Moran's polished game put on national display
Drafted sixth overall by Miami, UNC third baseman shows skills at College World Series
OMAHA, Neb. -- It doesn't seem fair that someone as good as Colin Moran could also be lucky. But on Tuesday afternoon in an elimination game at the College World Series, Moran was blessed with good fortune to go along with his prodigious skill at the plate.
Moran, the No. 6 overall selection in this year's First-Year Player Draft, went 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI as North Carolina extended its season by at least one more game. Maybe more telling than the box score line, though, was this: UNC scored in three innings, and in each of those innings, Moran had a base hit.
He's known as a polished hitter, with a sweet swing and an excellent idea at the plate. Moran looked the part in Tuesday's 4-2 win against LSU, with two hits to right field, a hit to center and a solidly struck line drive that fell for an out to left field.
"When he's going good, he has a way of finding holes," said Tar Heels coach Mike Fox. "He's got the ability to use all that open space out there. Some hitters have that more than others."
Moran's second hit was a little bit lucky, but sometimes it seems the great hitters also get those breaks. With a runner on second and no outs in the third inning, he hit a grounder to the right side. It bounced off the first-base bag and into shallow right, scoring Landon Lassiter for the Heels' third run.
Moran's likely headed to professional baseball once the Tar Heels' season is over. It's exceedingly rare for a top-10 pick to return to school. Moreover, Moran's advanced skill set means that he profiles as someone who could advance quickly.
There's some question as to how much power he'll show in the Majors, but the rest of his game is already very developed. Moran serves as an example to the Tar Heels' younger hitters with every at-bat.
"He knows his zone," said sophomore outfielder Skye Bolt. "He knows which pitches he can hit and which pitches he can't hit, even if that's a strike. When he gets his pitch, he's not going to miss it. The biggest thing I've taken from him is plate discipline and being aware of what you can do with your abilities."
Those are traits that play at any level, and should serve Moran well in the Minor Leagues. He's looking to join a Tar Heel pipeline that has flowed heavily in recent years, with eight UNC products debuting in the Major Leagues since the start of the 2009 season.
For the time being, though, he's still competing for a national title. North Carolina is the No. 1 overall national seed in this year's NCAA tournament, and following Tuesday's win, the Heels are actually in decent position despite having a loss.
They need three wins to advance to the CWS championship series, but there's a good chance they will be able to use their top three starting pitchers in those games, assuming they keep winning.
And they may have already eliminated the strongest challenger in their half of the tournament. LSU was the second-highest seeded team in Bracket Two, and now the Tigers are eliminated.
That's thanks in large part to Moran, whom LSU just couldn't get out.
"He was very selective about what he wanted, and when he [saw] the pitch that he liked, he just attacked it," said LSU pitcher Brent Bonvillain. "And the times that he actually hit the ball, he didn't miss by much. He's a great hitter. He's batting [.344]. It shows."
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.