Rookie of the Year
Last year, Josh Bell was the clear-cut rookie of the year. He put up a really strong season, one suggesting that we should expect big things from him going forward. So who will be that player this year? Looking at the team, the Pirates only have one true rookie who will start the year, and that is Colin Moran. Of course, there are other prospects expecting to make impacts, such as Austin Meadows, Nick Kingham, and others.
However, Moran is the most likely rookie to have a large impact on this team over the long haul of the season. Meadows is blocked right now with Polanco, Marte, and Dickerson. Meanwhile, other prospects like Kingham, Kramer, and Newman are blocked and are not expected to be big time difference makers upon their promotions. Furthermore, their promotions may never come, it just depends on injuries and timing.
Moran on the other hand is going to fill the largest hole the team had last year, which was third base. A former sixth overall pick in 2013, Moran tore up Triple-A last year. In just 82 games played, he batted .308/.373/.543 with 18 home runs. He also appeared in seven big league games for the Astros hitting .362 and hitting his first career home run. He only played in 89 games total because he took a ball to face which cost him the rest of his season.
In his minor league career, Moran has only hit under .280 one time, back in 2016 in his first Triple-A experience. As mentioned earlier, he was the sixth overall pick out of the University of North Carolina. Although he has not been consistently rated as a top 100 prospect, Moran has the make up of a player with a lot of upside. He should be an average third baseman due to his athleticism.
Moran’s real value should come from the bat. He has always hit for a solid average, has a career minor league OBP of .353, and he showed an uptick in his power last year. According to reports, Moran changed his swing last off-season to create more of a launch angle. This obviously showed as he hit 18 home runs in just 82 games. Also, it helps that he is 6’4” and 205 pounds which gives him plenty of raw power. Take his new left-handed swing with his raw power and there is no reason that he cannot thrive with the short porch in PNC’s right field. If he can translate his minor league success to the MLB, the Bucs should have a nice third base option for years to come.