The Pittsburgh Pirates are getting closer and closer to Opening Day. The team has started to make roster moves and decide what positions players will play.
Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced a few roster moves. First off, they sent down a bunch of minor league players including Kevin Kramer and Will Craig. Then the team announced that Erik Gonzalez would be the team’s starting shortstop. Alongside Gonzalez, Jung Ho Kang will be the starting third baseman for the team.
So where does this leave 2018 starting third baseman Colin Moran? The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in Colin Moran to be the starting third baseman for the foreseeable future. At the time, Jung Ho Kang had been out of baseball for about a year and there was no clear answer as to whether or not he would be able to come back. The United States would not accept his work visa being he committed a crime in another country.
Moran, meanwhile, put together a solid but unspectacular rookie season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a batting average of .277 with 11 home runs, but only had a .747 OPS. Moran graded out as a below average defender. He made the plays he should have made and was able to show off his strong arm, however Moran lacked the range to make the little bit tougher plays.
At the beginning of spring, it was perceived that the Pittsburgh Pirates would use Moran and Kang in a platoon. Now it seems that may not be the case on a tradition platoon basis. The team also announced that Moran would start spending some time at first base, and he did in yesterday’s spring training game.
Moran has previous experience at first base. When the Bucs acquired Moran from the Houston Astros he came over with a third base and first base designation. Moran played 21 games at first base during his time in the Houston Astros minor league system and while that is not a ton of experience, it definitely was in the Astros’ potential plans.
This makes a lot of sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates going forward. First off, Jung Ho Kang is likely their biggest power threat. He is leading the team in home runs this spring and was able to show off his power in his career, hitting 36 home runs in his first 229 games (2015 and 2016 season). With Gregory Polanco out until at least May, Kang represents their biggest offensive threat.
For Colin Moran, this will lead to more playing time. He can be Josh Bell‘s backup and can still platoon some with Kang at third when it makes sense (maybe an elite right-hander on the mound). Furthermore, Moran could possibly have to spend more time at first down the road. Josh Bell has been banged up in the past with some injuries. If Bell goes onto the Injury List then the team can use Moran at first base along with most likely a right-handed hitter in Jose Osuna.
Getting Colin Moran time at first base is a good thing. Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates love to have players who can play several different positions. If Moran can become a competent first baseman, then it will not only benefit him by getting more playing time, but also give the team some depth at the infield corners.