Placido Polanco was never going to be the permanent third base solution for the Miami Marlins, and Casey McGehee isn't going to be either. In their offseason quest for offense, the Marlins thought McGehee would be the most productive player available at the lowest cost.
One thing Miami can boast heading into the 2014 season is minor league depth, but third base prospect Colin Moran is even more than that. Selected sixth overall in the 2013 draft, Moran is expected to eventually become the Marlins' starting third baseman. The only unknown is when he will be promoted.
Before getting drafted, the left-handed hitting Moran helped lead the University Of North Carolina Tar Heels to a College World Series. He played 42 games in Class-A last season and played an additional 22 games in the Arizona Fall League.
Scout.com named Moran the fourth-best third base prospect in annual minor league rankings. Left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney is listed as the 25th best starter.
On the MLB.com list, Moran is considered to be the fifth-best third base prospect in baseball.
According to MLB.com, Moran ranks fifth on the Top 10 list of third-base prospects. He joins some elite company. Miguel Sano of the Twins is rated No. 1 overall. Kris Bryant (Cubs), Nick Castellanos (Tigers), Maikel Franco (Phillies) and Moran, respectively, round out the top five.
A 6-foot-4, 190-pounder, Moran was regarded as one of the top collegiate hitters in the country at the time he was drafted. He is considered a pure hitter with power potential. The Marlins envision him as a long-term answer at third base, a position that has been in transition since Miguel Cabrera was traded to Detroit in 2007.
Miami has stressed the importance of allowing Moran to develop and get acclimated to facing quality pitchers on a nightly basis. McGehee, who was signed to a one-year deal in December, is thought to be a short term solution. President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill told MLB.com that trading for a long-term third baseman wasn't necessary because of Moran's rapid progress.
"Moran definitely had an influence in our decision-making process," Hill said after McGehee signed last month. "Obviously, we invested a lot in him with the sixth pick overall. We wanted to give him the time he needs to develop."
In his short time in Greensboro last season, Moran batted a promising .299 and posted four homers and 23 RBIs. Moran didn't experience the same success in the Fall League, batting .230 with 10 RBIs in 87 at-bats.
Moran will be evaluated in Spring Training after receiving an invitation earlier this month. He is not an immediate solution, but is expected to contribute significantly once he arrives.