Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New 3b Moran Hoping 'New' Swing Will Pay Off

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New 3b Moran Hoping 'New' Swing Will Pay Off

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. - With his lean, 6-foot-4 frame and full red beard, Colin Moran looks like a Viking. When he speaks, though, you have to lean in to hear the soft-spoken third baseman.

If all goes according to plan for the Pirates, Moran will follow Theodore Roosevelt's directive: to speak softly and carry a big stick.

Moran, 25, was the centerpiece of the Gerrit Cole trade with the Houston Astros, and favorable perception of that deal (if such a thing is possible) likely will rest with Moran. Not that he seems to be moved by the pressure.

"Getting traded over to the Astros last time, I kind of learned how to deal with it all," Moran said Tuesday at Pirate City. "Obviously, it was a different situation. But I think learning from that situation will help going into this one. But no pressure to do anything else. I was traded for who I was, so I'm just going to keep trying to be the same guy."

Moran, though, hasn't been the same guy throughout his career. A couple of offseasons ago, he underwent a major change to his swing - simplifying his approach and using a more powerful launch angle - by training with Jeff Albert, then the Astros hitting coordinator and now an assistant hitting coach. Albert lives in Jupiter, Fla., near Moran's home in Palm Beach Gardens, and trained with him every weekday.

The changes between his major league debut in 2016 and his return to the big league roster last year were significant. In nine games with the Astros in 2016, he hit .130 with a measly .374 OPS, compared with .364 and 1.235 in seven games last season. Sure, the sample size is small, but Moran's numbers in every offensive metric, from hard contact to strikeout rate, improved. Last week, he was listed at No. 53 on FanGraphs' top 100 prospects rankings.

Moran's 2017 campaign was derailed by a freak foul ball that left him with a facial fracture and a concussion. …

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