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Jun. 05, 2013 @ 10:15 PM

His uncle was a No. 1 overall draft pick and his brother was an All-American.

So it’s easy to see B.J. Surhoff and Brian Moran’s accomplishments at North Carolina and assume that Tar Heel junior Colin Moran was fated to be one of the first players selected in today’s MLB First-Year Player Draft (7 p.m., MLB Network).

Sure enough, Moran is listed as the sixth-best prospect by MLB.com and the seventh-best prospect by Baseball America. Some draft projections have Moran going as high as No. 1 overall to the Houston Astros, whose owner and general manager both came to Boshamer Stadium last month to watch UNC play Virginia.

Except that Colin was so lightly regarded three years ago — Perfect Game ranked him the 486th-best prospect nationally — that he wasn’t even drafted out of high school. And despite his family’s connections with UNC, he was almost headed to Florida Atlantic, Elon or Virginia Tech before the Tar Heels came with a late scholarship offer.

“The perception is Big League nephew, Big League bloodlines,” said John Manuel, the editor of Baseball America. “But the reality is he’s worked for every single thing he’s gotten.

“I don’t think anything on the field comes easy to him. I don’t think he’s blessed with superior talent. He gets everything he has because of his work ethic and his competitiveness.”

Those traits were apparent as soon as the Rye, N.Y., native got to UNC. As Baseball America’s freshman of the year, he hit a team-high .335 and became the first freshman since 2001 to lead the ACC in RBIs (71).

He led the team in hitting again as a sophomore (.365) and then tallied a league-high 42 RBIs in 39 games over the summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

Moran, a third baseman, has continued his pace this season, batting .348 with a nation’s-best 86 RBIs. On Tuesday, he was named one of the three finalists for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the country’s top amateur player.

Both Manuel and John Hart, who will be a part of MLB Network’s live draft coverage starting at 6 p.m., see Moran going in the top 10 tonight.

“There’s rumors that he’s going (No. 1),” said Hart, a former Indians and Rangers general manager. “I don’t think he’s the No.1 player in this draft, but I don’t see an advanced left-handed college bat playing third base getting out of the Top 10. I’d say 5 to 7 will probably be as far as he’ll slide in this draft.”

Hart values Moran for his hand-eye coordination and tremendous plate discipline — he has 60 walks and 22 strikeouts this year — and envisions him as a .270 to .300 hitter with 40 doubles in the majors. Like Manuel, Hart also praised Moran’s work ethic.

“He gets the very most out of his ability,” Hart said. “There’s a lot to like about this kid’s makeup. He’s got a lot of want-to.”

Both analysts said their biggest concern was Moran’s lack of power. San Diego’s Kris Bryant, Baseball America’s top-ranked collegiate position player, hit 31 home runs compared to Moran’s 13 this season.

“No one sees (Moran) as a superstar,” Manuel said. “You don’t see fast-twitch athleticism or light-tower power.”

Regardless of where Moran goes, it will be a relief for the Tar Heel third baseman to finally know his future destination.

While the NBA doesn’t hold its draft during the NCAA Tournament and the NFL doesn’t draft players during bowl preparations, the MLB draft is right in the middle of the postseason for players like Moran, whose Tar Heels host South Carolina in the super regionals for a best-of-three series at Boshamer beginning Friday at 1 p.m. (ESPN2).

Though Moran said the draft hasn’t created additional pressure, he’s hitting .231 in the postseason.

“I’m excited to get it over with and find out the future,” Moran said. “But you just focus on Friday is the big thing. I can’t really control Thursday. Just hopefully the hard work pays off.”

 

BASEBALL DRAFT AT A GLANCE

Associated Press

A few things to know about this year's Major League Baseball draft:

WHEN: Starts Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT and continues for 40 rounds over three days, with first two rounds (and new "competitive balance rounds") from MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J. Rounds 3-10 will be held via conference call with teams Friday, and rounds 11-40 on Saturday.

FIRST PICK: Houston Astros. They have the No. 1 overall pick for second straight year after taking shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico last year. Only Tampa Bay (2007-08) and Washington (2009-10) have had top selection in consecutive years.

ORDER: Determined by reverse order of finish in overall standings from last season. Also, teams are not allowed to trade picks.

WHAT'S NEW?: Competitive balance rounds give 10 teams with lowest revenues and 10 teams in smallest markets opportunity to obtain additional picks through lottery, which was held last July. Lottery determined six picks immediately after first round; remaining eligible teams went into another lottery for six picks after second round.

ON THE CLOCK: Teams have 4½ minutes to make picks in first round, 2 minutes during first competitive balance round, and 1 minute for second round, second competitive balance round and rounds 3-10. Rest of draft will have selections without delays.

TOP PROSPECTS: Stanford RHP Mark Appel, Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray, San Diego 3B Kris Bryant, Georgia high school OFs Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, North Carolina 3B Colin Moran, Texas high school RHP Kohl Stewart.

SIGNING DEADLINE: Teams must sign their drafted players, other than college seniors, by 5 p.m. EDT on July 12.

