Colin Moran is the Present and Future for Astros

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Yesterday I wrote about whether the Gattis trade opens the door for Mark Appel to join the Astros rotation. That trade also has positional implications at third base as well. I can’t speak for all Astros fans, but I did not understand why they traded for Colin Moran when they already had their third base of the future in Rio Ruiz. Jason wrote about Moran vs. Ruiz earlier.

So with Rio Ruiz going to Atlanta and taking his power stroke with him, there is no need for fans to split into two sanctions. Sorry “Team Ruiz” but “Team Moran” has risen to take over as the future third baseman.

Why Choose Colin Moran over Rio Ruiz?

Rumors prior to the 2013 draft were that the Astros liked Colin Moran so much, that they actually considered taking him with the number one overall pick ahead of Appel. This explains why they traded one of their top young pitchers Jarred Cosart to get Moran and Jake Marisnick.

Jeff Luhnow is a smart guy, and he realizes that the Astros have hitters with high strikeout percentages such as George Springer, Jon Singleton, Chris Carter, Evan Gattis, and Jason Castro. In Colin Moran, the Astros will have a player who makes hard contact but won’t strikeout at the alarming rate of some of his peers.

The scouting report after the draft by Nathaniel Stoltz gives some insight into why Moran’s strikeout percentage in college was so low. “Much of the credit is owed to his natural hand-eye coordination and contact-based approach. Despite his natural strength and power potential, Moran doesn’t swing for the fences, focusing on making hard contact and letting the deep fly balls come naturally through backspin.”

“Much of the credit is owed to his natural hand-eye coordination and contact-based approach”-Nathaniel Stoltz

Moran does not have blaring speed as a base stealer, but he does have the strength to hit for some power and average. He has walked 52 times and struck out 101 times so far in the minors, but his reputation says that he has a good eye and will have a better walk to strikeout ratio later in his career.

Keep in mind that Carlos Correa is due to make his debut in 2016, and they have Jed Lowrie signed till 2017 to play shortstop. So they are going to want to see what they have in Colin Moran before Correa is promoted because they will have to find a spot for Lowrie. If Moran has proved that he is better than the average bear, Lowrie might be able to be used as trade bait.

Moran plays good defense at the hot corner. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Will Moran Make his Debut?

The Astros probably know that Matt Dominguez is not who they thought he was with his lackluster 2014 season. Marwin Gonzalez is a better backup to shortstop/third base than a starter at those positions. I think that perhaps the Astros felt that they couldn’t wait till Ruiz was ready. This is why they made the trade for Moran who, with his experienced playing college ball, is more experience than the typical college/high school prospect.

The Astros knew they needed help at third base as soon as 2015 not 2017 like Ruiz was on pace to do. They probably hoped that he will make his debut early in 2015, if not by opening day. Yes, that would be an extreme fast track, but it’s been done before with former Blue Jay John Olerud who never played a game in minor leagues. Moran has had 1.5 years of experience in the minors.

In the Mark Appel article, I hinted towards the end for the article about when I thought that Colin Moran needs to make his debut in 2015. I stated that it could be as soon as opening day 2015. Astros management knows that in 2017 Correa will be in the majors, so they need to see what Colin Moran can do now.

I received a comment on Twitter from someone who said “you had me til you predicted Moran to also make it.” One of my fellow writers gave evidence of Rougned Odor, who went from AA to majors as well.

The reason Moran was very sought after during the 2013 draft was because he was literally almost ready to play in the majors. As soon as the Astros received Moran, they did not put him back in Class A ball, but instead put him at AA so he could get back on the fast track. They want him playing in an Astros uniform because he can help with some of the Astros strikeouts and low on-base percentages.

He is an above average defender at third base In fact, when he came over to the Astros in AA Corpus Christi he had a 1.000 fielding percentage in 28 games. With a strong showing in spring training, he could make the starting squad. Luhnow and A.J. Hinch will want the best player manning third base to make 2015 a winning season.

When will he make his debut? If not opening day 2015, he will make his debut before May 15.

Who is a Comparable Player to Moran?

The player that best compares to Colin Moran to is Galveston native Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. While Carpenter is a second baseman playing third, his numbers are what Colin Moran could contribute to the Astros. Let’s look at Moran’s numbers so far in the minors. Moran has hit for average with low strikeouts and a decent OPS for a non-power hitter. My comparison for Moran to Matt Carpenter should be accurate. Whether Moran’s first full season is 2015 or 2016, I am going to predict his stats based off of Matt Carpenter’s rookie year. Carpenter finished 6th in NL Rookie of the Year award during that year.

Matt Carpenter is a good Comparison to Colin Moran Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction: 0.294 BA/ 6 HR/ 46 RBI/ 1 SB/ 63 SO/ and 0.828 OPS.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Who else is at Third Base?

The other prospects the Astros have who can play third base are

Matt Duffy

,

J.D. Davis

, and

Jonathan Meyer

. If for some reason Colin Moran does not open up with the Astros, plus if Dominguez and Gonzalez are not getting job done, Matt Duffy could be ready to fill in at third base until Moran is ready. Davis could be the backup at third base if Moran does not succeed, but he’s a few years away.

As much as I would like to see Colin Moran at third base, he will have to have a strong spring and Dominguez and Gonzalez will have to struggle. If he is not on opening day roster, he will be up soon Astros fans.

Do you think Moran should start in AAA or majors?

Next: Does Gattis Trade Open Door for Mark Appel

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