For former University of North Carolina baseball prodigy Colin Moran, playing Major League Baseball has been his dream for as long as he can remember. Now he finally gets his shot.
Baseball is a family tradition, after all. He follows in the footsteps of his uncle B.J. Surhoff, who played 19 years in the Majors after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick out of UNC in the 1985 draft and his brother Brian, who pitched for the Tar Heels and now plays Triple-A ball in the Seattle Mariners system.
Before being selected No. 6 overall as a junior by the Miami Marlins in the 2013 draft, Moran turned heads from day one at Carolina, ultimately making the All-American team in addition to being named the ACC Freshman of the Year.
Many MLB experts tagged Moran as the best pure hitter available in the 2013 draft. His numbers certainly back up all the hype. He set a single-season record for UNC with 86 RBI’s and led the team with 13 home runs while boasting a .557 slugging percentage and a .478 on-base percentage.
Considering all the hardware amassed during his illustrious college career, including being anointed the 2013 ACC Player of the Year as well as one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, Moran remains remarkably humble and down to earth.
He views his success as the result of hard work and dedication, and says the game has a way of putting things in perspective. “It’s hard not to be grounded in baseball. You go through slumps. There are times when you feel like you’ve never played before, but I just love the game and feel like I’ve got to respect it and know I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. I have pretty big dreams and goals and obviously I haven’t reached those yet so I’m really working hard to reach them,” he says.
Since leaving Carolina, Moran has been busy honing his skills in the minor leagues, playing in Greensboro and the Arizona Fall League. After completing play out west, Moran returned to Chapel Hill and has continued to train in preparation for camp next month in Jupiter, Florida. His next likely step up the minor league ladder would be with the Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League, which could ultimately springboard him toward the Major League level.
Moran credits a great deal of his success to his college coaches and teammates. He says the biggest thing he learned while at Carolina was how to win and be prepared to give your best every day.
He says part of him will certainly miss playing baseball and going to college at North Carolina. Currently a junior, he plans to finish his education at some point in the future because he wants his degree to fall back on. But he also understands the narrow window of opportunity to play professionally, and his focus is on the ultimate goal of playing big league baseball.
For Moran, the time has come and he’s determined that hard work will take him all the way to the top. “You’ve got to be optimistic, obviously, and not be too hard on yourself. There’s a lot of ups and downs in baseball. But you’ve just got to try to stay even keeled, and tell yourself you’ll be successful if you keep playing hard and working,” he says.
At long last, Moran is no longer just dreaming about playing professionally, he’s actually walking the steps to baseball’s ultimate Promised Land.