 

DRAFT-ELIGIBLE PLAYER PROFILES

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.

Associated Press

 

Some of the top players eligible for the Major League Baseball draft (with position, school, height, weight and college class):

MARK APPEL

RHP, Stanford, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, senior.

Cardinal's career strikeouts leader is possible No. 1 overall pick for second straight season. Houston passed on hometown kid last year, opting for shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico and signing him for $4.8 million, smallest amount for No. 1 pick since 2006. Appel was selected by Pittsburgh at No. 8 but didn't sign and could end up with Astros this time around. Hard-throwing righty with fastball in mid-90s was 10-4 with 2.12 ERA and 130 Ks in 106 1-3 IP this season.

___

TREY BALL

LHP, New Castle H.S. (Ind.), 6-6, 180.

Outstanding pitcher and hitter in high school considered by most scouts to have greater potential on mound at pro level. Has been looked at as speedy, left-handed hitting outfielder by some teams but his low- to mid-90s fastball and solid curveball and changeup could make him the top left-handed pitching prospect in draft. Finished senior season with 0.76 ERA and averaged more than 14 Ks per 7 IP. Committed to University of Texas.

___

KRIS BRYANT

3B, San Diego, 6-5, 215, junior.

College baseball's premier power hitter could be first position player drafted, and is in conversation to go within first three picks after dominant season at plate. Golden Spikes finalist and Collegiate Baseball national player of year is leading nation with 31 home runs, 66 walks, 80 runs scored and an .820 slugging percentage. Holds Toreros record for career HRs with 54. Could remain at third base in pros because of athleticism and strong arm, but could also end up in right field.

___

CLINT FRAZIER

OF, Loganville H.S. (Ga.), 6-1, 180.

Gatorade national player of year is big-time right-handed power hitter with fast wrists. Expected to be first high school player drafted after outstanding season in which he hit .485 with 17 HRs, 45 RBIs and 56 runs scored. Solid center fielder with good speed. Signed letter of intent to play at Georgia, but likely won't make it beyond top eight picks.

___

JONATHAN GRAY

RHP, Oklahoma, 6-4. 239, junior.

Flame-throwing righty in running to go either No. 1 overall to Houston or No. 2 to Chicago. Will be drafted for third time after going to Kansas City in 13th round in 2010 out of high school, and to Yankees in 10th round out of junior college in 2011. Has helped pitched Sooners into super regionals of NCAA tournament, going 10-2 with 1.59 ERA and 138 Ks in 119 IP. Throws fastball in mid- to upper-90s, reaching 100 mph at times with effortless delivery.

___

REESE McGUIRE

C, Kentwood H.S. (Wash.), 6-1, 190.

Considered by most to be the best catcher available — high school or college — in draft, and mainly because of his abilities on defense behind plate. Outstanding arm strength and receiving skills, and his game-calling is mature beyond his years. His bat is also solid with a smooth, left-handed stroke despite being a righty behind the plate.

___

SEAN MANAEA

LHP, Indiana State, 6-5, 235, junior.

Top college lefty in draft could be taken in top 10 after a solid season for Sycamores in which he went 5-4 with 93 Ks and set school single-season mark with 1.47 ERA in 13 starts. Struck out at least eight batters in eight of his starts and allowed just 12 earned runs. Fastball sits in mid-90s with lots of action. Burst onto national scene when he was selected Cape Cod League's pitcher of year and top prospect last summer.

___

AUSTIN MEADOWS

OF, Grayson H.S. (Ga.), 6-3, 210.

Grew up playing travel ball with fellow Georgia star Clint Frazier, but the two went to different high schools — a few miles apart — in same town of Loganville. Scouts drool over Meadows and Frazier, who are the top two high school position players in the draft. Left-handed hitter has smooth swing and good power, and batted .535 during his senior season.

___

COLIN MORAN

3B, North Carolina, 6-3, 215, junior.

Nephew of former big league All-Star B.J. Surhoff — the No. 1 overall pick in 1985 by Milwaukee — could be a top-5 pick, with some rumblings that Astros could be considering him. ACC player of year is Golden Spikes Award finalist while leading offense of NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed. Hitting .348 with 13 HRs and 86 RBIs heading into super regionals. Led Cape Cod League with 42 RBIs last season. Projects as power-hitting third baseman in pros.

___

D.J. PETERSON

3B, New Mexico, 6-1, 205, junior.

Mountain West co-player of year for two straight seasons also won conference's triple crown for second year in a row. One of country's best all-around hitters with short swing ranks among school's career leaders in several offensive categories. Finished junior season for Lobos hitting .408 with 18 HRs and 72 RBIs. Though he played home games at high elevation in Albuquerque, scouts project his power to translate to pros.

___

HUNTER RENFROE

OF, Mississippi State, 6-1, 215, junior.

Offensive leader of super regional-bound Bulldogs could be first college outfielder drafted after being taken in 31st round by Boston in 2010 out of high school. Began college career playing outfielder, catcher, pitcher and DH, but has developed into prototypical right fielder with strong arm and terrific power. Hitting .352 with 15 HRs and 58 RBIs.

