UNC’s Moran makes mark in pro debut
Colin Moran knows how to make a strong first impression.
The North Carolina product homered in his first professional at-bat Wednesday as the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers defeated the Charleston RiverDogs 4-3 at NewBridge Bank Park.
Moran, who was selected with the sixth overall pick in June’s MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins, hit the home run to right on a 2-2 pitch from Dan Camarena.
Batting third and playing third base, just as he did at UNC, Moran finished the night 1-for-3. He also flew out to center, grounded out to short and walked.
Moran, 20, was sent to Greensboro after signing a $3,516,500 contract with the Marlins organization on Friday. He was the fourth top-10 pick out of UNC in the past eight years, joining Dustin Ackley, Andrew Miller and Matt Harvey, who started Tuesday night’s All-Star game.
During Moran’s signing, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said that the team has been looking for a long-term third baseman ever since Mike Lowell departed in 2005.
He hopes they found one in Moran. The third baseman was one of three finalists for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded to the top amateur player in the country, after the junior led the Tar Heels to the College World Series.
The ACC player of the year, Moran finished the season on June 21 with a .345 average, 13 home runs and an NCAA-best and UNC-record 91 RBIs.
The Rye, N.Y., native was undrafted out of high school and wasn’t offered a scholarship by UNC until late in the recruiting process, but he led the Tar Heels in hitting in each of his first two seasons.
“All three years at North Carolina were huge in my development,” Moran told the Marlins web site. “I can’t thank them enough for all they did. I was thinking about it the other day, coming out of high school I was a 17-year-old, I don’t know if I really would have made it into the professional ranks. So those three years were huge.”
Besides starting his career close to UNC, Moran also was able to play in a familiar ballpark. The Tar Heels played three games at NewBridge Bank Park during the 2012 ACC Tournament.
NOTE — Moran’s brother, 24-year-old Brian Moran, was scheduled to participate in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday night. Brian, who also played for UNC, has 58 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA in 41 innings with Tacoma, the top affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.