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Rio Ruiz or Colin Moran: Who’s Better?

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Yesterday, a fan asked a simple question: who is better, Rio Ruiz or Colin Moran? Typically, we’ll answer the questions from our ask.fm account in one article that covers all of the questions we’ve received over a given time period. This particular question deserves its own article.

First, some of the basics on each player. Ruiz was drafted in 2012 in the 4th round of the June Amateur Draft. He is currently 20 years old, and has played solely at third base in his minor league career (outside of the eight games he was the DH).  The highest level Ruiz has reached is High-A Lancaster.

Colin Moran is 22 and was drafted 6th overall in the 2013 Draft by the Miami Marlins. Moran was part of the return in the Jarred Cosart deal at the trade deadline in July. Like Ruiz, he also plays third base. The highest level Moran has reached was Double-A Corpus Christy for 28 games last season.

Rio Ruiz had a solid 2014 in the California League, which is notoriously hitter friendly, batting .293 with 11 home runs, 77 rbi and an on-base percentage of .387. Ruiz has a career batting average of .271 in three minor league seasons, which includes his .293 average last season. Ruiz made an adjustment to his swing, which could be the reason his batting average went up in 2014, but there is still some skepticism on whether or not he benefitted from playing in the California League. We will likely find out in 2015.

With Moran, he put up a cumulative .296 batting average between High-A Jupiter (Marlins) and Double-A Corpus Christy. He also combined for 7 homers and 55 rbi throughout the season. In Double-A, his batting average eclipsed .300, coming in at .304 with a .350 on-base percentage in the 28 games. Moran is a career .297 hitter in his two minor league seasons, but he is also a year and a half older than Ruiz, and they haven’t faced the same opponents, so getting a real grasp on who’s better is tough offensively is tough. Ruiz seems to have the bigger upside for power numbers, but Moran may be the better overall hitter.

Defensively, according to Baseball-Reference, Rio Ruiz came in with a range factor (putouts+assists/games played) of 2.38, with Moran at a 2.21. Moran only made five errors in 114 games, while Ruiz made 16 errors in 122. Ruiz also made 20 errors in 111 games in A ball in 2013.

Defensively, Moran definitely holds an edge. He made 6 errors in 35 games in 2013 after being drafted, but looks to have put in a lot of effort in the offseason to rectify that problem. According to MLB Pipeline, “Moran is a below-average runner, but it doesn’t hold him back defensively. He is sure-handed, and he has a strong arm.” They said of Ruiz, “He is a below-average runner and doesn’t have great range at third base. Still, Ruiz has the potential to be an average defender.”

As the tiebreaker for the offensive stalemate, I decided to go with how often each player strikes out, which is a problem at the big league level for Houston. Colin Moran holds a slight edge here as well, striking out in 16.06 percent of his at-bats, while Rio Ruiz came in at a 17.6 percent clip in 2014.

Colin Moran is ranked the #64 prospect in baseball (according to MLB Pipeline), and for good reason. Rio Ruiz has more pop in his bat, but needs to work on his defensive abilities, as well as showing he can hit for average in the minors. The Astros minor league system is filled with outstanding talent, which means that only the best of the best will make it to Houston.

If you have any questions about the Astros, be sure to visit ask.fm/climbingtalshill.

Next: Carlos Correa is MLB's Second Best Prospect

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