who cares? That doesn't mean anything about today.

"That's just the way I go—I don't care about anything that happened yesterday. If you carry it into the next day, you're going to be (ticked) off the whole day. Who needs to be around some guy like that?"