___

BRADEN SHIPLEY

RHP, Nevada, 6-3, 190, junior.

Mountain West co-pitcher of year has outstanding fastball that hits 94-96 mph on a consistent basis and a top-notch breaking pitch. Went 7-3 with 2.77 ERA and 102 Ks in 107 IP for Wolfpack this season, and became potential first-rounder after being selected the top prospect in Alaska League last summer. Was primarily a shortstop in college before being converted to full-time pitcher during sophomore season. Cousin of NFL wide receiver Jordan Shipley.

___

KOHL STEWART

RHP, St. Pius X H.S. (Texas), 6-3, 190.

Generally considered top high school right-hander, has fastball that sits in low- to mid-90s consistently and outstanding slider among terrific repertoire. Might be labeled a bit raw, but also thought to be perhaps prospect with highest ceiling. A two-sport athlete who was also an outstanding quarterback has committed to play both baseball and football at Texas A&M. Was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 8 years old, but has learned to manage it while not allowing it to get in way of being active — and succeeding at a high level — in sports.


BASEBALL DRAFT ORDER

Associated Press
June 6-8
FIRST ROUND

1. Houston Astros

2. Chicago Cubs

3. Colorado Rockies

4. Minnesota Twins

5. Cleveland Indians

6. Miami Marlins

7. Boston Red Sox

8. Kansas City Royals

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (Appel)

10. Toronto Blue Jays

11. New York Mets

12. Seattle Mariners

13. San Diego Padres

14. Pittsburgh Pirates

15. Arizona Diamondbacks

16. Philadelphia Phillies

17. Chicago White Sox

18. Los Angeles Dodgers

19. St. Louis Cardinals

20. Detroit Tigers

21. Tampa Bay Rays

22. Baltimore Orioles

23. Texas Rangers

24. Oakland Athletics

25. San Francisco Giants

26. New York Yankees

27. Cincinnati Reds

28. St. Louis Cardinals (Lohse)

29. Tampa Bay Rays (Upton)

30. Texas Rangers (Hamilton)

31. Atlanta Braves (Bourn)

32. New York Yankees (Swisher)

33. New York Yankees (Soriano)

COMPETITIVE BALANCE ROUND A

34. Kansas City Royals

35. Miami Marlins (from Pittsburgh)

36. Arizona Diamondbacks

37. Baltimore Orioles

38. Cincinnati Reds

39. Detroit Tigers (from Miami)

SECOND ROUND

40. Houston Astros

41. Chicago Cubs

42. Colorado Rockies

43. Minnesota Twins

44. Miami Marlins

45. Boston Red Sox

46. Kansas City Royals

47. Toronto Blue Jays

48. New York Mets

49. Seattle Mariners

50. San Diego Padres

51. Pittsburgh Pirates

52. Arizona Diamondbacks

53. Philadelphia Phillies

54. Milwaukee Brewers

55. Chicago White Sox

56. Los Angeles Dodgers

57. St. Louis Cardinals

58. Detroit Tigers

59. Los Angeles Angels

60. Tampa Bay Rays

61. Baltimore Orioles

62. Texas Rangers

63. Oakland Athletics

64. San Francisco Giants

65. Atlanta Braves

66. New York Yankees

67. Cincinnati Reds

68. Washington Nationals

COMPETITIVE BALANCE ROUND B

69. San Diego Padres

70. Colorado Rockies

71. Oakland Athletics

72. Milwaukee Brewers

73. Miami Marlins (from Detroit)

THIRD ROUND

74. Houston Astros

75. Chicago Cubs

76. New York Mets (Stankiewicz)

77. Colorado Rockies

78. Minnesota Twins

79. Cleveland Indians

80. Miami Marlins

81. Boston Red Sox

82. Kansas City Royals

83. Toronto Blue Jays

84. New York Mets

85. Seattle Mariners

86. San Diego Padres

87. Pittsburgh Pirates

88. Arizona Diamondbacks

89. Philadelphia Phillies

90. Milwaukee Brewers

91. Chicago White Sox

92. Los Angeles Dodgers

93. St. Louis Cardinals

94. Detroit Tigers

95. Los Angeles Angels

96. Philadelphia Phillies (Rash)

97. Tampa Bay Rays

98. Baltimore Orioles

99. Texas Rangers

100. Oakland Athletics

101. San Francisco Giants

102. Atlanta Braves

103. New York Yankees

104. Cincinnati Reds

105. Washington Nationals

SUPPLEMENTAL ROUND

106. Oakland Athletics (Twomey)

Milwaukee forfeited first round (17) pick for Lohse.

Atlanta forfeited first round (22) pick for Upton.

L.A. Angels forfeited first round (28) pick for Hamilton.

Washington forfeited first round (29) pick for Soriano.

Cleveland forfeited second round (43) pick for Swisher.

Cleveland forfeited Competitive Balance Round B (69) pick for Bourn.