Not long before the Major League Baseball draft began Thursday night, speculation emerged that the Houston Astros might consider drafting North Carolinas Colin Moran with the No.1 overall pick.
It didnt happen that way, but Moran didnt have to wait long to hear his name called.
The Miami Marlins selected Moran, the Tar Heels junior third baseman, with the sixth overall pick.
Moran becomes the most recent UNC player to become a first-round selection. Since 2009, the Tar Heels have had five players selected in the first round. In addition to Moran, the others are Dustin Ackley, Alex White, Matt Harvey and Levi Michael.
Moran, who was recently named the ACC Player of the Year, led the Tar Heels offense throughout the season. The No. 3 hitter in the lineup, his 86 RBIs are a single-season school record. Hes also 23rd nationally with a .478 on-base percentage.
Moran went undrafted out of high school and was the last player in his freshman class to receive a scholarship offer from UNC.
He started at third base during his first season and quickly established himself as one of the best hitters in the ACC. National attention followed.
Baseball America named him the national freshman of the year in 2011, and the magazine ranked him seventh among draft-eligible prospects this year. John Manuel, editor of Baseball America and the magazines draft analyst, said scouts liked Moran for his ability to hit to all portions of the field.
His natural inclination is to use the whole field, Manuel said. So his natural swing is to center field, left-center, even to left. Its not so much inside-out, but youre pitched away so much in college with the metal bats that thats the makeup of a great hitter, that he can take the pitch away and drive it to the opposite field.
He does project to hit for some power thats one of the big questions, is just how much power.
Moran is the second member of his family to be selected in the first round of the draft, and the third member to be drafted at all.
His brother Brian, who also played at UNC, was a seventh-round selection in 2009. Morans uncle, B.J. Surhoff, was the No.1 overall selection in the 1985 draft. Like Moran, Surhoff was also an All-American at UNC.
The first Major League game Moran ever attended was at Yankee Stadium, where his uncle was playing for the Baltimore Orioles. Moran said this week he often dreamed of finding himself in this position a first-round pick.
Im kind of excited to get it over with and find out the future and stuff like that, he said.
As much as Moran had been anticipating the draft, his focus has been on the continuation of his season. The Tar Heels will host South Carolina this weekend in an NCAA tournament Super Regional.