Draft : : Prospect Scouting Reports
Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Draft Focus: Colin Moran

Frankie Piliere        
Photo: North Carolina
Every weekday leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Colin Moran Perfect Game profile

Position:  3B
Height:  6-3
Weight:  215
Bats/Throws:  L-R
Birthdate:  Oct. 1, 1992
College:  North Carolina
Hometown:  Rye, N.Y.
Previously Drafted:  Never drafted
Projected Draft Round:  1

Everyone loves a left-handed bat. And, apparently there are a lot of Major League clubs who would really love a left-handed bat like Colin Moran in the top half of the first round come June. Moran, who is piling up a phenomenal track record at North Carolina, is generating that type of intense interest even early on this spring, as his smooth lefty swing continues to carry him up the draft boards. All that being said, however, Moran is also becoming a polarizing player in the scouting community, a player that will be debated endlessly in the coming months. The argument will mostly be centered on his offensive profile, and just how much power he projects to have as a big league third baseman.

Fans will like to compare an early pick of Colin Moran to the Mariners’ selection of Dustin Ackley, who they took second overall in the 2009 draft. Ackley has yet to develop the way scouts thought he would, but to be fair to him, he has only spent a year in the big leagues and is still only 25-years-old. But, there are similarities between Moran and Ackley. They are both left-handed hitters out of UNC, and both are players that have their hit tool as their main selling point.

Unless something highly unexpected happens, Moran is going to be taken in the top ten overall picks come June. He continues to hit at a torrid pace and has a heavy presence from almost every team in that range in to see him game after game. And, if you talk to any one of those evaluators, they seem very comfortable in indicating that he will go somewhere in that range. There are also some that, while still believing that, don’t quite buy into Moran having the upside to warrant that high of a selection.

Between his time in the Cape Cod League the last two summers and seeing him last weekend against Clemson, I’ve scouted Moran as thoroughly as any college hitter in this draft class. And, what Moran isn’t is a high upside slugger. His smooth, easy left-handed swing might make him a perennial .290-.300 hitter, but he probably profiles to hit 15-20 home runs annually. He has a strong, 6-foot-3 frame and good bat speed, but his swing is just not geared that way. He loves to use the whole field, and you’ll rarely see him hitting off his back leg.

Moran is already a professional quality hitter. He’s the nephew of longtime big leaguer, B.J. Surhoff and the bloodlines show. He doesn’t expand the strike zone, let’s the ball track deep, rarely swings and misses, and sees the breaking ball exceptionally well. He’s the type of hitter that should completely dominate the lower levels of the minor leagues and arrive in the big leagues quickly. Of course that opinion is not unanimous in the scouting community, as no evaluation every is. And, if you’re a club that even has the slightest doubt about Moran’s ability to hit for average, it’s a gamble in the top ten or twelve picks. If that part of his game doesn’t pan out, you are left with a fringe or average defender at third base with below average speed and less than average power for his position.

The best case scouts make for Moran is that he’s Paul O’Neill. The former Yankee right fielder was an average first hitter that loved to use the whole field and eventually learned how to hit for more pull power. That’s the type of future I believe is possible for Moran, given his sound approach and proclivity for driving the ball to left field. Like O’Neill, Moran uses a leg kick for a timing device, has a long, lean frame, and has the bat speed to allow the ball to travel deep in the zone.

Is it risky to take a player that is lacking in multiple plus tools and high upside in the top ten in the first round? Yes, there’s a certain degree of risk involved with a move like that, but as exciting as it may be to take a toolsier high school player, you’re still more likely to get more bang for the buck with a player like Colin Moran.

Although teams don’t like to scout performance, track record certainly plays a role in drafting a player like Moran. He was a freshman All-American in 2011 for the Tar Heels, hitting .335 before heading to the Cape League where he hit .289. He followed that up with a .365 average in his sophomore season, and then went on to hit .314 in his second trip to the Cape. And, so far in 2012, he’s hitting a robust .374 and showing some added power with six home runs in his first 27 games.

There’s going to be at least one team willing to buy into the fact that Moran is not only going to hit for average as a pro, but also that his power will blossom as time goes on. Moran is not the second coming of Dustin Ackley, and his hit tool is worth buying into at least in the top twelve picks in June. There are cases where the safe route is the right route, and Moran may be one of those cases.

Perfect Game events attended:

   2008 WWBA Northeast Qualifier #2
    2008 WWBA World Championship
    2009 Sunshine Northeast Showcase
    2009 WWBA 2009 Grads or 18u National Championship
    2009 WWBA 2010 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2009 WWBA Northeast Qualifier #1
    2009 WWBA Northeast Qualifier #2
    2009 WWBA World Championship

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