The White Sox have made a habit of drafting relief pitchers early in the
draft in recent years, selecting Drew O’Neil in the 4th round in ’08
and Kyle Bellamy in the 5th round last year, but they waited until the
9th round this year to select their first true reliever in Kevin Moran.
Kevin Moran had a fairly eventful high school career. He failed to make the team’s rotation as a junior in 2006, when he wasn’t viewed as much of a prospect, but his prospect status exploded at a late season Perfect Game USA showcase event, and he went from potential college walk on to receiving multiple scholarship offers literally overnight. In that PG showcase event he was running his fastball up to 92 mph and he struck out 7 of 8 batters faced. He eventually signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Boston College.
Moran hasn’t quite lived up to expectations during his three years as a BC Eagle. As a freshman he put up a 7.45 ERA in 29 IP, with 22 BB/16 SO. He picked his production up majorly as a sophomore, posting a 2.75 ERA in 52.1 IP, with 26 BB/37 SO, but it was back to the bad this year as a junior with a 7.92 ERA in 50 IP, with 41 BB/29 SO. His FIP gives better reading, but at 3.91, it’s not exactly strong. Walks have been Moran main problem as he’s amassed a whopping 6.1 BB/9 during his career, and for someone who is supposed to have very good stuff, his 5.6 K/9 doesn’t exactly inspire great confidence.
Unlike the numbers, the scouts do see things to like in Kevin Moran. He can run his fastball up to 95/96 mph out of the bullpen and sits low-90’s most of the time. Scouts also see a plus slider at times, though the pitch is wildly inconsistent, to go along with a rudimentary curve/change combination to potentially give Moran four pitches. His control, however, is awful and he is described as a “thrower more than a pitcher” by Baseball America. He is athletic though, and has a near perfect 6’4″, 210 lbs pitchers frame to work with. Baseball America have also described Moran as “almost too intense for his own good” and he has been known to yell at batters while in the batters box, though some may argue that this is just him showing a closers mentality.
Kevin Moran’s power fastball/slider combo gives him a chance to become a legit back of the bullpen arm with closer potential, and that’s the role that the White Sox envision Moran filling. Obviously he still has a long way to go with the control in order to realize that potential, but the White Sox have done a decent job turning around these underachieving college arms in the past with the likes of Dan Hudson and Dexter Carter, and Moran’s raw stuff makes him a definite one to watch.