The Astros will promote third base prospect Colin Moran to join the team for tonight’s game, according to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (via Twitter). It’s not yet clear what the club will do to make space on its active and 40-man rosters.
Moran, 23, was taken sixth overall in the 2013 draft and entered the minors considered by some to be a top-100 prospect leaguewide. But he’s lagged far behind fellow third bagger Kris Bryant, who went before him in that year’s draft, and has failed to develop in the power department.
Houston got Moran in a 2014 deadline deal with the Marlins that makes for an interesting swap to look back at. The Marlins haven’t received what they hoped for from Jarred Cosart (who was the key piece), quickly shipped Enrique Hernandez out to L.A., and have watched outfielder Austin Wates struggle at Triple-A. Over on the Astros’ side, the club has made use of Jake Marisnick, but he’s been demoted, and it’s now set for a first look at Moran. But the real upside may be yet to come, as pitcher Francis Martes has turned into a major prospect and the ’Stros were able to parlay the Marlins’ 2015 compensation pick into Daz Cameron.
It remains to be seen whether Moran will ever do quite enough damage at the plate to be a regular in the majors. He had a strong campaign last year at Double-A, earning a spot at Houston’s top affiliate to open 2016. But he’s only hitting at a .288/.331/.416 clip through 136 plate appearances, with three long balls, and has seemingly yet to make real strides in bolstering his evident hitting ability with greater pop.
That kind of offensive profile would be easier to credit were it not for the fact that Moran isn’t well-regarded in other aspects of his game. As Baseball America wrote entering the year, he’s not considered a good runner and doesn’t move well in the field — though he does have a big arm. That means that his bat will largely need to carry his value.
Houston, certainly, hopes there’s still some upside to be tapped into. Regardless, the organization will look for Moran to provide a near-term boost while beginning to evaluate how important a piece he’ll be after this season. Needless to say, the Astros have disappointed thus far, and regular third baseman Luis Valbuena has been a big part of the struggles. A pending free agent, Valbuena is off to a .208/.306/.340 start to his season and has hit just two home runs a year after swatting 25.