Colin Moran, the Marlins top pick in last year's draft and top position prospect, will miss the start of the 2014 season due to a strained knee ligament, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Moran is expected to miss up to three weeks of game action, though according to Frisaro's report, it could have been worse.
While Moran is the third baseman of the future for the Marlins, the organization has shown a recent history of forcing that future to arrive at their schedule rather than the timetable of what is best for a player's development. In that light, this may be a blessing in disguise for Moran, assuming the injury doesn't become something more serious.
Moran is scheduled to begin the 2014 season at High-A Jupiter. With a hit tool that was generally regarded as the best in the 2014 draft class, Moran is poised to move quickly through the minor leagues once he's healthy. There are some questions about how much power he'll develop, with some believing that there is plus power in his bat while others believing that he'll settle into the 10-15 home run range. The latter would be below average at third base, but coupled with a plus hit tool and strong on-base skills, it would still be enough to make him an everyday player at the position. His power will be the difference between being an everyday player and a potential impact bat. He's not a strong defender at third base, but should be good enough to remain at the position.
With an unsettled situation at third base (no, Casey McGehee is not the solution), the Marlins were likely looking towards Moran to progress fast enough to justify a late-season call-up. This injury could curtail those plans. He is scheduled to return near the end of April, but with them ideally wanting him to spend a few months in the Florida State League before moving on, his missing April would leave him little time at his next stop, likely Double-A Jacksonville. This month delay likely dismisses the possibility of a call-up other than one after the minor league season ends in September, barring an extraordinary performance upon his return or another rush job by the Marlins.
As of now, this is but a small speed bump on Moran's path to the majors. He should return to action in a few weeks and go about his way through the minors. It may be, however, just enough for the Marlins to keep their hands off of him this season and let him spend all of 2014 in the minor leagues, something they have been unable to do recently with their top prospects.