Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects: Number Six Colin Moran

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

With the minor league season days away from starting, we continue to release our top 20 Pittsburgh Pirates prospect list.  Here is number six, a third baseman:

Over the last few years, the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system has been considered one of the best in baseball.  However, after enjoying a period of playoff baseball, and in turn picking lower in the draft, they have seen their system fall toward the middle of the pack.  Still, rankings by scouting websites are not everything.  They have plenty of intriguing prospects who could break out just as much as a team with a top farm system.

With that being said, we have come up with our top 20 prospects for the 2018 season.  The articles will look at each player, starting at 20 and working toward one. So far we have looked at pitchers Clay Holmes at number 20, Gage Hinsz at number 19, Travis MacGregor at 18, and left-handed starter Braeden Ogle at 17.  The first hitter to show up on our countdown was Calvin Mitchell at number 16 and Oneil Cruz at number 15.  Coming in at number 14 was 2017 draft pick Steven Jennings.

Then was is a pair of international prospect in right-hander Luis Escobar at number 13 overall and outfielder Lolo Sanchez at number 12.  Right-handed starter and 2010 draftee Nick Kingham came in at number 11.  Hard-throwing left-hander Taylor Hearn came in at number 10 and former first-round pick Kevin Newman at number nine.  Switch hitting outfielder Bryan Reynolds and left-handed hitting middle infielder Kevin Kramer occupied the eight and seven spots respectively.  Here is number six:

Number Six

Colin Moran is a prospect only by rule and definition, and he will certainly be off this list in the next couple weeks as he accrues both service time and plate appearances to exceed the limits.  The left-handed hitter came from the Houston Astros in the Gerrit Cole trade, and he has already made an impact at the Major League level.  His first inning grand slam proved to be the difference in the home opener.

Before playing in the Astros organization, the Marlins selected the third baseman from the University of North Carolina – where he slashed .346/.452/.531 in three seasons – with the number six overall pick in 2013.  Moran lasted about a calendar year with the Fish, as he was part of the deal to send Jarred Cosart from Houston to South Beach.

Minor League Numbers

The 25-year-old hit .290/.353/.430 in the minor leagues, showing a good eye at the plate, but limited power, especially given his 6’4″ and 205-pound frame.  That all changed last offseason (2017), when he and Astros assistant hitting coach Jeff Albert made some changes to create loft in the swing, allowing for more power.

The swing played, and though in the Pacific Coast League, Moran slugged .543 in Triple-A a year after slugging .368 the year prior.  The swing change was written about after the Cole trade, with JJ Cooper and Baseball America detailing the swing, while Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs dug into the numbers.

The new swing and his patient approach made the Pirates interested, seeing a future middle of the order bat this is major league ready now, and one that is at a position of need.

Defensively Moran is sound when the ball is hit to him, but his range does leave some to be desired.  With Josh Bell occupying first base, Moran is going to be the third baseman despite his defensive shortcomings.

Next: No. 7 Prospect - Kevin Kramer

2018 Season

Moran made the club out of spring, and he will lock down the everyday third base job with David Freese spelling him.  Moran will be an average third baseman with the chance to being a middle of the order bat.  He’s already made a difference with the stick, though the lack of range and speed has been noticeable as well.  Nothing much more to read into, as Moran will be the Pirates everyday third baseman for the foreseeable future.

*Numbers from Fangraphs