Colin Richard Moran
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 209 lb.
- School University of North Carolina
- High School Iona Preparatory School
- Debut May 18, 2016
Third baseman Colin Moran was selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft by the Miami Marlins and scout Joel Matthews. He is the nephew of big leaguers B.J. Surhoff and Rick Surhoff, and the brother of major leaguer Brian Moran. He signed just before the deadline on July 12th for a bonus of over $3.5 million. He was assigned to the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the South Atlantic League and smashed a home run off Dan Camarena of the Charleston RiverDogs in his first professional at-bat on July 17th. It turned out to be a sign of things to come, as he hit a solid .299/.354/.442 in 42 games for Greensboro, with 8 doubles and 4 homers, scoring 19 runs and driving in 23.
Colin was assigned to the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League at the start of the 2014 season. He continued to hit very well in 89 games, with a line of .294/.342/.393 in what is considered a tough hitting environment. He hat 21 doubles and 5 homers, score 34 runs and drove in 33. On July 31st, he was sent to the Houston Astros alongside fellow prospects Jake Marisnick and Francis Martes in return for two major leaguers - P Jarred Cosart and IF/OF Enrique Hernandez - and minor leaguer Austin Wates. He finished the season by playing 28 games for the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League hitting .304. In 2015, he spent the entire season at Corpus Christi, with a batting line of .306/.381/.459 with 9 homers and 67 RBIs.
The Astros were building a powerhouse team at the major league level by then, which meant that Colin had to wait to get a good shot at the big leagues. He received a quick look in 2016, playing 9 games during which he went 3 for 23 (.130), but spent the bulk of that season in AAA with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League. There he hit .259/.329/.368 in 117 games with 10 homers and 69 RBIs. He was back at Fresno for the first half of 2017, and there his home run power showed up for the first time, as over the first 70 games, he connected for 18 homers after never hitting more than 10 in a full season. He also had 15 doubles and drove in 63 runs while hitting .308, but still would have had to wait to get another shot at the Show were it not for an injury suffered by All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa on July 20th. Houston decided to slide 3B Alex Bregman to short and to call up Colin to start at third base in Correa's absence. He rejoined the two players that had been involved in the 2015 trade alongside him, Marisnick and Martes, who were now contributing members of the major league team. In his first game on July 21st, he tripled in his first at-bat and later added a homer, his first in the majors, in an 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The next day, however, he had to be hospitalized when he fouled a pitch by Darren O'Day in the 6th inning in his own face. Marwin Gonzalez completed his at-bat by belting a three-run pinch homer. He was diagnosed with facial fracture and a concussion and was placed on the disabled list. He managed to return before the end of the year, playing 3 games for the Quad Cities River Bandits on a rehabilitation assignment, and then 5 more for the Astros at the very end of the season. He ended the year at .364 (4 for 11), almost all of his production having come in his first two games before the injury. Given all the time he had missed, he was left off the postseason roster as the Astros won the first World Series title in team history.
Being pretty much blocked in Houston, it was probably a good thing for him to be involved in a second major trade on January 13, 2018. That day, he was sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates alongside Michael Feliz, Jason Martin and Joe Musgrove in return for ace P Gerrit Cole. He got a chance to play regularly for the first time that year and did well. In 144 games, he hit .277 with 11 homers and 58 RBIs, putting up an OPS+ of 104 and establishing himself as the Pirates' starting third baseman.
He lost that job in spring training in 2019 as the team felt Jung-ho Kang would give them better defense, but when Kang failed to hit, Moran got the job back despite his poor glovework. On July 1st, he went 5 for 5 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs in an 18-5 win over the Chicago Cubs; teammate Adam Frazier also collected 5 hits in the game. On September 5th, his older brother Brian made his major league debut with the Miami Marlins against the Pirates; Colin was the second batter his brother faced and his first strikeout victim. His final numbers were very similar to those he had put up the year before, as he played 149 games, hit .277 and hit 13 homers. He did improve his RBI total significantly. from 58 to 80.
In 2020, with the designated hitter in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his poor defense at third and the shortened season it entailed, he hardly appeared at third base, but still hit well, sharing time at first base with Josh Bell and starting at DH most other days. In 52 games, he hit .247 (averages were significantly down across baseball that year) but hit 10 homers and drove in 23 runs, both team-leading totals. His OPS+ of 113 was also the highest among regulars, discounting 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes who had one amazing month in September.
The Pirates made some big changes following the disappointing 2020 season when they had the worst record in the majors and did not give much indication that they were actually rebuilding. Bell was traded, opening up first base full time for Colin, while Hayes was now ensconced full time at third base. With the DH no longer in effect except in some interleague games, Moran would have to earn his keep as a first baseman, and also sit down against some lefties to give Phillip Evans an opportunity to show that his .359 average in a season shortened by an injury the year before was not a complete fluke.