Moran showing early signs of progress

Infielder using improved swing in attempt to secure roster spot

Moran showing early signs of progress

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Colin Moran spends his offseason in southern Florida, living just a few miles away from Astros hitting coordinator Jeff Albert in Palm Beach Gardens. The Astros' prospect took advantage of that proximity to refine his swing this winter after a bumpy Major League debut last year.

Moran, ranked as the Astros' No. 7 prospect by MLBPipeline.com went 0-for-2 during Saturday's 11-4 loss to the Tigers.

The former No. 6 overall pick of the Marlins who was traded to the Astros in 2014, will have four weeks of Grapefruit League action to prove to manager A.J. Hinch and the rest of the staff that the work paid off, but the early returns from his swings during the first 10 days of big league camp have been good.

"We worked from November on, just getting the bat path right and correcting some of the stuff I did wrong last year, and loading the hips the right away," Moran said. "I'm kind of getting back to some of the stuff that made me successful and even some other adjustments I needed to make to have more success."

The left-handed-hitting Moran, 24, was batting .288 with 22 RBIs when he was called up for his big league debut in May. He went 0-for-13 to begin his big league career with the Astros and wound up getting 23 at-bats with three hits and two RBIs in nine appearances.

Moran's first MLB hit

"It was a whirlwind because it's your childhood dream and you get up there and accomplish that and you go through adversity and fail," he said. "I had to learn from it and kind of process it in the offseason and get back to work as soon as possible and understand what I did wrong and what's going to give me a chance for success in the future."

Hinch said Moran's swing is a little bit better than when he made his debut last year. He said it's a lot more direct, and he controls the barrel a lot better now and is more efficient in the strike zone.

"He understands the sequencing of his swing a little bit more and getting in the right slot and being able to maintain his swing through the entire swing," Hinch said. "He was a little bit late with a lot of his movements last year, which is why we saw him swing and miss when the ball was up or any sort of high-end velocity. He's got a much better start to his swing, and the rest takes care of itself."

He's been primarily a third baseman in his career, but Moran came off the bench and played shortstop in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers. He's been taking some grounders at first base during workouts this spring and will see some time at first after camp thins out.

That defensive versatility will help Moran, who's in the mix for a roster spot if the Astros carry 12 pitchers, which would give them an extra bench bat. AJ Reed, Tyler White, Tony Kemp and Teoscar Hernandez are also in that group pushing for a spot.

"He's a very intriguing option to balance out some of the things we have," Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.