Forget Me Not: Has The Astros’ Colin Moran Re-Emerged As A Viable Prospect?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There was a time that the Astros’ Colin Moran was viewed among the better prospects in the game.  While he disappeared from the upper echelon landscape, repeating Triple-A he’s suddenly reemerged on the map (.295 with 17 HR and 59 RBI over 264 AB).  Prior to 2014, when he was still part of the Marlins’ organization, Baseball America ranked him as the 61st best prospect in baseball.  While he fell short of Prospect 361’s Top 100 list, they had him ranked as the Marlins’ fourth best prospect saying:

“Assuming Moran stays at third base, he has a ceiling of a first division starter with a future projection of 15-20 home runs and a .300 average with a high on base percentage.  That’s the profile as a number two hitter, but based on his size and position, most managers will bat him down in the order.  Moran is a below average runner now and will only lose speed as he fills out.”

At the Trade Deadline that season Moran was dealt to Houston, along with Jake Marisnick, and things appeared to be trending in the right direction.  He had never developed power, but he hit .306 with a .381 OBP at Double-A in ’15.  While he did reach the Majors last season, the results in his first taste of Triple-A were hardly what had been expected:

In 459 AB he hit .259 with 10 HR and 69 RBI

The biggest problem was a 24.3% strikeout rate, which came courtesy of an 11.3% SwStr%.  He has fixed that issue in ’17, cutting the strikeouts to 16.9% and SwStr% to 10.4%.  There is the risk of a little bit of a jump, but it’s hardly a significant concern.

The big change in his profile has been a rise in his fly ball rate, which is the reason for the increased HR total:

SeasonLD%GB%FB%HR/FB
201623.1%47.2%29.7%10.0%
201724.6%34.6%40.8%19.8%

He’s never been known for his power, so there’s a chance that his HR/FB rate regresses.  You also have to watch the fly ball rate, because there is the risk that he becomes infatuated with the home run and continues to see the rate rise.  That’s going to be the key to determining if he’s taken a significant step forward in his development or not (keep in mind he’s added just 13 doubles).

If he can maintain this power, while coupled with the already proven plate discipline, you have the potential for a Top 12 type 3B.  Of course that could prove to be a stretch and he likely will need a trade to find regular AB in the Majors (even with the struggles of Alex Bregman).

It’s been a nice first half and it’s grabbed out attention, but don’t expect him to suddenly develop into a potential superstar.

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
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New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
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