2016 Houston Astros Breakout Rookie
For the past eight seasons, third base has been a job up for grabs for the Houston Astros. However, after a trade with the Miami Marlins, Colin Moran is the answer. Currently at Triple-A Fresno, Moran could be in the battle for that starting third base job this Spring Training and has the potential to be the 2016 Houston Astros breakout rookie.
How He Got Here:
Moran was drafted as the sixth overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft by the Miami Marlins. An alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Moran made it to High-A ball with the Marlins as a member of the Jupiter Hammerheads in 2014. At the trade deadline in 2014, Moran was dealt to the Astros along with outfielders Jake Marisnick, Austin Wates, right-handed pitcher Francis Martes, and a 2015 compensatory draft pick, with which they got outfielder Daz Cameron, for right-hander Jarred Cosart and utility man Enrique Hernandez. (Editors note: It was rumored that Jeff Luhnow was interested in drafting Moran with the first pick, so he finally got his guy with that trade.)
What He Has Done:
Moran immediately went to Double-A Corpus Christi after the trade from the Marlins and started to hit. In his 28 games as a member of the Hooks, Moran hit .304 with two home runs and 22 RBIs. Moran was very impressive in his batting average with the ball in play (BABIP) with .360. However, Moran’s strikeout totals were a bit excessive with an 18.7% strikeout rate. His success of pure contact hitting continued in 2015 with the Hooks. In his 96 games played, Moran hit .306 with nine home runs and drove in 67 runs.
His BABIP was even higher at .365 than the small sample size in the Astros organization in 2014. Moran still struggled with the strikeout with a strikeout percentage of 18.9%. However, he only increased this number by .2% from his 28 games in 2014. Moran’s walk to strikeout ratio increased from .39 to .54 in 2015 where he walked 10.3% of the time. His 2015 season was cut short from two separate 7-day concussion disabled list stints in May and June respectively, in which he missed almost a month for each. On September 14th, Moran was promoted to Triple-A Fresno.
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His Potential Role:
Moran has something different than Astros third baseman in the past. He is a contact hitter that can set the table for the other offensive minded hitters that the Astros have. He would thrive at either the top of the lineup, at an unconventional one or more likely two hole if he can get his strikeout totals down, or at the seven or eight spot to set the table for the top of the lineup. Moran would thrive with the spacious outfield at Minute Maid Park with his gap power. He would help round out a lineup that could potentially be one of the most complete in the American League.
His offensive style could help this Astros team next season especially since the third base job could be wide open come Spring Training. More likely, though, look for Moran to come up in August or September and to make the decision of who to start at third base much harder for AJ Hinch and the rest of the coaching staff for the Astros.