Bill on Baseball:Moran’s “feel for hitting” impresses Marlins

Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at…..

Moran’s “feel for hitting” impresses Marlins

By now Hoppers fans are aware that the Marlins’ No. 1 draft pick, Colin Moran, will be in a Greensboro uniform starting Wednesday.

Any time a top draft pick joins the Hoppers it’s a big deal. And when he played three years at North Carolina, it’s an even bigger deal. And when he’s a prospect this good, it’s a still bigger deal.

Which leads to the question, exactly what is the deal with Moran?

His credentials are impressive. He had three standout years at UNC, capped by his junior season when he hit .345 with 13 home runs and 91 RBIs, the latter figure tops in the NCAA. He was named the ACC Player of the Year for 2013.

He’s 6-4, 215 pounds, a left-handed hitter and plays third base, a position where the Marlins are looking for the first long-term player there since former Greensboro Bat Mike Lowell (1996) held it down from 1999-2005.

All of which is well and good. But why do the Marlins like Moran so much? I got some answers from Brian Chattin, the club’s Director of Player Development, when he visited here shortly after the draft. Basically, he explained, Moran has a package of skills you don’t find all the time.

“The offensive ability speaks for itself,” Chattin said. “A left-hand hitter, good defense, a well above average offensive player who can drive in runs, use the whole field and has an advanced approach at the plate. It happens that he plays third base, which is an area that we don’t really have that guy right now in the big leagues.

“The day after (the Marlins selected him with the No. 6 pick overall), I was watching him on TV in a Super Regional. First at-bat he hit the ball down the right-field line. Second at-bat they pitched him away and he took a ball down the left-field line.

“That’s just what he does — he covers the plate, he uses all the fields. That kind of feel for hitting is something that you can’t really teach, and he’s got it.”

Moran said he has no timetable for reaching the major leagues.

“Hopefully I can play well enough to make it easy on (the Marlins) to make a decision.” he said after he signed.

His immediate timetable is to report to Greensboro Monday and ride with the team to Kannapolis for that night’s game, although he won’t play. After an off day Tuesday, Moran will make his professional debut with the Hoppers Wednesday in NewBridge Bank Park against the Charleston RiverDogs.

As of Saturday, the Marlins had not cleared a roster space for Moran. I don’t know what they will do, but one possibility that makes sense (to me, anyway) would be to move incumbent third baseman Yordy Cabrera to high A Jupiter. Moran represents a $3.52 million investment, so he’s coming here to play every day.