Saturday, April 19, 2014

it's a tar heel card

It's too bad that Blogger does not let you change the font size for just one post because the Tar Heel in the title would be a size 3 font if I had my way.  Last spring as college baseball was winding down there was a lot of speculation about Colin Moran, the UNC third baseman, being the top overall draft pick in the MLB amateur draft.  There were a group of people who were pretty sure if he was not the first pick, he would be in the top five for sure.  ESPN's Keith Law issued a video scouting report of the Tar Heels third baseman which confirmed this common notion.

After Moran was drafted his cards went crazy, like most top draft prospects, and collectors spent plenty of time and money scooping up cards of the future Marlins third baseman.  However, I decided to let a little time go by before picking up too many Moran cards.  I got a few, but not much time or money was sunk into the effort.  The main reason being that I am not drinking the Kool-Aid on Colin Moran being a good Major League player.  I know that certain individuals might attribute my opinion to my degree and sports loyalty belonging to the red North Carolina school, but it goes far beyond that.

First, in the Keith Law scouting report he makes light of the fact that Colin Moran might have a slow first step.  Let's correct that and say that the second, third, fourth, and so forth are also slow steps with Colin Moran.  He's slow.  Molina brother, Vinny Castilla slow.  Let's take a look:

Moran is on second when the ball is hit and is a good ten to fifteen feet off the base.  When the ball gets past the pitcher he's running "full speed", the outfielder for NC State throws the ball with on several bounces, and Moran is still out by feet.  Does he get within five feet of the plate even?  I don't think so.  In watching Moran his lack of speed really hurts his defense.  I know he has a good arm over at third base base, but his fielding stats in Single A last year showed his range factor is somewhere around David Freese (Cardinals fan cringe) and he has a lower fielding percentage.  Yikes.  

I know he's more of a power/hitting prospect, but I even have my doubts there.  Last year Moran' overall offensive production in college looks great.  He posted a .357/.485/.579 line with 13 home runs and 84 RBIs.  Good enough to win the ACC Player of the Year.  However, it should be noted that their was a drop off in both power and batting average from Moran once UNC reached ACC play last year.  I am not sure he ever got a hit off of Luke Weaver or Carlos Rodon, who are the two best pitchers in the ACC.  

After being drafted last year, Moran hit .296 in Single A Greensboro and also managed an On Base Percentage of .354.  However, he only had 4 home runs and 8 doubles in almost 200 at bats for a slugging percentage of .442.  Moran still has not appeared in a minor league game and seems destined for a short season A ball team this year.  Not a great thing for a top 5 draft pick who's supposed to be a polished college bat.  

Moran started this season in the Baseball America Top 100 prospects, but down the line a bit at 74.  I'm not going to doubt Moran's ability to reach the Majors, he will get there, but I am calling into question how big of an impact he will have once he reaches that level.  Card collectors seem to have figured out Moran quickly and his card prices have dived south sharply.  

The drop in prices has put many of Moran's autographed cards below $5.  Sure, if it's short printed or serial numbered to something really low you are still going to pay for it.  If you are looking for a good risk on a $4 or $5 autograph this a good risk.  I could be right about Moran and he could be a ho hum third baseman for your favorite team for the next five to ten years in which case $5ish is a good price for an on-card autograph.  If I am completely wrong about Moran and he ends up being the National League starter at third base for the next decade I will write another post saying I am wrong and you will have scored a major bargain on a nice piece of cardboard. 

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